One of the advantages of living in Austin is the early emergence of spring. Long before the east coast and mid-west have thawed and the Pacific Northwest has cleared, spring bulbs and wildflower emerge in Texas. This year, we seem to have received more rain than usual, coupled with cooler weather. As a result, our plants and trees have already put on leaves and are now blooming.
Saturday, I picked a handful of fragrant narcissus. My miniature grape hyacinths, along the front pathway, were the first spring bulbs to bloom. They haven’t done as well as the narcissus or daffodils because they’re been disturbed numerous times when we put in the pathway and by rainwater washing away the soil. The local municipal utility district has finally fixed the drainage problem so our property no longer floods. The hyacinth can now start putting down roots and "stay" where they’re planted.
Our ancient redbud tree continues to reward us with a profusion of dark pink blossoms in spite of being in dreadful shape and held together with heavy cabling and lengths of an old garden hose. The blooms remind me of pink roses on cheap grocery-store cakes. There are no leaves on the tree, just bunches of dark pink, tissue-paper flowers.
Our Japanese quinces have finally taken hold. Even Rich commented on the splendor of their pale pink and orange-red blossoms. This makes me happy because I intended to plant quinces on our Anacortes, Washington lot.
In a few months, most of our front garden will be look like a Monet painting in shades of red, pinks, violets, yellows, and oranges as our salvias, agastaches, lavenders, lantanas, sages, and Mountain Flame bloom. It’s going to be our best garden yet so it’s a little sad that we’ll be leaving. Our first spring in Texas, however, we purposely pulled out the grass and planted a large garden to create memorable "curb appeal" that would hopefully lead to the rapid sale of the house.
In the backyard, I noticed four large clumps of lilies under our Japanese magnolia. I think only one variety − dark orange – is going to come up. Lilies are considered "salad" to deer so I didn’t spend a lot of money on expensive bulbs. The only ones that seemed to have survived are the dark orange ones.
Most of our trees now have leaves. This year, we’re once again going to have the trees professionally sprayed to prevent horrible web worms from eating the leaves. The worms can eat all the leaves off a giant tree in two or three days.
This weekend, I hobbled around using my walker with a plastic crate in one hand and scissors in the other. I used the crate as a seat so I could sit down and cut the lower branches off our crepe myrtles so they grow more like trees than bushes. Everything grows so slowly in Texas that I suspect the myrtles will continue to look like bushes for another ten years.
The warmer weather has also attracted a pair (or two) of cardinals. The male is nearly solid red. He’s the size of a small apple and as bright as a red Crayola. The female has touches of red, but it primarily medium brown. They are almost always within a foot or two of each other, whether on the ground or in a tree.
I haven’t seen a blue heron by our creek in a couple of years, which is disappointing. There are many creeks and small ponds in the area, which are probably more appealing. Crows, finches and sparrows are plentiful. It’s too early for hummingbirds, dragonflies, butterflies, and chubby bees. I’ve noticed a few reddish brown wasps on our porch. They like to build mud nests under the balcony.
Spring, even in Texas, is an exciting and colorful part of the year!