April 30, 2015

Give Me Victory, or Give Me... Oh Well... Live You Rotten Weed!

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trust me, dichondra has few, if any, virtues.

For years, I have been fighting the spread of this weed in my yard and flower beds. Just about the time I get it under control in one area, twice as much pops up in another area.   The most annoying thing about this weed is that it spreads by runners that are just under the surface of the soil. That should make it easier, right? But no, the runners are so thin that they break off at the slightest tug and every break turns into a new plant that sends out more runners.  It's like splashing water on a gremlin.

Years ago at a plant exchange (where everyone brings plants from their yard to swap with people who have different plants), a man brought little pots of dichondra that he wanted to trade for nursery quality flowers and shrubs.  He was so proud of his ground cover.  When no one was willing to make that trade, he foisted them upon everyone before he left.  Until he was out of sight, we stood in silence, each with a little pot of dichondra held at arms length, and then one person giggled, then another, until we were all laughing as we unceremoniously dumped the weeds in the nearest trash can.

So you can imagine my surprise when I came across this at Home Depot.

I have heard that gardeners in California try to grow Dichondra in place of grass, with mixed results.  I guess one state's weed is another state's ground cover.

But I will continue to fight it in my lawn and flower beds, and let it fight it out with the fragrant bedstraw and chickweed in my out of control xeriscape areas.  And one day, if I live that long, I'll do battle with the surviving weed.

And since I began with a quote about weeds, I'll end with one because it is so very, very true.

"Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone." -Jean Jacques Rousseau

April 28, 2015

How Many Vehicles Can YOUR Truck Tow?

This one should have a spot in the Guinness Book. It is a cargo truck with two small cars in it, towing a cab truck which has another cab truck piggy back, and that truck has a small pickup piggyback on it, and the pickup has at least two bicycles in it.

I would have taken a better picture, but Hubby was too close to this rolling pile of junk cars.

And I thought I'd seen everything.


April 17, 2015

A Stroll Through the Garden

After a long, miserable day of yard work yesterday, I thought I'd walk about the yard to remind me why I am doing all this work.  Here's what is blooming in my yard today.

Prairie foxglove (Penstemon cobaea), a native both to Texas and Ellis County.

Another Prairie penstemon, more purple than pink.

And here they are side by side.  Another behind these is even a darker purple.

Copper Iris (Iris fulva), a native Texas bog plant

I love how it flattens out as it blooms.

Horseherb just beginning to bloom.  (Yes, I should have cleaned off the dirt crumbs first.)

Horseherb aka Straggler Daisy (Calyptocarpus vialis), a native Texas ground cover.

Yellow columbine (Aquilegia species), one of them almost white this year.  Another native Texan.

Rue (Ruta graveolens), an herb native to the Balken Peninsula.  I keep it so the caterpillars will leave my parsley alone.

Cedar sage (Salvia roemeriana), a native Texas plant and one that thrives under Juniperus ashei.

Last are some bearded iris.  Although I have a lot of iris, I'm not an iris enthusiast and don't know the names of any of these.  I like them because they will grow in my hell strip when nothing else would.

That's the end of my pretty pictures.  Now for the ugly.

I have been digging out Asian jasmine. I tried to mow it to death last year, but I think it liked that. I've tried Roundup and it only burned the edges of some leaves. Hubby wanted me to leave it because it was better than weeds, but he didn't have to trim it off the sidewalk and porch every week. This year it went under the edging AND it had weeds in it that were almost impossible to pull out. So I decided to dig it out and put in something I could control. That was easier said than done. The thatch on the stuff was four to six inches thick and the roots were easily as deep. My method was to use a sharp shooter shovel, jump on it as if onto a pogo stick, and drive it into the ground, then move over six inches and do it again. After about ten hours (spread over three days), this is how much I got done.

