Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Evolution of my Attic

Remember this?  
This is the back wall view of the attic before I pronounced last fall that I would reclaim The Garden Palace from the furry beast and flying creatures.

 Here is the "after" with a few word to document the evolution of my Garden Palace attic. 

"before" front wall
 Dear sweet son came in early June.
He and I installed the floor. 
The truth is, I never really really thought this would happen. 
 Nearly done.
Taking a break.

 When the floor was finished, I started closing in the end walls. 
After a few days, I enlisted the help of D.J. who uses a bigger hammer than me.
Pipe Hand Rail
 On July 1st, we installed the hand rail. 
What a glorious day!
Maybe you can see how steep the stairs are.
You can't imagine how excited I was about this project. 
It couldn't be done until the wall was closed in.

 The thing to notice here is how little shelves were created in a "make it work" design moment.
 I placed jars on the shelves so they would show in the photo. 

By this time is was well into July and the Texas heat was not bearable in this tin roofed attic.

 Late September, I started back at it and finished installing the front wall. 
Now is when I should tell you that the wall material was any and every kind of board you can imagine. 
I used hundred year old floor boards, new floor boards, old garage door facing boards, old shelving boards, old bead board, new and old lumber bits and pieces.
Some had been painted, some had not, some was obviously new wood and some had an aged patina. 
The width nor the thickness mattered not to me. 
The point was first, to clear out a couple of hoards of such material and secondly, cheap.

 The first layer was a whitewash effect with just watered down white paint. 
 Then, I went back in with some paint colors on random places.
I really wanted to love this but when I realized the huge job I had created for myself in order to get the final finish that I wanted, I just knew that no matter what, I wasn't going to love it. 
 I also realized or rather remembered that my intention is to cover the walls with framed art and photos. 
That fact cinched it.
I had to paint the walls white. 

When I got the left side painted white, the conflict was over.
I loved it!
 On October 9th, the first painting was hung. 
It just felt like I needed to have this here while I continued the work. 

 Then the back wall. 

The Bridge

 To reach the wall and rafters above the stairwell, a bridge and ladder is used. 
It's a little scary up there.

The Floor
 Even though I knew, I'm not crazy about gray paint, I still started out with it because it is a ready-mix color easy and quick to get. 
The color was light gray.
That is the light gray on the left.
It seemed too dark.
So I mixed it with a white to see if I might be happier.

Not really. 

 I went back to the store and had this light color mixed.
After using it, I saw that I could go a little darker without making the room dark, so I got another gallon mixed for the second coat. 

Stay tuned for more projects.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I'm Nesting

Did you ever watch a nest being built? 
I have.
In June 2009, I watched a red bird, another name for a Northern Cardinal, build a nest at my back door.
I documented it here on my blog as it was in progress in several post. 

That is why I'm positive these two nest were built by red birds. 
I just discovered these nest recently near the Garden Palace in side by side Oleanders. 

Made me wonder if they were setting there eggs at the same time. 
It must get pretty lonely on the nest. 
So, I chose to think they planned this. 

The interesting thing is they build in layers.
The first layer is large coarse material which shows nicely in the first picture. 
I recognize this as dead branches of a vine which is hanging in a nearby cedar tree. 
That big green leaf in the forefront is of the same kind of vine. 
Then, as each layer is added, the material gets smaller and smaller. 
A layer of dead leaves is added before the final very fine material is added and smoothed into a perfect cup like home for nesting.

Just thought you'd like to know.
PS:    I don't know if redbirds clean up and refurbish to reuse a nest but I'm leaving these in place and will be watching....come spring. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Last post on Texas Native Plant week

This will be my last post recognizing and celebrating Texas Native Plant Week, October 19 - 25. 
Today, it is all about the unknown.
The unidentified.
I will give some of my observations about these native plants that I have yet to identify.

This one has beautiful gray-green soft color which I really like.
It is pubescent, meaning covered with hairs and is nice to touch. 
I fear it is a very prolific and probably on the farmers' dreaded noxious weed list.
Nevertheless, I will add one to my near-the-house gardens.

This unknown looks a lot like a Heuchera.
I see it growing low to the ground but that could be because the ones that I have observed are in areas that are mowed. 
I really like the leaf shape and coloration and plan to use it as a ground cover in shady areas.
Although, I have seen it in full sun as well. 
I don't remember seeing it bloom; however, it may bloom in spring.
I will be watching.

This one again.
I love this plant.
It grows as tall and taller than me.
At daylight, I'm going out to see if any of these seed heads remain. 
I have been seeing the birds working this area.
It is a beautiful plant that has rust color during it's peak and then as it begins to die, it all turns rust as you can see in the background of this photo. 

If left to grow, in other words, not in the mower's path, this unknown has a very desirable branching habit.
I think it could be grown as a small hedge. 
I do remember seeing it in bloom and I think it is a violet-purplish color.
I will have to wait until spring for the blooms and then I should be able to identify it.

This unknown with a small yellow flower is a bogsy type plant. 
It pops up near the edge of the water each year. 
It is growing in an area that is under water when the tank is full. 

This is a nice little shade loving shrubby plant.
It grows from runners underground. 
Sometimes I love it and sometimes I don't 
I think I'm back to the lovin it stage.

