Monday, October 26, 2009

A Creek Runs Through It

Months ago, I posted about the dry creek behind our house.  It was very dry.  That post was before the really hot, dry summer began.  There were lots of wildflowers blooming then.

In July, the creek was dryer.  We were in the middle of record high temperatures and record number of days over 100 degrees.  The flowers were gone...except for those amazing euphorbias.  They're pretty tough.

I posted about the creek crossing over the cart path and falling down into this thirty foot deep gorge.

Like everything else, the rocks were dry, with some moss growing on them.  Rock squirrels live in the crevices of the rocks along the sides of the cliffs.  Trees and grasses grow down there, and we've seen a fox come out, just as it's getting dark.

We've had some rain, lately.  In fact, it's rained quite a bit, ever since a little after Labor Day.  It's made the area come alive.  Horseherb and Woodsorrel have covered the once dry ground with green.  And, a little water has been coming down the creek.

I climbed down a little way last week, and saw that the trickle of water going over the falls was disappearing into the ground.  I'm not sure where it was going.  The small pond, that had all but dried up, had quite a bit of water.  There are even water lilies coming up in the middle.  Now, how did they live in the cracked dry bottom?

Today, we had a bit over two inches of rain.  Not much in the scheme of things.  But, with the ground pretty saturated, there is a bit more run off.

It's enough that the small drain pipe under the cart path couldn't handle it.  So, the water was running over.

It made a pretty little waterfall, we could see from the porch.

Then, we realized we could hear rushing water.  Is it the falls?  So, I grab my camera, and go to find out.

Yep....water in the creek.  A bit dirty.  But, mulch and fall leaves, and neighborhood top soils, do make water murky.

But, on the other side of the cart path, it's looking very pretty. 

Flowing swiftly over the rocks.

And, over the big falls.

Crashing onto the rocks below.

It's no longer disappearing under ground.

It's flowing at a quick pace around the bend to the small pond...too deep to see the water lilies.

   Then, it's going over that spillway, to this big pond.

Cypress Creek is usually fed by Jacob's Well...a deep natural spring.  Jacob's Well quit flowing this summer for the first time in ages.  This creek was trickling along, maybe from some other springs along the way.  Today, it's coming over the bridge.  Not too deep to cross, yet.  But, more rain will make people turn around.

Does this mean the drought is over?  Naw....but, it's helping.  We still have a bit to go.
Does it mean I might get nervous about the water, if we have a really big rain?  Well....yes.
But, I think it'll all be ok.  This place has been here a long time.

Our neighbors have told us that the creek would flow.  But, it's been so dry since we've lived here.  Now, we's quite nice to have a creek running close by.

2009 Inside Austin Garden Tour

Maximillian Sunflower along the street.

Saturday was one of those glorious fall days...sunny and cool.  My daughter-in-law, Alice, and I took advantage of it by taking the Travis County Master Gardeners Association's Inside Austin Garden Tour. 

There were six gardens.  This year's theme was Sustainable Gardening for Urban Wildlife.  All of these gardens are packed with native plants, bird baths, feeders and other ways to welcome wildlife into the garden.  All were notable for having their gardens start right at the curb.  Most grass lawns have been removed to make room for more water saving plantings.

There was great structure, like the Winslow garden, in a woodsy setting, with a contemporary home as backdrop.

Lots of native plantings in Lindy McGinnis' garden. 

I loved this Fairy Duster, Calliandra eriophylla.

Eleanor Pratt's garden is full of color.  Eleanor blogs at Garden of E.

This Chinese Ground Orchid was a beauty.

And the Pigeonberry at the base of this beautiful red rose

was inspiring.

This Golden Showers Thryallis at Gail Sapp's garden really caught my eye.

This evergreen shrub is drought tolerant, blooms all summer AND the deer don't like it.  What's not to love here?

This Mona Lavendar, Plectranthus mona..was nestled into Gail's amazingly lush garden.  Giant stands of Timber Bamboo make a backdrop of plantings of palms and ferns and roses. 

This Brugmansia, Angel's Trumpet along the front walk was a stunner....

with it's fancy, ruffled skirt.

And, I fell in love with the Coral Vine.

Randy Case's garden meets you right at the street.  Randy's blog is Horselip's Horse Sense

His garden is packed with lots of different plants, but they all work together.  This Cat's Whiskers,  Orthosiphon aristatus, was one I'll be looking for.

This Datura metal, Double Purple was stunning.

His Castor Beans are another plant I want to try.  I don't think deer like them.

Randy has done a lot of work making his back garden into a show place.
Tables were set up at each garden, with information on the plantings and wildlife gardening.

More Coral Vine, as a backdrop to this great Candle Bush, Senna alata...another gotta have.

And, what is this goreous thing?  I'll have to do some research, to see if I can find it's name.

All of these gardens were really great.  Lots of good ideas and beautiful plants...lots of hard work.
But, Alice and I both decided our favorite of the day was Cheryl Goveia's whimsical, art filled garden.
Cheryl blogs at Concious Gardening.

From your first view, you can see how this artist has used her skills to make this a pleasing place to be.

Cheryl has turned an ordinary house, into a show place.

Arbors and fanciful fences, lead you from one garden 'room' to the next.  This leads into the vegetable garden.

Cheryl's take on a bottle tree was one we really liked..

She's given a whole new meaning to 'working with wood'.  There are tree trunks used throughout the garden.

