What Day is It?


Today is Saturday.. I think! One day is pretty much the same as the next at this stage of my life. I no longer look forward to the weekends as they are pretty much  the same as any other day except there are more people out and about and any special events are usually held on the weekend.

Used to be, many years ago, that every weekend for me was taken up with soccer, football to the rest of the world. I was either coaching one of the several Youth teams assigned to me or was actively playing myself on a couple of different teams. Even in the summer, things didn’t change very much except the Youth teams were off and we older people didn’t run anywhere near as hard or as long and we drank a lot of beer.

Nowadays, when I get up, the first thing I have to remind myself is what day it is. Once I have that firmly fixed in my mind, I check the calendar on my computer to see if I have anything special lined up that I need to do like a trip to the Physiotherapist for my aching shoulder or my Doctor for a geriatric check up. If I didn’t keep track of things on my computer, I would miss half of the appointments at which my presence is expected.  Apart from any benefits those visits do provide, I see myself as a piggy bank for all of the Doctors, Dentists and such that I seem to need in my old age. Thank goodness that I had the foresight and was lucky enough to work at the University of Texas at Austin for 22 years prior to my retirement that resulted in a pension and excellent health care.

After I have figured out what day it is and what important things I need to do, I usually fill the rest of my day on several other and no less important things like checking the ponds and the health and welfare of the couple of hundred fish that reside in them. There is usually something that needs my attention like a filter or a pump or maybe an improvement on something that I felt needed working on. I should state here that I don’t do gardening. At least not in the accepted sense.  Of course I take care of the ponds and I do mow the outside strip alongside the road every couple of months and the area that grows wild at the very bottom of the lot as it is really a dry creek and only floods when we get the odd gullywasher. Other than that, all of the plantings not counting those in and  around the ponds are all native vegetation that I allow to run wild except in the several walkways which I keep trimmed for ease of access.

I also like to hike a lot except the weather has been so bloody hot that it made more sense to sit inside rather than to bake in the 100 degree heat. At least, I have that to look forward to and as I only occasionally hike on weekends, I can hike any other day of the week to avoid the crowds.

So you see, that even though the weekends are relatively unimportant and I never know what day it is when I wake up, there is always plenty to do to keep me occupied and being a creature of habit, nothing much changes from day to day. One of my habits is to go grocery shopping later in the day and at the same time, treat myself to a Grande Non Fat Decaf Latte from Starbucks. This is my one serious vice as it happens every day and is not cheap when totalled up for the year at $4:38 a cup. Still, the way I see it, everyone is entitled to one vice as long as it is not harmful to oneself or others. It could be worse as I could also smoke and drink but I have never smoked because of my athletic prowess and it has been 10 years since I have had any alcoholic drinks.

Lets see now, it is almost 4:00 o’clock and now it is raining again, almost time for that Latte. So goes another day in my life…

Written 9/29/2018

Texas Heat and Laziness?


With the temperatures finally cooling down here in my part of Texas, you would think that I would be chomping at the bit to get out on the trails or outside in the garden. After all, the 100 degree heat lasted almost 3 months of which, I spent a great deal of time indoors in the air conditioning, only venturing out when the larder got low and needed restocking. I haven’t been out on the trails since my last hike at McKinney Roughs way back on June 8, 2018 and have only done enough in the yard and ponds to keep things running with the very occasional trimming to keep the paths clear.

Somehow though, I have gotten used to the lazy life of sitting around and even though the high temperature is only around 90 degrees on the hot days and getting cooler all of the time, I still find myself sitting in front of my computer looking out of the window at the yard instead of going out and getting stuck into all of the work that needs to be done. I suppose I can blame some of that on my increasing years but if I want to live for a few more of them, I need to bite the bullet and just go and get after it. I do have the excuse that my shoulder is sore, the one that I managed to wrench when I was loading the coins into the truck and I am going to Physical Therapy for it. I also joined a new gym just a couple of miles up the road from me but I am using the the same wrenched shoulder as an excuse for not working out. That’s even worse as the gym as you can imagine, has a brand new, state of the art cooling system.

What will it take for me to get of my arse, which, if I am not careful will start to grow to a much larger size unless I can convince my brain that I need the exercise. In truth, it is a mental problem more than a physical one as I feel fit enough. On the positive side, I know that I will overcome my mind and get outside and do what I do best and that is hard work as I have all of my life. As the temperature cools down even more, I will start working out and going on that hike? Honest, I will…

Such are the quandaries that I find myself in at this time of my life and what the Texas heat can do to a man…

Written 9/25/2018

Mike Peppers Garden

Mike Pepper is a member of the Austin Pond Society and his pond and Garden are scheduled to be on this year’s upcoming Austin Pond and Garden Tour. He is also a member of the Austin Daylily Group and he showed his enthusiasm for these beautiful flowers by opening his garden to the public to see the Daylilies at the height of their blooming cycle. Even though they would still be blooming in a couple of weeks, June 4, he felt that they would be coming to the end of their show and would not be at their best.

I made my way over to his house after spending a couple of hours at Zilker Botanical Gardens to try to take some pictures of the Splash Party scheduled for earlier that morning. However, Mother Nature had different ideas and decided to open the clouds and put on a light display accompanied by rattle of the base drums as a fairly heavy thunderstorm swept over the area. The Splash was moved into the greenhouse and I gave up on taking any quality pictures of that event and headed for Mike’s house.

The rain had stopped when I arrived and there were several people standing around talking and eating breakfast that Mike had provided. Even though it was offered, I skipped the breakfast and got right onto taking pictures.

