Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Home again

Home again - and not alone. Bob is home, too, which is a great relief to both of us. Moreover, he is mending nicely which is an even greater relief. I am sure that all the positive thoughts that have been directed our way over the last several days have helped and we both thank you for them. We fully expect that when he is completely healed from his surgical procedure and plants his feet on the straight and narrow path as directed by his doctors that Bob will be better than ever. He might even turn into a gardener.

In the short term, though, that bed in the vegetable garden that he was going to take over this spring is probably out of the question, so last Monday, our younger daughter cleared the bed for him and she and I planted the three heirloom tomato plants that he had selected at March Mart at Mercer last Friday before life so rudely interrupted our gardening activities. These three are in addition to the 6-pack of heirloom tomatoes that I had ordered from Seeds of Change. So now we have nine - count 'em, nine - tomato plants in our veggie garden. If they produce anything like what they should, we will have enough tomatoes to feed our whole street this summer. I foresee a lot of canning in my future.

As I walked around the garden today, I was amazed at the difference that a few days can make, especially when those few days occur in early spring.

The anonymous miniature azalea under the red oak tree is now in full bloom.

So are the old Formosa azaleas.

Nearby the redbud is in glorious bloom also.

Dragonflies are returning to the garden.

Anoles never left, of course, but they've been mostly under cover until quite recently. This one is trying to blend in with the bricks while keeping an eye on a nearby bug.

When I first looked out my kitchen window this morning, my bleary eyes spied a clump of red on the fence outside. "Cardinal," I thought. But when the clump of red didn't move, I realized it wasn't a bird and rubbed my eyes to discern a surprise.

My coral honeysuckle is finally beginning its bloom! I got this vine and installed it with high hopes last year. My hopes were dashed when I didn't get a single bloom and very little growth from the plant through the summer. But it looks like it's going to make it all up to me this year. That should make the hummingbirds happy. Me, too.

In the front yard, some of the California poppies are beginning to bloom.

There's this bright yellow specimen and...

...this one in a somewhat more subdued hue.

Near the poppies blooms a mystery.

This petunia is supposed to be 'Laura Bush', but...

...so is this one. Does 'Laura' come in two colors?

In the backyard, I was very happy to see that my pair of bluebirds is still in residence. Both Mama and Papa Bluebird were on the job near their box today.

Mama kept watch from a nearby utility wire.

And Papa was on guard on the other side of the post that their house hangs from. They don't have babies yet because I don't see them going in and out of the house with food all day long, but they are always near or in the box and that is a good sign.

I've been gratified to find this week that more things are coming back to life in the garden - some of them quite unexpectedly. Two of my three clumps of blue plumbago have new growth and one of my two esperanzas had sprung to life in my absence. I read on HoustonGrows that someone had a 'Pride of Barbados' showing new growth so I went to take another look at mine and - lo and behold! - one tiny, fragile green shoot is emerging from the roots. The most surprising for me, though, has been the bauhinia.

I bought a bauhinia late last summer and since I didn't have a bed readily available for it, I put it in a big pot and set it under one of the trees. The early freeze in December caught me a bit by surprise. It surprised the bauhinia, too, and when I checked on it later, it appeared to be dead, dead, dead. I didn't pull the plant out, but set the pot in the garage - just in case there was any life left. Then, I basically forgot about it, and there it sat for the next three months, without water and with very little sunlight. When I finally remembered to pull the pot out this week, what do you suppose I saw? Two tiny, pale, almost white shoots growing up from the roots!

I put the pot out under the sycamore tree, cut back the dead parts of the plant and throroughly watered it. Today, the shoots have turned a healthy green and have grown about an inch. Amazing, isn't it? Life is tenacious. It WILL find a way.

And, speaking of life, those symbols of life, the butterflies, are more and more evident in the yard. Today I had my second sighting of the year of a Monarch. It turned out much like my first. I rushed inside to get the camera and when I got back, the Monarch had disappeared. But this time, I got lucky because another butterfly had taken its place.

A beautiful Tiger Swallowtail was nectaring among the blossoms of the collard plants in the veggie garden.

I didn't notice until I uploaded the picture that the butterfly wasn't the only insect in this picture. The honeybee was taking his lunch as well. That's why I leave these flowers in the vegetable garden when the veggies have passed their prime. The blossoms are great attractants for bees and butterflies.

Having taken her fill from these flowers, the butterfly was on her way, looking for another flavor of blossom or maybe, if I'm lucky, a place to lay eggs.

I tell you, it is good to be home again. My garden, imperfect as it is, looked beautiful to me today.


  1. I'm so glad Bob is better, and those heirloom tomatoes will further cheer him I'm sure. You last photo of the butterfly in flight really captures my fancy. Lovely. Happy Easter.~~Dee

  2. What a gem of a post! So much to enjoy. I LOVED the butterfly in motion picture.

    I had a similar experience with a couple of coral honeysuckle vines. I think they do a lot of root growth before doing much blooming. Mine are two years old now and showering blooms.

  3. PS I was sick last week & am just catching up. So sorry to hear about Bob's heart attack! I'm glad he's recovering and you have a good prognosis. Take care of yourself, it was stressful for you too.

  4. Thanks for your good wishes. Bob is mending nicely and we are very relieved.