Six on Saturday 2019-03-30: Random Six

Yes, I know this is Sunday, but I took the pictures on Friday, so I’ll consider the average of the two make this a valid Six on Saturday post. It’s been a great week, watching from day-to-day as there is more shade in the world. By the time I get home from work and am available to tend to the garden a bit, while the daily temp is sometimes still at its peak, about half of my backyard is shaded. It is so luxurious. No pics of the trees today, though, and I didn’t stop to take pictures of all the roadwide wildflowers on my weekend trip down to south Texas. Here’s my six….

Blackberries

IMG_20190326_174832

After the white petals are gone, the sepals still add a touch of class and stariness for a while. This flower looks like it may give way to a delicious blackberry in a while.

Bluebonnets

IMG_20190328_172705

In each of the three autumns that I’ve lived in this house, I’ve tried scattering seed in multiple areas of the yard with hopes that they’d grow into beautiful bluebonnet plants. As a native Texan, I’m quite attached to our state flower. But I may have to try something else this fall. The only reason I have a single bluebonnet plant in my front yard is that I bought one from the nursery last September.

Borage

IMG_20190329_093129

I enjoyed a couple of the fuzzy cucumber-flavored leaves earlier on, but looks like something else has gotten to it lately. My hope is that this year the borage will self-sow prolifically as I’ve heard other people complain but which has never been my experience.

Currant

IMG_20190329_093331-1

I wasn’t expecting the Crandall Currant bush to flower within a month of getting it into the ground, but I won’t complain. Others have mentioned that this is also called a clove currant because of its scent. Although this one is small, I rubbed a few flowers with my fingers, and sure enough, a scrumptious clove-y aroma.

Nasturtium

IMG_20190329_093427

The last time I tried to grow nasturtiums was an utter failure, so I’m delighted by how healthy these are so far. Since it’s been so dry, I’ve been watering them a couple of times per week. It’s only worth it if I’m able to harvest a few soon for munching on, and if they produce at least as much seed as I’ve planted.

Poison Ivy (?)

IMG_20190329_093927

I was weeding mindlessly anything that was green and unexpected in my pear tree bed. My breath escaped me for a moment when I suddenly realized that my hand was heading for a patch with “leaves of three, let it be”. It doesn’t look like the standard pics of poison ivy, but I’ve seen a lot of poison ivy that was just going through a weird growth phase or something and have stuck with the “leaves of three” rule unless otherwise identified. However, looking at this picture now and the slight assymmetry of the leaves, I think it really may be may be something else. And I’m wondering, did I end up pulling it up / chopping the top after all? I’ll have to wait until daylight to find out….

Six on Saturday 2019-03-09: Garden delights and fears

Some cold weather came through Austin early this week. Temperatures were in the 20s on Monday morning in my yard, and then both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings also dipped into freezing. Sure, there are some pomegranate and mulberry leaves that are totally frost-burnt, but most plants are fine and it seemed to be a signal to the other plants that winter is now concluded and with warm days again more green appears every day.

Here are six things from my garden this week.

Not Comfrey

IMG_20190309_093014-1

When this plant first appeared in an unexpected spot, I thought it was a comfrey plant and wondered how it got there. But it grew larger than my other comfrey plants and the leaves have a slightly rounder shape. Finally when it got large enough, it struck me that it could be borage. I tore off a piece of leaf, and sure enough it had that distinct cucumbery flavor. Note: This is probably not the smartest method for identifying plants but I had a pretty strong hunch.

IMG_20190309_092952-1

For reference, this is an example of what my comfrey plants look like.

Asparagus

IMG_20190309_092727

Although this early asparagus spear first poked out of the ground almost a couple of weeks ago, none of its asparagus buddies have joined in. I measured it this morning at a whopping 25 inches (63 cm), which seems like a lot to grow all alone. Does it prefer the nearby grasses at this edge-of-the-bed location?

Warren Pear

IMG_20190309_092442-1-1

This Warren Pear was planted bare root at the start of January. As always, I was hugely relieved to see the leaves finally break free from their little brown knobs this week. I’m trying not to baby this plant too much because the information I’ve gleaned from the internet is that it’ll do fine only so long as it doesn’t grow too quickly. It needs a bit of tough love, or it’ll be weak and could ultimately succumb to fireblight in this area.

Pollinator

IMG_20190309_093223-1

I may not know how to identify all my pollinators, but I generally know how to make them happy. Leaving some “weeds” for them to enjoy? Easy enough!

Anole

IMG_20190309_093126-1

Anoles are regular guests in my yard, but they rarely agree to stop and pose for pictures.

Texas Leafcutter Ants

IMG_20190309_180446

Due to the other wildlife like those mentioned above, I normally avoid insecticides in my yard. However, leafcutter ants really freak me out. They build huge underground colonies with tunnels up to several feet deep. Last year when they showed up, I first noticed them because my dwarf buford holly was red and alive. The last of the green leaves were just being removed, and ants were all along the branches making sure they’d gotten everything. Then I started reading about roads that had collapsed due to the vast excavation done by the ants. Last year, I didn’t bother growing vegetables because I didn’t know if they’d survive. Mounds popped up in my yard, and desperate, I tried a few different types of poison. Finally, in November I saw the last of them. Anytime a mound popped up, I’d dig it up and pour some of the poison down their hole. And then one day I stopped seeing them… until this Thursday. I went out into the garden after work, and there was a huge long parade of ants gather leaves to take back to their own fungus garden. I panicked and poured the remnants of last year’s poison onto the parade. They may have just been gathering weeds, but who wants to feed their colonies that grow to the millions? This picture is one of their mounds from last year, presumed dead, but which some of the ants made as their destination on Thursday. I haven’t seen any more yesterday or today but remain on high alert. I need to calm down and find a way to deal with these buggers that doesn’t involve killing anything else….

Well, that last one was an earful, wasn’t it? But those are my Six on Saturday for this week. Check out the Propagator’s blog for more sixes from gardens around the world.