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Saturday, November 29, 2003

Leucojum aestivum (Summer Snowflake).

the wisley blues (ipheion uniflorum) sprouting under the backyard oak have been joined by sprouting summer snowflakes (leucojum aestivum). thus far, four of the five originally planted are visible.

the snowflakes did bloom this past march and april, but i wasn't especially impressed with the show. hopefully they'll be more productive this coming spring.

l. aestivum was one of the many bulbs i bought last year for "experimenting". i chose it, and the other bulbs i ultimately purchased, because it is reportedly well suited for our challenging growing conditions.

horticulturist greg grant gives snowflakes a ringing endorsement.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Ornamentals | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Green Roof.

from today's houston chronicle -- 'Green' roof a cool hybrid of ecology, engineering.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Projects... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Brilliant Post, Forgotten.

i hate it when i compose a brilliant post in my head while away from the computer and then forget absolutely everything when i'm ready to type. including the subject of said brilliant post.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Emergency Tree Surgery.

yesterday was beautiful but windy. very windy.

late in the afternoon, darin called for me to come outside. i went out and saw that the pyracantha / yaupon holly [1] along the driveway fence had blown partly over and was blocking the garage.

after the judicious removal of a few branches and some clever propping up with bags of dirt, we solved the immediate problem.

the tree is covered so heavily with berries right now that it is very top-heavy and had no chance against the wind. unfortunately, this problem will certainly recur as long as the tree is allowed to continue growing in its current manner.

i'm torn about what to do. the tree has become so unbalanced [2] that i don't think we can reshape it successfully at this point. but we need / want something there to screen the fence. i could try vines of some sort, but the neighbors already have a monstrous lady banks rose on their side and i think introducing vines would create a massive mess.

[1] i'm waffling on the identification of this tree. i need to do more research to pin it down.

[2] i think the tree was originally meant to be espaliered against the fence. there is no other explanation for its placement in this location because, with the fence on one side and the garage / driveway on the other, the tree can't project more than about two and a half feet from the fence.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Problems, Shrubs & Trees | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sad Lettuce.

images/sad_lettuce_20031118it certainly could have been worse.

here at garden spot the only casualty of monday's rain was the black-seeded simpson lettuce. (and a few bell peppers prematurely dropped, but it's not like there aren't plenty.)

the lettuce was well and truly mashed into the soil. the leaves are shredded; what isn't shredded is bruised and yucky looking. this picture actually shows the few plants that fared best; the green smudges on the far left are what most of my lettuce crop looks like.

if it doesn't recover (but i think it will) i have plenty of seeds still, so i'll just start over.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Edibles, Weather | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blue Skies.

images/island_20031118after monday's flooding, tuesday was a fabulously beautiful day.

as the picture shows, everything was looking green a day later. as a matter of fact, once the rain stopped the backyard drained very quickly. yay for french drains.

these last two days there has been a spate of discussion on the neighborhood mailing list re: drainage improvements (a topic hotly discussed throughout houston / harris county). one question that came up on the list was whether curbs and gutters would improve our drainage.

presently, we have no sidewalks and open ditches (someone referred to them as "swales" which is a better description). it was pointed out that the larger lots we have (relative to many close-in neighborhoods), together with deed restrictions requiring generous building setbacks from the street and all other lot sides, and even the open ditches / swales provide more green space which equals more water soaking into the ground. and any water that soaks into the ground is that much water that doesn't end up in someone's house*.

it certainly sounds reasonable to me.

unfortunately, as long as other areas upstream pave everything over and divert their excess water downstream, the floodwaters go up. so the downstream folks look for a way to move more water farther downstream, and it goes on and on...

* no one in houston has a basement / cellar; since we're so close to sea level and do have large amounts of rain on a regular basis, a basement would be nothing more than an underground swimming pool.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Problems, Weather | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, November 17, 2003

Island Bed.

images/island_20031117the island bed has become a true island. for reference, there are two layers of stone around the bed. so we have 6" - 8" of standing water in the backyard.

lest anyone worry, our house is pier and beam (gives us an additional 2 - 3 feet of clearance) and the backyard does slope off; water is not near the house.

click thumbnail for larger image.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Weather | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Whining About the Weather.

yes, i know most folks are bored by weather-related posts. but this is a gardening blog so weather is a very relevant topic.

current conditions: very wet, with more wet expected (~3" and counting). yard goes "squish, squish" when we venture out, but no standing water. a very good thing considering houston's utter lack of elevation and chronically poor drainage.

alas, my lovely baby lettuce has been mashed by all the rain and become one with the dirt.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Weather | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Tomato Test.

the tomatoes are still growing madly but not doing so much blooming and setting of fruit.

the original two ("matt's wild cherry" and "sweet million") continue to try to smother the world so i went ahead and cut everything back to a few main stems. if this kills the plants, oh well, i'll finally regain what was originally meant to be an herb bed. if they survive, i'll have two year-old tomato plants.

i haven't tackled the two volunteers in the island bed, but must do so before everything not-tomato is engulfed.

links to refer to later:

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Edibles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lemon Grass.

apparently i never noted when i bought the lemon grass and i can't for the life of me remember.

at any rate, some time in the last twelve months i bought a small pot of lemon grass (cymbopogon citratus). it has since grown from a small cluster (~2" in diameter) of stalks not more than 6" tall into an enormous clump (~8" in diameter) of stalks at least 4 feet tall.

it does indeed smell strongly of lemon when crushed. it is also capable of inflicting horrific paper cuts if not handled with care.

we have yet to cook with lemon grass but there seem to be quite a few recipes with it as an ingredient, especially chicken and fish dishes.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Edibles, Ornamentals | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack