Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Beginnings and a Fun Garden Project!

   Aren't you all ready for Spring?? We have had some of the coldest weather on record all over this country this year. Finally, with a Capital "F", Spring is here in Central Texas.  In Texas, our Spring  can last 2 months or 2 weeks but it calls all of out of the house and outdoors. We take it while it lasts because the heat is coming! That means a very fast garden that has about 8-12 weeks for a growing season. We try to get our vegetable gardens in from January to March because in April we CAN have 100 degrees. It is always a suprise to see when it will be, but we know it WILL be hot. While it is 60-85 we call it "Spring" and love every minute of it. So here it is after a bitter cold and we welcome it!
   In January I planted a new variety of sugar snap snow peas that a friend started: "Alaska Snow Peas".
3 Little Alaska Snow Peas in an urn
They are supposed to get 4' tall, produce three times as much as regular peas and grow fast for a short growing season. Crystal shared 3 with me and they grew quickly, protected by the hurricane lamp glass that I use for chic cloches. Time to take the cloches off and give them some support. The lamp glass also prevents cut worms from slicing through the tender shoots as them come up. Cheap chic!! Go find some at Goodwill or garage sales and hurry your seedlings up.

   Of course it is time to clean up and that is all about Beginnings again isn't it?? We begin again each new Spring to re-evaluate what is necessary and what is not, roll up our sleeves and dig in. There is a catharsis in this. It allows us to open up our homes and rooms and closets and gardens for the fresh and new and clean.
Butterfly Garden Sign
   New beginnings are easiest to be seen in the garden. As I rake away the old leaves and dead brush, pull up clumps of grasses that were hinding under the foliage, I see all of the new plants reaching up for the warmth and air. My butterfly theme garden is right off of the driveway although there are butterfly plants all over the yard. There is nothing more pleasurable (well I guess that is up for personal conjecture...) than driving up to the house in late Spring and Summer and seeing clouds, and there are literally clouds, of Fritallary Butterflies on the  periwinkle blue Greggs's Blue Mist 'Eupatorium greggi', Monarchs love this plant too as well as Queens and Soldier Butterflies. We also have Giant Swallowtail, Yellow Sulphurs, Painted Ladies, Skippers and the occasional Zebra Longwing.
Gregg's Blue Mist Flower just peeking through the earth
   These will get to be a solid mass of 2' clumps of plants with pretty periwinkle blue fuzzy flowers on the tips of the long stems. The butterflies collect nectar from them but I have no idea how as they are so fuzzy.
Indigo Spires Giant Salvia
   Also coming up are the Indigo Spires Salvia , Salvia x 'Indigo spires', that get to be 3' tall and have the most amazing black/blue flowers on them. I have mine in the shade but they do well in the sun too.
   Artemesia, Artemesia 'Powis Castle' with frothy silver gray leaves, Texas Superstar yellow gold lantana, Lantana spp is still a clump of sticks. Bronze fennel, Fennel 'Foeniculum vulgare', Mexican mint marigold,
'Tageas lucinda', Culinary Sage, 'Salvia officinalus', and many more plants make up the bulk of this little butterfly haven. There is a wildlife waterer that they can drink from and rest on the side of  (I will show you how to make one in another post). The bronze fennel is a sacrifice plant so I have lots of them in there. The caterpillars from the Giant Black Swallowtail butterfly use it as a host food source. At one time I had over 50 caterpillars on it in different instar stages on one plant alone. I'm sure the Texas state bird, the Mockingbird, thought that is was a buffet line set up just for her. I digress as usual...You can get a great list of plants for a butterfly garden by going to http//     . If you want, I will send you a list of all of the ones that have been successful here for me. Just post that in your comments.

  Look around you. Really LOOK instead of rushing out of the house to work, to get kids to school, to the next baseball game. God has called the earth to renew herself. To fufill the promise of MORE. More life, more warmth, more fragrance. To get rid of the dead grass in your garden and your heart and soul. Pull it up, give yourself some room to breathe and enjoy. Broom out the cobwebs and the dust and take a deep breath of new. Sit out with a cup of tea and listen to the bird song this week. See what is trying to come up in you and give it a chance.
Blessings don't have to be huge to be had,  they just need a beginning.

                                                         A FUN Project to do:

   If you don't have room for a big garden, how about a small grouping of pots of kitchen herbs??
   Here is a fun project that takes less than 2 hours to complete and is economical to do from scratch.
If you don't have a clean terra cotta pot sitting around, they are available for less than $1.50 each at a local craft or garden store. These used are the 4" pots that will hold one planting of each herb.
  I'm enamored with all things black and cream and white and khaki but especially blackboard surfaces.
I use them all over the house and thought these would be perfect to welcome the softer colors of Spring.
  So Supplies you will need:
4- 4" Terra Cotta pots
1-2 oz. bottle of  black outdoor paint
1-4 oz bottle of  blackboard paint (do not use spray blackboard paint-it is AWFUL)
Foam disposable painting brush
Colored chalk in "red", yellow, blue, purple and white for writing
 Organic Potting Soil
Herbs (I used Sage, Dill, Lemon Thyme and Orange Mint)


Make sure the pots have all labels removed and are clean and dry

Painted pot with Black Outdoor Paint and then Blackboard Paint
2. Paint pot with black outdoor paint in direction AROUND pot with foam brush. Let dry.
3. Repeat painting of pot with one coat of Blackboard paint. Coat completely and let dry.
Outdoors this dried in less than 10 min. but it was warm with a breeze.
4. Color the rims of the pot with a selected color of sidewalk chalk. With white chalk write the name of the herb you will plant.
5. Place organic potting soil into pot to about 2". Add herb of choice. Tamp down lightly and water.
6. Set in sunny window or on a garden table.
7. Keep soil moist but not wet.
Finished Pots

Love to all,

1 comment:

  1. love this project...may i share it on the magazine? it would really fit and might send you some traffic!!!


I welcome comments and encouragements.