Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Martin Creek Lake State Park

Way back in October we headed out for our second family camping trip to Martin Creek Lake State Park, right as the weather got cold.  Like bust out your winter coat cold.  There were definitely some concerns as we were getting ready to leave, but we decided that the worse that would happen is either we would hang out int eh camper the entire weekend (with the heater), we would be so miserable that we would pack up early, or we would have a fine time (while wearing a few more layers than expected).

Our campsite had a great view, though the pad we were on made putting up our awning basically impossible.  We ended up with a lakeside campsite conveniently located an easy walk to the bathhouse.  You can see the silhouettes of the lotus in this picture.  They had already been hit by a frost, but must have been beautiful during the summer.

As it turned out, the daytime temperatures weren't too bad, so we got a chance to walk around and check things out.

The lake was really pretty.  This weekend was really quite, but they hold a lot of fishing tournaments, so it can be really really busy.

There were also plenty of rocks for throwing.  Everyone (dogs included) had a great time.  Unfortunately, our trip home was a little more eventful that we had hoped.

The first tire was one that was on the camper.  We think it failed due to a defect in the tire.  Earlier this year we replaced the other tire due to the same problem.  The other tire would be the spare.  Four store later, we had found ourselves a new trailer tire and were back on our way.

We made it home for dinner and we were all ready for work and daycare the next day.  While we enjoyed the beauty of Martin Creek State Park, we probably won't be back anytime soon.  It's just a little too far from our house to be an easy trip.  This was the last trip out for the season.  Our next trip is already planned and reservations made for April!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Where did you go...

I'll let you in on a secret, by the time fall hits, I'm really for a gardening break.  Like clockwork every year, October comes and I'm ready for winter and begin to turn my attention indoors.  It probably makes me a rather bad garden blogger.  I basically stop gardening sometime between October and November. I just don't care to work outside and there is really little anyone can do to get me excited.

Fortunately, the true Plant Geek keeps things going.  He spends time all winter puttering in the greenhouse propagating plants and starting seeds.  (I'll write more about that later.) I start working on other things, like knitting, refinishing furniture, and crafting.  My best project this year were the paper flower trees I made.

Each tree took a lot of paper flowers.  Luckily I had purchased a dictionary from the 1970's at the library's used book sale.  I had plenty of pages.

I think they looked great this winter with some greenery from the garden.  They lived on the buffet the entire holiday season (though the greenery didn't last that long).  Now they are tucked carefully away for next year.

I'm starting to get excited about spring and gardening again, I'm chopping at the bit to go camping,  cant' wait to start the pound project we have planned for this year and I'm ready to start writing about our garden and our adventures outside.  It's good to be back!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: November 2017

Fall is here, but we still have blooms in the garden!

I think this is Salvia madrensis.  It's big and yellow and the foliage has great texture.

It also tipped over while we were out of town and now it's left a whole in the border and is blocking the pool deck on one side.  Next year it's getting staked so we don't have a repeat performance.

This is the first year we've had blooms on the toad lilies and they have been spectacular!  I can't get over how beautiful each little flower is.  A few of them just seem to keep blooming.

Some of tropicals are still going strong.  Most will keep blooming until we get a frost.  Some years that's in November, some year much later.  I've heard it supposed to be a cold winter here, so I'm assuming winter will start early., but there isn't any sign of it in the forecast right now

We had an Iris re-bloom.  This one doesn't have a tag, so it's either a transplant from our old house, or a friend's mother's house.  Even without a name it's still beautiful. 

We have one 'Autumn Minaret' daylily scape blooming.  Our first daylily opened April 14th, so we've had blooms for about 7 months this year.  Definitely a successful season!

What's still blooming for you?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Autumn at the Arboretum

We recently visited the Dallas Arboretum for the Autumn at the Arboretum festival.  This year they out did themselves with over 90,000 pumpkins in their display.

They have a pumpkin patch, hay bale maze, and a pumpkin village.  It's lots of fun and you get to see so many different varieties of pumpkins and gourds.  In fact, they even have a "dictionary" display where they label each and every pumpkin and gourd used in the display.

It gets really crowded.  We tried to beat the masses by heading out early before church would let out for most people.  We were sort of successful.  We had about fifteen minuets in the pumpkin village before it started getting really crazy.

Once it got too busy to enjoy in the village, we moved onto the a few other parts of the Arboretum.  Fortunately, most of the crowds were there to take pumpkin pictures with their kids, so we didn't need to deal with too many other people.  Many of the pathways are lined with pumpkins through the entire Arboretum this time of year.  While is wasn't as busy as the pumpkin village, it was still hard to get pictures without other people in them.

It was too windy to have the Water Walls on, but the plants around the fountains are still beautiful.

The toad fountains were a big hit with certain members of our family.  You can see them at the end of this allee.  It's one of my favorite parts of the Arboretum.  Such a good example of what crepe myrtles can be if left alone and not chopped back each year.

