Saturday, March 31, 2007

Just Joey Hybrid Tea Rose

Just Joey is one of my favorite roses in the San Antonio garden. The bush is not spectacular, though attractive for a hybrid tea, but it's the flowers I love. They're a rich apricot color when they open, fading to pale gold as they age. The fragrance is full and sweet.

When the afternoon sunlight caught this bloom as I worked at my desk this afternoon, I couldn't resist grabbing the camera. The bloom to the left of the illuminated Just Joey is from a bush that was in the yard when I bought the house. I believe it's the grandiflora Queen Elizabeth. There is only a faint fragrance, which is a major drawback far as I'm concerned, but the double flowers are nicely formed and grow on long, straight stems, great for cutting.

Bolero Romantica Rose

The roses really never stopped blooming in San Antonio, but there was a short period of dormancy in Austin. All the bushes are now loaded with buds, but only Bolero had open blooms. Here are a couple I picked to bring into the house.

Bolero is one of the Romantica varieties, introduced in 2005 by the House of Meilland. In my garden, the flowers are white, with barely pink centers when they first open, turning a delicate shade of pink as they age. In photos I've seen of the Bolero rose grown in other gardens, the color is pure white. The intense fragrance is similar to that of the Apothecary Rose or rosewater.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Prius Does More Environmental Harm than Hummer

Things aren't always what they seem ...

Chris Demorro writes in the The Recorder (Central Connecticutt State University) that it costs $3.25 per mile to produce a Prius (expected lifetime of 100,000 miles), compared with $1.95 per mile (expected lifetime of 300,000 miles) to produce a Hummer. Worse, from an environmental point of view, the production of the Prius battery is highly destructive. And the advertised 60 mpg city, 51 mpg highway gasoline consumption of the Prius turns out to be misleading, because the tests that produced these results were done under unrealistic conditions.

The author suggests purchasing a Toyota Scion xB (production cost of $0.48 per mile) or a Chevy Aveo, which gets mileage comparable to the Prius's under realistic driving conditions.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chain Saw Madagascar

Me cutting up a tree that fell across the road at Altamira

This is for my dear husband

This is Damien, beaming in from the 188th dimension.  Photo by Beth Gwinn

Jasmine in a Vase

I'll have a good night's sleep now.

Jasminum polyanthus - Pink Jasmine. A magical plant - In just a couple of years, with no more help from me than an occasional watering during the hottest, driest part of the summer, this vine has transformed an ugly chain link fence. I first noticed the pink obloid buds a couple of weeks ago. The buds open into white, extremely fragrant flowers.

The fragrance of jasmine is said to calm the nerves. I've had a hard day at work. I think I'll cut some jasmine for my bedroom.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wonderful Food From the Garden

I'm sure I've read of at least one analysis done on the decline in nutritional value of vegetables as the time between garden and table increases. Fresh vegetables retained significantly more vitamins than vegetables that had sat around for a while after being harvested.

Unfortunately, I can't cite that study, but I can tell you for sure from first-hand experience that vegetables taste a lot better fresh from the garden. The salad in the photo is made of Forellenschluss lettuce, Red Salad Bowl lettuce (seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange), Gala mache, Runway arugula (seeds from Renee's Seeds), and garlic leaves (Early Italian Purple from Irish Eyes). All the ingredients were harvested around 5 minutes before they were washed and on the table.

Fruit Trees

Last August my husband and I bought a house on a double lot with a dozen fruit trees. I could identify the peaches and mulberries by their leaves, growth pattern and wood, but there are some mystery trees I won't be able to identify for sure until they produce fruit.

A few of the peach trees are beginning to bloom now, and a couple of the mystery trees. I'm guessing that the two mystery trees blooming now may be Asian pears (see photo above).

A couple of the trees had root stocks that had grown larger than the scion cultivar. I think one of these trees may survive; the other was quite dead. A couple of the peach trees were being smothered by rampant hackberry saplings. I cut back the hackberries in the fall, the the peach trees are blooming nicely this spring.

I'd like to put in more fruit trees, so as to have a steady harvest of fruit from spring through fall. I've planted Ein Shemer and Anna apples against the fence on the north side of the property and will prune them in a tiered espalier pattern. I've brought 3 loquat seedlings from my San Antonio garden, and I'd like to put in a couple of persimmon and a pomegranite and jujbe, and I'm going to try a jostaberry, but I don't have very high hopes for it in this warm climate.
Here's a nice article on pruning peach trees for high-density planting: This is in the context of commercial orchards but might be useful for the home gardener who wants to plant a wider variety of fruit trees in a limited space.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

New Cotyledon Baby

I never stop being amazed by the speed with which seeds unfurl themselves. Not being a tomato myself, I see personhood in this dear little cotyledon. I think of a young human slowly rising up from a slumped-over position, stretching her arms out to the sun. I planted 16 tomato seeds Saturday, only 5 days ago. That same day I stuck cuttings from a Louis Phillipe rose. I couldn't resist pulling one of the cuttings out of the soil yesterday to see if there was callus forming ... there was!

Louis Philippe (Gueirn, 1834). China rose. It's said that one of these plants grew in the garden of Mrs. Emily de Zavala, wife of Lorenzo de Zavala, first vice president of the Republic of Texas.
I like the flowers for their uniqe fragrance. I had thought of transplanting the one I have in my garden in San Antonio to Lockhart but couldn't bear to disturb it -- it looked so peaceful and healthy as it was. Thus the cuttings.

Short biography of Lorenzo de Zavala: