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    clematis

    jackpulpits

    The potting bench is a little crowded these days, and I still need to start some more seeds! We have a flat of these jack-in-the-pulpits as well as more in larger containers. Last spring Chris ordered a bunch of the bulbs and they didn’t come up. The dirt ended up being dumped in a big container with other soil and lo and behold they sprouted this spring! I think it’s time we get these in the ground, though.

    bottlegourd

    I started bottle gourd seeds to grow along the vegetable garden fence this summer, along with luffa seeds. I’m imagining a lush fence with vines covered in blooms! I can’t wait!

    sweetbasil
    Sweet basil

    russiantarragon
    Russican tarragon

    purplepetrabasil
    Purple Petra Basil

    pinksundaysage
    Pink Sunday Sage

    hibiscus
    Virginia salt-marsh mallow

    culantro
    Culantro

    broadleafsage
    Broad leaf sage

    birdpepper
    Bird pepper

    And there’s more seeds I want to start, too. Herbs, flowers, veggies…I love seed starting season!

    Lots of photos in this post!

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    Our first day in Fakahatchee for the yearly Central Slough Survey, we joined park biologist Mike Owen and several other botany and plant enthusiasts for a slow slog down Mink Slough. The best thing about walking through this slough was the generally it was fairly easy walking with little bushwhacking. The Central Slough Survey is conducted by Mike and some other trusted folks who are on the lookout for rare plants. Some plants on the radar are those that are thought to be extirpated from the park. Back in the 40s and 50s the swamp was logged and throughout the swamp logging trams were built in order to reach the furthest depths of the slough. In addition to the logging there were plenty of people who came and poached the orchids. Of course this area wasn’t protected at that time so it makes sense that there was poaching, but it is difficult to really get a grasp on what was even lost.

    Mike can only get to so many places in the park and often relies on other people who are out exploring to keep him updated on the status of particular plants or even animal sightings such as panthers or bears. When one hikes with Mike out in the swamp it it wise to know that it will be slow going since Mike takes notes on the status and estimated amount of plants, particularly epiphytes, in various areas of the swamp. Our goal for hiking down Mink Slough was to get to several remote ponds. Due to the slow going of the day we only made it to a couple of ponds before hitting a tram and having to turn around mid-afternoon.

    There was definitely one noticeable change out in Fakahatchee, the loss of a lot of bromeliad species. The Mexican bromeliad weevil has decimated the giant airplant population in Fakahatchee so much so that the park is now collecting any flowering and healthy plants and giving them to two botanic gardens in the state in order to propagate new plants so they can be reintroduced later again in the park. The giant airplant isn’t the only bromeliad taking a hit, the Guzmania monostachia have taken a big hit as well. Certain areas that were covered in the bromeliad are virtually empty now. There was even a rare version of this plant that was variegated and we didn’t see a single one of those while out there. You can see one of our previous finds here.

    Part II of our swamp explorations in Fakahatchee Strand coming soon…

    poisonivy

    I first noticed this vine last year, which grows on a pine tree just on the other side of our fence on the neighbor’s property, and had identified it as poison ivy. Chris just noticed it this year and wants to cut the vine, which is within reach of our snippers. It’s a pretty magnificent vine despite its itchiness status! Either way, you’ve got to appreciate the tenacity of poison ivy!

    onion

    The edible onions keep attempting to bolt….they need to hold on another month or so until we can harvest them. I’m a little worried they aren’t bulbing up as much as they should be by now, but with a month or so left to go I can only hope they get their bulbing into high gear!

    chiveflower

    Last year I bought a pot of chives in hopes that one day they’d find a permanent home in our herb beds. They are still biding their time at the end of the one of our vegetable beds.

    wildgarlic

    Out in the yard the wild onions are giving off their aroma as we walk around the yard or cut the grass, the delicious garlic-onion smell wafting into the air.

    wildgarlic2

    Plus, you’ve gotta love the funky bulbils that come out once the plants have bloomed!

    snapdragon

    giantsnapdragon

    Chris grew these giant snapdragons last year and they returned this year from the roots, at least I think from the roots. The coloration of the blooms is gorgeous!

    maroon

    A few muted maroon bluebonnets were mixed in with the blue-bluebonnets we bought.

    bluebonnets

    goldencolumbine
    I’m still in love with the columbines blooming. I never would have thought they would have become a favorite spring flower, but they’ve proved to be a wonderful addition to the garden.

    foxglove2
    The garden is almost in full foxglove mode, too. They are so striking with their height and color it is almost a disappointment we’ll have to wait two more years for them to bloom again.

    The garden is changing daily with new blooms, and fading ones moving on.

    fig

    The fig tree area of the garden is one of my favorite spots. Really, the fig tree worked out to be in the perfect location there on the side yard, fitting into the landscape perfectly. Currently there are many new plants sprouting beneath the tree, a lot of ferns, a few lilies, some different tropicals. Still biding our time for some of the tropicals to re-emerge…giving them only a few more weeks to appear before calling them toast. We’ll find something else for the spots where plants didn’t pull through.

