Monday, December 15, 2008

Sharing with the Hoes vs. Others

As much as I have been enjoying a plant/seed swap group to which I belong, nothing compares to getting plants/seeds from my fellow Garden Hoes.

After 1.5 months I FINALLY received my end of a plant/seed trade, only to be disappointed. :O( The other party forgot to include the seeds they were supposed to send (bee balm and King Henry viola seeds), the "rooted chocolate mint" they sent was dead and the gladiola bulbs were very moldy. The Lily of the Valley pips appear to be in good shape though. Still, after having waited so long for my end of the trade, I was so saddened by the contents of the package.

Compare that experience to ANY I've had with my fellow garden hoes. I steal... I mean, I gently and with permission (LOL..that one time meant all the time, right?), take cuttings (or plants..hee hee) from Naomi's garden and if they don't work, I get to get more. Same with seeds. The last work day we had, at Anna's, she loaded us down with healthy and beautiful rhizomes of what we are all anticipating to be GORGEOUS iris and Nancy brought mystery bulbs for us to plant! I can't wait to see what they pop up as.

I just needed to vent about my less than expected trade I received and send a huge thank you to the wonderful hoes for all the wonderful plants, seeds, cuttings, bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, etc that you share with me!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Winter is finally upon us

Last night was the night - the night when winter finally turns the corner and fall has become a distant memory. I don't know why last night did it for me, but it seemed like yesterday everyone I knew was wishing for the summer heat again.

So, in this introspective mood, I wanted to present you with images of my garden-to-be...It's not actually my garden, nor could it be, but the images are so beautiful that they inspire me in my dreaming of spring. (The picture above is of my pond pre-freeze - hope it looks this good again in a few months.)

I want to thank Tom Spencer, the author and photographer of the blog I've linked below. I had the good fortune to actually meet Tom at a completely non-related event this past week and it reminded me I needed to check out his blog again. While the pictures of places far from here are wonderful, it's the simple yet powerful images of his own garden that evoke the most emotion from me.

Take your time and enjoy his images at Soul of the Garden.

~ Hoe Naomi

Monday, November 24, 2008

November Garden Hoe Workday

Saturday found us "hoeing" around at Anna's. Before/After pix will be posted soon...

Anna had recruited the help of her sisters, who must love her a LOT to have driven a good hour, to help her prepare the delicious breakfast and lunch we had. We had a yummy breakfast casserole (from Naomi's recipes), sausage wraps and donuts that Nancy brought from Round Rock donuts-fried in LARD-which we discussed was a wonderful thing, coffee and mimosas. Lunch was a totally yummy chicken pasta salad and fruit salad, of which I think we all had seconds.

After a little visiting, we went to work. There were two projects we planned to attack that day. The first was trimming back the ivy on one of the beds in front. Beautiful as it looks, that stuff is a pain in the you know what. We got it whacked back though, hopefully to a nice size, and put what rocks we had available around for a border. At one point, the ivy tried to get back at us for whacking it all up and tried to "eat" Nancy. Unfortunately, she escaped before I could get a pix.

The second project was supposed to be to just extend the depth of Anna's veggie garden. One thing about us, no matter what we initially THINK we want to do, it ALWAYS ends up being a bigger project. Anna's veggie garden was no exception. Why just extend it a few feet when we could make it HUGE? After moving the compost pile back and pulling expired plants, Naomi started tilling. Rock removal and raking followed hot on her heals. What resulted was a GORGEOUS vegetable bed of fabulous dirt (I was really tempted to make a dirt angel in it it was such heavenly soil) that is going to result in lots of beautiful produce. I can't wait to post the pix...

In the meantime, here are a few snapshots of the fun we have during our work days...

"We could put a pond right here!" Always thinking of yet more projects that can be done, Naomi pointed out that Anna's rock garden area that she and hubby have been stumped about what to do with, could be turned into a water feature area. Anna's hubby noted that he'd prefer it be turned into a putting green. We'll see which idea comes to fruition.

"FIRE! FIRE!" Unable to unwind the last of the twine and grass that had become one with the tiller axle, and thereby bogging it down, we resorted to FIRE! Heather is carefully burning the grass and junk hoping not to ignite anything else. It worked great and the fire department didn't have to come over.

Goofin' around... Hoe Nancy taking a brief break from all the hard work.

Garden Hoes... I don't know why we never take a picture BEFORE we dive in and get nasty, but here we are. (L to R) Anna, Nancy, Naomi, & Heather. Nickie was unable to attend.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Like We NEED More Plants

Last night, Naomi and I attended the Native Plants Society of Texas-Austin Area Chapter plant swap in Georgetown. The LAST thing we need right now (especially with winter quickly approaching) is more plants that we need to get into the ground. That said, we're gardening freaks and couldn't resist.

We both got many wonderful plants to add to our own landscapes and enjoyed visiting with the NPSOT members as well. Some of the goodies I personally managed to score include: carolina jasmine, wild onion, snake herb, turk's cap, spiderwort, pipevine, wild foxglove, lindheimer's senna, false guara, salvia coccinea, purple coneflower, and little bluestem grass. Yippee!

It was loads of fun and I'm so thrilled I got to attend. Even if I hadn't gotten all the wonderful plants I did, I learned some things about native plants of Texas. Thanks, Naomi for letting me know about it! --Hoe Heather

Monday, November 10, 2008

Will It Rain or Do I Water?

THAT is the question. My poor pond garden needs watering badly (cause I've been forgetting) BUT the weather person said we've got rain in the forecast so I'm HOPING that the Lord will feel bad for my poor unwatered plants and send some rain to us...FAST.

This is the time of year where I really want to be outside, as Naomi mentioned in an earlier post, playing in the dirt, because the weather is SO beautiful. Unfortunately, there isn't really any planting I can do right now, that I know of, since ol' man winter is on his way. Now is the time to begin buckling down instead of germinating seeds and that is the complete opposite of what I want to do. In fact, the urge to make things grow is even greater since my having joined another group where I've been trading for some WONDERFUL seeds and plants. I am so excited about some of these that I am itching to go plant them. That excitement is going to make for a long winter, I fear.

Anyway, back to the rain... here's crossing my fingers that the weather person was right. If not, I have GOT to remember to water my poor plants later today. -Hoe Heather

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I hate this weather...

Okay, I know I said I like this weather, but last night it was 20 DEGREES COLDER THAN NORMAL so ALL my tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatillos, and peppers are mushy black crud. (My canteloupe are mush too, but that's okay seeing as they were a "volunteer" crop anyway.) Even a few of my perennials got a little frosted (like me right now).

Why didn't I cover them? Because it WASN'T supposed to get that COLD. It was ONLY supposed to get down to 50 degrees or so (normal temps this time of year), but NOOOOOO - I have black stumps where my wonderful plants used to be.

Silver lining - my lettuces, chards, cabbages, and other root vegetables are still looking good. I now have planted at least 7 different types of lettuces (seed and starts), four types of cabbages, several variety of broccoli, and collards and kale (seed). I'm trying intensive planting on my lettuces. I planted four rows of starter plants and in between, seeded other varieties. My goal - to have a solid row of lettuces (6' x 2') with no real visible space between the plants so that I don't have to weed. We'll see how it goes...

In other planting news - my GardenHoes project looks great. The number of unplanted plants is slowly going down and I am trying to be sooooo good and not buy any new ones until I get all these in the ground. I have several bulbs that I planted under one of our mock pear trees coming up, so I am hoping to get some flowers. What kind, I don't know, as that area became an experimental bulb planting ground. The deer have managed to eat a few more of my plants, but most seem to be surviving (it may be because my neighbors have taken up target practice and scared the deer away). We got some new fish for the pond...I wasn't supposed to, but when I saw that the new babies that survived the spill were okay, I figured - what the heck? Lots of other stuff in the works, but I can't remember it all right now.

Last thing - I can't wait for Hoe Anna's project day. It will be the first time we've been over there, so i'm excited to see what her place is like.

~Hoe Naomi

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Heather's Hoe Day!

Despite being in the middle of the kitchen remodel, the Garden Hoes were over the first Saturday in October for a huge project. Anna and Nickie did a beautiful job cleaning up and mulching the pond garden and we built a beautiful herb and iris bed in front of my garden. It didn't "sound" like a big project in my imagination but, like the kitchen remodel, it got bigger and bigger as we went along. Probably the most time consuming part of the project was removing only a very small amount of the fill rock that made up the majority of the ground. After removing 5 wheelbarrows full of rocks from the tilled ground, we called it quits, added compost and finished the project.

Between all the hard work, we took a few breaks, of course. One was for lunch and we had Greek Salad and some other Greek fixings. YUMMY. Another break found Anna telling Ryan, because he was sitting in her lap and asking the questions and she has more patience than I, what EVERY variety of onion and then bean was in the seed catalog.

Little FUNNY aspect of the day...Naomi had met, the night before at First Friday in Georgetown, a gal who had recently relocated here and invited her to hang out with us on Saturday to do a "little gardening". Well, the new firend DID show up and DID even jump in and help for a little while. During one of our breaks, however, she commented that when Naomi had told her we'd be doing a little gardening and eating, blah blah blah... SHE thought it would be a sort of picnic and we'd occasionally pluck a weed. THAT got quite a laugh out of all of us. The LAST thing we are is some prim and proper gardening group. LOL.

Anyway, we had fun and got the project(s) done!

We forgot to take a "before" photo but remembered pretty early in the day. Here is Naomi tilling up my rock ground in preparation of the bed.

It is beautiful and I can't wait until next year when all the iris come up and, hopefully, bloom amidst all my herbs.

Many thanks to all the Garden Hoes for the awesome job! Extra thanks to Naomi for the beams, compost....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'd rather be playing in the dirt...

Thursday morning and the temp is about 75 degrees. I wish I was outside right now. Not even necessarily doing anything productive, but just moving things around.

This morning when I went to work, I noticed that I have the beginning of a bloom on my fall asters. I got these for the first time this year and was told that these plants bloom at the start of the fall equinox. (This is not my plant by the way, but hopefully soon). The Natural Gardener calls the Fall Aster one of their favorite plants and talks about them on their website: "All year we wait for this magical time when profusions of purple aster blooms signal the transition into Autumn in Central Texas. Aster oblongifolius, our native species, is a real powerhouse of a plant. A very hardy perennial, reaching about 2 feet high by 2 to 3 feet wide, it is extremely drought tolerant and will spread quite happily by seed. An unobtrusive member of the garden community for most of the year, Fall Aster jumps to the fore in late summer to provide an eye-popping show through the Autumn months. Plant now to get a head start for Spring."

