Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There's an intruder in my garden!

Some people think he's good.  Some people think he's ugly.  I consider him just plain bad!

The good?  

Well, he's great at ridding your garden of slugs.   Nell Jean says he'll eat fire ants!  And some people say he tastes like pork.  Yum?  Well, I don't know about that, but he does seem to be a favorite with the vultures, baked in his own shell.  People in many areas of Central and South America eat armadillo, and during the Depression here, they were often used as food.

The ugly?  

Just take a look.  I rest my case.

The bad?  

He not only eats ants, but he'll also eat your earthworms!  I don't have enough of those as it is!

Plus - 

He roots up plants.  I have a hard enough time getting things to grow without him digging up plants when my back is turned!

Plus - 

He makes holes, and I have tripped many times just walking along unaware that he had set a trap.  A tripping trap!  Sprained ankles are not fun!

So, since I'm not going to eat his porky-tasting flesh, I wish to keep all my earthworms, I don't like holes in the yard, and I don't like re-planting my plants over and over,  I find him to be a nuisance.

Pure evil.

Well, not pure evil.  More like misunderstood.  The nine-banded armadillo is the only type of armadillo we have here.  In researching this particular armadillo, I found:  The nine-banded armadillo is a mammal and almost always gives birth to four identical quadruplets!  The poor thing doesn't have a very good immune system, and so he is used for a lot of medical research, especially research on leprosy.  In fact, wild armadillos can have leprosy, which can be transmitted if eaten undercooked.  They have extremely poor eyesight.  He is very vulnerable to cold weather, and prolonged cold can kill him.  The nine-banded armadillo is just one of several species of armadillo, some of which are now endangered.

Almost makes me feel a bit sorry for him.


But not quite.

Do you have this intruder in your garden?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hey, Mister!

It took five trips to the garden center, but it was worth it.  And it's now complete!

I'm talking about the misting system for watering my main rose garden.  And except for the five trips, it was simple.

Why did it take five trips?  Well, I started with the starter kit, which I recommend.  (I used the Mister Landscaper system.)  Working with the starter kit should have given me an idea of how much more tubing I needed (even though additional tubing actually took two trips).  Another trip was for more emitters.  One more trip for the misters (which were not included with the emitters!), and another trip was for miscellaneous parts and pieces: elbows, T's, end caps, goof plugs - that sort of stuff.

The starter kit has a DVD, which makes it look so easy that the model had gold bracelets dangling from each wrist!  Isn't it funny how models can always put together things in formal attire?  The starter kit also includes the faucet connector and the pressure regulator.

This mister will spray in a specific pattern.

If I were to do this again, I would take a look at the misters first.  They each spray a different way (360 degrees, 180, 90, etc.) and they also have different spray widths (about 4 ft to almost a 14 ft diameter).  There's even a mister designed to spray down so your roses don't get their leaves wet!  If I had designed my system based upon the spray pattern, I would have laid it out completely differently, and it would probably look a bit more professional.

Read the fine print - misters are not included with emitters!
See the black valve close to the bottom of the picture?  It can be turned for more or less water pressure.

The steps are simple.  Attach the faucet connector and pressure regulator, then attach the tubing with a push and a turn with their special connectors.

The emitters are connected easily by poking a hole with the orange tool close to where you want the emitter, and then pushing in the purple part to the tubing.  The orange tool is included in the starter kit, and the tubing is easily cut with regular scissors.  If you mess up, don't worry - they have plugs for goofs.

Yes, I used a couple of these!

After connecting the tubing, attaching the emitters, putting on the misters, and turning the valves to 'on' (the valves are located halfway down the emitter), your system should be complete!

I like this system.  It was easy for me to install (though I didn't wear gold bracelets), and although I didn't plan out the design first (thus the five trips), I would put in this system in other areas of my garden.  Hopefully it won't take five trips next time!

These misters spray in a line, perfect for this hedge.

Thanks, Sherry, for bragging about your misting system.  It's because of you I took the plunge to put this type of system in my garden.  And I'm glad I did!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Essence of Life

It's been amazing what a little water has done for my garden.

