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“Ox-Tongue in Cheek”


Star Jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides.
Here are the flowers, thousands of them.

The air all around my property is currently heavy with the intoxicating aroma emanating from this mature star jasmine, it is quite something.  It is so potent we can even smell it inside our house!
Even when you leave the premises the scent it seems, is somehow imprinted in ones nasal passages.
I have this one, actually it is two, clambering over a 12 foot section of fence, it has entirely engulfed it, as well as spreading at least a hundred feet down my fence line.  It would cover my entire house if I let it, it continues to try. You can see it trying to spread across the ground to the house, it is also blooming there aswell!

Another “stinker” passing wind right now is the good old Mountain Laurel.


The fragrance from this laurel is attracting multitudes of battling hoverflies, each trying to gain territorial rights to it’s purple bounty, and what a bounty it is. I have also seen the hover-flies flying in coordinated groups, working in unison to claim rights to the shrub from other challenging insects.


I am not making this stuff up!


“Mmmmm smells good enough to eat” – but you probably don’t want to do that.


Pretty though they are, the seeds of the Mountain Laurel are toxic.
Native Indians used to drill and string them for necklaces. I plan to
do a similar jewelry project when it goes to seed, and I think I know someone
who would like to do the stringing…


“I see my future is going to be filled
with pretty red seed-beads.”

Another purple bloomer drawing a crowd is the Purple Oxalis regnellii Atropurpurea



This plant flowers best in the spring then continues to sporadically bloom throughout the summer.

This next succulent has been through the wars. Just as it was developing flower buds it got nipped by a frost. The ends of it’s green leaves went brown and the flowers just dried up.


It looked really bad. I contemplated whacking it to the
ground so that I didn’t have to look at it again, but
something inside me said to wait, after-all it was still
mostly green. So wait I did…and I waited. Over the course of
last few weeks I have seen the top of the plant “recover,”
(the leaves still look pretty badly scorched) and today…


The most amazing waxy blooms, presented in their very own natural vases!


It looks like it is going to have a lot of flowers.

The warmth has also shot up quite a few flower spikes. I struggled for and ID on this plant and have settled on Gasteria (ty Romani)


The name ‘Gasteria’ comes from the Latin word for ‘stomach’ due to the shape of the flower. I will post a picture if it will hurry up and bloom already – it is taking forever! It sort of looks like a plant that would take its merry time to do anything, don’t you think?  It has that prehistoric flavor to it.

The genus Gasteria is a genus of leaf succulents endemic to South Africa. Gasteria habitats are subject to erratic rainfall patterns and therefore the genus has evolved to become drought resistant plants that can do without water for long periods of time. Most Gasterias tolerate low light levels and grow in shady places. They can be easily hybridized with Aloes to which they are closely related.


“Don’t look at that one, look at mine! look at mine!”  “Ahhhh”

Gasterias are almost all stem less and have thick, tongue-shaped leaves that are interestingly arranged in dovetailed ranks. They are spotted in white or dotted with pale papillae (warts). Gasteria are locally known by the common name ox tongue (beestongblaar in Afrikaans), because of these tongue-shaped leaves. The plant is also known as ox-tongue cactus or cow’s tongue plant.


“Looks like Betty and Bill were late to get their Gasteria
in this year Honey.”


Gasteria is sometimes planted on thatched roofs
because of a belief in its ability to repel lightning,
Sempervivum (hen and chicks) were planted on
roofs in Europe for the same reason.


“beestongblaar!” “Ahhhh”.

In tribal culture the plant is believed to have magical properties. Consuming a variety
of gasteria that camouflages itself extremely well is believed to impart a degree of invisibility
to a hunteror warrior. The warrior on the left obviously found, and ingested, a particularly large swath of it!

Has the gentleman on the right constructed some facial adornment with a couple of the plants leaves?

Another flower spike that has developed with alarming speed comes from my Aloe Vera. It usually
sends up one or two of these a year. This is the only one so far this year.


The species is frequently cited as being used in herbal medicine since the beginning of the first century AD, because it is mentioned in the New Testament
(And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes). Better he brought these than these:
So far so good on the barrel cactus front. They appear to be doing fine in their new home. I took a recent trip to the newly located “Miguels Imports” primarily to find a couple of containers for a landscape I am working on. If you have not been yet I would highly recommend a visit (the new locale is on Burnet road). The property is really impressive, as is their collection of fantastic pots and furniture / decor. They are also now selling a limited offering of xeriscape plants; lots of agave, sotols and these little chappies that I picked up. Several puncture wounds later (these little ones were worse than the potted transplants) and here are the new siblings in their new pre-school environment.

Moving right along to citrus.


“You’ve been stitched up mate!”…spider perhaps?

And venturing forth to my Mexican Lime:

Covered in blooms from top to bottom. Some of the limes on here are from last year, I should have probably removed them but I liked the way they looked …it was a little bit of summer in the winter months!


Some other crazies observed in the patch this week:



I caught this unidentified seed-pod scampering around the rocks near my pond, very abstract form.


I watered this mist flower yesterday and a Texas Paper Wasp immediately
jumped right on it for a well earned, cooling beverage, after all it was a
freaky 90 degree day in February!


Waxy, fresh new growth on one of by burgundy cannas, it seems like yesterday that I cut this one all the way back!


A freaky Bulbine, pointing the way to go!


Looking down the throat of a Crossvine, Cross-Vine,
Trumpet Flower
Bignonia capreolata


Watch out for this Agave spike…you could end up sleeping for hundred years…
ahh if only I could be so lucky!


“Stories in the patch!”

Stay Tuned For:
“Curb your Enthusiasm”
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