In the space I dug out, I planted three yaupon hollies and three salvia greggii and then a layer of mulch.  The rest I covered with black plastic so it couldn't use the rain that was coming.  The salvias are just there to take up space and give a little color until the yaupons reach their mature size.  Then I'll move them in front of the yaupons when that Asian jasmine is gone.  I would like to think that the black plastic would kill off the Asian jasmine, but even if it does, it will take a very long time and I don't think I can look at this that long.  So I will be digging again soon.  Besides, I still have more plants that need a home.  Aren't there always plants that need a new home?

No gardening for me today. I have to get a new tire, and then I'm off to the plant sale at the Heard Museum. The locally famous Antique Alley Texas starts today too. I'm going tomorrow and maybe Sunday too. Have a good weekend everyone!

April 06, 2015

Easter Visit to Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Wetland

After seeing a brief documentary about the wetlands at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center near Athens, Texas, we wanted to visit. It is a short drive from Dallas, and we took the backroads to fully enjoy the drive.

When first entering the center, there is a big pond. At first glance, it appears to be just another pretty pond. Wouldn't it be nice to have a backyard pond big enough for a rustic boat beached on the edge?

But a sidewalk slopes down on the far end and what seems to be a retaining wall is really an aquarium wall with plexiglass panels that allow us to see inside the pond.

There were the usual bass and catfish along with these big guys.

There was another building with aquariums and then we followed a sidwalk which wound between a series of fishing ponds. We only saw one little boy catch a fish and Hubby surmised that since it was catch and release fishing that the fish were expert at nipping off the bait without getting caught. There were plenty of turtles, ducks, and geese in the water too.

Near this pond was a bog planted with pitcher plant (Sarracenia alata) which also goes by the common names pale pitcher plant, pale trumpet, and yellow trumpet. They are native plants, not only to Texas but also to Henderson County where the center is located. I must admit to some plant envy here and would like to add this beauty to my bog.

But what we really came to see was the wetland area.

Just inside the entrance to the wetlands is a picnic pavilion. The sign says it was constructed in about a week, and nearly all of it has pegs instead of metal nails or screws. That bright hexagon is just my camera.

The trail is a wide walkway of smooth concrete sidewalks and wooden ramps and bridges.

Even though there is a concrete or wood walkway all along the trail, you do have to watch your step.  This little guy was right beside the sidewalk.

Alongside the trail, the wetlands have both deep sections of water, shallow marshes, and rocky areas which work together as a natural filter to clean the moving water.

I loved how the plants grew right up to the edge of the trail, as if it had never been disturbed, allowing us to be right in the middle of it. As you can see, we had very little company on the trail.

Many plants had signs but this pretty little rose didn't. I love how it gracefully wrapped around the fence.

There were also a couple of dirt trails off the main trail, more narrow and with lower hanging limbs. Of course, we to take that trail. Turns out it was used for hunter education.

Lizard's tail (Saururus cernuus) looks great growing on the edge of the water.

On the last pond, a duck blind overhung the water. Inside, a room with large windows for the hunters and an information center with duck calls. Outside that room was an open air area with a "window" near the floor so the dog could jump into the water to retrieve a duck. And on the outside was a ramp so the dog could climb back in. Hubby pronounced this a luxury duck blind, and while it didn't look luxurious to me, it sure beats hunching down in the reeds before dawn. That's really all I remember from the one and only time I went duck hunting with Hubby.

It's a 1.6 mile trip from one end of the wetlands to the other so good exercise as well as an interesting walk.

A few hours walking, listening to interactive displays, photographing, watching for wildlife, and enjoying nature, and then we were back at the entrance to the center.

I must admit I was disappointed to see so many non-natives planted at the center, including several invasive species listed on their own Texas Parks and Wildlife website. I can understand the Asian jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum), crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), and knock out rose (Rosa radrazz) in the established beds near the doors; they were probably planted years ago. But a newly planted bed near the entrance included daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), oxblood lily (Rhodophiala bifida), Byzantine gladiolus (Gladiolus byzantinus), marigold (Tagetes patula), and wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens). None of these are native to the United States, much less Texas. Their landscapers had also committed crepe murder and the bare trees showed years of arthritic deformity.