Thursday, November 4, 2010

Welcome to Texas

Copyright @ 2007 - 2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

After a long, six-month process, my parents and sister have moved from Missouri to a sweet neighborhood in Georgetown, Texas. Their house is a 40 minute drive from mine, which is a big improvement from 13 hours.

I hope they will enjoy living Deep in the Heart of Texas. Of course, one of the first things we must do is plant a yellow rose in their garden. I love my miniature. It bloomed all summer and most of the fall.

My mother loves to garden and feed the birds. She gave the cat bird house to me that you see below. I've seen wrens try it out, but none have moved in permanently yet. My goal is to train the coral honeysuckle around the cat's face.

To the right of the bird house is one of two planter baskets.

The six potted moss rose did not seem to mind the heat this year.

By far my favorite garden activity -- besides buying new plants -- is watching the birds and butterflies. This swallowtail hung around for hours on my variegated lantana.

Hope you're enjoying the cooler autumn weather. Here's a National Geographic Monarch Music Video that might make you smile...

Happy Autumn!

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~Minnie Aumonier
Copyright @ 2007 - 2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Galveston Sans Oil

Copyright @ 2007 - 2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

It's been a busy summer so far. We just returned from another lovely vacation on Galveston Island. Luckily the oil from the Gulf Oil Disaster did not meet us there, though we did find some tar balls on the beach, courtesy of BP. Grrr...

We had an new view of the beach this year from a house we'd never rented before: Emma's Fancy.

The extra bedrooms worked out well since we were joined by both sets of grandparents, my sister and her friends.
We were relieved to find the Gulf water clean and apparently safe.

One surprise was the vast amounts of Sargussum seaweed, or Gulfweed, on the beach this summer. Galveston beaches always have a certain amount of Gulfweed, but this year was the most we'd ever seen.

According to the Park Board of Trustees, Sargussum is extremely useful. It supports a diverse eco-system when floating in the water and protects the island from erosion once it comes to shore.

The good news was, once we walked over or around the Gulfweed, the water was just as pleasant as ever.

It was a pleasant change to have 10 people in the house this year. Everyone went their own way most of the time, though we took a few group expeditions as well. My son's favorite adventure was the Dolphine and Harbor Boat Tour where we saw several dolphins following just a few feet from the boat.
A dolphin mother and baby swam right alongside us.

It was a privilege to see these beautiful creatures in the wild.

On returning to the docks we had a splendid view of the 1877 Tall Ship, Elissa.

Later, my parents discovered a distressed Northern Gannet on the beach that could neither walk nor fly. See photo below. We searched in vain for some authority to help him. After getting nowhere with the Galveston phone book, I texted a friend who helped me track down Trudy Belz. Trudy is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who was awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Award in 2005. Per Trudy's instructions, we placed the Gannet in a large laundry hamper and drove him to her home in nearby Texas City. Trudy examined the bird and said he was so weak he would not have lasted the night on the beach. Trudy will care for the Gannet -- as she does for so many other wild birds -- and release him back into the wild when he is strong enough to survive. We were happy to make a donation for her time and efforts.

As some of you may know, Galveston's Historic District lost many of its magnificent old oak trees to Hurricane Ike. Instead of removing the entire tree, some of the residents invited artists in the area to carve the dead stumps into beautiful works of art.

We had fun searching the neighborhood for the carvings.

They are a lovely tribute to the 40,000 trees that Ike destroyed.

Long live Galveston!

"The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself."
- William Blake, 1799, The Letters

Copyright @ 2007 - 2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back Among the Living

Copyright @ 2007 - 2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

It's the 3rd year this orchid has bloomed for me...

I hope all the garden bloggers are enjoying spring. Austin experienced some truly beautiful wildflower scenes this year along the roadways, thanks to Lady Bird Johnson. Some of the bloom-filled fields took my breath away...

A lot has happened since my last entry in March. First of all, the results of my tests at Texas Oncology were benign. Dr. Kasper officially pronounced me 'cancer-free', which was a huge relief. He's a really great doctor, but I'm hoping I'll never have to see him again. As if in celebration, my white penstemons decided to show off this year.

My second bit of news is that my parents are moving from Missouri to Georgetown, Texas this summer. They just closed on their new house a few days ago, which is only 30-40 minutes away from my front door. My parents are happy about their move. Historic Georgetown has a lot in common with their hometown, Independence Missouri. They are especially looking forward to being in the area next year for the Poppy Festival. My sister decided to become a Texan as well when she moved down to San Antonio on April 1st. It will be good to have family living relatively nearby after all these years.

