Sunday, July 28, 2013

Moon Flower Plant

After I started working on my patio this spring I have had a few friends give me plants which is a good thing... because they have extras from their garden to share, must mean they are good for this area.... right?  I'm new to gardening in Texas, so any help I can get is great.  Way back when, I have had many a garden, and mostly very big gardens.  Gardening in Texas is a whole new arena... I have to learn all over again.  The soil here is mostly sand, and the ants, grasshoppers and deer are really prolific and there is a spring garden as well as a fall garden, and I have been told that if you know what you are doing, you can plant almost any time here.  Now all I have to do is learn what works here.  I tried my hand at it the first year we were here, on a very small scale, but it was a disaster... which caused me to hang up my hoe for a very long time.  I have planted some bushes and flowers with pretty good success lately, but I have decided to take it up a notch... or two, and do a real garden and see what happens.

Back to my friends... one in particular has a very green thumb.  A few weeks ago she brought me a bunch of different plants that were from her garden.  She thought I might enjoy some new plants. One of them was a Moon Flower.  For the first couple of weeks I didn't think it was going to make it, but it came around and started to show new life.  This was my Moon Flower plant last week.

I have been keeping an eye on it through the week, and really noticed it yesterday.

This morning at 7a.m. I took this picture.  The top part that is the actual blossom, above the green, is at least 4" maybe 5" long.  This is my very first Moon Flower, so I'm learning as I go, but from what I have been reading, this is a vine type plant, and will grow several feet in one season.  It is remarkable to see how it has changed in just one week, but I have not seen any indication that this one wants to start climbing.  I am sure I will see new characteristics in the upcoming weeks.

This next photo was taken at 1 this afternoon.  The plant is drooping because of the hot sun, but I can see that I will have to be keeping close tabs on this blossom as the evening approaches.  The blossoms of the Moon Flower only last one day... that is it will open in the evening, then be done next day by midday... I'm thinking that will be more like mid-morning.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Our backyard has taken on such a new look, or maybe it's a persona.  It looks so different than it did not so very long ago.  With the new look, it has taken on a new personality.  Before I began my patio project back at the beginning of May... the backyard had nothing that would make you want to sit out there... at least I didn't think so... but it has been there all along... I was just looking at it with a different attitude.  Now every time I go out there, I see something else I want to do to make it even more appealing.

It's not uncommon to see cardinals at my bird feeder, and there are several hummingbirds that have become regular visitors.  It is quite a peaceful little space that I have discovered. 

My attempts at gardening here in Texas have not always been very productive.  I have had a few tomatoes and peppers that I planted in the flower bed in front of the deck, but I want to have a real garden one of these days... and I'm hoping to do that real soon, behind the house where there is lots of room.  We have been working at creating a raised bed for my first fall garden, which will also be my first raised bed garden.  Hopefully I will get it filled with soil this week.  The area where we live is considered the sand hills... so all the soil to go in the raised beds will have to be brought in.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our patio seems to change, almost every day.  Sometimes it is because I have added or changed something, but more often it is the growth of what I have planted or new birds at the feeders.  I am really pleased with my decision to include a bird feeder and bird bath to go along with the Hummingbird feeder. 
This table was a unique addition.  The top is plexiglass, and beneath the plexiglass the colors are created using natural sand from the yard and some bought at JoAnn's.  We later added some metal stars around the base of the table.  Really neat to see how many uses we can find for these handy black tubs.

This section of fence was added to give the patio a more defined look.  It also is a backdrop for some vines to climb on.  This is to the left as you step onto the patio from the deck.  I got a late start in regard to optimum planting time for my flower garden, but all seems to be doing pretty good.  Still waiting for the Morning Glories to produce any blooms.  One of these mornings I may be surprised when I go out there.

Here is a closer look at how my herb garden is doing.  The basil is the big one in the middle.  The bench in the background doubles as a table.  I really enjoy this bench. The back rotates up to make half of a picnic table.  We have a second bench like this on the deck so with the two together we would have a full size picnic table.  Quite often I find one or two of the cats sleeping under the bench.  I think it is a cool place for them to lounge, especially later in the day when the big oak tree provides even more shade.

