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

Friday, December 3, 2010

A gardener's week - #17

Cold one day, hot the next. It must be December in Texas.

This has been pretty much a typical December week. It did get down to freezing and left us with some frost one night, but the very next day the temperatures were rising once again. Tomorrow it's supposed to get up to 80, but then on Sunday the forecasters tell us the mercury will plunge. Never a dull moment with Southeast Texas weather!

I can't say that I accomplished very much in my yard this week, although I did make a start on the after-frost cleanup. I started by cutting back some of my frost-burnt cannas, but that's about as far as I got. There's still a lot to do, some of which I hope to get done tomorrow.

Another of my post-frost tasks was taking care of my green tomatoes. I made the green tomato relish that I told you about earlier in the week. In fact I had two batches of the stuff! I just hope it proves edible.

On Wednesday, I had a very exciting outing with my younger daughter. We visited the Heights and toured a couple of the native plant nurseries there, namely Buchanan's and Joshua's. They are both terrificly interesting establishments with very similar stock for sale. Buchanan's is a bit more upscale and has a wonderful gift shop where I could easily have wandered all afternoon. Joshua's is more downhome and their staff deals in the hard sell, which I found a little disconcerting. When I'm considering the plants I want to buy, I don't really want some salesperson shoving another plant at me and telling me what a great bargain it is. But that's just me.

Both places were busily preparing for Saturday's "Mistletoe Madness in the Heights" event, and they were doing a brisk business in Christmas trees as Christmas music filled the air. I wasn't there for a tree, though. I was shopping for some of the native plants on my wish list and I was able to make both establishments a bit richer by leaving with a car full of plants. Among the plants I came home with were a strawberry bush, almond verbena, red firespike, a couple of dwarf wax myrtles, and some pavonias. I could have got more but my daughter's car is small.

I had been hoping to come home with a sumac, but I didn't find one at either place. Ah, well, I'm sure one will turn up for me one of these days.

On Thursday, I spent the afternoon at my daughter's house working in her yard. She works long hours and that doesn't leave her much time or energy for her poor garden. It did need some attention.

Her loquat tree had bit the dust. I'm not sure, and neither was she, whether it was a result of last winter's freezes or this summer's drought. More likely, it was a combination of the two. I have an offspring of her tree in my yard and it is very healthy, but I think it probably got quite a bit more tender loving care than hers did.

We cleaned up her backyard and removed most of the loquat, except for the base of the trunk which will require a chain saw. The little garden looked much, much better when we finished. But her yard, like mine, is suffering from the drought. A pine tree in her front yard is dead and will have to be removed by professionals. If she doesn't provide sufficient supplemental water, she may lose more plants.

As long as the drought continues and the autumn rains stubbornly refuse to make their appearance, we are locked into the necessity of continuing to provide some water for our plants. It's not as urgent as when the temperatures were in the high 90s every day, but plants do appreciate a little drinky even when the thermometer is reading in the 60s and 70s.

So, as long as it stays dry, you'll still find me dragging the hoses around every week, trying to keep my plants happy. Thus is the life of a gardener.

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