The Daily Muse

A Garden Journal -- December 2003

Last Update: December 30

A jar at the entry of the conference center at The Crossings.

December 2 - morning

This past weekend marked the garden's transition into winter - I spent Saturday cleaning up the frost damaged veggies and perennials and now, the garden feels completely changed. The "bones" or basic structure of the garden have been  exposed and the winter light has the effect of making everything snap into focus. I love this time of year.

On Sunday, I had the good fortune of teaching a class at The Crossings, Austin's new retreat and conference center. The class went well and after it was over I wandered the grounds taking photographs of the beautiful campus. Earlier this year I spent some time with Ken and Joyce Beck, the founders of The Crossings, and shared a few ideas about how they might use the landscape as another way to enhance the experiences of their guests. One of the ideas I shared was of creating a small "council circle" or "conversation room" along a pathway that runs through the juniper and oak forest that shelters their hill top campus. On my walk this Sunday, I was touched to discover a simple stone bench in just the spot that I had envisioned. I was really moved when I encountered it and I hope that, over the years, many other visitors will find rest and a deep sense of connection when they step inside this circle.

Be sure to visit my page dedicated to The Crossings for a more complete visual tour.

December 9 - evening

A stiff wind is blowing outside bringing with it a new blast of cold Canandian air - it is late in the evening and I am winding down, looking forward to climbing under the covers and getting buried in our pile of felines (aka heat seeking mammals.) I thought I'd share a few of the latest images from our garden and our "tribe." Hope you enjoy...

A Bigtooth Maple in our garden coloring up - they always seem to wait until December here in Austin.


A newly hatched Gulf Frittilary Butterfly hanging from a plant in our pond. He was warming his wings before taking flight


Fez, one of this year's additions to our tribe.


A wide view of our garden with wintry light (notice Luna in the cat enclosure to the right.)

Close-up of the cat enclosure with Luna, Xoxo, Rufous, Maya, and Fez. The "cat house" inside was built by my father.

Issa and Basho.

December 13 - morning

Here are a few new pictures from the garden...

The color on our Maples is progressing...


The Bald Cypress trees in our allee are losing their leaves revealing ther strong architectural form.


Morning light illuminating the Bamboo Muhly grass near our Cypress allee.


Couldn't resist one more picture from the tribe... Fez enjoying the warmth of the morning light.

December 14 - afternoon

I have spent the better part of the day dealing with our bounty of leaves... blowing them off the roof, out of the gutters, and off of the decomposed grantite paths and patios and then  spreading them as a mulch for our perennial beds. To use a Texas phrase, I am whupped. 

Early this morning, there was a heavy frost covering the garden. I spent some time wandering around the garden in my PJs, talking to my Mom on the phone and admiring the frost covered leaves of our Big Tooth Maple as they dropped to the ground the moment the early morning sun hit them, weighing their tips down with melt water. I t was quite beautiful to see the soft rays of light tipping the scales - causing one season to gently fall into the next.

Yesterday I planted several dozen unusual bulbs that Victor ordered: Spring Starflower var. Rolf Fiedler (Ipheion uniflorum) and Lily of the Altai (Ixiolirion Tataricum.) They came from Brent and Becky's Bulbs. I look forward to their appearance this Spring.

Here are some pics taken during my 'inspection tour' early this morning...

Frost covered Maple leaves.


Early light catching our largest Big Tooth Maple.


Maple Leaf close-up.


Frost under our Cypress trees.


Our 'conversation room' in the ealry morning light.

December 19 - morning

It is a quiet almost-winter morning and I have been up for several hours enjoying the company of our cats and a good book.

Yesterday, I spotted the first  American Goldfinch of the season. I am looking forward to the days ahead hoping they are filled with other feathered visitors and much more quiet time...

I hope that you will find a litttle quiet time in the days ahead too. Cheers!

December 30 - afternoon

More pics from the garden... Happy New Years!

Agave desmettiana variegata.

A grouping of containers on our back deck.

Gulf Muhly grass seedhaeds catching the morning light.

One of our Bald Cypress trees.

December 30 - evening

I just spent the better part of an hour keeping a falcon company in our backyard. I was wandering around the garden, relaxing in the golden light of the evening when I heard a small commotion coming from my neighbor's backyard. I looked up to see a small bird fly up from their lawn to a low hanging branch, it was about the size of a Whitewinged Dove, longer, but certainly a lot more svelt! I couldn't identitfy it immediately, but thought it might be a raptor. After watching it for a few moments it flew up into the high branches just beyond my fence and perched in the sunlight. At this point, having seen its profile in flight, I was sure it was a raptor, but so small! I dared going inside to get my binoculars and returned to find it still enjoying the sun. It was perched on one yellow leg its talons in clear view, its other leg was tucked under its wing as if to keep it warm. Occasionally it would switch the leg it was resting on. Its eyes were intense in the way that only a predatory bird's can be, a pair of pivoting  blacks beads always scanning  for their next opportunity. It turned around on its perch giving me a complete view, I suspected that it was taking advantage of the light and was warming itself up for one last hunt before dark. Occasionally it would turn its eyes on me and stare directly into my binoculars while shaking its tail in what appeared to be annoyance. Pesky human. Eventually it took flight and I had a good look at it as it soared upward on a draft and then turned into the sun. I have just finished thumbing through my birding guide and suspect it was a Prairie Merlin (Falco columbarius var. richardsonii) that has either migrated to our area for the winter or is simply passing through.

I am glad that I took the time to really study the bird, each detail of it seemd miraculous from its gleaming beak to its talons. Any creature would prove fascinating if you really looked at it, from grasshoppers to something as familiar as a house cat, but birds of prey are in a class by themselves. You never know what pleasure or adventure awaits you in the garden - keep your eyes peeled!

Berries on one of our Weeping Yaupon Hollies.

December 31 - morning

Here are a few more end-of-the-year pictures from our garden...

Another close-up of our Weeping Yaupon Holly and its brilliant berries.


A wider view of the Weeping Yaupon.


Agave Mediopicta.

Agave Ferdinand regis.

Continue to Daily Muse for January 2004

Return to Daily Muse Menu