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.

Friday, August 16, 2013


We've been struggling with water issues lately.  The development we live in has assigned watering days and our duly designated day had notably featured such low water pressure that our sprinkler system was not functioning well, if at all.

This is not new to our area and there are folks here who simply let their lawns go unwatered in the summertime, resulting in a predictably sere look.  After we'd taken our grassy lawn out however, we'd gone to the trouble to fill the spaces with natives and close neighbors that would hopefully support a variety of bugs, birds and other critters.  So we weren't really OK with the idea of watching it all die off, even seasonally.

And yes, the natives do tolerate the heat and low water pretty well but there aren't many of them that tolerate heat and NO water, which is what the end of July through mid August had on offer.
Until last night that is.  Last night we got a little over an inch of rain at long last.  Every square foot of our property was well watered for the first time in weeks.  It reminded me of how difficult it is and always has been to farm or ranch or even garden in Central Texas, if rain is all you have to count on for watering.  Maybe it's just me but I honestly thought I heard our Meyer lemons giggling quietly this morning, giddy with relief.

A final note, apropos of nothing else?
This is why I keep garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) in several spots in my garden beds.  Not because they tolerate the heat (though they do), not because I use them in cooking (which I don't often enough), but rather because they do this on occasion:
Something about the abundance of delicate white blossoms leaves me a little weak in the knees.  I'm guessing I'll try to have some of these on hand anywhere I garden from here on out.

Monday, August 5, 2013

And there's another life lesson learned.

Recently I bragged blogged about finally getting some large projects finished up out back.  Part of the joy of a completed task is the occasion it provides me to stand around and take satisfaction in the viewing and re-viewing of what has been (at long last) done.
I routinely drag family members outside to stand and look.  "I did that!" I'll crow.  "Yes, I see you did." they'll reply, potentially with slightly less enthusiasm.

In my head I (generously) characterize this process as Surveying My Domain.  And in my defense, this surveying is in part care taking. I do often take the opportunity to note what is working and what is not.
This plant is getting too much sun, that plant is finally in bloom, this sprinkler head has gotten turned too far to one side, the bermuda grass is baa-aack.  Like that.  But truth be told my tendency to stand and stare is mostly self-congratulatory.

When I go out after dinner with a glass of wine and find a spot to sit and stare it is really mostly about rolling around in self-aggrandizement.  I can call it "appreciating".  It could just as accurately be called "gloating".  I look around and oh, people.  What I see is so so good.  And it feels good. Very good.

At times, I swell with pride.  And we all know what pride comes before.

Yesterday, after the heat and humidity had relented the slightest bit, I went outside with my glass of wine to gaze about and be happy in my surroundings.

It was perfect, except for the intermittent distraction of a loud droning.  This was not the cicadas or the tree frogs, it was a motor of some sort. It sounded louder than lawn equipment and it kept coming and going.  And it was everywhere at once, because, as I slowly realized, it was coming from overhead.
Tearing my gaze away from the pleasing symmetry of weeded beds and graveled paths, I craned my neck to look up.  The source of the noise was revealed, two powered paragliders moving in graceful arcs against the pastel clouds.
As I watched and pondered what disregard of personal safety it would require to be up so high with so little in between terra firma and frail persona, a cicada flew straight into and then bounced off of me.

I started.  I squawked.  I spilled much of my lovely glass of red wine all over myownself.  I resignedly put down my nearly emptied glass and went to get my camera to try and capture the sky riders.  I only took the littlest while, but as I was taking photos of the paragliders and then oooh! the clouds themselves, the red wine spots were drying themselves into my clothes.

Which brings me to today.  Today I am soaking and dabbing and whiling away the hours watching red spots fade, slightly, to dark blueish spots.  My memory of the incident may recede with time but I'm pretty sure those wine stains are a permanent feature.
At least I learned my lesson.  When surveying your domain, whatever else is happening, it always pays to keep an eye on the cicadas.  And from now on whenever I'm drinking and gloating? I'm sticking to the white wine.