We also visited A Tasteful Place, the new veggie garden at the Arboretum, but we were racing against nap time, so since we are members (and have no pressure to our visits) we headed out for a quick lunch and them home, so we could sleep in our own bed.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Nursery

We dabble in daylily breeding, so we are regularly making more plants that we need to find home for.  Last year we stated our first seeds.  They spent the summer in the stock tanks near the patio, but we knew we would need a new spot for their second year.  This new spot needed to be easy to maintain, easy to evaluate the seedlings, and safe from running dogs.  We decided to create a fenced in "seedling yard" in front of our shed.  We installed the fence earlier this summer and finally got a chance to create the some of the planters.

We decided to use pallets to create raised beds for our seedlings.  They would be easy to weed and we would be able to sue whatever type of soil we wanted.  Also, we both can get pallets free from our workplaces.  These can from the "true plant geek's" workplace.  We liked the bright blue and they fit perfectly in the space.

First we cut our holes in the pallets so we have a place to plant our seedlings.

Then we stapled down landscape fabric to the bottom and sides of each pallet to hold in the soil.  We reinforced it with wood to keep the sides from building.  This step isn't really necessary, but we thought it would help our planters last longer.

Finally we placed them in the garden, filled them with soil, and planted our seedlings.  They all fit on this side of the garden.  We have eight more planters to make for future seedlings on the other side of the shed path.  Next year all of these seedlings should bloom and we will finally see what they look like.  The special ones will be kept and the other will either be composted or given away.  The ones we keep will be evaluated for a few years to see what the plant actually does (because a pretty flower isn't worth anything is the plants is weak) and register anything that performs well.

I can't wait to see them bloom!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Musical Chairs: Part 2

We've made more progress in the great daylily reorganization of 2017!  the Barrier Garden has been reworked.  This was the really the center of the chaos originally and is what started the whole game of musical chairs.

Here's a before shot from earlier in the summer.  It was a rather messy bed of just daylilies that looked great in May and June, but after that it was really just green foliage.  We wanted to move any daylilies that were not diploid, add pathways to make hybridizing easier, and finally add a few other plants to extend the bloom time and attract butterflies.

Here is what it looks like now.  It's still going to be a pretty messy bed of almost all daylilies, but we did start to add a little variety.  We left the irises, loquats, abelia, and Chinese snowballs in the bed.  Over time the shrubs will become less awkward looking and add some nice structure to the garden.  We added two butterfly bushes, some Agastache, and two different kinds of milkweed.  We also added some stepping stones to help us move around the garden when the plants fill in next spring.

Next spring there will be a few other additions to this garden.  I adore Verbena bonariensis and plan on adding it to this bed.  We're also going to add some zinnias and maybe some low growing plants around the stepping stones (sort of a natural mulch).  Eventually we will redo the fence that helps remind the dogs to stay out. 

I really think it's looking great.  The reorganization is going to make the daylily hybridizing so much easier and I can't wait to see how it grows next spring!

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Wolf Spider or Do You Have an Appointment

Look who we found lurking around the door at work recently.  The ladies from the accounting office were not very excited, but knew the education staff would be interested.  They were obviously right since we even abandoned our lunches to have a look at this visitor.  (Don't worry, we finished eating after the excitement died down).

Upon closer examination we decided our visitor was not "A Really Really Gigantic Spider", but instead a Wolf Spider.  Since she was carrying around a whole bunch of babies, a female wolf spider.

Wolf Spiders get their name because they chase their prey, instead of creating webs to catch it.  They are brown, hairy and really fast.  The female will lay her eggs in a sac that she attached to her spinnerets and carries until the eggs hatch.  The babies will ride on her back for a few days after being born.

This Wold Spider had a lot of babies.  After we spent a while looking at her we moved her to a more suitible location (the front door wasn't going work).  I'm sure they are all doing great.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Tasteful Place at the Dallas Arboretum

The Dallas Arboretum recently opened a new 3.5 acre edible garden called Tasteful Place.  It was inspired by the sustainable, local food movement.  The arboretum partnered with P. Allen Smith to designing both the garden and it's programming.

It has a great location at the Arboretum with great views of White Rock Lake and Dallas's city skyline.  They did a great job of tying it into the Autumn at the Arboretum with fall colored flowers and some large Big Mac pumpkins place strategically around.

They have daily classes, lectures, demonstrations and tastings in the garden and its indoor kitchen.  In fact, P. Allen Smith was going to be doing a demonstration later that day.  They had a few food items that we could sample that were all tasty (a soup, a green salsa and a ranch dip).  They have a really robust public program program for this garden.  It will be interesting to see long term if they continue at this pace.

All of the beds were planted with full grown plants.  Lots of egg plants, okra, peppers, cool season greens and edible flowers.  There were no beds that had seedlings or plants that weren't of fruiting size.

The garden was really beautiful and meticulously maintained.  While that was really nice,  I also think it seemed really artificial.  Everything was full grown and ready to harvest.  There was no sign of any succession planting or even crops that would be ready soon.  It was an interesting juxtaposition that a garden that was so focused on teaching people about food would forget to teach them about growing their food.  I really think they missed an opportunity.  I know there is a lot of pressure to make sure everything is show ready in a public garden, but that isn't how vegetable gardening works.

I can't wait to see how this garden matures in future years and hope that they stray from the current look of perfection.  It did make me miss having a vegetable garden and look at my current yard/garden plans to see where I might be able to squeeze something in.