Well, between the 50 degree nights and the fall aster blooms, I think Fall has officially arrived. This is my favorite time of the year - boy, I wish I could be outside right now.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Look What Showed Up

From Hoe Nancy:

So, I'm thinking this beast of a summer has died.  Look what came up in my yard as a complete and total surprise when I splashed some water around something nearby:

These lilies have been in the ground several years now, but I haven't seen even a hint of them for 2006 (drought), 2007 (flood) or 2008 (drought).  Their first year (2005) I got one sickly bloom (my friend only gave me a small chunk) so I am astounded by this spread.   I had very much given up on them, so needless to say I do a little dance of joy every time I walk the yard and see them.   Then I start wondering about all the other things that I've just assumed were dead and gone .....   but I've got to tell you that seeing something blooming in the yard raised my spirits so much that it sent me running to the nursery for some blackfoot daisy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Recipes, Science Fiction & Gardening

WHAT, you are probably thinking, do those three things have in common? Not long ago I got a card to send to a friend that had a quote from Rita Rutner that read, "I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and think....that's not going to happen!"

While I feel that way about my cooking, I also feel the same way about my gardening. I see these beautiful pictures in books and magazines and in friend's yards (um...Naomi. Hee hee) and try as I might, when I try to accomplish a certain look or grow a certain plant, well, my thumb tends to be more brown than green. Naomi, and my husband, keep telling me that old adage of "1st year sleeps, 2nd year creeps, and 3rd year leaps". Unfortunately, with the way I seem to be with plants, I'm forever going to be in that 1st/2nd year phase.

I am, however, most excited about my upcoming hoe day! While I will only have one small bed to do for the main project, I'm hoping to enlist my free labor to help me with some general clean-up and mulching of the rest of the beds and such to make the house - the outside at least- look all pretty for the James family reunion we have the 3rd weekend in October.

-Hoe Heather

We're not Murderers...kinda

Good news! My husband and I aren't murderers!

A little bit of background: About a month ago, my husband forgot and left the water hose in the pond while he was filling it. We had five nice size Koi and about 40 goldfish (various types and colors). Well, the Leander water we have is loaded with nasty chemicals and the water was on overnight.

Long story short, we killed all of our fish except for two of the Koi (and the ugly ones at that). It was like the Exxon Valdez has spilled in our pond and every fish minus two were heads up, eyes bulging when I woke the next morning to go to work.

We immediately treated the pond and hoped that the last two fish would survive. We have delayed getting replacement fish because we wanted to make sure the pond eco-system was healthy and the fish were no longer stressed. Last night as I was feeding the two Koi, I noticed some other movement in the pond. Lo and behold - we have baby fish! Probably about 12-14 black, 1 white, and 1 white/orange - all goldfish. So we're parents again and ecstatic - yay!

Of course, it is my luck that almost all the new fish are an ugly black, but beggars (and murderers) can't be choosers, right? :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Hoe Day!

Well, my Hoe Day has come and gone, and it was a blast! As you can see, the side of the house we worked on needed it badly...

But, first things first. Food! Breakfast was the guest standy - breakfast pizza. Very hardy and filling. Of course, we also had the GardenHoe required alcohol - mimosas! Everyone was able to come except Nickie - we missed her, but we'll get her next time.

Then we went to work. The crepe myrtle on the left was dug out and turned into five new crepe myrtles (on purpose on accident). The new crepe myrtles were all planted by the pool in the back yard and the cannas that were dug out were moved to be planted at the back of the pond. We also dug out a dwarf nandina (also relocated to the pond) and some Easter Lily bulbs (to be relocated in the new bed). All the weeds were pulled (turns out Anna HATES weeds and makes it her life's work to get rid of them) and we moved some of the junk on the right side away from the house.

Next, we tilled up a wide area - maybe four feet wide from the side of the house all the way out. After tilling and raking off the chaff, we laid down compost and retilled the entire area. By then, it was lunchtime!

Lunch was good (if I do say so myself)...I tried out a few new recipes and made some old standards. We had teriyaki flank steak, honey-mustard chicked drummettes, broccoli salad, an AWESOME crab dip, chorizo and carmelized onion quiche-type-thing, and Mom's pound cake for dessert. Yum! I'll have to post the recipes in another post...

After lunch, Nancy and Anna had to go, and Heather and I did the easy stuff - planted some plants. We then decided that we had worked hard enough and went to Lowe's and Hill Country Water Gardens to shop. :-)

On Sunday, motivated by all the hard work (and my nagging), my DH and I finished the hardscapes stuff - added pavers bought off of Craigslist and a fence area around the pool equipment. I also found (over by the greenhouse!) more plants that I could plant, so I did. And here is the result...

Wow! What a difference! And just to let you know what plants went in...

Purple fall asters
Purple and white walking irises
Purple passionflower vine
Purple bat faced cuphea (I was SOOOO excited to find this...)
Purple salvia
Purple fountain grass
Purple scabiosas (pincushion)
Silver ponyfoot
Mounding plumbago (kind of looks lavender-ish)
White easter lilies
Japanese maple

Can you tell I had a purple theme? I can't wait to see what it will look like when it blooms. Thanks Hoes for my project! I love the side of my house now!

