Monday, June 1, 2020

Follow Plano Prairie Garden on Instagram

I have not posted much here lately because it takes too much time. A few people suggested I try Instagram and I finally gave it a try a few weeks ago. 

Instagram has its pros and cons. On the pro side, it is faster and easier to post. I also get feedback as to whether or not people are looking at my posts because they like the pictures. On the con side, Instagram is mostly for posting pictures. The format is not conducive to detailed descriptions. Additionally, you need to post from your phone and I would prefer to use a full sized keyboard for typing. 

I have made 30 Instagram posts since April 22. In the last year, I made 1 post on Blogger. That says a lot about the ease of posting on Instagram. I do have more free time right now than I normally do, so that may influence my Instagram activity too. For now, Instagram is a winner for me.

You can find my page by clicking this link: . One additional con is that you need to create an Instagram account for full utilization of the site. It does not cost anything to use Instagram. Once you get signed in, click to follow planoprairiegarden and you will receive a notification when there is a new post.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Social Distancing in the Garden

It is a strange time. A pandemic is sweeping the planet. Governmental authorities are ordering us to stay home, except for essential activities. We are required to stay at least six feet away from people that do not live in our households. It is recommended that we wear face masks when in public. Hospitals and medical professionals are overwhelmed. Medical supplies are depleted. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Toilet paper is a hot commodity.

The garden offers a bit of solace from this crazy time. In the garden, everything is normal. The flowers are blooming. Bees and butterflies are flying around looking for nectar. Birds are looking for materials to build their nests. There is a never ending supply of weeds that need to be pulled. Being in the garden makes it easier to forget everything that is going on elsewhere, at least for a little while.

During this time when so many people are home, more of them are getting out and walking through the neighborhood. I have noticed more people stopping to look at the flowers and take pictures. If I am outside, almost everyone that passes by tells me how much they love the bluebonnets. Who in Texas does not love bluebonnets?

Since I have a little more free time now, I am going to resurrect this blog for a while and share some native plant love. Let's get started.

The Bluebonnets are the star of the garden when they are in bloom. They attract a lot of attention from people and bees. The flowers have a nice scent too.

There are a few less Bluebonnets than there were last year. I think it is because our first fall rains came late and fewer seeds sprouted. In contrast to last fall, to date, this has been the wettest year on record for the DFW area.

I think it was when I was taking this picture or the next one that a neighbor walked by on the other side of the street and said he took a picture from the same angle the day before. We talked for a minute about how you could get some nice deceptive shots if you shoot from a low angle. For example, the majority of the Bluebonnets in this picture are growing in the parkway between the street and sidewalk.

When you look at a higher angle, there are noticeably fewer Bluebonnets in the main part of the yard. I try to find camera angles that maximize the plants and minimize the elements of city living, like houses, cars, streets and sidewalks. If you don't notice the sprinkler riser in this picture, you might think the picture was taken in the country. This picture features Bluebonnets, Pale Leaf Yucca, and Husker Red Penstemon, which should begin blooming in the next week or so. The large green leaves belong to American Basketflower. American Basketflower is still another month or so away from blooming.

Moving a little left of the shot above, Soapweed Yucca comes into view.

Four Nerve Daisy and Bluebonnets make a great combination when the daisies are not squeezed out by the Bluebonnets.

The purple flowers of Prairie Verbena get washed out when photographed.

Husker Red Penstemon makes a colorful accent. Too bad they start to fizzle out after blooming. They can survive the heat and drought. They just don't look good in the summer. That is why I cutback the tall stems after they finish blooming.

One last Bluebonnet shot with the rain garden and stock tank planter beyond.

I used to grow Horsetail Reed in the stock tank planter. I started pulling it out a couple of years ago because it was not looking as good as it once did. My new plans involve blue firepit glass, metal fish, and a few plants. I am planning to get the makeover started soon.

The Golden Groundsel started blooming in February this year. Normally, they still look pretty good when the Bluebonnets start blooming. Maybe they bloomed early because the winter was mild.

Most of them have gone to seed like these. Notice the little green and black caterpillar?

The bright red flowers of Cedar Sage are a welcome sight under a Possumhaw Holly. They also found their way under my largest cactus.

Since so many people are out walking these days, I thought I would help people identify the plants in my garden by putting out some of plant ID tags that I used on a garden tour a few years ago.

One last picture from the front yard. These are Prairie Penstemons. I started with the larger plant with the light pink flowers. After a few years, a few small seedlings started popping up around the original plant. The seedlings are taller and have darker pink flowers. I am going to let these replace the Gulf Coast Penstemon in the front yard since they do not reseed as aggressively. 

Now, for a quick trip around the backyard...

The Bottle Bush is in bloom. It needs a little pruning. The rebar stems are jammed into the clay soil and tend to move around as the soil expands and contacts. A couple of the bottles are close to touching, so I will pull up some of the rebar stems and replant them.

The Coral Honeysuckle looked good for the first time in a while. For the last few years, aphids attacked the new growth and prevented the flowers from forming very well.

The first flowers on the Beebrush shrub.

Hercules' Club trees are about to bloom. The small flowers are very fragrant and attract a variety of pollinators. Giant swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves. When the caterpillars hatch, they will feed on the leaves until it is time for them begin their transformation process.

The native Eastern Red Columbine is beginning to produce its droopy red and yellow flowers.

Nearby, a hybrid Columbine holds its purple and white flowers upright.

This is one of my four vegetable beds. Prairie Vebena, Bluebonnets, and Four Nerve Daisies are growing alongside and overtaking the onions. Elsewhere, I am growing potatoes and garlic. Although my prime vegetable space is getting smaller due to a growing oak tree, I am going to get more vegetables seeds and start a Victory Over COVID-19 Garden. I think a lot more people may be growing their own food this year. 

Stay safe and well.