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Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dashing through the....

pollen?

This time of year I spend most of my days indoors, though not entirely by choice. March, April and May are arguably the most pleasant months of the year in Central Texas.  Featuring moderate temperatures buffered by gentle breezes and offering flowers popping up everywhere, Spring is the ideal time to get outside and enjoy everything Texas has to offer.
Lady Banks Roses growing at Laguna Gloria
Ideal for some, that is.  I'm severely allergic to several trees that lavishly bestow their pollen upon the world each springtime, chief amongst those our beautiful Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana), mainstay of landscapes statewide. Every Spring while the oaks leaf out, I stay in, away from their pollen catkins releasing irritants that plague by triggering my overactive immune system.
You may well wonder, "have you tried...?" and I'll risk interrupting to tell you, "Yes.".  Yes, I've tried it all, and the best recourse I've found in order to support a reasonable facsimile of respiration while maintaining a semblance of good humor involves medication along with isolation.  As in isolating my nose, keeping it at least one filter away at all times from, well, the air.  The soft, warm, pollen laden air.
It has been like this since I was a youngster, and over the years I've learned how to make the best of my situation.  Time spent gazing out windows helps me plan for improved sight lines.  I run errands in batches, keeping my car windows closed.  I know what I can get away with, and what needs to be off the table until mid May.  And I (mostly) stick to that.

I venture out only in the late afternoons, when pollen counts are a bit lower. I stay out 15-20 minutes or less.  I multitask, putting out fresh nectar for the hummingbirds as I pass the feeders, weeding a small section of path while waiting for watering cans to fill from rain barrels and refreshing bird baths along the way.  I take along clippers and trowel, occasionally bringing a few blooms inside or handling a transplant that cannot wait.

And I try to always take my camera along.  Transitions are rapid.
A spiderwort volunteer transplanted out of a path last August
One day's bud is the next day's blossom.
This spiderwort went from bud to bloom overnight, attracting one of the tiniest pollinators I've ever caught in a photo.
Though not native I'm hoping the bottlebrush tree will help attract hummingbirds.
Oxeye Daisies
Twenty-four hours often marks the difference between swollen branch and fully developed leaves.
Sumac is one of the last to green up, wisely waiting until the chance for freezing weather is past.
Spring waits for no one, and I used to get a bit frantic annually as seasonal garden chores stacked up.  Reading about what other folks were reasonably accomplishing before the temperatures soared occasionally made me wonder why I didn't simply throw in the facial tissue and hire some help.
Ajuga blooms undaunted by a blanket of oak leaves.
I suppose it is because I am as stubborn as I am cheap.  Working the soil year in and year out, I know if I will wait, only wait, there will be plenty of time for me to get everything done in June, July and even August, long after sensible Texan gardeners have called it a year and retreated inside.
Carolina wren greets the sun
We all have our limitations.  I'm deeply grateful this particular one has fully predictable beginning and end points.  I'm grateful as well to all you non-pollen affected gardeners and bloggers who are out there working your spaces, touring, snapping photos and posting about the beauty unfolding around and under our lovely oak trees.  I'll be right back out there with you, in just a bit.




14 comments:

Tina said...

Wishing you and your nose better times and soon. Meanwhile, gorgeous photos!! Absolutely gorgeous! I couldn't even pick a favorite, though I do love the spiderwort with the little bee(?)visiting. Oh, and the frowny-face is pretty great too. :)

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Thank you. I'm facing down 4-6 weeks of oak pollen in the air (and on every surface) but honestly, it is mostly only an inconvenience and I try to keep that in perspective.

That little bee! I think it might be the sweetest thing I've ever seen. No idea about the ID but I'm going to tackle that later today and I'll come back in and update if I get anything firm.

Kris Peterson said...

How horrid that you have to parse out your trips outside in spring! Maybe you need a vacation to an oak pollen-free zone. There are oaks in our inland valleys but few, if any, in my area - maybe you should move here! Okay, our housing prices, traffic and smog are downers but you're used to drought and heat!

Pam/Digging said...

It must be extremely frustrating to have to be inside during spring, but it sounds like you've come to terms with it. I have bad cedar (juniper) allergies and always feel I must stay indoors and keep all the windows shut during our generally lovely late winter weather. But this year it was cold and damp, and I didn't feel I missed out on much -- ha! Hope you're back in the garden soon.

dryheatblog said...

Too bad you are so affected by pollen, though I get affected some. I had to work and was inside to miss the perfect, light wind day here. Our 88F high was odd, as was the -7 dewpoint / 3% humidity...yep. Your leaves growing that fast is amazing...I'm using lip balm fast!

TexasDeb said...

Kris: We lived in NoCal for a couple of years (Fairfield - close to Travis AFB) and eventually I was affected by pollen coming up the valley from agricultural areas. I'm pretty sure my schnozzle is set up to react to something nearly anywhere we live for any length of time. Vacations work, though!

TexasDeb said...

Pam: I'm sorry about your cedar fever woes. We both have similar issues - lovely time of year - so much that could/should be done out of doors not just gardening but with all sorts of great area wide activities. A time for open windows and....achoo!

At least my kids are grown and I no longer have to choose between attending their sporting events and breathing through my nose! That was inconvenient!

TexasDeb said...

DHB: I hear you - I keep lip balm everywhere.

We are having a typical run of super windy dry days, exactly the worst for allergy sufferers, and not so great for newly emerging wild flowers, but I'm counting on the natives (plants and people) to cope since this is pretty much par. I'm already (constantly) scanning the forecasts for rain...

Travis Heights Garden Mama said...

No fun with the allergies, but the sad face in the pollen tendrils is a wonderful picture! Here's hoping you get through the season quickly!

TexasDeb said...

THGMama: Thank you! I'm kind of embarrassed to have complained about it. Allergies are no fun but they are more annoying than anything. I try to keep things in perspective. And when I can't? Oak pollen art to the rescue...

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Oh I am sorry to hear about your allergies....I used to have many but worked through them with my acupuncturist....but at least yours are predictable and you will get out there in the garden soon.

TexasDeb said...

Donna: I hope I'm not coming across as too big a complainer - my allergies are as you say - totally predictable with a clear beginning and end point. Perhaps I even enjoy my brief forays outside more this time of year for how dearly I must pay if I'm not cautious. Thanks for dropping in!

Debra said...

Hope you can be extra nice to yourself until the oak season passes. Best wishes. Allergies are no fun at all. The Lady Banks Rose is one of the things that makes spring in Central Texas absolutely lovely. Thanks for sharing all these perfect photos.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Thank you! I am trying, but what is nice to my nose spites the rest of me this time of year. Even if I wasn't tackling the list of garden chores I'd want to be out enjoying the gentle greens of this time of year. But hey, first world problem, I get that. : )