Most of my garden is getting ample water now, thanks to the new well.  And things have started living again!

Look at those beautiful new red rose leaves.  Gorgeous!

'Iceberg' has a horrible reputation for shedding its leaves any time it's unhappy.  But, look at those beautiful green leaves!  It must finally be thrilled to get a drink!

'Heritage' has had a hard time this year, but she's starting to get lots of leaves, and lots of little blooms.

'James Galway' is full of leaves.  James never blooms much during the summer, but a bush full of leaves is still a perfect plant for near the walkway.

This is just a small sampling of the roses in my garden.  The plants are starting to show their thanks.  It's amazing what water can do!

The well could not have come at a better time.  The family across the street ran their shallow well dry the other day.  It recovered after a few hours, but it's still a scary thought!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Frankly Fabulous

I was looking for a red OGR.  One that didn't get too big.  The salesperson suggested 'Francis Dubreuil'.  Maybe.  Perhaps.  I hemmed and hawed.  I needed just the right rose.  Then she did the most wonderful thing.

She left for a few minutes.  When she returned, she had a bloom.  A beautiful, dark red, velvety, perfectly formed bloom.  But that's not what sold me.  When she handed me the rose, I knew it was 'The One'.  Because when she handed it to me, I of course did what everyone does when handed a rose - sniff it.  And the scent!  Oh, the scent!  Like delicate perfume.  I fell in love that instance.
"To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat."                                     -Beverly Nichols

Not only do I have Francis in my garden, but this is the rose chosen to plant at the cemetery, behind a black headstone. I am helping it become established, then I hope it lives for generations.

If you wish to plant a rose where it may not get proper care after becoming established, be certain you get an Old Garden Rose, or a rose that is not grafted, but grown on its own roots.  Ask if you're not sure.  If the rose is grafted, there is a possibility that in future years the grafted rose will take over, and you will have a different rose than the one you thought you were planting.
"Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume."                                - Jean de Boufflers

Every time I see Francis blooming, I have to walk up to it and take a whiff, and I fall in love all over again.  If you're looking for a fragrant rose, try Francis Dubreuil.  There are some that say this rose is truly 'Barcelona', so it may be sold under either name.
"That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet."                                       - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Francis Dubriel grows to around 3 ft wide by 4 ft tall, and should do well in zones 6b through 9.  Francis is fragrant, floriferous, and frankly - fabulous!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

And so my vacation ended, and the return home was filled with anticipation.  What would the garden look like?  What would be blooming?  After seeing beautifully manicured gardens in Albuquerque, my hopes were high.

Too bad.  Upon my return, I took my camera outside to take pictures of whatever was pretty.  When I came back in the house, I had taken zero pictures.  Zero.  Weeds had taken over, the grass needed mowing, and hardly anything was blooming.  What a disappointment.

Well, this is where my stubbornness is an asset!  I am going to remedy this!  First, the water situation will have to be resolved, which it will be within the next few weeks.  Then every spent bloom is going to get whacked.  Every dead plant yanked, and then replaced.  I will not allow my garden to continue in this state!

Yes, I am hot.  I am tired of this drought.  I am discouraged, disgruntled, and disappointed.  But I am also determined.  I am flexible.  I will, somehow, find plants that can take our extreme conditions.  And my garden will shine in every season.  That is my resolve.

No matter how long it takes.

And the Plumbago picture?  Well, that's one of my purchases to replace some dead plants.  A designated Texas Superstar, the tag promises that plumbago "enjoys long, humid summers".

Gardening - always changing, always challenging.  Just one of the reasons I love it so!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Albuquerque Botanic Garden

If you ever get to Albuquerque, be certain you have time to go to the Albuquerque Botanic Garden.  You will be impressed.  I'm not certain I have ever seen any botanical garden as wonderful as this one.  Read on to find out why.

The Japanese garden was beautiful.  The waterfall made it special.

The farm garden was lovely.  It's my garden dream.  If only my vegetable garden looked like this!

The rose garden was blooming.  They had planted climbing roses in the most unusual way.

Fabulous planters.

