Recently in garden Category

If you build it, they will come

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

School got out for the summer yesterday, and the boys look forward to a summer of relaxing and doing whatever. But I do want to encourage them to work on their writing skills -- with all this era's wonderful computer and Internet advantages, the good old-fashioned "sit with a pencil and write" seems to have been lost, at least with my kids. So this summer, with journals in hand, we are going to write a little each day. Stories, poems, books, thoughts -- whatever inspirations lead us to. Remarkably, the boys haven't groaned too much about it!

And after school let out yesterday, we welcomed new visitors to our yard. We've seen many a toad in the yard from time to time, but yesterday the male toads found the new pond. Three of them set up at strategic spots on the pond rocks and croaked. And croaked. And croaked. We saw two of them -- the third was clever enough to croak AND stay out of sight. We didn't witness any mass migration of female toads to them, but those males sure tried to entice them. I really like how all three toads croaked at different pitches. I fell asleep with the window open, just listening to them...

For our morning journals, we decided to all write garden poems. I'll admit we were all sort of groggy when we attempted this...


Call of the Summer Wild, zinnia06-04-09.jpg
by Meredith

Sun rising
Birds chirping
Good morning, summer, all

Kids running
Playing hard
Will their mom stay sane

Dogs wrestling
In the yard
Splashing in the dog pond

Flutter by
Flowers growing tall

bull-toad1.jpgGet off of
My zinnias RIGHT NOW

Sun is hot
Ack, more weeds
Compost, cactus happy

In the night
Bull-toads croak
Seeking their true love

And eating mosquitoes. YAY.






Garden poem, by Nolan

Birds, birds flap their wings
Birds can do almost anything

Our pond is great
We found toads that might mate
We cannot wait

Butterflies, butterflies everywhere
But we care






My backyard, by Logan

Birds flitter past,2dogs.jpg
While my dogs run fast.
The garden's filled with plants,
The perfect home for the
   common ant.
When the dogs meet a skunk
    it really
Sprays them well,
And when the dogs do come in
I really hate the smell.
My backyard's a habitat
For animals thin and small
But watch out when it's dark,
For the dogs might startle you
With a sudden bark.


Plants in pond!

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Latest pic! We have plants!


Details at Great Stems and our pond project page.

Great Stems is working!

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Great Stems is now a fully functional garden blog. There might be the occasional garden pic here from time to time, but for the most part I'm going to reserve garden posts for my garden blog. Take a look from time to time -- like a bee visiting a flower!

Now to finally work on the design of THIS blog.

Garden blog in the works!

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Gardening has opened up a new world for me, and I love visiting so many of the garden blogs out there. And as such, I've been wanting to do a garden blog since I started my obsession with gardening last fall. It is on the way! The new website is I welcome comments as I start to build it. Testing out a few graphics.  <edit: blog is in place; working on placing graphic header>

We have waterfalls!

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Fallstest.jpgProgress continues on the pond, slow but most definite progress. The waterfalls are wonderful -- the flow was perfect from the get-go. The Rihas were over for dinner when we first turned it on, so they got to partake in the exciting moment. We still need to mortar rocks around the filter fall area and begin placing the rest of the edge rocks, but we are already getting to enjoy the very pleasing sound of running water down the rocks, splashing into the pond below.

I've begun a separate webpage detailing the steps we've taken on the pond. View the Pond Project here, but know that it is not finished!

Backtracking -- The Shade Sails, April '09

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

We've been busy with home improvement projects, seemingly nonstop since spring began. In April we finally covered our back porch with some shade-giving sails. To do something fancier was pretty pricey, so we opted for these fun and not-so-common shade sails. Here Grover distracts Michael from his hole digging.


What we thought was supposed to be relatively quick turned out to be an all-day process -- starting with the holes. Stepan came over to help hold the posts, but he got to help dig through bedrock, lift 12-foot cedar posts, climb ladders, place plumb lines, mix and pour cement, etc. Hey, at least we fed him! 


Of course, rain and hail threatened over the next few days, so we didn't actually set up the shade sails until days after the cement cured. The dogs began laying in the shade before the first sail actually got completely hung up.

Shade sail.jpg

But we are very, very happy with the shade sails. They add shade when it counts, but also allow enough morning sun to grow plants around the posts and in containers on the porch.


I already have crossvine growing up the posts -- I'll post pictures of the lovely tangerine flowers sometime later. You can tell by the photo that painting is soon to be in our future!


Happy Earth Day

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Though I've truly been going green for some time now, today being Earth Day made me really want to focus on doing as much as I could. Our family decided to go vegan for a day, and we really enjoyed it. Aside from the horrors of slaughterhouses and living conditions for livestock and poultry, livestock are responsible for a huge percentage of greenhouse-gas emissions, and add to it that the acreage required for livestock has contributed to the mass deforestation of rain forests. So... we went vegan today. I can't say we're ready to not eat meat at all, but I know that we'll have more all veggie days in our future. (To this plan a friend called out, "Plant killer!") I also having been moving toward local and humanely raised meat in the meantime. I'm there in principle, just not yet there in financial commitment. So far we're there in... eggs.

Back to Earth Day. This morning, Nolan was particular wonderful about making sure no unnecessary light was left on, and if natural light sufficed, he wanted everyone to not turn on a light at all. I made sure to not waste any water, and though I had to water my baby plants in my garden, I did so in the early morning hours instead of the heat of the day.

