Sunday, June 29, 2008

Window boxes everywhere

We're finished driving around and are in Paris now, so I see the ubiquitous window-box plantings all over the place, usually red or pink flowers that appear to be in the geranium or begonia family. Occasionally a balcony is big enough for some potted trees or shrubs, too.

So I was quite pleasantly surprised to find this rebellious plumbago, which appears to be exactly the same type we have in Austin (including in our yard), occupying a central Paris window-box all by itself.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Roof gardens

Vezelay flowers in lichen

Still in France! Over the past few days, two of the buildings we've explored were both religious in nature but Vezelay Basilica was built in the 12th century and Couvent de La Tourette was built in the mid-20th century (designed by Le Corbusier, husband Kurt's favorite architect and now my favorite, too).

Despite some obvious differences, both buildings have flowers growing on their roofs--intentionally at La Tourette and inevitably at Vezelay.

Vezelay (highlight of close-up photo, above)

Vezelay (highlight of close-up photo, below)


La Tourette above town of L'Arbresle (green netting because of renovation in progress)

La Tourette courtyard with roof gardens

Inside La Tourette sanctuary viewing side altar

I want my whole side yard filled with these

These sun-loving flowers are planted at the Fontenay Abbey (big tree from previous post.) I wonder if we have them in Texas and if they're remotely drought-resistant?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Huge, older than the Republic or State of Texas Sycamore-cousin tree

We're still in France and yesterday we saw this Platanus x hispanica, planted in 1780 at the Fontenay Abbey (outside Dijon.)

A cousin of the common sycamore tree we see in Austin (like the one in our back yard and the one next door uprooted by last month's windstorm), this one's more than 100 feet tall and more than 6 feet in diameter!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Inexplicable Garden Art

This lovely full-sun garden is filled with cosmos, gaura, roses, and busty, headless windmills (of sorts) that emanate Mozart.

We saw this garden earlier today, near Dijon, France, while touring the Saline Royale, an 18th-century salt works facility. Vegetable gardens were part of the original architectural plan but are now individual artists' concepts.

This potager garden probably more closely reflects the original intent--food gardens tended by the salt workers themselves.

In Besancon, France yesterday, I fell in love with this hydrangea. Northern France clearly has a longer blooming season than Austin!

P.S. Our WIFI access here is spotty, so I may not be able to post comments every day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Heat be damned: garden bloggers' June bloom day

Sunny front yard bloomies:

white ruellia

indigo spires salvia

leadwort plumbago





pink skullcap

society garlic

Texas purple sage

purple ruellia

Shadier back yard garden bloomies:

turks cap

little porter tomato

I think this is a teenaged leaf-footed stinkbug on a society garlic within two feet of my tomato plants, so Kurt knocked him off and stomped him.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'm such a geek

I can’t help it--I am SO THRILLED with the discovery of my tip-of-my-pinky-sized first EVER homegrown tomato! It’s one of the Little Porters (an heirloom) and even if it doesn’t make it past what’s depicted I’ll be satisfied.

Sanity saver

My big plumbago is not as bothered by this relentless, record-breaking heat as most of us. I feel cooler just looking at it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yogurt Shop Murders: today's non-joint pretrial hearing (Part 2)

Next, the State agreed to give the defense copies of 40 photos that had been referenced by ATF agent Marshall Littleton during the original trials.

The next issue was somewhat confusing, but I THINK that Garcia subpoenaed the briefing notes, flow charts, timelines, and a PowerPoint presentation of all APD officers past and present, including cold-case head Sgt. Ron Lara, and then the State filed a motion to quash the subpoena. Garcia argued that the State waived work- product privilege by designating all those past-and-present APD officers as experts. Judge Lynch said his order remains for now until he has time to review Garcia’s motion. Prosecutors said they can’t locate the PowerPoint presentation.

Uncharacteristically, the last issue--turning over copies of defense-requested teleclips--was resolved without dispute.

Judge Lynch said that the realistic Mike Scott retrial start date is now October, with Springsteen’s retrial to start in January. The next pretrial hearing is July 15th.

