Is It Over?

beeWho would believe that to write about the weather other than any extremes, is blogworthy. Yet, here I am just picking away with my superfast two finger typing, what we in Texas decide is really newsworthy and that is that it has gotten a little cooler.

With any luck, we may be over our hot weather for the year. These past few days, the temperature has failed to reach the 100 degree mark albeit only by a couple of degrees but at least psychologically, it feels cooler. And, today, it is raining. Not a fully socked in real gully washer but at least an odd cloud here and there that is dumping rain on us in a steady drizzle. We’ll take it any way we can. What is more, the temperature has only reached 80 degrees and that’s at 2:00 pm in the afternoon. It is forecast to reach 97 degrees but it may not get anywhere near that high especially if it continues to rain.

As tough as we claim to be, eventually continuous 100 degree weather gets to even the most hardened of us. Even the native Texans, the ones who wear those big hats, get more than a little tired of the heat and are glad to see it cool down. I for one am especially glad as I have done very little outdoors over these past two months. My garden needs trimming and I have a couple of projects that I want to complete this fall. Nothing major but still needing my attention and not to mention that I haven’t been on a hike in two and a half months at least. If the Parks and the Trails have not missed me, I sure as heck have missed them.

I did get in the big pond the other day to join the fish in their habitat, not for their company but because I needed to work on a couple of the installations like a fish fountain and an in-pond filter system. I finished the fish fountain and it is working just fine but the filter system still needs some work. Still, I don’t mind that work as I am standing in the pond where it is pretty cool at least compared to the outside temperatures.

The only good thing that has come out of all of this heat and me staying indoors is that I have written enough blogs to take me through mid October at three a week and I know of at least two more that I will need to fit in with the Austin Pond Society meetings for October and November. Hopefully, I have not bored my few readers too much with my odd selection of subjects over these past couple of months.

Well, it has stopped raining, with any luck only temporarily, as we could sure use a lot more. As I have written in previous blogs, my garden is pretty much all native plants. I have not watered it at all this summer and although some of the plants are looking a bit heat weary, most of them are holding up well. When our one or two day winter arrives, the frost will knock down all of the remaining growth and I will have to spend a couple of days cleaning it up ready for the start of the new season. But that is next year…

Written 9/3/2018

Thoughts on a Cloudy Day

Spring is in full swing in my part of Central Texas. The trees are busting out with new growth and many of the flowers are showing their pretty heads to this brand new season. Things that I had given up for dead following the week long freeze that we had, have surprised me by coming back to life. There are a few casualties as there always are some of which are easily replaced, others not so much.

Over the years, I have gone more and more to Native plants which true to form, come back year after year. One of their problems is the tendency to want to take over different parts of the garden, crowding out the smaller plants. I also allow them to grow pretty much uncontrolled only cutting them back when they start to encroach on the gravel paths that intertwine throughout the yard.

Consequently, the open view that I have immediately following the winter freeze clean up only lasts for a couple of months before Nature has regrown everything and it becomes difficult to see from one side of the yard to the other.

The ponds are a different story. The frost killed almost everything above the water line and because the water is constantly on the move, we did not have any ice build up to affect the tubers and such at the actual water line itself. What few lilies that may be left after receiving up close and personal attention from the big Koi, were all below water level. One is already showing leaves but they all need to be taken out and re-potted and fertilized before returning them back to the ponds. I do this Spring after Spring and regardless of how much growth or how many lily pads, the Koi will invariably tear them to pieces and uproot the tubers. I have tried several different methods including placing larger rocks or pebbles on the top but the Koi so far have outwitted me in their endeavors. I have watched them as they either use their nose to push stuff out of the way or they will park their large bodies on the top of the pot and use their tail to wash out the dirt and stones. They can be very ingenious and industrious in the way they go about this.

Years ago, I tried planting flowers every Spring and for a while, things would look pretty but I am basically a lazy gardener and replanting every year quickly became a lot of work that didn’t interest me enough to continue. Hence the Native Plant route many of which do flower and put on a pretty display.

Pretty much most of the heavy work is already done. The cutting back and raking the leaves and such. I still need to get in the ponds to clean them out but I want to have the lilies re-potted and ready to go before I take the pond route. The only real project that needs to be done this year is to straighten up one of the fences where it has developed a lean. It is not a major project requiring the digging out around the posts, straightening to an upright position and then concreting the posts back to their new upright positions. I usually put permanent 2×6 braces to hold everything in place. The fencing is 6 feet high wood slats and the original parts are more than 34 years old. Needless to say, many of the slats have been replaced and this time around, I need to work on 4 different posts. Other than that, I can’t think of anything major that I need to work on meaning that I should have a lot more time to go hiking.

I can’t wait…

Written 3/23/2018

Austin Pond Society February 2017 Meeting.

dsc_4930The Austin Pond Society held its February 2017 meeting at the usual place, the Zilker Botanical Garden clubhouse this past Monday. It was well attended with close to 50 members and guests showing up.

The meal served was Pizza provided by Jet’s Pizza who has also opted to become a sponsor for the Society. Thank you Jet’s Pizza and incidentally, the pizza was pretty darn good. It was hard to not keep going back for more. Desert’s were provided by the members and we can always use more at any of the meetings.

After the delicious meal, the speaker for the evening, Linda Wall, was introduced by Barb Lenhardt, Program Director. Linda is from the Natural Gardener located at 8648 Old Bee Caves Road, Austin and her subject was New Ideas and Designs for your Bog.
Here is her introduction, “I’m expanding the talk to native Texas bog plants and marginals, many of which we sell. I’ll be bringing the ones we have in stock for a bit of “show and tell” along with some non-natives that we sell that do well in bogs, things like mint and gotu kola (one y’all may not have heard of! Fun!).”