~Hoe Naomi

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hoe - 1, Deer - 0

So, I am uber-excited because several of my plants that had been decimated by the deer have actually managed to come back and bloom. What did I do, you ask, to stave off the hordes of cannabilistic doe-eyed demons who ravaged my poor plants like zombies at Disneyland? I bought this gadget called a Scarecrow - a motion-activated sprinkler. It has been the best deer repellent I have ever had, except now I need at least two more to keep them from the pond and the veggie garden in the back yard.

But, back to the plants. I was able to photograph a few before my camera died.

My first plant is some type of lily, I think. I don't remember what this is or where I got it (not surprising), but it bloomed once about six weeks ago then the deer ate it to the ground. But, it finally rebloomed and has a couple more flowers on it, so I'm very excited. If you have any idea what this is, I'd appreciate any help!

Next is one of several bat faced cupheas I have. I have three different kinds right now - one which is a very small bloom, a few that have a regular bloom size, and a ruffled version I couldn't NOT get last weekend while Craigslisting down south. (Yes Heather, you can have a cutting of that.) My smaller versions are doing fine, but the two larger plants got nubbed. Finally, after banishing the deer from the yard, this one has decided that it can bloom as well.

The last one I took a pic of is one of my favorite plants, the blue plumbago. Last year I had four of these in the ground but they failed to come back after the winter. I mulched them and covered them, but they didn't return and they are supposed to be perennials. Someone later told me I may not have watered them enough?!? Anyway, I bought three more this year because I just love the ice-blue color and they are finally starting to look like I want!

Let's just hope that I can keep these through the winter this year. I hate potting things up since I take even worse care of my potted plants than I do the ones in the ground, so I'm really going to try my darndest to pull these through to next year. Keep your fingers crossed!

~Hoe Naomi

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Can't wait for my September project...

So, I'm the lucky recipient of the September garden project. After our last Meet-n-Greet, we drew names and I got this month. Yay for me! We've decided on September 13 - soon enough for me NOT to procrastinate but after Jen's plant swap where I can get some good stuff!

This is the area I want to do...the side of the house, next to our pool equipment. You can't see it for the weeds growing up, but there is a small bed (about 18" in depth) already. However, there is little going on in there right now besides some transplanted cannas, some dying cast iron plants, and some Easter lilies that come back year after year.

I do happen to have a picture of the Easter lilies in bloom from this year, taken in May. I didn't know until recently that Easter lilies that are in the ground seldom come until way after Easter! Normally, they come up at the base of the crepe myrtle bush on the left.

So, I'm thinking of the type of bed that I want to do. I think I want to have a nicer edge than my normal "random limestone rock left over from digging holes" around the edge - maybe a nice paver border? I also want to put a small three foot high fence around the pool equipment with a little fence and have some vines growing around it, I think. Maybe bring the bed out about three feet and have a plan for this area, unlike the "plopping" style of planting I normally do. I would like to have some plants NOT already in the front yard - foxgloves might be neat.

I also think I want to have a little more in the way of "yard art". Maybe a statue of some dude, or iron sculpture - depending on what I can get on Craigslist. I also think I want the bed to have squared edges, rather than rounded. And maybe a little bit raised...

Well, I have two weeks to decide what I want...and plenty of hands to help out. I might have to go shopping this weekend after the plant swap!

~Hoe Naomi

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August Planning Meeting

With temps still a wee bit too hot to have been getting out for big projects, we did recently get together for a little planning meeting at my house. Of course, we spent most of the time eating yummy munchies, drinking some delish wines, and discussing music and movies (including who we thought were hot movie stars...hey, we're girls..what do you expect?). We did, however, get some business taken care of.

We drew names for upcoming projects and discussed what various projects we had in mind that we'd need some "Garden Hoe" help with. Keep watch in the coming months for what we're up to.

Attending were me, Naomi, Nancy and Anna. Nickie ditzed out and got her days mixed up so we missed seeing her this time. Not to worry though, we gave her much grief over it. ;O) --Hoe Heather

Oh, and a favorite little "bumper sticker" has been making its way around the group...

My Hibiscus Bloomed

Awhile back I lost many plants to the dogs and Naomi, feeling sorry for me, got me a few beauties to replace them. Well, my red hibiscus plant that she gave me recently put on it's first bloom and it's a beauty! I love this flower and am SO happy that it was happy enough in the pot I put it to reward me with a glorious splash of red in my garden. Just wanted to share...

--Hoe Heather

Friday, August 22, 2008

Butterflys and Birds

I recently took a trip to Key West with an old friend of mine. One of the best parts of the trip was the visit to the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. I won't bore you with all the pretty butterflies we saw, but just last weekend I was reminded of the trip when I was gardening in my front yard and saw this butterfly.

I was just sitting there and it decided to fly down right in front of me and flit from zinnia to zinnia. It was just so pretty to watch. The butterfly was so oblivious of me that I was able to go to the garage, get the camera, and take a picture.

I also saw this pretty hummingbird and was able to catch him too. Ignore the dying marigolds in the background - they have been cleaned up and are much healthier now. This little guy liked the zinnias (weeds that they are) alot too, but he really likes the salvias that have managed to survive the heat.