    I’m ready for a balmy summer evening where I can sit out under the fig tree and read, maybe nabbing a few figs off the tree when they are ripe in early July.

    crawfish

    sideyard

    Back in February I wrote about the latest garden project we had going on. Well, last Sunday Chris finished it up in between mist showers by planting the azaleas we’d purchased in Nacogdoches the day before. We’d bought two native azaleas for our main flower bed from Cook’s Nursery just outside of Nacogdoches when we were there in February and kicked ourselves for not buying more. The plants were a good size and had only been $20, plus finding native azaleas can be difficult. So, since we were already in east Texas for a plant sale we went and bought five more azaleas for the back side of this perimeter bed. As they tolerate shade well, we figured they’d be a good fix for the north side of this bed.

    I’m really pleased with how this bed turned out and can’t wait to see it grow. Beneath the azaleas are columbines and I *think* cinnamon ferns. On the sunny side is the Texas sage and creeping rosemary. On the corner, not pictured here and planted after I took the photo, is a ‘Maryland dwarf’ Ilex opaca, American holly. We saw it in Nacogdoches at the SFA gardens and it was a small trailing plant. Chris found one online back in February but the nursery who he bought it from was up north and kept delaying in sending it due to the cold weather. He reminded them about it and got them to send it earlier this week. I’m hoping all of the plants grow a lot this season, but we shall see in a few months!

    We were supposed to start working on our perimeter herb beds in the vegetable garden but may have to postpone it another week until we can get to the lumber store that sells the cedar wood we need. The one Chris went to for the other raised beds isn’t open on the weekend like we thought they were, so we’ll be coming up with a different plan and checking another lumber store just in case. I’d really like to get that bed complete by the end of April so we can focus on baby Teddy’s room and some other inside projects as summer rolls around.

    teddy2

    BOY! We had our appointment on Monday morning and promptly went in to the ultrasound room right away. The tech asked if we wanted to know the sex, which of course we did, and while Chris had full view of the screen the tech did a few measurements and then asked what we thought it was. I swore it was a girl this whole time and there was even a potential girl name we’d talked about. And then she showed me the screen and pointed out the leg….the other leg…and then the other ‘leg’…and I may have said “It’s a boy! Damnit!” The damn wasn’t out of disappointment, it was out of not being right! So much for mother’s intuition!

    teddy3

    Our tech is incredibly generous with the photos she printed out, so we got all sorts of photos of leg bones and little feet and some slightly creepy alien looking ones too. He’s definitely grown a whole lot in the time between our first appointment and this one!

    teddy1

    But then there’s the couple of super, duper cute ones where he appears to be sucking his thumb or bringing his hand to his face…and kicking out his legs! It was at the end of the week after our 16 week appointment that I thought I felt something but didn’t feel anything again until later on in 17 weeks. It took a few days for me to realize that it wasn’t a muscle twitch but it was the baby! It doesn’t feel anything like gas like a lot of people try to describe it as feeling, definitely more of a muscle twitch. He’s definitely gotten a little more active and stronger as the weeks have gone on, and the timing of his activity has switched around a little to more evenings than afternoons as it was earlier. I’ve been able to see my stomach twitch when he kicks a couple of times, but of course when I try to get Chris to come see he doesn’t want to perform on command. Feeling him move is definitely surreal and reassuring at the same time. In the weeks between feeling better after the first trimester and waiting for movement I really didn’t ‘feel’ pregnant. Now I do, and of course my belly is getting larger as well.

    19weeks

    Here’s my 19 week photo. Sorry for looking like a bum, but I had already changed out of my work clothes (super cute maternity jeans and a silky maternity top!) and put on something more comfortable when I remembered I wanted to take a photo.

    In other baby news, we started our Bradley Method class last Monday. We ended up being the only couple signing up with our teacher this go-round, but I think it will be great since we’ll have a little more one on one Q&A time with the teacher and her husband. I’m definitely glad we are going with Bradley Method as I really think Chris will be a great asset in this natural birthing process. We have some exercises to go through and I’m trying to track my protein intake, which can be tricky when trying to figure out a complete meal. I’m supposed to take in 80-100 grams of protein a day, which is a lot higher than I had been eating. This wasn’t just recommended from the class but also from my midwife since the first appointment I had with her (she also recommended Bradley Method if I wanted to do natural birth), but 80-100 is probably what more active athletes eat rather than the average person.

    I guess the other question everyone wants to know is, do we have a name? No, not yet. We have tossed some ideas around but nothing has stuck yet.

    Anyway, I guess that’s about it…other than I’m already looking forward to the Fall and being able to run and do some movement without needing to pee after a mile!

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