My neighbor Jan and I visited a plant nursery, and I picked out two crossvines, Texas native plants with tubular flowers that provide food for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. They are now happily twining up our cedar posts by our back porch. I think that they will really be spectacular when they take off. I also managed to get more plants planted from my stock of baby plants that have been waiting for me to prepare the next bed. This includes herbs, which means that not only will I have fewer herbs to purchase (ouch, expensive), but I won't be contributing to excess packaging cluttering our landfills.

From the nursery, we headed down to Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) to participate in a lake clean-up with Keep Austin Beautiful and the National Wildlife Federation. We even made it on News 8 Austin -- yep, that was me in pigtails, a garden hat, and gloves pulling trash from among the shore plants. It was fun, and we rewarded ourselves with a bubble drink from Coco's.

Earth Day 2009 Austin 1

  Earth Day 2009 Austin 2Earth Day 2009I would have been happy to have been able to ride my bike or a bus to where I needed to go today, but we did have to travel across town. At least Jan and I went in the hybrid!

Back at home, we made progress on the pond, too. We've had to hire some men to help us dig our trench, as Michael's knee has been really bad with all digging through rock, and today the trench was completed. So Michael's now working on the next step for the pond. The men also dug out big roots from our tree stump, and so this evening we were able to rip the stump out of the ground via our mini-van and a long rope. It turns out the old hackberry has become a haven for all sorts of bugs, including this strange, large creature:


Strange bug in tree stumpBefore anyone says that we should have left the stump as a home for creatures this Earth Day, I want to point out that we plan to move the stump to our bird habitat in the backyard (or at least the stump in parts for easier moving). Also, I already have a tree to plant in its place (one that also provides berries for the birdies).

The rest of the day was spent getting plants planted. The only thing that I didn't get to do was order my composter, but that was due to money. I hope to get it soon. We have to get a tumbler-kind because there's no way we'd be able to keep the dogs out of any homemade composter. They at least help us mulch by chewing up any stick or root lying around the yard.

Oh how the garden grows

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Spring is here, and we are back in the yard. It took a few days to get all the weeds out of the butterfly garden. I had great fun going shopping for plants, and once again only managed to fill half the garden. Plus I still have many more beds to prepare. So much to do! But all the family has been helping some, even Grover.


IMG_1881.JPG IMG_1882.JPG IMG_1911.JPG IMG_1912.JPG

I look forward to all these plants getting big! The butterflies are already fluttering by from time to time. I've found earthworms, snakes, centipedes, and spiders -- such a change from the fall, when we felt like we were working dead, unhealthy soil. The wildlife cometh!

Not so Keen

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Well, I went out into the backyard to discover that my favorite shoes, my pricey Keens that I got for free in a raffle and wear just about everywhere, had been mostly destroyed by one or both of our monster dogs, who apparently were "keen" on enjoying a classic dog-eat-shoe scenario. Grrrr.


KeensWhile it means that we'll need to fork over the big bucks to replace them (because yes, I want another pair), at least this unfortunate pair can officially become garden shoes, as it turns out that having no ankle straps means they slip on and off fairly easily, like a nice garden clog except more comfortable. It doesn't mean the dogs aren't on my bad side, though!

Getting back to my grass roots

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Despite the fact that our butterfly garden has been dedicated as such, the old grass is trying to reestablish its territory. So every morning I go out to pull grass. It's amazingly hard to pull it out with its roots in this clay soil, so chances are I'll be pulling grass for some time to come. On the plus side, I get to spent ample time admiring the wildlife that is frequenting the garden. This morning I enjoyed, among others, monarch, queen, skipper, sulphur, and tiger swallowtail butterflies. They'd fly over me, casting shadows the size of birds, and as I looked up I'd see a vision of color fluttering by.

Monarch 10-22-08 a.jpgThis morning also brought a dragonfly and a small centipede, which crawled quite close to my flip-flop-exposed toes. I just studied it for awhile and went back to my gardening. After all, a centipede, while hazardous to humans, is quite the bug predator and is welcome in my garden. On the other hand, perhaps I should stop wearing flip flops!

Happily all my plants are doing well. The rains we had last week assured me that my front yard plants are finally established -- they have really settled in and started growing. It's fun to see all the blooms on small plants. It's like watching small kids learning to do grown-up things. Here's a close-up of a milkweed bloom.

Milkweed bloom 10-22-08.jpg

I should correct my statement to say that all of my plants that have survived the dogs are doing well. The thundering husky and his girlfriend do their best to trample the garden or eat young seedlings. Hopefully, if all goes well, one of these days the surviving plants will be large enough that the dogs go around, instead of through, the garden. If only the dogs could pull up the grass for me -- that would be okay.

Grass 10-22-08.jpg

recent comments

  • Susan: What a wonderful collection of photos, memories and information about read more
  • lisa: You go, girl! I hope you will be feeling much read more
  • Meredith: Well, yes. But henna is considered safe, until proven otherwise! read more
  • You need to post before (gray), during (carrot top / read more
  • Michael: I thought all the pumpkins turned out great, and it read more
  • Heather: Beautiful. I hope you are keeping your poems for future read more
  • Meredith: Ah well, traffic happens. Somehow we survived the day. It read more
  • Lisa: Uncanny; all these years and I never realized how much read more
  • Meredith: I understand -- it's an easy move from feeling fine read more
  • Heather: I had a crown done that same week! And yes, read more
OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 4.21-en