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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Signs of Spring

I had mentioned last week that I'm starting to see signs of spring in our back yard.  It's a dreary, dismal sort of day here in Texas but I got out with my camera this morning, to see what was going on.

First of all, here are some of the weeds - um, "lawn companions" - I was complaining about last week.

I *think* this is wild strawberry.  It grows rampantly along the side of the house in the soggy area that gets run off from our neighbor's roof.

Here's another photo - you can see just how rampant it is.  I don't mind it though, the birds seem to enjoy the teeny tiny berries it eventually gets on it.  

I'm not sure what this grassy plant is.  We only have it in the corner of the back garden closest to the bird feeders, so I think it may be growing from seeds that have either blown off the wall or been dropped by birds.  It's tufty and very fine and you can see here, it has lots of seed heads.  In fact, last weekend when it wasn't raining, there was a flock of sparrows out there, pecking the seeds from it.  it keeps coming up in the borders and containers too, but I just pull it out by hand before it gets out of control, as it has already done in the lawn.

On to more cheerful subjects, I'm letting this bramble type vine grow along the back, underneath the Southern Wax Myrtle.  Just recently it's become covered in pretty white flowers and I hope that berries will follow.  I'm sure the birds will enjoy it.

The native honeysuckle, Lonicera sempiverens, still looks rather puny but at least it's blooming.  I had thought it was too early for it to bloom, since it's a major hummingbird magnet, but I had forgotten about the hummingbirds' spring migration.  So really, it's right on time.

I haven't seen any hummers out there yet, but I'm going to put up a feeder this weekend and start keeping a watch for them.

The "Sam Houston" peach is blooming and beginning to leaf out.  I hope we don't get another freeze, like we did last year, and that we might be able to enjoy a peach or two this summer.

This is the original cutting of my Rose of Sharon that I bought over from my previous house.  I was happy to see green leaves sprouting all over it.  I have two others in different parts of the garden that are also starting to leaf and I'm especially pleased to see that the cutting I took from this one last year, and planted further along the wall to fill in a gap, is leafing too.  It's got a long way to go, being only a foot high, but I'm pretty confident that will grow well in the spot I chose for it (probably better than this one, which is getting crowded by the Wax Myrtle)

My husband's grape vine, a "Mars" table grape, is leafing out.  Eric pruned it back last year, so we're hoping for some vigorous growth and lots of grapes this year, as last year was very disappointing.

Other than this, we've got daffodils blooming, there's new growth appearing at the base of the Tropical Milkweed, the New Gold and White Gold lantana and the St. Bernard's lily by the waterfall.

And if it stops raining this weekend, I have some Purple Coneflowers and Black-Eyed Susan's to go in, as well as four new native milkweed plants that just arrived yesterday. 

Have a great weekend everyone.  I hope you're enjoying the Signs of Spring in your garden too. 

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Digital Paintings from the Garden

I'm sure I'm not the only gardener who finds this time of year both exciting and frustrating. Exciting, because I'm starting to see small signs that spring is on it's way, but frustrated because other than those few little signs, the garden just looks dreadful.

The St. Augustine lawn (love it or hate it, that's what we have to deal with) is still dormant but hey, the weeds are growing rampantly, showing up as bright patches of green in our otherwise yellow lawn.

I made the commitment not to use chemicals of any kind on the lawn, so we have to live with the results.  It doesn't look bad in summer as the weeds blend in with the green lawn and mowing can keep everything looking neat, but at this time of year, the weeds have a head start.

I can handle the individual weeds like dandelion etc. but great spreading mats of unnamed weeds drive me nuts.  

How do other gardeners handle them without resorting to herbicides?

Anyway, since I have nothing to show you from the garden today, I thought I would show you something different I have been working on in recent weeks.

As you know, I enjoy taking photographs of the flowers and birds in our garden and elsewhere.  You may not know that I am also a digital artist ( and over the winter I have been making some digital paintings from some of my photographs.  

These are fun to do and quite addictive and involve using digital paint brushes, textures and filters to give photographs a painterly look.

 This is a digital painting made from a photo of our island bed last summer.  If you click on it to see a larger image, you will see that it has a sort of impressionistic look to it. 

I've shown you these beautiful Cleome before.  They were blooming against a lovely stone wall created by Edward Lutyens at Hestercombe in Somerset, England.  This digital painting has the feel of a pastel painting, don't you think?

This digital painting is based on a photo I took of our other island bed last year -- the one that literally filled itself with Profusion Zinnias. The butterflies certainly loved them, including this Gulf Fritillary.

I love this digital painting of a Blue Jay in the Southern Wax Myrtle bush for two reasons.  Firstly, we really haven't seen many blue jays around recently.  They used to be here in abundance when we were surrounded by trees. It was a pleasant surprise to see a flash of blue in the garden and get a good photo of him.  Secondly, I love the way this digital painting makes the ugly cinderblock wall at the back of our garden look more like stucco.  If only it looked like that in real life!

I look forward to seeing the garden start blooming again so I can get outside with my camera and get started on some more digital paintings.

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dirt Makes me Happy!

 Image by amoceptum

I came across a post on Facebook the other day which linked to an article explaining how microbes in the soil have been found to have a similar effect on the brain as antidepressants like Prozac, but without the side effects and chemical dependency potential.

You can read the article here:

Yesterday I decided to test out the theory and headed out to the garden, to get up close and personal with the soil in our island beds.

OK - actually I was getting up close and personal with weeds and encroaching Bermuda grass, but it was very therapeutic and it really did put a smile on my face. I spent a pleasant afternoon pottering around, getting my hands dirty, listening to the birds all around, and smiling.

The weather yesterday was perfect for gardening -- the temperature was brisk but it was sunny and the humidity was very low. 
 I was working on the newest of our two island beds and didn't get finished yesterday.  The plan was to finish up today but it started storming during the night and has been raining steadily all day.  The garden is completely sodden, even flooded in one area (that's that drainage issue I mentioned before)

The island bed will have to wait until next weekend, but in the meantime, at least it does look like I accomplished something.


Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.