Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hello World

Hey - look at that.  It's been a month since I last posted anything.  Awesome.

I've got some posts lined up - the big one, of course, is that there is the Inside Austin Garden Tour happening on October 17 from 9am - 4pm.  It is done in association with the AgriLife Extension Office Master Gardeners Program.  Pam Penick (of Digging and Lawn Gone! fame) has her garden on the tour - the "Oh Deer!" garden.  I'll share my photos from the pre-tour the bloggers did the other day (though I only managed to make it to one garden and the Extension Office).  Of course, the 17th is going to be a busy day because that's also the same day as the Garden Conservancy Tour, AND Dogs Out Loud's biggest fundraiser of the year (which I will be helping out with).  In the past I've always skipped the Conservancy tour (not that it's been on the same day as the IAGT, but more because it's more expensive to do that tour), but this year, I'm going to try to convince my mom to go with me, and I know she's going to want to see Christy Ten Eyck's place so we'll probably end up hitting a few gardens from each tour and just paying by the garden ($5 for IAGT, and $7 for Conservancy).

I know I should be posting stuff about my yard, but my yard looks like shit; so we'll just ignore it for a while longer - though it IS time to be planting your fall veggie garden, if you're so inclined.  I've got my garlic lined up, and I just spent like $25 on veggie starts at the nursery (though I'm going to wait a few more weeks before planting to let the plants get bigger - see, I learn from my past mistakes of planting plants when they're little only to have them be eaten by bugs)

Friday, September 4, 2015

San Antonio Japanese Garden

The view of the sunken gardens from the top of the entry stairs
In late May, I went with my mom and her Sun City garden club cohorts down to San Antonio to visit the Japanese Garden which is right next to the San Antonio Zoo.  I've been to the zoo a few times, but never to the garden because any time I thought about going to it, it was always AFTER the zoo visit and I didn't know how much it was to get in, and I never wanted to walk to the top of the stairs to find out.  (pro tip: It's FREE.)

Tour cohorts with entry sign in the background.  It says Chinese Tea Garden despite being a Japanese Tea Garden.  See history below.

The Sun City Garden Club is the garden club that goes around and does tours - they're like the landscaping club; while the group that runs the community gardens and knows the most about vegetables is the horticulture club.  I guess the theory is that someone started the garden club first so the veggie gardeners had to come up with a different name for their club.  In any case, they will plan a few outings during the year to visit well known nurseries and/or other gardens.  These outings usually include a charter bus, which means that they need to have a minimum of like 50 people sign up for each event they do (their next trip is to the Natural Gardener).

History Lesson.

After driving through a nasty rain storm to get to the gardens (in which my mom fretted the whole time because neither of us brought an umbrella), we arrived and split into two groups to get our 30 minute history lesson before being sent off to explore on our own.

Brick kiln.  Not shown, Artists' village just to the right of this monolith.

Showing the rock wall

Mi Madre getting ready to take a photo with her phone - I only have one other photo I specifically took of her, but she's got a look on her face like "why are you taking a picture of me, you wierdo?" so I opted to go with this one for posterity instead.

Grass seed head

The gardens were conceived by Mr. Lambert in 1917 (as a lily pond) to hide the fact that the area used to be a quarry.  The pond and gardens were constructed for a total cost of $7000 over the next couple of years and opened to the public in 1919.  In 1920, an "Artists' Village" was built at the bottom of the hill (by the kilns) with the plan of the artists selling their wares to the visitors.  During this time, Dionicio Rodriguez created the traditional Torii entryway gate which looks like wood, but is actually made of cement.

Close up of entry gate - made of cement, not wood.

In 1926, Mr. Jingu was asked to take over maintenance of the garden and opened the tea house at the top of the staircase.  Mr. Jingu died in the late '30's but his family continued to run the garden/tea house until they were evicted because of anti-Japanese sentiment in 1942.  The story goes that his youngest daughter was a wild little thing and would run around all over the gardens and was fed food by visitors - to the point where her mother made her wear a sign around her neck which said "please do not feed me."  The Jingu family did not have to go to an internment camp as the local community had adopted the family as their own, but they were placed, essentially, under house arrest and were not allowed to run the tea garden any longer.  The tea garden was handed over to a Chinese-American family (who ran the garden until the 1960's) and was renamed the Chinese Sunken Garden, which is what the entry sign still says to this day, although it was rededicated as the Japanese Garden in 1984 with members of the Jingu family and Japanese goverment officials in attendance.

