Pond plants at last!

We’ve waited so long for this… we finally finished the pond enough to get plants in the water! Among the selection, I chose the water lilies Pink Sparkle and Perry’s Baby Red, along with a fun Fiber Optic plant. In the filter falls, I placed Ruby Red Runner and Lemon Bacopa. My friend Kim gave me another baby lily, a Pickerel Weed, and an umbrella plant from her Houston pond (thanks for transporting them all the way here, too, Kim!), and a Taro plant came from, I think, the guy who gave us all the rocks — the plant was kept alive for months by my dear neighbor Jan.  

plantsinpond.jpgBut we are thrilled — the pond looks so different with the plants. View the latest details on the pond contruction here.

My son took a picture of his baby bell pepper, along with pictures of two of our dogs. That’s the puppy’s snout pushing up from the bottom of the pic, like Jaws.



Bugs, blooms, and visitors

The butterfly garden is growing like crazy. New blooms appear daily, including lovely Purple Coneflowers and Zinnias, and there is soon to be an open bud on one of the Flame Acanthus. The Winecups that once attempted to take over Earth, however, have finally died back with the oncoming Texas heat.

After wanting soaker hoses for a long time, I finally purchased several for the butterfly garden and other areas. The butterfly garden alone took four, but already the plants are happily growing faster in response. I’m in the process of covering the hoses in mulch, at least until a pelting rainstorm exposes them again. No complaints here — I’ll take the rain anytime!


This Zexmenia (Wedelia texana) really stands out near the Blackfoot daisies (Melampodium leucanthum).


One of the fall-planted drought-tolerant Society Garlics (Tulbaghia violacea) has its first bloom, which means I must have done something right. What a beautiful lavender color.


The Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia ellisiana) seems to love our old heavy soil — it has already doubled in size since I planted it this spring. Maybe I exaggerate, but it certainly is bigger.


I don’t know the name of the insect below, or whether it is friend or foe, but it was quite fond of this young Purple Coneflower this morning. (Edit: It appears to be a Longhorn Beetle, genus Strangalia. Larvae bore rotting wood, while adults eat nectar and pollen.).


But nearby I did find definite foes. My Zinnia leaves have been getting eaten up a bit — upon closer look, there are several baby grasshoppers feasting away. Sure, they might look all cute and stuff UNTIL THEY EAT YOUR PLANTS! I’m worried about the grasshoppers — as an organic gardener I see them as difficult to get rid of. Time to do some research!


But still, the zinnias are stunning. Two blooms so far. The other ones need to catch up! 


The pond progresses, and I’ve begun planning the plants for inside and outside. The inside is easy — I have a few plants from a friend in Houston (thank you, Kim!), and I’ve chosen a few others for inside the filter falls and in the pond. But the outside is the real challenge — what I plant will help turn this “volcano-like” pond into a beautiful limestone pond to admire and enjoy all the more.

gettingclosertopimg.jpgThe pond is attracting wildlife already — there has been a hawk hanging out near the backyard the past two days, more dragonflies are zipping by, and I saw a toad hopping along the ground near the pond. The problem with wild creatures is they don’t want to stick around while you go get your camera!

We got our composter a few weeks back, finally. After much research online, I selected the Tumbleweed composter for its easy turning. I chose the “prettier” green one, thinking that I didn’t need the black one for heat absorption, given that we live in Texas. It’s nice to have a place to put our green food bits other than in the garbage. My big complaint about the composter, though, is that it is not made of recycled materials, for the most part. I seriously considered switching to another composter just for the sake of using recycled materials, but I decided that I was more likely to appreciate and use Tumbleweed’s design. I do hope they will revise their product at some point, or offer an alternative. It’s possible that over time the recycled composter will break down sooner (not meaning long-term decomposition) — I’m not sure.


When I planted this Texas Esperanza (Tecoma stans), rainstorms threatened to drown it. Apparently it liked it, and it’s thriving in its little corner by the fireplace wall. 


As I take close-ups of the pretty blooms in my garden, I’ve become quite aware of how much dog hair floats about my yard. Some people have to pull up weeds. I have to pull up weeds AND dog hair in my garden. Here’s Gregg’s Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii), complete with dog hair.


Ah well, at least the outside of our house is consistent with the inside!

We have waterfalls!

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

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 as it turns out he also 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!