Mike has a beautiful backyard made all the more attractive by the more than 200 varieties of different colored Daylilies scattered around the entire yard. In between all of this riot of color was the pond of around 600 gallons with a waterfall at the top end . The pond has a natural bog filtration system and is about a year old. It was built by one of the Austin Pond Society Sponsors, Texas Ponds and Water Features. The yard is about a quarter of an acre and the pond and the Daylilies complement each other very nicely.

Here is a video of the Daylilies for your enjoyment.

The Beauty of Daylilies 5-20-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Here are a few more pictures of Mike’s beautiful garden.

The Austin Pond Society Annual Pond and Garden Tour 2015

The Austin Pond Society held it’s Annual Pond and Garden Tour on the weekend of June 6-7 with the North side of Austin and surrounding Towns on Saturday and the South Side on Sunday. On Saturday Night, there was one single pond on the Tour that the owners had lit up especially for this occasion.

To view the pictures and the write ups for each of the tours, click on the headings.
North Tour

South Tour

Night Tour

Austin Area Garden Center, 50th Anniversary.

AAGC 50 Years Ago

AAGC 50 Years Ago

I had the pleasure of attending the Austin Area Garden Center’s (AAGC) 50th Anniversary on October 19, 2014. It was held at the Zilker Botanical Garden of which AAGC is the prime mover and shaker. In their infancy they had 5 clubs as their membership. It was through their efforts, foresight and fundraising that the idea for the current building that houses the Meeting Room and Shop was built 50 years ago.

Today, there are over 30 member clubs that make up AAGC all with their ties to Nature and things that grow.For more information about AAGC and the clubs and its  members,  click on this link.

The weather was very nice and was warm but not hot by Texas standards and even though I did a lot of walking around taking many pictures, it was not unpleasant. The different clubs were located all over the Gardens with the Flower Show being held in the Meeting Room. Pictures of some of the entries are on the slide show below. Halfway down the hill next to the Gardeners Sheds, there was a collection of booths with the garden member occupants selling their wares. They were of the gardening kind such as Bamboo, Violets and Bonsai’s and many other types of plants. The couple of times that I visited, they seemed to be doing a roaring trade. The Austin Pond Society was very prominently represented with a table at the entrance to the Meeting Room and was manned by volunteers working 2 hour shifts. Our thanks to those worthy people for giving up their time.

At 1:00 pm, Marion Alsup, President of AAGC introduced a host of different speakers at the microphone to tell stories to the attending visitors of their memories and connections to the Botanical Gardens. The legendary Japanese Gardener, Isamu Taniguchi, when he was 70 years old, began work on the Japanese gardens and worked for 18 months free gratis on this wonderful project.  He had a vision of what the Garden should look like and was willing to do the work to make it a reality. As one of his Grandsons jokingly remarked, there was a fear that he would die before the Gardens were completed so eventually he had some help to finish it off .  His story was very much in the forefront with his work to build the Japanese Gardens and he was fondly remembered with stories of his personal efforts with his pick and shovel and trusty wheelbarrow. These were the focal point of many of the stories told by his immediate family. Others spoke of their many memories of times gone past and the joy they have received over the years in supporting these wonderful gardens.

After the ceremonies were concluded, I took one more stroll around the grounds before departing. As the pictures show, I could not help but share the beauty of these gardens and the innumerable flowers that were still blooming. Watch the slideshow below for more pictures. Added to these marvelous flowers were the reminders that Halloween is not far away with the whimsical stuffed caricatures spread around the grounds. The balloon archway was sponsored by Bamboo Bistro  who also provided food for the many volunteers. Thank you Bamboo Bistro.

AAGC Slideshow 2014 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Zilker Botanical Gardens, September 2014


Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin, TX

As I waited for the clock to move to 6:30 pm on Monday,DSC_0170
September 15, I decided to walk around the Zilker Botanical
Gardens. This is not my first time touring these wonderful and
well-kept gardens but it is the first time this year. I was not
disappointed as even this late in the summer, there were flowers
of every description still in bloom. It helped that the weather
had been reasonably kind to us and we had only a handful
of one hundred degree days.

I took well over a hundred pictures in my leisurely stroll around the grounds. That’s the beauty of the modern camera, you never run out of film. As long as the memory card is not full up and the batteries are charged, you can click away forever….

It never fails to amaze me how the Gardeners at the Botanical Gardens manage to get the plants to grow so big and tall. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get the English Fern to grow more than six inches high and yet I took pictures of the stuff standing two feet tall. I suspect that they use an unlimited supply of water out of Ladybird Lake to make their things grow so well.

It is not all well-kept gardens as there is a large area that is natural with the trees and underbrush growing as it normally does. There are wonderful gravel pathways built to explore this magic place and they make a nice contrast to the greenery surrounding them. There is yet another area that contains a Blacksmith shop, another for a one-roomed log school-house and yet another that contains an old single roomed log cabin. These are all reminders of the past and really make us realize just how tough it must have been way back then and comparatively speaking, how easy we have it.

Zilker Botanical Gardens September 2014 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

These are beautiful and well-maintained gardens and well worth the trip.

November Flowers in Austin, Texas

November Flowers from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

I walked around the garden checking the ponds as I usually do several times a day and was struck by the number of flowers, especially roses that are in bloom. This is supposed to be the winter season but it’s very hard to tell that it is. If you are deep into winter wherever you are, enjoy these pictures taken in Austin, Texas in November, 2013.

Oh yeah, the temperature is a warm 70 degrees…