Nature sent a gift

After the deep freeze in Texas, many of our tropical plants died. Most of mine survived because I have ruthless green fingers. Almost all of the plants that I have put in are precisely for our climate area, sub tropical forest. Our soil is poor, drought and flood are common and so if a new plant dies, I don’t plant it again. The azaleas are not indigenous but they have more blossoms than they usually do. I guess the freeze provoked some growth.

This fern was just cut down a few weeks ago and yet there is still new growth! I love my lichen covered boulders – it usually indicates that the air quality is good. The trees in our forest act as giant filters against truck happy Texas.

Our mountain laurel has three new growths – if I am very lucky they will turn into purple blossoms with a gorgeous scent. The leaves are covered in yellow pollen but they are quite healthy despite that.

Our crimson dwarf crape has survived! They are trimmed every year but should have glorious deep red blossoms in a couple of months. Thank you Mother Nature for the beautiful mood boosting gift.

On a final humorous note, I had a mad half hour after our gardener trimmed all the dead branches, trees and put down new cypress mulch. He also put down some bull rock, as you can see below, to edge the lawn. The architect of our house wanted a wavy driveway which is difficult to traverse. Teddy often gouged the lawn with the big tires on the Dodge Challenger so we added some bull rock. In this part of the world the pebbles are mostly the same sandy color but these ones were almost white. I panicked as landscaping has to follow a set of rules. Initially I thought of calling the gardener and asking him to replace them at my expense. Then I had a crazy idea to replace them with older bull rock in the backyard. After pacing and panicking, I decided that I would hose down the muddy footprints. As I did that the stones miraculously turned a sandy color… I felt like such a fool because they were just covered in rock dust! Can you imagine if I had called Adelfo? He has called me Karen for 16 years and finally I would have turned into one!

Peep!

Can you see me?

Can you see me?

Heaven help anyone that is afraid of lizards in Houston this year. They are literally everywhere! This little fellow is a green Anole and if you catch his eye he will reveal his bright red fold (a dewlap) under his chin and puff it in and out. Kind of like a flasher… He also has pretty blue eyelids that you can just see in this photo. One of my kitty cats, Toffee, was literally addicted to lizards (they have a taste that cats love). If there was a competition, I would be the world’s best lizard catcher. Their tails will come off and regrow when they are predated. If you hold one of these little ones in your hand you can feel the tiny claws on their feet and their little hearts beating fast – am I a predator or a good Samaritan? One big black one bit me on my palm; ungrateful lizard!

This shot was taken at Mercer Arboretum, following on from my last post. I mentioned that the gardens had been damaged by flooding and this is a shot of the creek below.

Cypress Creek in abeyance

Cypress Creek in Abeyance

It is probably hard to imagine that this little creek not only broke it’s steep banks but 7ft of floodwater ravaged Mercer Arboretum. Here is a link to an article about the arboretum’s flood. The creek is always silty but it is still full of fish, especially big catfish, alligators and snakes. Given the devastation it is astonishing to see these new plantings below.

new beds of flowers

new beds of flowers

Lilac Crape Myrtle Blossom

Lilac Crape Myrtle Blossom

Crape Myrtle trees are the stalwart of the south – they can survive drought, flood and even frost. On our property we have three hot pink trees, one fuchsia and a miniature deep red. They brighten my life with their eagerness to live in harsh conditions. This is a Google link to various color varieties. One neighbor has a particularly pretty variety in palest pink but with mulberry leaves.

Postcard from Nacogdoches

city hall sam houston
Nacogdoches is the oldest town in Texas and it is unique both because of its antiquity and the 9 flags that have flown over it. They included Spain, France, Mexico and Louisiana amongst others and this is a link to a comprehensive list http://www.pictures-of-historic-nacogdoches.com/023nineflags.html We decided that this would be a great location to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. I know, I know, surely I was a child bride.. The town was utterly fascinating and this beautiful pink building was Sam Houston’s house – now the city hall sitting on the beautiful town square. Everywhere you walked there was yet another historical wall marking – it is remarkable that so many of the old buildings have been maintained and restored. It is situated in the North East of Texas, close to the Louisiana border and in the heart of the Piney Woods. The weather was astonishingly hot but not as humid as the south. I learned something amazing in the Tourist Center. Tejas is not the Spanish name for Texas but the Caddo (local native Americans) word for friend. They were one of the many peaceful tribes that were settled in Texas who greeted the invading Spanish conquistadores with friendship. It makes me so sad to think that their territory was stolen, many were killed by the spread of European diseases and moved around like cattle. I am so lucky, like many Americans, to have a little native blood to carry through the generations, bonding us all together. Nacogdoches is a college town – Stephen F Austin University. We visited the university’s Piney Woods Native Plant Center which was a small arboretum with native plants. We walked along the little stream enchanted by the Ebony Jewel Wing Damselflies who fluttered around us like little fairies with black velvet cloaks. The Ladies had bronze waistcoats and the Lords had emerald green waistcoats. Magical. Click on the link to see photos of these fairies and find out all about the oldest town in Texas.  POSTCARD FROM NACOGDOCHES