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Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Bees are Buzzing

Down in the corner of our garden, by the birdbath and the wall where I put the bird seed, I've got two Savannah holly bushes.  I planted them when I moved in and haven't touched them since.  They're about 12 - 15 ft tall now and at this time of year, they are covered in tiny little blossoms.

When I went down to sprinkle bird seed on the wall this morning, the first thing I noticed was a happy buzzing sound that took me right back to my childhood.  I turned to look, and the Savannah hollies were alive with busy bees. 

Naturally, I grabbed the camera and took photos.  Most of them ending up being not very inspiring photos of a bee's back end with the rest of it hidden behind a leaf, but I did get a couple of decent shots to show you.

And, upon looking around the garden, I found that my little bluebonnets were popular with the bees this morning too.

Never let it be said that we aren't doing our part for pollinators :-)

Have a great week, everyone.   

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

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Plant Markers from Mini-blinds

I've been building up a little stockpile of "things that need to be planted" over the past few weeks.

Namely, some bulbs and roots such as Liatris, Echinacea purpurea and Rudbeckia.

I'd been putting it off because planting these also involved doing some serious weeding in the island beds.  But I've been tackling the weeding a little at a time when I get home from work in the evenings.

There are about a zillion seedlings coming up and I'm getting to the point now that I think I can reliably determine which are weeds and which aren't.  Some I'm letting grow a bit more before I yank some perfectly good zinnias or whatever out of the ground!

Another reason I had been putting off doing the planting was that I didn't have any plant markers.

Then I remembered a trick I had been given by Ursula, who used to blog with us on Houston Grows a few years ago.  I have since lost touch with her, but this great idea for plant markers came back to me and I decided to do it this year.

It involves an inexpensive mini-blind -- this one cost me $3.25 in Walmart.  All I had to do was snip the threads and remove the hardware and then I could trim each slat into three or four sections, depending on how long I wanted my markers to be. 

One end is trimmed into a point to make it easy to poke in the ground -- et voila!  Instant plant markers.  All you have to do is write on them with a Sharpie and you're all set.

I've got enough plant markers to last me a few seasons at least :-)

So I spent a pleasant morning trimming my plant markers and then planting the roots.  And I finished just in time.  And just as I was cleaning up and putting my tools away, it started raining.  Not a deluge, but enough to water in my new plantings.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The April Garden - and a new garden journal tool

I've been meaning to write another blog post for well over a week, but can never seem to get round to it.

So tonight's post is a bit of a hodge podge of thoughts and observations from the last couple of weeks.

First of all, let me tell you about a great tool I have just re-purposed for keeping a garden journal - Evernote.

Evernote Logo

It's an app that allows you to take notes, keep lists, jot down reminders and a lot more.  I have it on my iPad, my iMac and also my Android phone.

A couple of years ago I used it to keep a diary/journal when my husband and I went on a road trip across the American West, taking in Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Lake Tahoe and San Fransicso.

I'm a great one for taking photos in the garden, but I'm bad about keeping notes of what happens when.  Every year I start a garden journal, only to have it sit untouched after a month or so.  This year, I didn't even start one.

But with Evernote I was able, for example, to take a photo with my phone of the island bed when I planted some native mikweed and then post it as a note in my Garden Journal notebook on Evernote.

I did the same a week later when I noticed the milkweed was sprouting, and also when we laid new stepping stones in the garden.

I can also hand write notes using a stylus on my phone or iPad, and I can clip articles from garden websites and add to Evernote.

Once something is posted to one of your Evernote notebooks, you can view it on any device that has Evernote on it.

Evernote is free in the Apple store and on Google Play.  You can also upgrade if you wish to the Pro or Business versions.

Anyway that's enough of that, back to my garden blog :-)

I mentioned above that I had bought some Asclepias Tuberosa (native milkweed) and that it was sprouting already.  I'm thrilled they are taking off so quickly and hope to have a good supply of milkweed in time for the arrival of the Monarchs.

I've also got quite a few Tropical milkweeds coming back up, both in the back and front gardens.  The Monarch Waystation is on it's way to being stocked and ready!

I was amazed at how the Achillea (yarrow) was unfazed by the freezes we had this winter.  It stayed fluffy and green all winter and is now putting out lots of clusters of tiny white flowers.  I had thought the Homestead purple verbena next it it had died over the winter, but it was just dormant and is now covered in beautiful purple blooms. 

I've already seen a Swallowtail butterfly on it, but wasn't able to grab my camera in time to snap a photo.

I never had any luck growing anything in front of this trellis which hides the utility boxes because the soil is like concrete and I can't dig there because of the utility lines.  But at some point I planted the verbena nearby (I have long since forgotten when I did that) and for at least the past couple of years, it has happily crept across and bloomed in this unlikely area.

A couple of weeks ago we were thrilled to notice new candles of growth on "Junior", our Loblolly pine. This photo was taken March 28th and the candles are at least twice as big as this now. "Junior" obviously appreciates the spring fertilization he got at the beginning of March.

In my last blog post I showed you the Sam Houston peach tree covered in blossoms.  Well now look at all these tiny little peaches! I hope they actually grow big enough to eat this year!

I bought this nesting shelf from Duncraft at least three years ago, but although we always have pairs of cardinals around, they've never used it.  We're trying a new location this spring, tucked in behind the Savannah Holly bushes/trees.  Hopefully, in a year or two, a cardinal family will decide it gives them the cover and shelter they need and nest there.

The hanger came off this little birdhouse and I was wondering what to do with it.  I had an idea and now it's lodged in among the scentless Star Jasmine.  There's nesting material in there now but I haven't seen which bird is using it.  

Of course, it could be the mouse that Eric got a photo of, helping itself to birdseed on the patio the other night.

And finally, look who is making a home underneath the Wax Myrtle...  a cute gnome couple.  I found the tree stump fairy house in Hobby Lobby first and had to get it.  But then decided it needed occupants and that's when I found the gnomes.  I would have got fairies, but they didn't have any in the right size ratio to the fairy house.

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