Yogurt Shop Murders: today's non-joint pretrial hearing (Part 1)

Again today, Michael Scott was the only defendant present and therefore only his attorneys directly addressed the Court, although the docket had today’s hearing listed for both Michael Scott AND Robert Springsteen. Springsteen was noticeably absent last hearing, too, with no explanation given beyond a vague suggestion of logistical difficulties.

Springsteen attorney Alexandra Gauthier and her assistant Amber sat in front of me and occasionally passed notes up to Scott attorney Carlos Garcia, while Springsteen attorney Joe James Sawyer sat quietly (mostly) behind me during the hearing. But afterwards, Sawyer talked to reporters not so quietly. Sawyer was asked why today wasn’t a joint hearing with his client. He answered, “I can’t compel Robert Springsteen to be in court: only the judge can.”

He further explained that he had requested that Springsteen be present and that Scott’s attorneys also had agreed to have both defendants present. A reporter asked how this situation could possibly be legal, to which Sawyer replied, “What is legal is determined by a judge.”

While referring to the State’s recent retesting of DNA from two vaginal swabs taken from Amy Ayers, Sawyer was interrupted by a reporter who asked, “Whose DNA is that?” Sawyer raised his eyebrows and said, “The silence from the State is deafening,” emphasizing that it’s been almost two months since the State sent off that DNA for testing.

The hearing began with Judge Lynch’s wry pronouncement of today’s hearing being a “continuation of a never-ending series of pretrial hearings.” The first issue discussed was that the defense has switched DNA labs because its original one, Identigene, was bought out by a Nevada company and their expert was hired away by the Houston police department.

Their new DNA lab is Orchid Cellmark in Dallas, (a name I heard plenty during the O.J. Simpson trial.) The State wanted to make sure that all previous orders re Identigene were still in place, simply substituting the new lab name.

The next issue, Garcia’s motion to obtain the State’s witness statements before trial in order to prepare for cross examinations, became somewhat contentious over what constitutes a "statement." Judge Lynch rather wearily said, “We go downhill in here so fast,” and told both sides to look at the law and find the definition of a witness statement.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yogurt Shop Murders: another hearing tomorrow

A joint pretrial hearing for Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen is scheduled tomorrow afternoon, at which time a firm start date for Scott's retrial might be announced. I plan to attend.

Winning the nutgrass battle

It's not really a grass at all. It's called purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus) and along with its sister, yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus), is one of the most difficult weeds in the world to successfully eradicate. You can't just pull it because it's got deep root systems connected by tubers ("nuts"), so you have to carefully dig down and get the nut(s).

We've been faithfully extracting these cockroaches by hand one by one every week for almost a year, except for a break in winter, and have reduced our front yard's overwhelming nutsedge population by about 95 percent.

We'll have to continue weekly or monthly extraction forever, but at least we're seeing some results without resorting to poisons, which aren't very effective on established nutgrass and require repeated applications. And even then you would have to dig out the deepest nuts by hand in your now-poisonous soil.

See how that middle one broke into three parts to try to trick us?

Here's one that grew all the way through a piece of hardwood mulch!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Don't want to get my hopes up, but one of my Little Porter tomato plants finally has two flowers!

Whoo-hoo! Maybe the fish emulsion stuff I added a few days ago did the trick. I'm going to feed them more of it tonight.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My underappreciated sun-loving hall-of-famer

I had been so focused on my “summer” bloomies that, until last night when I was out in the dark trying to spot-water most of my front yard garden plants (even my well-established ones), I had totally underappreciated and overlooked my cute dwarf gray santolinas.

They grow slowly in these neat oval mound shapes—I’ve never had to trim one--and are super drought-tolerant. My elder rosemary, lavender, desert sage, and these santolinas are the only things I did NOT have to water last night. Super close up, they look like some exotic underwater coral reef, a refreshing idea right now...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Yesterday's horror has now ended

I took Annie's advice this morning and managed to plunge those leaf-footed stinkbug nymphs to their deaths in a baggie of soapy water.