Here in the veggie garden, she's used one as a nesting place for this chicken planter.  A touch of paint makes it an art piece.

Bright colors and paint cans used as planters, make this tree house stand out.

Speaking of standing out...take a look at this chicken palace.

Vines climb along fences, and up into trees.  We loved this tree climbing Desert Willow Vine.

Flowers painted on the fence and ones made with paint can lid petals...what imagination.

More tree stumps, outside the colorful garage, turned shed.  Even the bubbling fountain has a pop of color.

We were all enthralled by the color and beauty of this amazing place.  This is a garden you could visit time and time again, and maybe not see everything. 

Good work everyone.

And, a big thank you to all these talented gardeners for allowing us to tramp through their beautiful gardens.  So much to see, so much inspiration. I need to go put some of that inspiration to work.

Hope you had as nice a day as we did.

If you want to see more pictures, visit these garden blogger's sites.
Pam at Digging
Jenny at Rock Rose
Meredith at Great Stems
MSS at Zanthan Gardens

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vintage Round-Up of National Parks

Looking back in time to all the national parks I've visited, has been a great trip down Memory Lane.
The inspiration for this was delivered by Pam at Digging.  She asked us to share our stories of national parks, after watching the Ken Burns series, The National Parks.

I've visited many of the parks, monuments and historic sites.  Many of these trips were when I was a child.  So, the photos I have were taken decades ago, with an old Kodak camera. 

My parents liked to travel and camping was the most economical way to go.  My dad was always into the economics of things.  But, camping is a great way to get close to the nature and...essence...of a place.

One park we visited way back then was Grand Teton National Park.  See the sticker above, I found in the box, when looking for photos?  It's been hiding in there for fifty something years.  Pretty cool, huh?
But, not as cool as the park, itself.

Grand Teton National Park, circa 1954

Rugged peaks are the signature of the Tetons.  There was some controversy over this park.  The people who lived in the region, weren't too happy about the Federal Government coming in and taking control of the land.  So, it took many years to have it all come together.  The original Grand Teton National Park, was established by congress in 1929, and only included the Teton Range, and the lakes around in.  In 1943, President Roosevelt decreed a large part of the area The Jackson Hole National Monument.  Then, in 1950, the two were combined to make the park we know today.

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, circa 1954

I remember we camped at Jenny Lake.....a 'bottomless' lake.  I couldn't quite grasp that as a child.  Bottomless....that's pretty deep.  But, I could see how beautiful it was. 

We hiked around the lake and, I'm sure, my parents fished.

Next up was Yellowstone National Park....which is right next door.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, circa 1954

Yellowstone was America's first National Park.  Established in 1872.

Beyond the canyon and river, it's an other worldly landscape, with lava pots and spewing geysers. 

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, circa 1954

Old Faithful is the most famous of these.  It's a geyser that 'blows' every hour.  Sometimes, it actually goes off on schedule.
I remember the fragile looking 'crust' under the board walks placed over the boiling pits.  Pam at Digging, has some good, more up to date pictures of this.

Camping in Yellowstone was an adventure.  We had our trusty tent again, and it was all pretty primitive.  You were warned to not leave food in the campsite, because of the bears.  So, we put ours in the car, and were lucky the bears didn't break in.  And, there were plenty bears.  Even, a mother and her two cubs.  No picture of them.  But, I found one of a big black bear that came to visit.
Yellowstone National Park, circa 1954

Next, let's go further west.  We went out to California to visit relatives.  Quite a pleasant trip, way back then, crossing the desert without air conditioning in the car.  Almost like real pioneers.

We did all the California things...Disneyland, the beach...then up to one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Yosemite National Park, circa 1959

Yosemite has a varied and controversial history.  It became a National Park in 1890.  It is such a beautiful place.  There still is the pull between preservation to the point of closing it off, and making it available for all to enjoy.  It's a place I hope to return to some day.

Our time was short, so we headed back east.  We drove through the 1950s version of Las Vegas, and across the Hoover Dam.  Then, spent the night at Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park, circa 1959

Much has been written about this famous place.  It became a National Park in 1919.  If you get a chance to go, you should.  It's quite amazing.  I returned with my husband and friends in 2005 via one of the helicopter tours out of Las Vegas, for a special birthday.  That was exciting.  We flew through the areas they allow aircraft, landed on the canyon floor and had a nice champagne lunch.  There are pictures of that trip.  I think they're living in the old computer.  I need to dust that off and transfer them over to the laptop.

Petrified Forest National Monument, circa 1959

Close by to Grand Canyon is Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert.  The Petrified Forest wasn't a National Park when I was there in 1959, it was a monument.  It became a National Park in 1962.  I remember being disappointed with it.  I guess I thought those 'trees of stone' would be standing.  Remembering back, it was pretty interesting, though.

So, those are the 'way back when' places.  There are many other parks we've visited, not so many pictures.  One place I visited as a child, then again in 1979, with my children, and one more time in 2002, with grandchildren, is Great Sand Dunes National Park, in Colorado.   It's an amazingly big pile of sand.  Another great place to see.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, circa 1979

Great Sand Dunes National Park, circa 2002

As I said at the beginning, this has been a fun trip back into my family history.  There are so many parks we haven't visited, and many we'd like to revisit.  If you get a chance, visit as many National Parks as you can.  In the mean time, go see  Pam at Digging. She has links to a lot of other blogger's trips.

I'll leave you with this travel sticker memento from long ago.  It is so iconic of the times.

Happy Trails