Her talk was very interesting and she introduced us to a whole bunch of new plants that do well in our bog, some we have never even heard of and others that we did not realize we could use in and around out ponds and bogs. Hers was a show and tell as she had brought many plants with her to accompany her slide show. Below is a video of her presentation.

APS Meeting Feb 2017 Linda Wall from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following Linda, Jeannie stepped up to the mic to conduct the small amount of business that we had to take care of. One by one, the Board Members gave their spiel on the given subjects. Jack Marshall, our new Treasurer presented the budget for the year, Margaret Boeneke, our new Librarian pointed out that there are several books out on loan, some of which for more than a couple of years and she asked for the members to get them turned back in, Barb Lenhardt, Publicity discussed the speakers for the upcoming meetings, I talked about the Marketplace on the website, xxxxx filling in for Rodney Lewis who is recovering from surgery, discussed the number of registered members, Ted Paone, Pond Tour Director talked about the upcoming Tour and the fact that he needs another 8 ponds to fill out this year’s Tour and last but not least, our most favorite and popular Board Member, Steven Monfrini, Hospitality pleaded for us to “Eat more Pizza”. We all wish Rodney our best wishes and to “Get Well Soon.”

The meeting closed following the drawing for the door prizes. The next meeting is on March 20 at the same place with the Speaker to be announced.

Below is a video of the Business part of the meeting.

APS Meeting Feb 2017 Business. from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Why do we sleep

Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book

Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I couldn’t go to sleep last night
although I tried with all my might
I tossed and turned this way and that
and even got up and sat in a chair
and read a book at least to look
at the pictures I found inside
of flowers and landscapes, ponds and fish
of all the things that I wish
my garden looked like but instead
I have gone a different way
with many ponds and native plants
to remind me of the fact
that I live in Texas and special flowers
like the ones in the book
do not do well because of the heat
and to get anything to grow here is a feat.

I read the book for a while
and then decided, with a smile
I would try to go to sleep
and back into bed I climbed
only then did I find
not one, not two but all five
of the dogs had claimed a spot
leaving me with just a jot of space
to lay down my poor tired head
with eyes so heavy with the wish to sleep
I tried to squeeze into the space to keep
from falling out of bed
I wrapped both arms around a dog
and fell asleep just like a log
and in what seemed an eternity
but in fact was no more than
ten minutes that I had snored.

Up jumped the dog so wide awake
and did violently shake
his head and body from side to side
and started to bark at some imaginary thing
that was outside in the dark
probably a coon or possum or maybe a rat
we did not know for a fact
whatever it was the other four dogs
all joined in the chorus of barks
some with high notes and some with low
but all making an impossible noise
that it came as no surprise that
me, I was now wide awake
and looked at the clock by the bed
ten minutes had gone is what it said
since I lay down my head.

I lay back down, this time alone
for the dogs had all flown
out through their doggy door to see
just what it was at what they had heard.
Just when I was dozing off
an almighty racket I did hear
as the dogs had found
a big ole coon and he had treed
below him the dogs were going nuts
as they could see him but could not reach
him as he was too high.

I sighed and climbed back out of bed
and put on my shorts, tee-shirt and shoes
the same clothes I had just removed
and down the garden lamp in hand
went to see just what it was
that was causing the dogs to act so loud
and sure enough in the light from my lamp
two glowing eyes reflected back
attached to the biggest coon I had ever seen
big enough and probably just as mean
to tear up my dogs who at the most
are of the small dog kind although they all think
they are pit bulls or Doberman or some other tough dog
despite their small stature and their dachshund breed.

I called the dogs in and reluctantly so
in they did troop with many a glance
behind them at the coon in the tree
just wishing that I would let them go
back to bark and jump up and down
and act tough with their feet on the ground.
I shut the door no more they could roam
at least until morning which by now by the clock
showed another hour passed from when I first went to bed
you know, the first time I laid down my head
but that was at least five hours ago.

So back into bed we all did climb
me and five dogs the difference this time
is that I got first dibs at my side of the bed
and gratefully I lay down my head
the dogs re-arranged and found their own spots
with Abigail and Ginny under covers did go
and Be-Be and Richie cuddled up so tight
and Danny the biggest of them all
stretched across the foot of the bed
at last, I thought, this must be the time
what else can happen to keep me awake.
I should have known better than to tempt fate
for sure enough after I dozed off to sleep
the telephone rang with its alarm clock like ring
and up I jumped, startled by the noise it did make
I grabbed at the phone but in my haste
it fell to the floor and out of my reach
still ringing as I sprang out of bed
and retrieved it but by that time it had stopped
and I waited as a voicemail was left
and I listened to the message and is said,
“You are the lucky winner of a trip
to Disney Land but you must reply
in fifteen minutes or it will pass
to some other lucky person will find
this wonderful chance”.

I looked at the phone and looked at the clock
as by now more time had flown by
I threw the phone across the room
not caring one jot for in my gloom
all I could think of was sleep and more sleep
and so I turned back to the bed
only to find that dogs had moved
and re-arranged their spots and the space I called mine
was occupied by two animals of the doggy kind.
The clock now said six and it was still dark outside
I sighed and once more my clothes I applied
and sat in front of the computer screen
and wrote a poem about the time
that I was unable to sleep.