Now I have a question... has anyone seen a moth that looks like this?  We found this guy on the wall just to the right of our back door.  He was there yesterday, and he is still there today.  He is pretty big... maybe 2" across at its widest.  Sure isn't anything we have seen before.  We are just leaving him alone.  He doesn't seem to be bothering anything. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Progress on the patio

I started off with the idea of having a red block patio, but early on my best critic advised me that he thought it would be cool if I used some of the blocks from the clothesline pad to make the patio look like a quilt block.
This was still very early in the patio project, but you can see where I switched blocks from the clothesline pad to the patio, so I now have two quilt blocks instead of a patio and clothesline pad.  The black tubs are not in place yet... this shows their size before I sunk them down a bit.

The blocks are not "grouted" at this point.  I needed to get them all in place and be sure that I wouldn't need to move any more than I already had.  When I was ready, I used a material called Poly Sand... I have heard it was advertised on TV, but I came by the idea of using it by word of mouth from a friend.  The Poly Sand pretty much seals the cracks so weeds can't grow up in between.  So far I'm thinking that was a very good choice.

The patio here is starting to really take shape.  I have a planted a few plants and bought some mulch in, and added some new color.  Those petunias just keep on keepn' on.  I bought a Jasmine plant that needed to have a post to climb on, the black tubs are submerged about 6 inches... these tubs have had holes drilled around the base and bottom to allow for drainage.  These will have some herb plants... not sure, they could already be there in this picture... just can't see them at this point.  Texas is a focal point to the left.  To the right you can see some round stones that used to be the "patio".  Actually they were what I stepped onto when I went down the back steps before I decided I needed a real "patio".  Moving them over to the side extended that edge. 
I will post again soon.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Walkway is done

Quilting has not been high on my priority list… It isn’t that quilting has lost its importance, it is just that my focus has been averted for a while.  Walkway, patio and gardening are in the forefront at this time.  Walkway is done, patio is looking really good, and garden is on the horizon.

In a previous post I showed the sart of my walkway out front.  I have finished that walkway.  It turned out pretty nice.  I have had several Esperanzas in the flowerbed  for a couple years already.  After I finished the walkway I decided I would try putting some other plants in between.  I put in some tomato and banana pepper plants that produced lots of good eating.  I also planted some basil and a few other miscellaneous plants.
Everything did really well except the summer squash.  It seems that my soil is lacking something the squash needs, but by the time I figured this out, it was too late to fix it for this season of squash… but I will know next time. Right now the Esperanzas are up higher than the railing on the deck… and that is after being cut back in January, almost to the ground. I have to tell you how much I really, really like Esperanzas. 

I talked my husband into buying a pallet of patio blocks so I could start our patio out back.  I got over the thought of making my own patio blocks after my experience with the walkway out front.  Not that it was a bad idea, just that it is a lot of work no matter how you look at it.  We had the pallet delivered on April 28th.  Sunday was an odd delivery day, but that was when the truck was coming down to our neighborhood.  I chose red patio blocks as a contrast to the gray blocks that I had previously used for the clothesline pad.  I had kind of leveled the ground when I put the blocks down for the clothesline, but I didn’t get fancy.  I didn’t put anything in between to stop weeds from growing up, so it was a continuous task to keep the clothesline pad free of weeds.

It was a challenge to convince my husband that it was a worthwhile project to consider a patio out back.  His comment was that there is nothing pretty about the back yard, why would you want a patio out there.  I had thought of a few different areas to put the patio, but the one that made the most sense was just off the steps from the deck.  Turns out that was a good choice.

I have been continually working at this patio for more than two months now, and it always seems like there is something new I come up with to do… but I’m really enjoying this patio.

I'm going to limit the length my post at this point.  I have lots of pictures to share, but I need to keep this within reason.  I will be posting more.  Just thought this was a good place to start up posting again.  The key element here is the before picture above of the patio area.  I enjoy looking back at it now and then to remind myself how far I have come.