Gorgeous pavilions.

Lovely walkways.

The butterfly habitat was thrilling.  There were so many butterflies, it was hard to not step on them!

And the garden railroad, complete with its own town, was fascinating.

Now, all of those areas were lovely, beautiful, nice, and enjoyable.  But, don't you kind of expect that from a public garden?  No, those areas, as pretty as they were, was not what made this garden unforgettable, unique, exciting, wonderful, creative, and imaginative.

What made this botanical garden stand out was the children's area.

In the children's area, you suddenly seemed to be the size of an ant.  It was if you actually became an ant!

Vegetables were huge.  Tracks were embedded in the ground, and it was fun to figure out what would have made them (rabbit, people, earthworm, etc.).

Here we are inside of a pumpkin!

This bee, giant size to us ants, made a buzzing noise when you passed under it.  I didn't realize it was above my head, and I kept looking for some giant killer bee hive!  hahaha  It was finally pointed out to me that the bee was above my head!  Makes you think of the sounds ants hear!

And there were ant tunnels.  Lots of ant tunnels.  Inside, outside, around and back.  A maze of tunnels, leading to different areas.

So much fun!
So much laughter!
So much delight!
And I bet children would like it just as much as I did!

In fact, Albuquerque Botanic Garden was all about experiencing and learning.  With discovery stations located all throughout the garden areas, children of all ages were encouraged to touch, feel, learn, experience, and discover gardening.  Isn't that as it should be?  Shouldn't we be teaching our love of gardens to all generations?  Albuquerque Botanic Garden has succeeded, exceptionally.

Definitely put this one on your list.  And bring your kids.  That way you'll have a good excuse to run through the ant tunnels over and over again!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vacation Pictures!

I'm back from vacation and it was a great one!  Oh, my gosh, I have so much to tell!

Never having been to Albuquerque, New Mexico, before, I've never thought of it as a vacation hot spot.  (hot spot - get it?)  However, after being there for a week, I'm amazed at all Albuquerque has to offer to the casual visitor, or a permanent resident.

Briefly, I'll fill you in on where we went and my thoughts about each experience:

What:  The world's longest passenger tramway.

Thoughts:  Beautiful, crowded, amazing, stomach churning.

Conclusion:  Definitely on the recommended list, and the restaurant at the top was a special treat.

What:  Covers everything from theory, tests, completion, use, consequences, history, social impact, economic impact, a children's discovery area, an artistic area, and developments.

Thoughts: Interesting, intriguing, educational, humorous, sad, shocking, concerning, amazing.

Conclusion:  A must see for everyone of any age.

What: Rock carvings

Thoughts:  Interesting, hot, curious, puzzling, sandy.

Conclusion:  Everyone should see this - once.  But, we only traveled 3/4 of the trail, and that was enough to satisfy our curiosity.

What:  Shopping - pottery, jewelry, clothing, souvenirs.

Thoughts:  Nice, expensive, quality, inexpensive, junk, fun.

Conclusion:  Nice place to get souvenirs or unusual gifts.  Don't miss the Turquoise Museum that is located nearby.

5) The Food:

The food must have it's own mention, because it was so delicious!

What:  Our favorite places to eat were Sadie's (loved the salsa!), Cecilia's (get the chili relleno!), Frontier for lunch, and the Owl for their green chili cheeseburger.

Thoughts:  Yum, yum, yum, and yum, love, heaven, can't get enough, tantalizing, mouth-watering, satisfying.  Yes, I want to put green chilies on everything now!

Conclusion:  Worth the trip just for the food!  Just make sure your pants have elastic!

6) Botanical Gardens:

You didn't think I'd miss the Gardens, did you?  I took lots of pictures, and was so very impressed with their botanical gardens that I'm going to highlight it in a separate post!

Albuquerque was surprising, delightful, fun, interesting, intriguing, beautiful, delicious and very enjoyable.   I recommend going!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What's Blooming Now?