It was so neat to sit and watch these two fly around in front of me. It makes me smile and we can all use that. ~ Hoe Naomi

Weeds or Wanted?

So, I've been meaning to post and kept forgetting, then Heather beat me to it so I finally decided to get off my duff and blog about a couple of things that have been on my mind.

A few weeks ago (I think the Mamma Mia weekend), Heather was at the house and asked what kind of plants these were.

I told her they were weeds and they were popping up all over the yard. She thought they were on-purpose plants because they have a nice little bushy habit and were next to our pond. Funny thing, later that day, my husband asked me the same question and couldn't believe it when I told him they were weeds and not plants.

These are in my yard too. (I'll try and post a better picture this weekend). They look scary almost, standing about four feet tall, but are really striking. The sunflower in the foreground is also a weed - "Devil Weed" as one of the other Hoes calls them. However, I left the dunflower alone and am going to pull up the Purple Monster.

My other wild weeds include verbena, morning glories (pink and white), and even zinnias have shown up where they are not wanted.

The funny thing is that most of my "weeds" are "wanted" plants in someone else's yard. I almost feel bad now for taking them out, but not enough to actually let them grow! ~ Hoe Naomi

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What I Learned

Naomi had given us the heads-up on a Fall Vegetable Gardening seminar being presented by a Williamson County Master Gardener this past Saturday. I went with Naomi to this informative class and the number one thing I learned was that I'm a really crappy gardener. LOL... At least I wasn't alone in this as Naomi learned the same thing. HA HA.

There was quite a turn out for this seminar where we learned not only the best plants for our fall veggie gardening but also how to get the most from them. Apparently just sticking them in the ground and crossing your fingers isn't enough. Who knew? HA.

OF COURSE, after the class we had to go to at least 1 nursery. In our defense, Naomi had to stop by to get a silent auction prize for a fundraiser she's doing so it wasn't like we were going to buy things, but of course, that is what we did. We both got the most beautiful Passion Flower plant in a dark purple color. They will go beautifully with the light purple version that Naomi has already (that I'm TRYING to get to propagate successfully).

Afterwards we went to pick up a potting bench Naomi had found and what a treasure it was! She's lucky she kept her eyes on it or I might have had to unload it at my house. hee hee.

It was a wonderful time and a fantastic class. I look forward to TRYING to use some of the things I learned at this seminar to make my fall garden not only beautiful but also, hopefully, produce a bumper crop! --Hoe Heather

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Gardener's Prayer

Oh dear Lord of little things
Please smile upon our labors
And make our little gardens
So much better than our neighbors.
-- Unknown

When I first heard this little prayer a few years ago I remember telling my mom about it. At 30-something years old I found myself getting in trouble. "That is not nice, Heather." she said. "I realize that mom, but you have to admit - it IS funny...and true." I got "that" look that told me that she did find it a little funny but still didn't approve.

While we might deny it, many of us "obsessed" gardeners I'm sure find ourselves praying, or at least thinking/wishing, for our little gardens to be "so much better than our neighbors". Just thought I would share.

Happy gardening. --Hoe Heather

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Night and I'm Waiting for the Sun to go Down...

So, I'm still here in my office, waiting for the sun to go down so I can drive around one of my properties and check out new lights. Long story, boring subject. But, while I waste time at my desk (because I can only be SO productive on a Friday night), I decide to check out our blog.

First, I love checking out the blog because even though I talk to the gardenhoes via email nearly daily, there is always something that we forget to say to each other face to face that I can catch on the blog. Example - Hoe Heather's pond plant (got to get me some of that). And I got to see how my once defunct bowling ball ended up as a cute as abutton ladybug (got to get me one of those, too). Just over at her house, she didn't even mention the plant or the ladybug because we got so caught up talking about other things, including my now considered mystery seeds from Florida. Funny thing - HH always says I have a green thumb, but I'm always envious when I go to her house (and the other Hoes' homes) because she has such great plants. Grass is always greener, right? (Or in this case, flowers are always prettier...)

Second, checking out the blog always puts me in a good mood because it always reminds me that plants can bring folks together, and I wouldn't have met any of the Hoes had it not been for the flowers. The folks I have met through plants I probably wouldn't have met any other way, so I'm always happy when I think about how I've increased my circle of friends.

Third, the blog reminds me of how the Hoes are so open and giving. I ran Hoe errands this past week - made a round trip to:

1. Beth's (not Hoe Beth but another Beth) to pick up stuff we need for the Pond Tour going on this weekend; got Jen's stuff for her.

2. Jen's place to drop off pond tour stuff and veggies from my garden. I always plant WAY too many plants, and we can never eat all that we get from the garden. So, off to Jen's with a tomato, cucumbers, and a butternut squash. Left with a mimosa tree seedling and deer meat.

3. Heather's place to drop off more veggies (including above plus purple ruffle basil), plus butterfly barrettes I got for her DD when in Key West. Got beer in return.

And earlier in the week, went to Hoe Nickie's place to drop off gourds and pick up wood for a trellis.

So, for nothing more than gas, I got plants, food, beer, garden supplies, and friendship. How can you beat that? And that's why I ended up posting - because the blog makes me think of happy things and I wanted to share with you.