Speaking of poppies...last month I saw loads of gorgeous poppies in when I visited with Julie of The Human Flower Project. [Thanks for the invitation, Julie!]. Her garden was divine. We were joined by Pam of Digging and MSS of Zanthan Gardens as well, which was a real treat. Julie was kind enough to share some of her sage and phlox, which are doing well in my garden as of today. I'll take a photo when the sage blooms.

I'm glad to see so many of my plants survived the winter snow we had a few months ago. My Purple Winecup (Malvaceae Callirhoe involucrata) is blooming nicely...

...though it seems rather partial to the sidewalk at the moment. I don't have the heart to prune it back into the flower bed.

The red yucca (Red hesperaloe), seen in the photo below, is the only one of three that is blooming this year. It's odd because last year the yucca on the far left was the lone-bloomer. Not sure what the problem is. I'd appreciate any ideas.

This year I decided to plant a container inside the large pot on my front porch. Hopefully once the begonias and sedum fill out the plastic edge will not be invisible.

My birthday was last weekend and I was totally spoiled by family and friends. I received this orchid from my son & dh...

And a beautiful -- rather large -- plant arrangement from a dear friend...

Best birthday ever! :-)

"In the nature of this child of the out-of-doors there ran a fibre of care for wild things. It was instinct with her to go slowly, to touch lightly, to deal lovingly with every living thing: flower, moth, bird, or animal. She never gathered great handfuls of frail wild flowers, carried them an hour and threw them away. If she picked any, she took only a few, mostly to lay on her mother's pillow – for she had a habit of drawing comfort from a cinnamon pink or a trillium laid where its delicate fragrance reached her with every breath." ~ GENE STRATTON-PORTER: A Little Story of Her Life and Work

Some of my Gene Stratton-Porter books...

Copyright @ 2007 - 2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Diva Getaway to Fredericksburg

Copyright @ 2007 - 2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

My book club, The Literary Divas, went on our annual weekend retreat; this time to Fredericksburg, by way of the Texas Hill Country Wineries.

Of course the Divas had a great time tasting the wine. But our final goal was actually a Bed and Breakfast we'd rented together for the weekend in Fredericksburg, Texas. If you've never been to Fredericksburg you might want to treat yourself sometime. It's a charming town 77 miles west of Austin, founded by German Immigrants in 1846. In the photo below you can see the Vereins-Kirche Museum. In German "Vereins-Kirche" means "Society Church".

Originally built in 1847, it served as a town hall, a school, fort, and a multi-denominational church. Today it can be found in the center of the Marktplatz. Most weekend visitors come to Fredericksburg to shop, eat or just enjoy the history of the place.

But before we traveled to Fredericksburg the ladies wanted to visit a few vineyards along the way. Our first stop was the Texas Hills Vineyard in Johnson City, Texas.

It is set in a pleasant rural location. I admired their fields just across the road from the main building.

We also visited Lost Creek Vineyard, but by far my favorite was Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas. The buildings and grounds are simply beautiful.

I imagine their gardens will look better in a few weeks...

Becker Homestead B&B and Reception Hall is available for guests to rent for weddings and other events.

Inside, the main building was large, but still managed to feel cozy.

The Tasting Room is huge. For those who do not drink there are many other items to choose from, including cooking oils and lavender products made from flowers picked on the property's very own lavender fields.

I loved the tree mural...

Before we left for our B&B in Fredericksburg we all sat on the side porch and listened to live music for a while. As I relaxed with happy friends, savoring the perfect day I felt grateful indeed. What a wonderful thing it is to have kind companions one can laugh with and to feel well enough to enjoy life, if only for a weekend.

I hope I can go back and see Becker's three acre lavender field in full bloom this summer. Sounds like it's going to be gorgeous.

Update for friends and family: My GP has referred me to an Hematologist/Oncologist for a biopsy and more testing. Hopefully I'll have a lot more answers once I get the results. ~Dawn

"Our road will be smooth and untroubled, no matter what care life may send, if we travel the pathway together and walk side by side with a friend." ~Henry Van Dyke

Copyright @ 2007 - 2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Snow in Austin

Copyright @ 2007 - 2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

It snowed here in Austin on Feb 24th. Big fat beautiful flakes!

The snow stuck to the trees and grass.

When I arrived at my doctor's office I saw large fluffy snowballs coming out of the sky. They looked like big cotton balls:

You can see how large the flakes are in this photo...

By the time I drove back home from the school with my son the trees seemed as if they were dipped in icing.

My son ran straight into the back yard and made his first snowman. He had a great time.

It's not too big, but I thought he did a pretty good job.

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~Bill Morgan, Jr.

Copyright @ 2007 -2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.