Fun Photos from Arcadia

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted fun photos from our life here in Arcadia.

Black eyed susans from my front flower bed. This is a perennial favorite of North Texas gardeners.

Jdubs on the “Fastcat.” His grandfather rigged up a stampede string from a left-over strip of leather.

The real deal.

Textbook wall cloud. A few minutes after I snapped this, the sky opened up and hail stones rained down.

This photo represents the “why” of living where I do.

Spring Critters in Photos

The birds of Spring have been here for about a month. I’m not a serious birdwatcher but I always have bird feeders out year round so I can watch them. I love birds in the wild but hate birds in cages. The bird society and pecking order among the different species is fascinating.

Our backyard has been abuzz with the activity of Spring. And occasionally you have a sweet surprise among the critters of Spring.

House sparrow

 

Carolina chickadee

 

 

Downy woodpecker

 

 

Grass lizard

 

Spring is Here

Spring is here in North Central Texas. It is obvious in all the sprouting and flowering plants.

Icelandic Poppy
Daffodil
Ornamental Pear

The winter wheat practically glows in the sun. The daffodils are a bloom and the perennials are starting to come back to life. But I happen to have a greenhouse so I’ve got a bit of a jump on things.

Today it was 78 degrees. It’s February 28. I don’t know what that is going to mean but I don’t think it bodes well for the garden season this year. We’ll see.

But for now I’m happy with what I got going on in my little garden.

View into the greenhouse to the left.
View into the greenhouse to the right.
The herb project.
Someone spilled some of my seeds ... I'm not saying who (Jdubs) but I didn't want to throw them out so I just stuck them in a pot to see what sprouted. I have no idea what this is, maybe tomatoes or peppers
A little tomato is forming. And considering how warm it's been, early season is best.
More tomatoes ... these are Celebrity.

Spring: It’s Coming

I started cleaning up and getting my greenhouse ready to start seeds. Today is February 11, but our last average frost date is about March 20. That means it’s time to start thinking about the spring garden. Even as we have a harsh cold snap, I was making way for planting tender annuals from seed so we can transplant after the danger of killing frost.

As for most gardeners, my ultimate prize is a crop of beautiful, tasty tomatoes. Next week we’re taking Jdubs for a checkup at the ENT in Cowtown, so we will have to stop in Poolville on the way home to visit Wilhite Seed. Many sellers of seeds only produce a few of their own (if at all), the rest they resell from other specialized plant breeders/dealers. Wilhite’s domain is melon seeds, especially watermelon seeds. All the seeds I bought from them were exceptional quality, with near 100% germination rates.

Even my county extension agent was surprised. I have no idea what was so extra special about last year’s seed starting exercise – but everything I started from seed did really well, until the heat set in. I knew we were in for it last year when we had a 100-degree day on April 8, 2011. That just set the tone for the rest of the summer.

Last year’s weather was horrible. We had a record-setting hot, dry summer. Nothing would grow. There was no rain. It was abysmal, even the okra was eaten by the grasshoppers. Needless to say, I’m looking very forward to a better year, for growing vegetables and herbs.

 

Nothing says spring like the return of the birds.

That’s the beauty of spring … it’s the time for beginnings … starting seeds, nurturing and caring for them, watching them grow, then harvest. Nothing is better than eating something wonderful that you grew.

The greenhouse.
Left side.
Right side.
My seed box: organizing, sorting, planning.

More gardening posts to come …

There was another squirrel in the backyard. Jdubs helped his daddy aim.

The Garden is Calling

The Garden is calling me … I received two new seed catalogs. Yea!

All kinds of organic, heirloom and hybrid varieties.

Other cool garden accessories and products…

For tonight … that’s all I got. Been burning the candle from both ends this week, but  I’ll be dreaming about the garden tonight. [Also I am having terrible writer’s block. Sometimes this is as good as it gets.]

Working Weekend Garden Plans

Last night in the dark I made one final, final harvest from the garden. It was 28 degrees this morning 6:30 a.m.—a pretty hard frost. So everything should either be dead or cease to produce at this point, which is right on schedule for this part of the world.

I went a little crazy planting the night shade varieties.

My peppers have flourished in these warm days/cool nights. This stuff is lucky to be alive considering the hot, dry summer we had. I have water bills to prove how precious this produce is!

This is what my garden looks like right now.

Sad garden.
Dead, dried leaves soon will be fodder for the compost bin.

Everywhere I look there are leaves… so this weekend will be all about clearing the refuse for the compost bin and pulling up all the remnants of night shade varieties hanging on.