Hoe Naomi

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ladybugs and Flowers

Unfortunately, between the massive heat Naomi mentioned in a previous post and the fact that all these dogs we have had, along with our two, have completely destroyed WAY TOO MANY of my plants, I've not got much to report on that is in all its gloriousness and bloom. My vegetable garden this year BLOWS and my other beds have suffered, well... horrible deaths thanks to dogs digging up plants in the never ending search for cool earth and considering my gardens are the only thing I've messed with watering lately... well... it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out why the dogs dig there. Anyway, I digress....

Some of my current bloom activity is occurring in my pond garden. The ice plant that serves as Tiki-Man's "hair" never ceases to put on a bloom or two (and usually when I need them most to brighten my day). The red trumpet plant is one I don't know what it is. It was an almost dead mystery plant I received a few years ago. Always scraggly, it never bloomed (until this year) but it also continued to come back each year despite my lack of a green thumb. Still small, it has these very pretty red trumpet flowers on it. Now that I've seen the flower, maybe I can figure out what it is. I've got some beautiful purslane that is planted in some of the rocks bordering my pond. So far, so good. Nothing else has lived here but these apricot beauties are doing well (keeping my fingers crossed!). Hopefully, over the next month or so I can get pictures of all my plants so I can organize myself and know what things are and where.
Lastly is one of my pond plants. It has had a bloom here or a bloom there but this morning on my way to work I peeked at the garden and KAPOW! I was hit with the beauty of 10 or more open blooms on my mystery plant. This plant (the one with the white flowers) was a neglected one...the only one... in the pond when we bought our home. Near death, I repotted it and figured we'd see what happened. Last year it was just grass looking stuff but definitely looked a little healthier. This year we had the grass type stuff again but then it sprouted up these beautiful spider-like white blooms with purple sepals. I was very excited so sharing a pix of that with you as well.

I'm looking forward to beginning my fall plantings here in the coming weeks so I can, hopefully, get a little flora before year's end..and hopefully some veggies as well. First though, I must run so I can figure out what to plant. Plus... Naomi's going to be here in a bit to bring me some goodies from HER garden...which IS doing well. Don't ask..she can make a stone flower, i don't care what she says... --Hoe Heather

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tropicals and South Florida

So, I just recently took a short vacation to Florida Keys (Key West to be exact), and was blown away by the flora there. A good part of my vacation was taken up by wandering the island and gathering random seed pods from the different plants.

While there were a lot of common plants between Florida and Texas, they had one tree that I HAVE to get - a royal poinciana tree. Check it out here: Royal Poinciana .

This tree is beautiful, with gorgeous blooms. The seed pods are huge - 8" or so. We managed to find one half of a seed pod on the ground. We couldn't pry it open with our hands, but I shook it and heard rattling, so I'm hopeful.

We also picked seeds for several vining plants and flowering bushes. Of course, I was only partially prepared with a plastic bag but no markers or tape, so I wasn't able to mark any seeds. Of course, I knew I could remember them all. Oh, but I also wasn't sure about transporting the seeds to Texas, so I had to (chose to) scatter them about in my suitcase so they would look like trash and not smuggled seed pods. It worked, but now I really have no clue which seed is which now. So, my summer/ fall seed project will be to grow the seeds and identify the plants. And now I understand more about why Beth keeps wanting to go back to FL - the plants were amazing!

Hoe Naomi

Summer Heat Wave

So, it's day 742 of 100 degree weather (maybe a slight exaggeration), and nothing in my garden is happy. Neither am I - too hot to do anything fruitful, and everything withering away. It hit 100 degrees really early this year (May) and you can tell. All my heat tolerant landscape plants are drooping, my garden is producing funny shaped cucumbers and little cracked tomatoes, and the deer and rabbits have decided that since nothing else is growing, they'll eat my plants. Heck - they have stripped my guara, cannas, even my lamb's ear has nibble marks!

But - one bright spot recently. I have been planting my mystery bulbs under the shade of the only big tree we have. Saturday, I noticed that a few of the bulbs had flowers and guess what they are? Pink rain lilies!

I was soooo happy to see that something was still alive. This is not a picture of my rain lily however, as Sunday morning only one survived the deer/ rabbit onslaught of the night before. Hopefully though, I can get a picture of the last sole survivor and post it instead of this canned shot.

Even though the flowers didn't last, it was nice to see that something is still surviving the hot weather and my lackluster efforts.

Hope the weather is not treating you as badly where you are!
Hoe Naomi

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm Laughing 'Cause It Didn't Happen To Me

We received a message from one of the new Garden Hoes this past Friday that had me rolling with laughter. After having shared it with just about everyone I know, I decided that I needed to share it with all of you (whoever reads this blog). Now, I admit that if I had been in Nancy's shoes, I would have been "concerned" as well but, since it didn't happen to me, I was free to laugh my fool head off wondering where the snake might be now...

From Hoe Nancy:
"I have to share the excitement of my day.  Friday the Thirteenth, right?  I went out to run an errand and the birds were making such a racket that I looked up into the tree.  At first I noticed that there were all kinds of different birds up there, then I saw the snake.  Then my knees got shaky.  I took these pictures and had to go.  So, what's worse than having a snake in the tree overhanging your driveway?  Coming back from the errand and having the snake gone ... and not knowing where it went.  And remembering the snake skin I found in my garage last Spring.  I'll never sleep again.  I may have to move.  I called my neighbor over to come see the pictures and tell her and her kids about it.  She asked me what I did about it.  I told her I emailed my g'friend in New York City.  That'll take care of the problem, won't it?  :O)  It was really interesting the way all the birds rallied to the cause - cardinals, gackles, blue jays, mockingbirds.... I wish I knew what happened."

