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Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Cut Crinum Blooms. i wanted

Cut Crinum Blooms. i wanted to know whether the flowers would open if i cut the scape. so i cut one and put it in water. the scape had been open for about two days but the individual flowers were still tightly closed. lo and behold, the flowers are now opening. this is a good thing, because when i cut the scape after the flowers have all opened, they only last a day. this way, i can enjoy them a bit longer.

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West Nile Virus. bleah. a

West Nile Virus. bleah. a few weeks ago we found a dead dove in the backyard. since the harris county health department was (is) only testing blue jays and crows, we disposed of it ourselves.

this weekend, we found a dead blue jay in the backyard. checking the county website again, i found that west nile virus has already been confirmed in our zip code and additional birds are not needed for testing.

i'm not surprised that wnv has been confirmed in our neighborhood, but i'll be even more conscientious than before about wearing long sleeves and long pants when i'm working outside.

the texas department of health also has lots of info on west nile virus.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yet Another Reason For Me

Yet Another Reason For Me to Hate Squirrels. as if it weren't bad enough that the pine trees continuously drop needles on the deck, the tree rats sit in the trees, strip the scales off pine cones, drop the scales onto the deck, then drop the pine cone "core" on the deck. presumably, the squirrels are eating seeds in the cones and not just entertaining themselves.

scary squirrel world shares my animosity towards these creatures.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 26, 2002

Urban Animals. we have an

Urban Animals. we have an (over)abundance of squirrels, so they don't count. much more interesting are the green anoles (anolis carolinensis) and the skinks (scincella lateralis, i think).

just this morning i saw two anoles: a large adult on the back fence and a juvenile in the crinums. the baby was very cute - about two inches long including tail. i've seen the anoles throughout the backyard - side beds, under the sunroom, behind the garage, around the compost pile. so far i've only seen the skinks in the experimental crinum bed behind the garage, around the compost pile and in the mulched bed i recently started under the laurel cherry. i'm pretty sure the reptiles are attracted to the cricket farm we seem to be supporting in the compost piles.

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Recent Rain. we had a

Recent Rain. we had a nice rainshower at our house late yesterday afternoon. greened up the grass. the downside is that now the grass definitely needs to be cut.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Little Updates to Lots of

Little Updates to Lots of Things. haven't been spending much time outside this week. too hot, too humid, too many west nile virus infested mosquitoes. but, happily, the garden is doing pretty well without my help.

Serrano peppers: darin's peppers are doing very well. i harvested about eight on monday. they are pretty small but very, very hot. go nicely sautéd with a bit of garlic and basil and pasta.

Crinums: yesterday the largest one yet bloomed - seven flowers on the scape. all the flowers together are about as large as a child's head and the scent is very nice, but nearly overwhelming. another, slightly smaller scape will be ready to bloom in a few more days.

Gardenias: both gardenia bushes are flowering intermittently. the driveway bush has about a dozen flower buds and opens a flower every two or three days; the backyard bush has about half as many buds. right or wrong, i think that the light pruning i did in may might have something to do with this since the buds are appearing on very new growth. i haven't fed the bushes; watering has been sporadic (i.e., a few downpours and about two hose soakings for the driveway bush because i feel sorry for it wedged between concrete and deck).

Butterflyweed: there are some yellow leaves on the lower parts of the stems. i'm not sure whether this is due to natural aging or too much rain in july.

Figs: we've conceded the fight for the figs. the squirrels and birds are victorious (and well fed). there are a few green figs remaining, but the neighborhood squirrel patrol seems to harvest them just before they are ripe enough for human tastes.

Pentas: the pentas look marvelous. i must get more.

Coleus: the coleus tends to look droopy a lot lately. even though i consider the site to be in only partial sun, i think it's too much. maybe i'll move a few to another spot.

Crepe myrtle: lots of blooms. it looks like we have some "standard" sized versions, as well as some semi-dwarf types.

that's enough for now.

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Friday, July 19, 2002

Transplant Updates. two of the

Transplant Updates. two of the potted gardenias (one potted in june, one last weekend) are putting on new leaves, as is the coleus. the "stick" gardenia still has no leaves, but i'm pretty sure it's still working on new roots - pulling gently doesn't pull it out of the soil so something is holding it in.

the lantana potted last weekend also seem to be doing well but none of them have new leaves yet.

two of the three crinums remaining potted crinums - i gave the fourth and best looking one away as a housewarming gift - are looking good with new growth, but the last one is looking pretty puny. i put its survival at about 30%.

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Drying Out. a couple of

Drying Out. a couple of days of sun have certainly helped dry things out. all told, i estimate our house got at least six inches between saturday afternoon and tuesday, but all my plants appear to have survived the dousing without lasting damage. and some of them really, really liked it: the plumbago is covered in little periwinkle blue flowers and the crinums are growing like mad, with one of the larger ones set to bloom any day.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Rain Delay. haven't done much

Rain Delay. haven't done much outside due to intermittently heavy rain since saturday afternoon. no clue how much we've actually gotten since i still haven't bothered to get a rain gauge. at any rate, the yard is very squishy but not flooded.

i am a little concerned about the "drought tolerant" plants. the flower beds are all raised, but not as much as they should be. in other words, "raised" in our yard means an inch in some places, four inches in others.

note to self: work on adding stuff to raise beds.

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Sunday, July 14, 2002


yesterday i potted one gardenia cutting that had been rooting in water and four rooted lantana cuttings. i now have 2.5 potted gardenias. (.5 is the stick-with-roots; presumably it will have leaves some day.)

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