Thursday, March 24, 2016

It Will Grow Back

This morning was beautiful. 

The sky was blue and the sun shined brightly through the trees.

The sun was able to shine through the trees because most of the leaves were on the ground after last night's hail storm.  Yes, that is a decomposed granite pathway.

Hail was still piled up against the fence some nine hours after it came crashing down from the sky.

When I set up my bottle bush last year, I wondered how it would fare in a hail storm. Evidently, pretty well. I could not see any damage to the bottles. 

Around in the front yard, the tender leaves of the cactus did not hold up as well. 

That is going to leave a mark.

Just a few injuries on the agave.

Over the weekend, I was spraying a stream of water on the stems and leaves of this Hill Country Penstemon to remove aphids. I think the hail got any that were still hanging on. It removed most of the stems too.

I was excited to see a flower stalk on this Hesperaloe. I added this plant to the garden in 2013 and I have been waiting since then for it to bloom. The stem was damaged by the hail, but I think it should survive, although it may be deformed. I hope I am able to positively identify the Hesperaloe variety once it blooms.

Just for "fun", here are some before and after pictures. 

Before: This past Sunday, the parkway was full of bluebonnets.

After: Now the parkway is full of smashed and broken bluebonnets. Notice the ladder leaning against the house in the background? The neighbor had to cover their skylight last night. The hail shattered skylights in every house around me.

Before: Here is that Hesperaloe again. Flowers in the background and perky bluebonnets in the foreground. 

After: Flattened bluebonnets and not much color in the background.

Before: Pretty.

After: Pretty sad. (If you see the weed in this picture, I pulled it after taking this picture.)

Before: Pathway facing west.

After: Facing the direction the hail came from. 

Before: Golden Groundsel.

After: Ground up Groundsel.

Before: Facing the morning sun.

After: Facing a weekend of cleaning up all of the broken plants the garden. The good news is that it will all grow back. The plants may carry some scars for a while, but it could have been much worse. One bright point is that the hail knocked all of the leaves from the neighbor's live oak into their yard instead of mine. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sigh. Goodbye Spring Flowers

My spring flower show is over. I was just pounded by quarter to golf ball sized hail. 

I was going to post pictures of bluebonnets this week.

I have a feeling that the garden will look nothing like this tomorrow, but I am sure I will get a new roof for the house.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

From Winter to Spring

I began transitioning my garden from winter to spring over the last couple of weekends. This is when I cut back all of last year's growth (mostly dead) from the grasses and perennials and remove many of the tree leaves that collected in the garden. Here are a few before and after shots of the garden.

Before: Pine muhly and little bluestem glow in the morning sunlight. 

After: I used an electric hedge trimmer to cut the pine muhly within a few inches of the ground. Almost every year, my extension cord gets a little shorter because it always seems to get in the way of the trimmer and gets cut. The pine muhly were getting thick in a few areas where seedlings had sprouted, so I removed several plants. I think pine muhly look better when they are not crowded. I also dug and divided a few of the little bluestem and spread them across the garden.

Before: This photo looks more like October or November than March because the autumn sage bloomed so early and the grasses had yet to be cut back.

After: With the grasses cut back, the photo looks a little more springlike. 

Before: Another photo that looks like it could have been taken in the fall, but this was March.

After: The pine muhly is no longer apparent, but the agave and four nerve daisies remain.

After: This is the agave from the other side.

Before: Pine muhly dominate the scene. The red berries on the possumhaw holly in the upper left corner will not be around much longer. Cedar waxwing birds are swarming the neighborhood eating all the berries they can find. Right now, their focus is on the yaupon holly berries. 

After: The garden appears a little more colorful and alive now that the browns of the grasses are gone.

After: Another shot looking in the direction of the sunrise with more coral autumn sage.

The golden yellow flowers of golden groundsel are as warm as the morning sunrise. This stand gets larger every year and I have a few others started. Once the flowers fade, they develop puffy seedheads similar to dandelions. I have noticed plants popping up in unplanned areas, particularly the decomposed granite pathways. I dug up several little plants and transplanted them to new locations that I would like to see these cheerful flowers in the spring.

The bluebonnets are blooming about three weeks earlier than they did last year. In fact, all of the plants in the garden are ahead of schedule. I am sure it is due to the warm temperatures and few freezes we had over the winter. According to a news broadcast earlier this week, we normally have 33 freezes during the winter. So far, we only had 17 during this winter. As well as I can recall, the temperature never dropped below 30 in any of those freezes.

Around in the backyard, the coral honeysuckle and redbud tree are in bloom.

A closer look at honeysuckle flowers.

This is a first. Buffalo currant comes in male and female plants and my female plant started blooming in late December. For the first time, my plant set a few fruits from those early flowers. It will be interesting to see if they get full size.

This Mexican milkweed is proof of the warm winter. These plants do not reliably return after normal winters, but this one did not even die back to the ground this winter. In fact, it is blooming in these last days of winter on last year's stems. Officially, spring begins on Sunday, March 20. Spring started in my garden several weeks ago.