So, now one has to wonder....did she ever find the snake?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Hoe Got Hitched

Okay, so this has NOTHING to do with gardening, although the wedding WAS held in a beautiful garden and there were flowers.

One of our original Garden Hoes, Jen, was married this past Sunday! It was a beautiful wedding and fab reception held at the Green Pastures Restaurant & Event Center. Hoe Naomi served as the officiant for the ceremony. We are very excited for the newlyweds and wanted to share the happy news with the rest of the world. Congrats Tom & Jen!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

First Lotus Bloom of the Season

Here are the first lotus blossoms of the season. This is what makes the pond worthwhile.

Hoe Naomi

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Few New Garden Hoes

After a fun time at our May Meet & Greet, we are so excited to announce that we have three new Garden Hoes. Hmmmmm.... what to do for initiation???

Anna, Nancy and Nickie (listed alphabetically).... WELCOME to the group! May your gardens flourish, partly as a result of having more hands working on them. Of course, we [original Garden Hoes] have yet to see that picture book result yet, but Naomi read in an article where we were drooling over the pictures of one gal's garden that it took five years to get the garden looking like it did, so we have a few to go.

In the meantime, here's to fun playing in the dirt of one another's gardens!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things...

We just had a Meet & Greet for potential new Hoes. Nancy, one of the "prospects" asked if we took pictures of our gardens to capture they way they looked and to help us get through the winter months. I said that I rarely did, but after she left, I couldn't stop thinking about what she said.

As much work, blood, sweat, tears, etc....we put into our plants, we really should capture the results, whether good or bad. The exhilaration when you coax the first bloom from a plant you previously thought dead can take you through all those days where you forgot and left the new peach tree seedlings in the greenhouse for three days in record high temps in May (sorry Heather!) The excitement you feel when you get your first banana pepper outweighs the time you forgot to spray your seedlings and supplied the caterpillars with a late Spring feast. And if you don't record those memories, how do you remember that in 2008, your bargain basement buy magnolia tree finally got its first bloom?

So I spent the morning going around and taking pictures of those things that moved me. I hope you like them. Hoe Naomi

My puppy, Saba, trying to help me repot plants. I have great dogs. I have an unfenced veggie garden in the back, and none of the three dogs ever get in it (yet). Keeping my fingers crossed!

A volunteer zinnia flower - I love finding these throughout the yard...

We tried to get a wildflower meadow started. We seeded the left side of the house, but had a very dry winter. This is the densest stand of wildflowers we got, but I love to walk in it.

These Easter lilies were buried underground when we bought the house. We tilled up the side to create a little bed and I found a bunch of unknown bulbs. Glad I kept them!

My husband's favorite plant - passionflower vine

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May's Meet & Greet

For some time we had been discussing bringing on board a couple of new "Garden Hoes". With the recent departure of a couple of our original members, we figured this was as good of time as any to meet some of the prospective members to our little gardening group. Naomi acted as our host for our May "project" - a "Meet & Greet" get-together. Besides Jen, Naomi, and myself, there were four other ladies (Sandy, Nickie, Anna, and Nancy) who were able to join us for some FABULOUS food, drinks and, of course, plants.

We had a grand time learning about one another, our gardening woes and woo-whooos, and discussing what it was to be a "Garden Hoe". I don't know about everyone else, but I had a ball. Of course, what was there not to love? Tons of yummy food, beverages, and PLANTS! As usual, I didn't leave Naomi's empty handed. I took a cutting of this, a snip of that, a few seeds of that over there...

Now we just have to wait and see if we scared them off or if they are still interested in joining our little plant/dirt/gardening obsessed group. We'll keep you posted!

Oh, and I couldn't resist sharing this pix of some of the water lilies in Naomi's pond.

--Hoe Heather

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

April Garden Hoe Project

Finally got the pictures uploaded from April's Garden Hoe project day... Check out the end of the "We're Blogging" post (our very first blog) for pix of the flower beds and beginnings of a water feature we did at Jen's!

By Golly, It Bloomed!

Earlier this spring, as soon as the leaves peaked through the ground, I went and dug up a slew of iris bulbs that we inherited when we bought our home. As though being in full shade wasn't enough, they were also in high dog traffic areas of the yard. As I'd never gotten any blooms from them in their original locations, I decided to move the bulbs despite it not being the best time to do so.

My mom and a Master Gardener told me that the transplanted iris would probably not do spit this year but also told me to not give up on them because in a few years they would be SO very happy with their new full sun location. Patience, by the way is NOT one of my best virtues, especially when it comes to gardening.

Well, by golly, I got a bloom THIS YEAR! It is a lovely light purple and I'm so excited I can barely stand it. Okay, so that may be the only bloom I get because the rest of the iris look a little puny but I got a bloom! Of course, as I only noticed it this am as I was leaving for work, I don't have a pix yet but will in the next few days and will insert it [here].