After all I have pansies, lettuce and broccoli to plant! This will be the first venture for me to try to grow cole crops (and cold crops) over the winter. (Want to know the difference between cole and cold? Read more …)

I’ll be back tomorrow with something more.

Falling in Love with the Fall Garden Center

I had to be in Wichita Falls today for an appointment. So before coming home, I made a stop at Smith Gardentown. What a treat! I love to visit garden centers, farms and nurseries at all times of the year. This time I was just looking and trying to get ideas for Christmas for the various horticulturalists and ornithologists in my life.

I drove up and instantly loved the place because there were ducks on the pond, Canada geese grazing and little garden statues of pigs.

Canada geese!
A little concrete piggy for the Kentucky Pig!

I love to visit farms and nurseries in the fall because it shows me what plants look like in the fall – whether the foliage is colorful, evergreen or if a deciduous plant has pretty bark.

Little Henry will be a definite addition to my garden. Beautiful spring blooms, beautiful fall foliage!
Opuntia Prickly Pear-- Thornless!

In the hustle bustle of the spring some plants get overlooked, like this really cool cacti! A prickly pear without the prickles.

Then there are the perennial favorites … a Shumard Oak. I have one just like this in my front yard and this photo reminds me why … It’s beautiful and well adapted for our area.

Shumard oak tree -- excellent tree for North Texas.

A place with a friendly cat that comes meowing for affection is always a good sign. Two cats who are friendly and want attention and are neutered means that the people here care for lots of living things – not just plants.

This cat chased me down so that I could pet it.
Kitty #2 sleuthed across the patio to get a scratch.
Swiss Chard-- excellent for the fall kitchen garden. I think this is the "neon lights" seed mix.
Mixed pansies ... happy pansy faces.
Some of the greatest rose gifts are the blooms in the fall.

The garden center is always a good place to get gift ideas for the gardener. Look at these beautiful garden globes. We can just file that under the “pretty-stuff-momma-can-never-have-because-she-has-a-boy-and-a-dog-that-is-OCD-with-spheres.”

I can never have pretties like this ...
Cloche terrarium ... nice coffee table gift for the gardener.
A flag for everyone (at least in my divided house).
Bird feeders and houses for all the little finches in your life.
Happy pansy face, y'all!

Fall Color in North Texas

We spent Saturday night in Fort Worth this weekend. We had a blast with good friends, sampling wine, eating delicious food. But on our way to and from the big city we got to see a lot of beautiful fall colors.

Rock Creek Bridge.

I lived in Michigan for 6 fall seasons, with some of the most beautiful fall colors you can see anywhere. But it’s got nothing on Young County.

One-eyed barn.

This old barn looks like it’s winking at you. Not a lot of fall color around it but the picture was taken in the fall.  And it’s one of my favorites so I thought I’d add it in here.

In the Rock Creek area. Love the contrast of colors.

Now all we need is a strong, gusty wind to blow all the leaves off the trees.

Oak leaves.
I have no idea what kind of tree/shrub this is, but it's bright red. Awesome.
The hydro-electric plant. AKA "the Fairy Castle"

Of course the day couldn’t be complete without a beautiful sunset over the “fairy castle.” Thanking the trusty iPhone photography capabilities.

Photographer in the Making

I came home tonight ready to write my blog post about pies and church suppers and small-town goodness. But when I opened up my camera’s files to see what photographs I had to work with, I got a surprise. (or maybe I should say gift.)

Apparently my son has been playing with momma’s camera.

Jdub’s babysitter, Flor, going down the stairs with coat hangers in hand. (Note blank wall where aquarium used to be).

Flor with coat hangers.

A picture of Jdub’s foot stepping down on the stairs. (This is a little unnerving for me, but I think it’s very metaphorical at the same time).

A blurry right foot. Better than a left foot, I guess.

A blurry photo of Flor putting something in the closet.

Action shot of Flor. I don't think she was expecting it.

Photo of wall and play closet. The walls are very blue – Jdub picked out the color himself.

Toys and stuff.

Photo of floor/rug in Jdub’s room, and the letters O, P and Q.

Hey man, nice rug.

He figured out how to flip open the flash … another photo of a right foot, and some trash. At least it’s in focus– progress.

More toes.

A picture of a partially eaten apple. There are about six just like this one—I think someone pressed the button over and over. We’ve made headway though—we are starting to experiment with composition.

Hopefully this wasn't meant for Snow White.

More experimentation with lighting and effects.

A study of light and shadow.

We’re taking risks here – experimenting with composition and perspective.

Apple in a different light.

An artist in the making …

Momma loves you, Jdub!