 I forgot that it made this little berry-fruit-seeds.
Because not all of them have these. 
This might be clue to identifying this native.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Yes another native plant

In 2009, the Texas legislature designated the third week in October as Texas Native Plant Week.

Today I celebrate Inland Sea Oats growing in the wild here on my property.

Inland Sea Oats (08/29/2014)
 This native plant is not about the flowers. 
It is all about the beautiful seed heads dangling from the long arching branches. 
Inland Sea Oats (10/21/2014)
 I have lots of them and have plans to bring some up into the gardens near the house. 
Inland Sea Oats in the wild

The following is from the Native Plant Database at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

Chasmanthium latifolium

Chasmanthium latifolium (Michx.) Yates

Inland sea oats, Indian wood oats, Wild oats, River oats, Flathead oats, Upland Oats, Upland Sea Oats

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Uniola latifolia

USDA Symbol: CHLA5

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This is a 2-4 ft., clump-forming, perennial grass bearing large, drooping, oat-like flower spikelets from slender, arching branches. The blue-green, bamboo-like leaves often turn a bright yellow-gold, especially in sunnier sites, in fall.
Very popular as a low-maintenance shade grass, Inland sea oats is notable for its large, graceful seedheads. Sending up blue-green basal leaves in earliest spring, it can be 2 feet tall and a vivid green by May, with translucent green seedheads swaying in the breeze. By mid-summer, the seeds will have turned an attractive ivory and will turn brown in a few months before dropping off. It passes through most of winter a soft brown, but becomes tattered and gray by February, a good time to cut it back to the basal rosette. It reseeds easily and can expand aggressively within a couple of years, making a solid mat in moist loams. It has been used to prevent soil erosion along streams. The seed stalks are attractive inflower arrangements.
Inland Sea Oats Flower Spikelets

Inland Sea Oats Flower Spikelets

Inland Sea Oats Flower Spikelets

Inland Sea Oats Flower Spikelets and seeds
One of the things about this native plant that I really do love is the bamboo like leaves and the drooping arching branches.
Oh, that's two things. 
But most of all I love the seed heads.
I had to investigate.
One seed can be found wrapped inside each little paper-like husk.
So you know, the grid is ¼ inch.
I will probably transplant some and try planting seeds too. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Celabrating Texas Native Plant Week with Thoroughwort

Recognizing Texas Native Plant Week
October 19-25
Thoroughwort, Fleischmannia incarnata
showing the branching growth habit
I was extremely excited Monday when I discovered for the first time this native plant growing here.
I was making my rounds, as I do, around behind the tank dam.
The beautiful plant was down at feet level and I was ignoring it as I thought it was yet more asters. 
I guess it has been here all along as I do now recognize the leaves. 
And actually it is in the aster family of plants. 
Thoroughwort, Fleischmannia incarnata
showing the branching growth habit
I love the low branching growth habit and look forward to moving some of this to a shaded bed near the house. 
It is a perennial. 
I have tentatively identified it as Fleischmannia incarnata.
I only found two plants when I discovered it Monday.

Then Tuesday when I went out with my real camera, I walked around with an eye for it and sure enough discovered many more in another area. 
This one is at the edge of where I mow and obviously was mowed recently. I think it will be an excellent specimen to transplant.
dried Thoroughwort flower head
I have more research in order to learn more about this Thoroughwort.
However, I brought a branch to the house to help me identify it and the next day the branch had dried and revealed a few of its secrets.  

dried Thoroughwort flower head
I could not see this detail nor even the pinkish color with the necked eye or even with my reading glasses.
dried Thoroughwort flower head
dried Thoroughwort flower head showing seeds
FYI, the grid that I photographed on is ¼ inch. Therefore the branch consisting of four or five flower heads is one inch.
I broke apart one flower head to see the seeds.
As you can see, they have a little whorl that carries them off. 
Another of Mother nature's genius.

This post is to celebrate the Texas Native Plant Week, October 19-25. 

I will probably have more. 
Hope you enjoy. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Texas Native Plant Week

When I posted Native Wildflowers Around Me last week, I had no idea this week, October 19-25, is Texas Native Plant Week dedicated to celebrating home-grown native plants.
Today, I will celebrate the Asters that grow on our property.

I can't say they are "home-grown".
I would say they are native to the property and are just here without my say-so. 
There are a bazillion different wild asters and I haven't a clue which one these are. 

What I have learned about taking pics with my iphone is that the iphone doesn't do such a good job for me on these wild plants.
There is always a bit of a breeze when I'm out and the camera has a hard time focusing on the plant I'm looking at.
Also, as you can see, there are usually layers of plants that confuse the lens. 
Even if there is not a breeze, my Stupid Kitty is always following me around like a dog and manages to put the plants in motion.
These first three pictures are from the same clump that is growing near the tank behind the greenhouse.
I love the heavy dew that I captured this morning with my point-and-shoot.  

 This clump is actually here near the house in an overgrown flower bed. 
That's just fine with me because I am about to turn many areas near the house into native plant beds.

This is a different aster that was in bloom in mid September and it is erect and about 5 feet tall.
The blooms look like they are drying and very tiny at about 1/4 inch wide.

I discovered the celebration of Texas Native Plant Week from some gardening blogs that I read. 
One is My Gardener Says... and you might want to click over and read her post. 

I'll be back with more before the week is over.