Speaking of irises, my water iris that Naomi gave me went nuts recently. First one, then two, then something like ten blooms at one time adorned the plant. Last night I deadheaded the plant and have two full blooms and about 5 about to pop open. Gorgeous deep purple blooms... WOW! Seeing that gorgeous display of color has made all the work we did on the pond worth it.

I LOVE playing in the dirt! --Hoe Heather

Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekend shopping

So, this weekend I went nursery shopping. Told my husband that since I was in the area, I might as well stop by, right? Picked up citrus trees (supposedly) for him to replace ones we left in the ground last year, and stuff for me.

The Natural Gardener in South Austin has got to be one of the best nurseries around, with a great selection of EVERYTHING! I bought one Meyer lemon, one Mexican lime and one dwarf orange tree. Plus, bat face cupheas, ciger plants, a 30% off gerber daisy (discounted due to slight hail damage), and herbs.

Last year, I planted the bat face cuphea in my front yard. I'm in Zone 8b, but it's supposed to be a perennial to about 15 degrees. When it first froze back, I cut it down to about 6", mulched the roots, and then when it warmed up, uncovered it. I did this with my blue plumbago also.

Neither of the plants came back this year, and I finally broke down and pulled the out and replaced them. I hate that two of my favorite plants are not winter tough. I could do pots, but I'm not a good waterer and pots dry out too quickly for me. So, I guess I'll just have to learn to propagate from Heather and overwinter in my greenhouse until next spring when I can plant again! So, for those that live in Leander, be careful of your bat face cupheas and plumbagos....

So, since my shopping was primarily to replace plants rather than to really buy new plants, it's not really plant shopping, right? Hey, at least it's not shoes!

Hoe Naomi

Monday, May 5, 2008

A slight plant obsession

From Hoe Naomi:

Ever spend too much time trying to get something without paying for it, just to realize that you may have spent more money trying to save money than if you'd just gone out and bought it in the first place? Well, I did that this weekend. Ever since I've moved to the sticks, I've also become a Craigslist addict. I love a good deal, and free is the best kind of deal there is, right? Add that to my slight plant obsession, and my little bit of stubbornness, and you've got a recipe for some interesting experiences.

This past weekend, I had the chance to get a free plant. Whoopee! It was a pampas grass, kind of like this.

It was located in Cedar Park, and was anxiously waiting for me to dig up and transplant. The nice lady who was giving it away initially said it was a bout 3 ft. tall. Well, women (including myself) obviously have no sense of size and proportion, because when I got there, the plant was at least 6 ft. tall at the top, and 6 ft. around. Not the kind of thing that would easily come up with just me and my shovel, right? I was not about to give up though - I told her I would get it and get it I would.

So I began to dig. Luckily for me, the center of the plant was dead and mainly woody stem, so I just had to get the exterior ring of plant. I got about 1/3 of the way through and had to call my husband (who does not share the same plant fanaticism as me) and told him I needed help. While waiting for him to show, I got another 1/3 of the way through. Good thing these are fairly shallow rooted plants! Wouldn't you know - he shows up and in ten minutes (no lie), he pops the rest of the plant out, and even digs up the woody center. I love men, but sometimes I hate them, you know? I am no dainty girl and can heft some pretty big weight, but he and his mighty new shovel (he does like his yard toys) came and did in 10 minutes what would have taken me another 45 at least. Geez.

Before we left, the nice lady also offered us pups off of her sago palm. I didn't even try to cut them off. I let hubby and tool pop about eight pups off the palm, quick and easy. After admiring the nice lady's dogs, we loaded up our goodies, he went home and I went on another adventure.

My third destination was actually close (I thought) to my second destination, which was a store I had to do a mystery shop in. (I mystery shop as a PT job, in addition to my FT job.) Little did I know that Bee Cave, TX is NOT necessarily on Bee Cave Rd. in South Austin. Now, I already live way north of Austin, and now I'm in South Austin for the mystery shop, then find myself driving another 15 or so miles to some discount plant place. I keep passing signs that say "Bee Cave - XXX miles" and thinking to myself, "This is WAY out here. Maybe I shoudl turn around an go home." But, I'm already committed to going, and leaving now would mean I've wasted the thirty or minutes for the driving.

After passing the little entrance three times, I finally get to the plant place, and I have found a treasure trove of cheap plants. The guy is a buyer for old plants from large retailers - Lowe's, Home Depot, etc... In some cities, these places will discount their own plants when they get old and sell them cheap to regular folks like me. In Austin, I've found that they don't do that, but now I know they sell to these "brokers" who then re-sell them to the public. I spent about $40.00 and got about 45 plants (the ones that normally go for $4-7 each), plus a beautiful knockout rose bush. I loaded up the plants on top of the pampas grass in the trunk of my poor SUV, and drove home.

Thinking about it later, and considering the time I spent traipsing about (4.5 hours and the miles (all told, about 75) and gas prices ($3.50 per gallon here), I realize it might have been cheaper to buy at the Lowe's down the street. But, I also realized that there are some intangible things you get on these types of trips - I met a wonderful lady who happens to be a pet groomer who will probably get the pleasure of dealing with my three dogs next time they need their nails cut, and I found a great plant place to take the other Hoes to on a road trip day. Plus, I found an Irish restaurant if I ever want to eat real Irish food, and had a great scenic drive (read - potential to get lost) that I had never driven before. Had I stayed near the house, I never would have found any of this. Plus, now I have plants to share - life is good.