Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
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 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.
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.
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.
I have not walked much in a while in the Parks and special places that I choose to lose myself in nature. Instead, for the past couple of months I have been communing at home, mostly out in the garden and in and around the ponds.
Cleaning up the winter mess left over from the couple of frosts that we had and trimming back those remaining plants that the frost did not damage. Repotting the water lilies and other pond plants to give them a fresh new start in this cycle of their life. Working on the filter systems on the two big ponds to improve their capacity to clean the water.
The two sheds and the greenhouse that have not been cleaned in twenty years need work. Tidying up the Yellow Shed, the one that contains the mechanical tools used around the yard. Starting the mowers and discovering that only one out of the three that I have will work. Turning the greenhouse into a storage area for all of the pond tools and equipment including all of the various and many plastic fitting accumulated over the years and the odd sections of pipe with bends and valves and other sundry parts that have been changed out in the past. Parts kept in the off chance they can be reused in the future.
And finally, working on the big workshop. Finding tools that I thought were long gone, lost in the very jumble that happens after twenty years of neglect. Rearranging the shelves and adding new places to store things. Putting things on the walls until there is no space unused. Sweeping the floor and removing years of accumulated dirt.
Wondering what to do with the huge pile of junk that for me, no longer has a use. Maybe a trip to the dump and another to the junkyard to recycle that which is old and worn out.
Just like me…Where do I get recycled.
Looking forward to cleaning out the sheds in another twenty years…
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