A view from the top (taken after lunch when it was much sunnier)

Tour goers

Bridge over the water.


A different angle of the bridge


Pathway through the garden

Another angle of the bridge

A good use of Giant River Cane on the left - but please do not plant this, it's invasive as all get out - albeit easier to control on a large scale than running bamboo (or so I'm told)

A view back at the entry

After exploring for about an hour or so, we sat down to eat our lunch, and snack on cookies made with Japanese green tea.

Me and my Mom, Mary Jo, taken with my cell phone.  Yes my mom is really like 6" taller than me, so is my Dad.  I'm just a weird squidgit.

After lunch we piled back on the tour bus and made our way to Rainbow Gardens where we spent another hour and a half or so.  We were supposed to be given a guided tour, but the tour guide was sick that day so we were left to our own devices. I managed to not purchase any plants, but my mom insisted on buying something for me, so I got 2 small tchotchkes for my succulent planters.
One of my Tchotchkes - a ceramic rabbit (it's about 3" long), the other is a small ceramic bluebird.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Paper Wasp

Paper wasp nest post removal.  You know this ended up at my desk.

We've been having a problem with paper wasps this year.  A few weeks ago I finally was stung by one (which had happened to get caught between the screen door and the actual door and I smushed it with my elbow while trying to open the door).  We've already sprayed 3 nests, removed 2 of them, and have another 3 that I've found that we probably need to spray at some point, but I'm one of those people who is like "not just live and let live, but live and HELP live" so I only ever want to remove nests if they're actively causing a problem.  All of these nests have been from the Polistes exclamans variety.  But just the other day I found the first Polistes carolina nest (Red Wasp), so I wonder if we'll see some sort of duking it out between the two types of paper wasp. 

On the plus side, I don't have any caterpillars in the yard.  On the downside, I don't have any caterpillars in the yard.  I've resorted to finding newly hatched queen and monarch caterpillars and bringing them inside.  I usually try to wait a few days to bring them in because when they're itty-bitty it's tougher to keep them alive, but at the same time, Live and HELP live, right?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bed Spread

Do you ever have problems with the spreading of a garden bed?  Does it have more to do with you adding more plants to the bed (like in my grass bed), or does it have more to do with the plants themselves propagating and spreading (like my fence bed)?

A lot of the plants in my yard may be considered invasive (like that Asiatic Jasmine and Boston Ivy that the previous owner planted), and some I've planted (like the giant petunia which some call Mexican Petunia, but others have said that it's not, and according to the Botanical Garden of Key West, it's Carolina Petunia), and still others probably should be considered invasive, but because it has a benefit it's generally okay (like passionvine).

I've known for a while that the Asiatic Jasmine and Boston Ivy moved into the neighbor's yard; but I didn't realize that the Petunia and the Passionvine had moved into the other neighbor's yard until I saw it blooming through the I stuck my phone over the fence and took a photo:

Uh Oh.  But also considering they have the hose out there I think they're actively trying to encourage the petunia/passionvine combo.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sanservera Blooming

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day on the 15th of each Month.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wildlife Wednesday

Fact: I have magpie tendencies and when I'm doing field work, I'll take little rocks and marbles and what have you back to the office to put on my windowsill - the last time I was out, I found a piece of armadillo shell and a vertebra, and the time before that, it was a chunk of yellow glass, and before that a blue marble, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Fact: I've been teleworking at home at least one day a week, and because I'm maxed out on saving up vacation, I've been taking a day off every other week.  All this really means is that I'm not in the office nearly as much as I usually am which leaves ample time for my coworkers to put things in my office for me.  Like this ghost flamingo which was placed in my empty terrarium.

Surprisingly, no one has said anything about it needing to be removed.  Sadly, I think there are plenty of folks who would prefer this over the random bones.