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

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Austin Pond Society Meeting March 2018


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The third Monday of the month rolled around as it does on a regular basis which is also the day, actually evening, that the Austin Pond Society hold their monthly meeting. There were about forty two people that showed up and they were treated to a Chinese meal from one of our Sponsors, Bamboo Bistro. The food was absolutely delicious and there was none left at the end of the night. Thank You Bamboo Bistro. BTW, as a sponsor, they offer a 10% discount on all of their food by showing your APS Membership card.

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With the meal out of the way, the Speaker for the evening was Dr Geigel who spoke to us a couple of years ago. Dr Geigel is a travelling fish doctor although he treats any and all animals and birds no matter what type they are. For the evenings lecture, he focused on fish and fish ailments. At the end of his presentation he took many questions from the floor all related to fish illnesses.

Dr Geigel Video March Meeting 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following the Speaker, Jeannie, our President took over. There was very little official business, just a lot of general discussion. The evening ended with the drawing for the door prizes which always leads to much mirth and laughter as different and various people win the prizes. My apologies for the quality of this video. My original video camera that I had setup, the battery went dead so I grabbed a second camera and shot this without the use of a tripod. Again, my apologies.

APS Meeting March 2018 – Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The next meeting will be on April 16, Income Tax Deadline Day. Hope you have filed yours in time. This meeting is our Annual Plant Swap when members bring in their surplus fish, garden and pond plants to swap or giveaway to anyone that either wants them or is willing to take them. However, at the end of the evening, any unswapped plants are the responsibility of the original owner who must take them home. If you are looking for plants (or fish) bargains, this meeting is for you. This is not restricted to just pond plants. Any form of garden plant can also be swapped, The one exception are any invasive species which also applies to pond plants. This is not to be confused with the Annual Swap and Sell Meeting held later in the year which is more about material items such as used pond and garden equipment. Hope to see you there.

This is the view through the windows of the Garden outside.

Written 3/22/2018

Wondering What to Do.


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Before the frosts

I sat looking out of the window at grey and cloudy day
trying to find the energy to go out and play
in the yard where so much needs to be done
after the winters frosts.

Cutting and cleaning  up the dead parts
and raking and loading them into a cart
to place them gently on the top of the compost heap
that is now over six feet tall.

Most of the work is already done
with just one corner left the sum
of which amounts to a couple of hours
of my time.

But today is not the day
to go outside to play
and clean up the winters mess
when I can do it tomorrow.

But wait the sun is starting to shine
and this might change my mind
to work outside in it’s warmth
and clean up the yard.

Written 2/9/2018

Live Oaks in my Yard


 

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I have many Texas Live Oaks in my yard both front and back. The Latin name for this magnificent tree is Quercus fusiformis. I had to look that up as I haven’t a clue when it comes to the Latin names of anything. Just recently, I wrote a blog about the efforts by a company of  tree trimmers that I had hired to cut back all of the dead limbs, and there were plenty.

Live Oaks tend to be very late with shedding their leaves or probably I should say, very early as where most trees  lose their leaves in the Fall, the Live Oak sheds its leaves in the early Spring as the weather starts to warm up. This is followed immediately by a growth of new leaves to replace those that have fallen. Then the “Flowers” start to fall. which are pods about 1- 3 inches long that get into everything. These are pretty messy as they are usually accompanied by a whole herd of caterpillars which eat all of the new growth forcing it to start all over again. . The entire thing lasts for about a month.   This is all perfectly normal for this particular tree.

However, this year it is different as the leaves are coming down much earlier than usual. This is because the very heavy frost and ice rain that we had that lasted for five days and nights, froze many of the leaves before their normal time. Consequently, we are suffering through an abnormal amount of leaves that are falling off the trees.  Upon checking the trees themselves, there is a lot of brown up there still waiting to fall. My guess is that it won’t be finished until the new leaves grow late February and early March just as soon as the weather warms up.  Then in the Fall, the acorns come tumbling down and they too, have to be swept up. This past year there were more acorns than I have ever seen before and if they were a forerunner of a bad winter, then that is true as what we have had so far, is the worst I have seen in my forty years of living in this State.

You know all of those leaves that I raked up in the Fall? Well now I can do it all again this Spring. Lucky me.

Written 1/26/2018

I Sat…


 

 

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I sat at the kitchen table looking out through the glass
at the garden that now has been cut back because of the frost
it was a dull and grey day with the sun hidden behind the clouds
and I wondered what I could do the time to pass.

I sat watching the birds as they squabbled over the seed
even though there are many feeders for them to choose
they all had to have the same one who knows why
maybe it was special and satisfied their need.

I sat and watched the dogs as they wandered the yard
one slim and lithe as she scampered around
nose to the ground checking for every smell
she found nothing or she was not trying very hard.

I sat and watched other dog who did not have the nose to smell
instead content to bark at the squirrel in the trees
and sit and look out onto the yard
checking to see that all was well.

I sat and thought about what needed to be done
to clear the remaining plants killed by the frost
and who should take on this task
I guess it’s me, I am the only one.

Written 1/26/2018

 

Brain Dead


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I sat here looking at a blank screen
and looked outside at the scene
what I saw was dull and grey
as it was kind of a cloudy day
and although the temperature had risen
I sat and tried to make a decision
do I want to go outside
and cut back the plants that have all died
or rake the leaves fallen off the trees
those that have died and come down with ease
with many more ready to fall
I may be raking at Nature’s call
but as my brain is not functioning well
and the call from Nature is almost a yell
I think outside is where I will go
and me and my rake will put on a show. 

Written 1/21/2018

Two Fish Rescues to Start 2018


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I had calls from a couple of different pond owners who for totally different reasons wanted to close down their ponds. The first call, the owner stated that he had two ponds, one with two goldfish and the other with eight. He needed to find them good homes as the house and one of the ponds was going to be demolished and a new one built in its place.

I was met at the gate by the owner who showed me the ponds, one front and one back. The front pond was about six feet by three feet and contained two goldfish which were very easy to catch. The pond at the rear of the house was a large circular one of about eight feet in diameter with a fountain. This one, we had to pump out in order to catch the ten goldfish. It didn’t take too long and with the owners help, I was quickly on my way. I took these fish to Mayfield Park which was no more than a half mile from where I was.

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The other owner just didn’t want the pond anymore and was getting rid of everything including the Koi and the equipment. He had eight Koi, the biggest around fifteen inches long and all of them were beautifully marked. His pond had fairly large red sandstone rocks which had obviously been put in with a front end loader as they were way too heavy for me to handle and reluctantly, I had to pass them up. The owner was going to fill the pond with them which I thought was a waste but as I couldn’t get them out, there was no other choice.

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I made arrangements to visit him and catch the Koi the first day. I had lots of help from the owner and two other people so the catching went pretty quickly. The pond was around 1500 gallons and I had to pump it down to make it easier to catch the fish. The pond had been professionally built back 2006 as was obvious by the construction. They had dug a deeper middle section which must have been close to four feet. I took the Koi back to my own ponds and put them in the 6000 gallon pond where they joined several other larger koi.

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The next day, I went back to North Austin where the pond was located which incidentally would not show up on my GPS system, to collect the equipment which consisted of a large Sanyo skimmer, a 2000 gph pump, a single grate and netting from the bog, a waterfall and filter box and several pieces of 1-1/2 inch heavy duty flex pipe. It took me a while to dig out the skimmer box and the pipe was also buried but not very deep. With everything loaded, I made my way back home to unload everything.

The rescues were relatively simple and in both cases, the owners were very nice and very helpful.

Written 1/21/2018