It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!  (Well, not quite.  I'm a couple of days early.)  I'm posting early because I'm going out of town!  Yippee!  I'm going somewhere cooler - New Mexico!  Who would have ever thought of going to New Mexico to cool off!  :)

Anyway, I decided to look around my garden and see which roses were blooming now.  Today.  Not yesterday, last week, or probably will be in a few days.  Right now.  Which may not seem like much of a test, but it is.  Lows in the 80s, highs in the 100s, for over a month now.  Of course, as the weatherman likes to point out, no records are being broken because every now and then the high will go down to 99.  It was even as low as 96 one day during this heat wave!  I remember that day - it was a nice day out!

And, of course, they have to also remind us of the 1980's when it was over 100 for 42 days in a row.  So, no records are being broken as far as heat, but let me just say this:
 It's HOT!

Then there's the drought.  I do believe the drought is breaking some records, but I don't know which ones.  I just know:
It's DRY!

Therefore, any rose that will bloom now is one tough bloomer!

Less than half of the roses I have are blooming (actually only about 1/3 - no wonder my garden looks so sparse!).  The others, just taking up space!  I do have other plants blooming now, but I'm going to concentrate on the roses only.  And so, without further ado, the roses that are blooming in my garden right now are:


America (this rose is rarely without blooms)
Carnival Glass (mini)
Cinco de Mayo (after a long break!)
Impatient (gets a gold star - this rose never quits blooming in the summer)
Julia Child (she really is a continual bloomer!)
Knockout (double red is the only kind I have)
Heritage (one bloom! one!)
Home Run (full of blooms!)
Lady Hillingdon
LaMarne (another that never stops!)
Mrs. Dudley Cross
Peace (What's up with that?  It hasn't bloomed much at all, and it decides to bloom now!?!)
Perle d' Or
Souvenir de St. Anne
Starina (mini)
Tropicana (after I was thinking about getting rid of it!)

'Cinco de Mayo'

I'll be gone for about a week.  Until then, have a great Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lotus Life

The lotus plant has one of the most showy blooms of any of the flowers in my garden.

It is magnificent. 

So what happens after blooming? 

Within days, the petals fall off, and the seed pod is left.
If you wanted it for ornamentation, this would be the time to cut it.

The seeds dry and drop down into the pod.

The entire pod dries up.  The stalk slowly starts to buckle, leaving the pod upside down. 

The seeds drop out, and the possibility of a new plant.  Like this one that is growing in the pot of pickerel rush.   (The lotus leaf is round, the pickerel leaves are spiky.)

I have never tried to save the lotus seeds, but I'm thinking about doing it.  I found a website (here) about someone doing just that, and the results of their experiment.

It might be nice to have more of these elegant blooms!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Pond - By Demand

Several people have asked to see my pond, and so I will show it:

My pond was an experience in concrete construction.  Digging the hole was easy.  My son helped.  After that, he decided to visit friends for a few days!  The concrete work was a bit harder, but still satisfying.  (At least for me.)  My dad was intrigued by the concrete mixer, and decided to help me - for one day.  After that day, I didn't see him until the project was complete!

I usually make a mistake on every project, and this one was no exception.  The mistake was changing my plans in the middle of construction.  I had planned to use 12" square concrete blocks to cap it off.  When I got to the garden center, they looked so small, I decided on 16" square blocks instead.

I thought it'd be an easy change.  But, it wasn't.  It threw off my design.  So, it ended up not fitting exactly perfectly.   (Why didn't I think of that when I was at the garden center?)

But the worse thing about changing to larger blocks was that I could barely pick them up!  (Why didn't I think of that when I was at the garden center?)  Twelve inch square blocks would have been a piece of cake to work with.  The weight of the 16" square blocks, though, made it almost impossible for me to properly work with them.  It's a wonder any of them are level!

Still, I love my pond.

It has a cooling effect.  It attracts birds.  It gives a relaxing feel.  It makes a soothing sound.

I love seeing the colorful fish swimming around.  I love feeding them.

I love the water plants in the pond, too.

Maintenance is not hard.  (After finally getting the right filtering system - but that's another story.)

It may not be perfect, but it represents several weeks worth of hard work.  And I enjoy it daily.

What more could one ask for?
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