Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Someone asked me the other day if my gardening had slowed down now that winter was approaching. In fact, I would say it has ramped up considerably. There are hundreds of things to do. A delivery of trees from Tree Folks last week gave me an extra job in which I enlisted David's help. Tree Folks took a virtual look at my lot last year and decided I should plant these trees, part of the over 4500 trees they give out every year to Austin residents. Among them two oak trees a native persimmon and two flame leaf sumac.

There are few places on our lot where you don't hit ledge stone so we were pleasantly surprised to find a couple of spots where it was just small, easily removable rocks. These trees have to learn to live in what is here so no amendment, just a layer of compost over the top, a good soaking and some cedar mulch around the tree.
We have done very little work on the trees on most of our lot. There are so many horrible cedars and I have just been content to let them stay. But now we are starting to trim some of them up and remove the ugly ones and we are finding a number of persimmons growing in among the cedars.

Several weeks ago I bought several six packs of hardy annuals and potted them on into 4" pots awaiting the cooler weather. I do this every year.

It gives them a head start when planted in the ground or in pots. These hardy annuals add color to the winter garden and the bonus of the delightful fragrance of stocks, alyssum and petunias just outside the door.

I was also fortunate to be the recipient of some of the staging plants, left by Gardeners' Supply, when they were here filming their new pots for next year's catalogue.

I used some of these plants to change out the window box on the potting shed. I left the Mexican feather grass from the summer planting removing all the soil around them replenishing with fresh compost. I have had good success with ornamental cabbage in past years so I purchased 3, 4" pots and potted on into quart containers before they finally took their place in the window box.

Alyssum self sows in the garden and on winter days they are a magnet for the bees.

As often as not it will seed in the pathways and vegetable beds and there it stays.

I really wish summer would be over. It tries to leave for a day and then we are back in summer again. My problem is the need to get summer vegetables out of the ground so I can tidy up the beds for winter, whether or not they are planted with winter legs.
Despite the fact that many were still going strong I picked all the remaining peppers and butternut squash.

It's hard to believe that the butternut squash grew to this size in less than 2 months. When I added compost to the flower bed in the sunken garden a seed sprouted and produced these. It was trying to takeover the garden.

The peppers were sautéed and frozen in batches. The butternut squash still ripening in the kitchen.
It's good to see the beds empty again although I planted garlic in one of them and peas in another. For now I am spending the days trying to tidy up before we get the next frost.

Friday, November 10, 2017


Let us not forget on this day those who fought and those who lost their lives for our freedom.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Gunpowder treason and plot,
Remember, remember the 5th of November,
Shall never be forgot.

So goes the rhyme that every schoolchild growing up in England learnt. It wasn't a pubic holiday, as it had once been, but it was a day with bonfires, fireworks, baked potatoes and treacle toffee. There will be no fireworks at this house but I shall enjoy my Gomphrena 'fireworks' in their place.

Despite having been in North America for 50 years we still remember that night in 1605 when Guy Fawkes and his followers rolled tens of barrels of gunpowder into a rented cellar beneath the House of Lords, with a plan to blow up the King and all the Parliamentarians. It was another case of religious intolerance. Following the death of Elizabeth 1 it had been hoped that the new King, James 1, would have a more kindly attitude to the Catholic recusants. It was not to be and his soldiers combed the land searching for Catholic priests who might be hiding out in the large country houses of Catholic families. (We have seen many priest holes in these houses on our visits back to England). The plot was foiled when the cellars were searched after what seems to have been a tip off. Guy Fawkes was arrested, tortured until he gave up the names of all who had been involved in the plot, after which he was hanged, drawn and quartered.
As a child there would be a bonfire in every neighborhood any spare plot of land. We would go around gathering wood to build a big bonfire and then make an effigy of Guy Fawkes( it used to be one of the Pope) to place on the top. Some children would take the effigy in an old pram collecting money for fireworks. "Penny for the Guy" was the oft' heard cry.
Last night we watched a new production by BBC recounting the events prior to and after November 5th. Nothing was spared in their portrayal of the agonies the Catholics endured. There were a number of complaints to the BBC about the ghastly scenes. I don't think we understood as children what it was all about. We just knew he was a bad guy who tried to kill the king. We had no idea of the suffering and treatment the Catholics endured in order to practice their religion. I am now asking myself. Did Catholic children stay home on bonfire night?
But more importantly has anything changed in the world?