The Daily Muse

A Garden Journal -- November 2003

Last Update: November 23

Big Tooth Maple from Lost Maples State Natural Area.

November 2 - evening

It has been a very busy gardening weekend for me, I have completely redone one of our planting beds filling it up with spring flowering bulbs. The center of the bed is now anchored by a mass planting of amaryllis including the following varieties:  'orange sovereign,' 'giraffe,' 'rilona,' and 'President Johnson.' Surrounding the amaryllis we have planted dozens of 'campernelle,' 'ice follies,' and 'avalanche' narcissus. It was a lot of work preparing the bed for these bulbs, and I cannot wait until the spring to see if my efforts will be rewarded.

Some other new acquisitions include:

Amaryllis 'papilio' - A 'butterfly amaryllis' that is supposed to be evergreen.

Narcissus 'Yael' - We are "forcing" these in a container. A very elegant form of narcissus.

Vardar Valley Boxwood - A bluish form of English boxwood.

Juniper communis 'Compressa' - An extremely dwarf column shaped juniper

For the time being, I am planning on keeping all of these new plants in containers. My container garden habit is a little bit out of control... I really need to add a greenhouse to the garden to protect all of the tender plants through the winter!


This morning, I had a close encounter with a screech owl. I went outside to pick up the paper and it was in the branches above our front door. It called out a few times and then flew just over my head. Their call is simply amazing, very exotic and strange.  I was glad to be able to hear it so clearly and to see the bird silhouetted against the dim morning sky.

November 9 - evening

The Hill Country shrouded in mist along Texas Highway 473 (west of Kendalia.)

We have just returned from our annual pilgrimage to the Sabinal River Canyon and the Lost Maples State Natural Area. Our trip this year was marked by misty weather, fireside conversations, intimate canyon hikes, and great companionship. I am a bit worn out, but thought I would share a few images from our trip.

Victor resting his feet at my favorite spot in Texas - Can Creek Canyon at Lost Maples Park.


An limestone overhang along Can Creek.Note the maidenhair fern clinging to the cliff face.


A moss covered maple tree.


A roadside view from Texas 337 - the 'ridge road.'


The Sabinal River flowing through a natural Bald Cypress allee. Scenes such as this were the inspiration for the Cypress allee in our garden.

A classic Texas Live Oak in a pasture.

November 10 - evening

Here are a few more pictures from our expedition...


A variation of an earlier view from the 'Ridge Road.'


A side canyon off of the Can Creek (West) Trail at Lost Maples












Mist rising from the canyons along the 'Ridge Road.'


An  edited photograph using  bare sumac branches as calligraphy of a sort.

November 16 - morning

It is a gray and humid morning, much warmer than a November morning should be, and the garden feels as if it is sagging under the weight of the dreary skies and damp leaves. In a short while I intend to go out to tidy things up a bit, and I am hoping the weather will cooperate by not raining or misting as it did all day yesterday. When I was a kid in New York, I loved the autumn because it meant brilliant colors, cool weather, the sound of rakes, and the smell of burning leaves. However, things are a bit too soggy for burning today, and my leaf blower makes a very different sound than a rake - more efficient and much more annoying.

I just came in from my first inspection tour of the garden and was pleased to see that our passion vine is leafing out again after being chewed down to the nub by caterpillars. We allowed the Gulf Fritillary (butterfly) caterpillars to have their way with the vine and I counted at least a dozen empty chrysalis shells where the butterflies had hatched out. There are still a few young butterflies hanging around the garden - I guess they will ride the next cold front south.

Just behind the arbor where the passion vine is recovering, our labyrinth space is positively choked with bluebonnet seedlings. Last year, we allowed about a dozen bluebonnets to sprout in the decomposed granite pathways of the labyrinth, and now we have hundreds of their progeny popping up. I hate the idea of weeding bluebonnets, but I think I'd like to be able to at least hop through the labyrinth this winter, walking it may become impossible. Bluebonnets and butterflies: two unexpected diversions from the grand scheme I have concocted for the garden. Gardeners have to get used to the unexpected, I think that these are diversions I can live with.

November 23 - evening

A very strong cold front blew in this morning and we are expecting the first freeze of the season tonight. We now have all of our tender agaves, aloes, and assorted other plants huddled together on our back porch where they will spend the next few months. Our wind chimes are clanking away, we have a fire burning in the fireplace, and the cats are all piling on top of one another in the warmest corners of the house... it really feels like winter. Just before the sun went down I walked around the garden taking in the brilliant winter light. I really enjoy the open feeling that comes when the garden is cleared of containers (and leaves!)  I am looking forward to the quiet time ahead.

Gulf Muhly grass with rudbeckia and salvia in bloom.


The grouping of pots, statuary, etc. at the terminus of our cypress allee.


Close up of Agave mediopicta.

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