Friday, May 21, 2010

Lawn Care Service

I don’t understand why lawn care service companies keep leaving their flyers on my front door.
I trimmed back my little bluestem in March. My flower are growing exactly where I planted them and where they reseeded on their own. If a flower comes up where I do not want it, I pull it up. I pull up weeds as soon as I see them. In fact, I have fewer weeds (unwanted plants) than my neighbors have in their lawns.
Why would a lawn care company think I needed their services? And what could they do for me anyway? Mow down all of my native flowers and prairie grasses? Or even worse, spray them with chemical fertilizers and pesticides? Make me conform to the suburban standard? If they did that, where would all my butterflies, dragonflies, birds, and lizards live?
No, I have no use for a lawn care service. I will take care of this plot of land I call a prairie on my own and with a little help from nature.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chicken Coop Tour

Yes, I am a slow blogger. I attended the A Peep at the Coops urban chicken coop tour in East Dallas on April 18 and I am just now getting around to making the post. Why? Because I would rather be gardening and attending gardening events than sitting at my computer and typing. So, a month later, here is the post.

Interest in backyard chicken farming is growing in Dallas, especially in the area around White Rock Lake. The tour was an interesting opportunity to see the different breeds of chickens and sneak a peek into people’s backyards. Several of the chicken farmers had nice gardens or ponds so it was like a coop, garden, and pond tour all in one.

The stop in the photo above was one of the most popular on the tour. The owner builds chicken coups that are sold at local nurseries. Not only were there chickens on this stop, there were...
turkeys and goats (not pictured). I did not expect to see so many farm animals in a residential area of Dallas.
Here is a pond that was at another stop on the tour. The pond was built on a slope and was surrounded by Japanese maples and other lush vegetation.
The next stop was the home of Mariana Greene, a garden columnist for the Dallas Morning News. The small backyard was packed full of plants, pond and chickens. The Chinese snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum) by the house was eye-catching. Mariana frequently writes about her chickens in her column, so I will not give them any additional press in this blog. Since their adoring public was clamoring at their cage and I did not get an opportunity to visit with them anyway.
I did get a look at some of the colorful eggs produced by Mariana's chickens.

I thought this metal winged dragon sculpture was interesting. As I recall, it was around 8 feet tall.

This rabbit caught my eye because the pattern on its side looks like a rabbit. Do you see it or is it just me?

Since this was a chicken coop tour, here are a few pictures of the many chicken breeds on display. Sorry about the quality. Chickens do not keep still and it is difficult focusing through chicken wire.

The chicken coop above had curtains. I guess chickens need their privacy. Actually, the owner said she closed them during cold weather to help keep the chickens warm.

For the record, I do not have any interest in raising chickens. Besides, although chickens are legal in Dallas, they are not permitted in Plano. I would not mind if some prairie chickens or quail wanted to take up residency in my prairie—if they could survive the neighborhood cats.

This weekend is the Garden Conservancy's Open Days Tour in Dallas. Maybe I will post some photos before next month, slow blogger that I am.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Alley Plants

The small space that runs between my back fence and the alley is an experimental zone. I have tried several different plants in my attempts to fill the space with low maintenance and colorful plants that will not grow into the alley.

Salvia greggii, Texas lantana and zexmenia perform well, but the space is too narrow for the shrubby perennials. The daylilies look alright at this time of year if the aphids do not attack, but they would prefer a little more water and look pretty bad by the middle of summer.

Last year, I transplanted a few four nerve daisy, Hymenoxys scaposa, seedlings by the alley. It was in the heat of the summer, so they had a tough time getting established. They grew a little and bloomed some through the rest of the summer. They must have been growing more below the ground than above. When the cooler weather and rains of fall came, they were popping up all over the area where I planted the seedlings. The plants bloomed a little through the snow over the winter. Now, the plants are covered with flowers. The flowers really stand out in the alley. I think I found the perfect alley plant.

I use four nerve daisies in several areas of my landscape. I hope I never get tired of this little plant. They are practically perfect in every way.

My neighbors across the alley have yellow flowers growing along their side of the alley. They prefer dandelions.