Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Very Sunny Weekend

The article on the main page of today's local paper was about the difficulty of predicting this year's winter season due to a late El Nino. This weekend is warmer than normal, - 90degrees in mid-October is odd - and appears to be a trend of what forcasters are predicting this winter will be. Personally, I don't mind the warmer winter forecast as long as it is accompanied by lots of rain. However, West Texas could use a cold, wet winter to kill bugs and help with next spring's crops. In terms of the drought scale, we have moved from last year's D4 rating (exceptional) to a D3 rating (extreme) thanks to the almost 11 inches of rain this year versus the 3 inches last year. Fingers crossed we'll get another 2-3 inches before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, last weekend was a little cooler and I was able to put in a good 6 hours in the yard on Sunday. First thing up was finishing off the bird feeder. Since the pole would not stand upright I placed cement blocks around the base, filled the centers with potting soil and relocated some yellow ice plant from another section of the yard. This should look pretty in the spring all cover with flowers and trailing over the cement sides. Penny the Pill gave her stamp of approval by walking all through the small planter and then bending over for a drink from the bird bath, which sadly cannot stay on its heavy cement base because somehow the strong winds keep flipping this heavy top off the base. So bizarre, really, but the birds do seem to enjoy climbing in and bathing in it.
Next up was removing the decayed base of the previous bird house from the top of the pole. Discovered the thin platform on the pole to attach a bird house is thoroughly rusted too. The hard water and winds do take their toll on everything here.
Managed to temporarily rig up the new birdhouse to the platform and will later buy a new pole. The bird house is a little too small in scale but works fine for now.
The expanded side bed that I planted this summer by the front gate is doing very well. The Cleveland Pear tree seems to be doing just fine and I can't wait for the shade and privacy it will provide in the future. The shades of pink and purple planted around it really have brightened up a dull area. I was thrilled to find an apricot Mullin this summer and it's sent up two rounds of tall stalks of flowers. The flower, in the center of the picture, looks pink but it's really a soft peach in person. Hoping this will survive our winter and come back next year with more stalks of delicate flowers. Other plants I tucked around it include pink geraniums, The Fairy Rose, pink gladiolas, pink caladiums, and purple salvia.
Speaking of pinks, the Veronicas are in full bloom thanks to the cool spells we've had over the last month. They're blooming better than in the spring amazingly enough. One should have spiked flower shapes in a cottage garden and Veronicas are excellent for this purpose. Just planted a red one under the pear tree and looking forward to seeing what those spikes look like.
October is a good time to visit local nurseries and scour for bargain plants. Scored two of the Flame Acathus or Hummingbird Bush plants for the price of one originally. I'd been looking for these for the past two years. The one pictured below is three years old and covered with red flowers that humminbirds and bees like. Beside it is a ruella that I planted at the same time that has grown almost four feet tall and is loaded with purple flowers. I'd like to plant more of these elsewhere in the garden next year.
The Angelonia that I got on clearance this spring looked pretty pathetic up until about two weeks ago when suddenly blossoms started to appear. The rain and cooler weather seemed to have done the trick. These are so pretty when planted en mass and when the three trees I've planted this spring fill in I'll tuck more of these into the beds.
And speaking of clearance plants, I bought this one at Sutherlands, which strangely enough at times has a really good selection of perennials from time to time. The tag said this was a delphium. I hope it is because it's doubled in size and has yet to produce any type of flower. Hoping I didn't inadvertently buy some invasive weed by accident.

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