Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Watering

Dude.  Watering Plants Sucks.  That's right - watering sucks so much that it requires Capital letters.  CAPITALS!

I heard a rumor today that Cedar Park may be going to 'no outdoor watering' as of February 1 if we don't start getting some good rains...And there are dire predictions for this drought to last for another 3-5 years.  Which means that come hell or high water (ha!  get it?!), peoples' landscapes are going to be changing.  Even having a small vegetable garden may be changing in the near future.

Seriously.  Conserve your water.  We've taken to keeping a bucket in the shower that we move in and out of the stream of water as we soap up or whatever (it's kinda like a modified European shower - since Shawn and I shower together, it gets annoying to turn on and off the water every time we switch, hence the bucket - it actually works pretty well and we usually get about 3 gallons every shower).  If we're running water for the sink, we will use our big stockpot to collect the water until it's hot.  We've already replaced our shower heads, toilets and faucets with low-flow equivalents.  I've also been working on the landscape to get it more self sufficient - but we still have a ways to go.  Some of the plants I have just don't handle the heat well - the Philippine Violet and Firespike wilt easily and get watered frequently, but the Turk's Cap, Shrimp Plant and Liriope only get water maybe once a week.  The Rose Bed out front only gets watered once every other week - like that's totally awesome.  But I do have to put blinders on because otherwise I'd be watering everything all the time. 

Sigh.  Stupid drought.  But you know what they say - droughts are broken by floods.  So be sure to prepare for the eventual flood - if you're in a floodplain, have an escape route and an emergency kit, determine if you should get flood insurance (flood damage isn't covered by your standard home-owner's insurance), and always be situationally aware (actually, that goes for all of us).  If you use Windows or Apple OS (but not an i-product or Linux), you can view the City of Austin's floodplain viewer online to help determine where the floodplains are by your house or on your normal driving routes -  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August = Blah

Usually August isn't so bad.  Oh! Don't get me wrong - it's hot, miserable, and the plants and cats hate it (okay, the one cat loves it, but she'd live in the oven if I let her).  BUT!  There's an end in sight - the sun starts to go down a little earlier, it doesn't quite feel like it's trying to kill everything at 6:30 at night.

And I suppose it's not that bad this time around either, but it just seems worse since I've actually had tomato plants give up the ghost (first time I can remember that plants have actually died - sure they wouldn't look good, but they didn't die).  And the tomato plants get watered every day!  Some plants do better than others - the Rose Bed gets by with almost no water at all and looks great, while the Hell Strip area can look a little weedy if the plants aren't blooming.  I'm most impressed by my little Caldwell Pink Rose - it's in a small 1-gallon pot, it gets full sun, and while it does get watered every day, it's actually thriving - my pepper plants in pots aren't doing nearly as well.  The Firespike and Philippine Violet both use more water than I'd like (the violet more so this year than in the past because I moved it to a location that gets more sun), and the passionvine and Turk's Cap need more water than I'm willing to give if they're ever going to bloom consistently, but otherwise most of the ornamentals are keeping on, keeping on.

But seriously, maybe the garden would look better if I pulled out all the dead plants...

Also, as a head's up - I know blogging has been a little light around these here parts, and it's mostly been because we've been trying to go for a jog every night after work.  And now it's probably going to get even more sparse because my Dad had to be taken to the hospital on Thursday with heart problems.  He's doing better now, but does have to have a heart valve replaced on Monday - so any thoughts and prayers you can spare would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Anderson Mill Mini-Triathlon

I felt that I should post this here, mostly because I haven't been updating my normal blog with any sort of regularity, but I still update this blog and most of my friends who read the other one read this one. Besides, if I ever see you in person you know that I've been complaining about the crazy workouts that my husband and I have been doing in order to train for a [mythical] triathlon.

Our neighborhood does a Mini Triathlon two times a year (it might actually be more, I'm not sure). We participated in the July triathlon. It's not a big one, and in fact there are a bunch of kids who compete. The overall event is 300 meters swimming, 2 miles biking, and 1 mile running. Easy enough that you can do it even if you haven't been training, but hard enough to wish that you had.

Us before the race - God I look tired.  I'm not a morning person in case that wasn't already clear.

My husband took our waterproof camera to take photos, but then didn't bother actually taking it while he was doing the course. Since he finished 5 minutes before I did, he got to take some pictures of me competing. Below is the only one that you could actually see me (the camera doesn't exactly have a great zoom function).
Me acting like a goof ball - only 25 yards to go.  To be fair, I did sprint the rest of the way.
We had done a practice mini-triathlon the weekend before the event and I did all 3 legs in a grand total of 41 minutes.  Not great, but then I wasn't trying to go fast; and we were doing slightly longer biking and running portions because we were doing it from our house instead of from the swimming pool.  During the actual event, I did it in 29 minutes.

Now to start training for the September event.

Friday, August 2, 2013

NxNA garden tour: Deckert Garden

The final stop on the NxNA Garden tour was at the Deckert Garden.  I was immediately taken with the Desert Willow on the corner of the lot.  And then I noticed the awesome combo of Knockout Rose with Purple Heart.

Further along the curb front, there was a very nice plumbago plant with some white sage.

Close to the front door, there was a table full of wonderous kitsch.

And next to the table, a stack of balanced rocks topped with some gorgeous glass.

Around the side of the house, an eclectic path

Which leads to an elevated deck

On an old tree stump sits a purple sweet potato vine in a pot.

And of course wine bottles are put to good use as edging.

A view from the back of the yard looking toward the house - Ms. Deckert is at the corner of the deck - the work of a gardener is never done and even on the tour day, she was still doing yard projects.

On the ledge of the deck, there is a cute bird made of a shovel head, some pliers and a bike fork.  Ms. Deckert told me she found it at a garage sale for $5. 

A final view from the front yard

Ms. Deckert and I spent some time talking about the tour - she wasn't the first who said that the major downfall of the tour is that those who are hosting it can't go and see all the other gardens.  I agreed and thought that she should mention it to the organizer to see if maybe they could do a tour for just the tour hosts - you know go from one garden to the next as a group so they could see the other gardens.  She also told me that it's so nice to be able to share her yard with others who actually appreciate all the hard work that goes into creating and maintaining it - you know, like-minded individuals actually getting to meet and talk about plants.

All in all, the NxNA garden tour was a great success - the only complaint I had was that there were so many gardens it was difficult to get to all of them - I only went to 14 of them, and I skipped 5.  All of the hosts were very gracious and out going and I had a blast talking to everyone.  I've gotten some great ideas for my own yard (the husband is a little scared, to be honest), and I look forward to having another NxNA garden tour next year.