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

Friday, December 21, 2012

This week in the garden - #43

The brown leaves skitter across the quiet yard pushed by a brisk cold wind from the north. The only other sounds come from the jousting Rufous Hummingbirds as they vie for a place at the sugar water feeders or from the other occasional winter bird announcing its presence at the backyard feeders, and from the splash of water in the little fountain and the fish pond. As the year winds down, the sound level in the yard winds down, too, until, at last, it seems to whisper, fearful of disturbing the sleeping plants.

We had our third frost of the month last night. The temperature registered by my thermometer on the back porch was 32 degrees, but farther away from the house, it was surely colder than that, probably into the 20s. We had an early morning appointment in Houston and so had to get up earlier than usual while the frost was still very evident. It looked almost like a light frosting of snow on the yard.

Just a couple of days ago it was 80 degrees here, but then the cold front blew through with strong winds and the temperature dropped rapidly. That is fairly typical of our weather at this time of year - nothing if not changeable. You never know whether you'll need a sweater or shorts on any given day. It does make our lives interesting.

I understand that it is supposed to warm up again over the weekend, but I hope the colder weather will return by the time our Christmas guests start arriving. Something about the holiday just seems wrong when you have to turn on the air conditioner to keep your guests comfortable!

And so, today, the day of the Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, and the end of 13 Baktun on the Mayan long count calendar, I puttered around my garden accompanied by Charlie the garden cat.

Charlie stops to wash his face.

We enjoyed the brilliant sunshine and brisk weather of this first official winter day. I watched the goldfinches hanging upside down eating the crape myrtle seeds. (Most members of the finch family love crape myrtle seeds, which is an excellent reason not to prune your seedheads off before the birds have a chance to strip them.) I thought about all the tasks that I need to get started on as soon as the holidays are over. For the next week, the garden will have to wait as I fulfill my annual role as hostess for the family year-end celebration. It's a role that I love, but I admit I am also always glad to get it behind me so that I can concentrate on my garden again.

Whatever holidays you celebrate at this time of year, I hope they are happy days for you and your loved ones and that the coming year for you will be a healthy one filled with all the best that life has to offer. And may much of that "best" be waiting for you in your garden.


  1. Great post Dorothy. I wish the goldfinches would come back here, I've got tons of crape myrtles seed pods waiting for them! I love your cardinal photo and Charlie the garden cat. Happy Holidays to you!

    1. I bet the finches will find you, Jayne. Happy holidays!

  2. I'm also very fond of goldfinches. Here they will still be eating from the seed heads of the Rudbeckias and Echinaceas. I also have a nyjer seed feeder.

    1. I have a couple of nyger seed socks hanging, too, but so far the finches aren't visiting them. I occasionally see them at one of the sunflower seed feeders, but mostly I see them eating wild seeds, like the crape myrtle, up to this point.