Friday, April 17, 2015


This post, 2014 - April MINDY'S GARDEN DAY, was written by Glinda/AnnieinAustin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

Back in March of 2009, Mindy had a nifty little chunk of "spineless" cactus planted near her new rainbarrel - a second, medium-size chunk looked Texas-Cool in the center of the long bed across the front of the house, while a third piece toward the garage end balanced the scene.

Five years later that cactus had filled most of the long bed, smothering other plants, tumbling across the entire front of Mindy's house from corner to corner. Mindy sent a photo of two of her labs enjoying the bluebonnets with the cactus lurking in the background... "Help!"

The first thing we noticed when we arrived at Mindy's ranchette were the bluebonnets... the second thing was the enormous stretch of cactus, barricading the front. In some places the cactus had cut off access to the entrance via the walk.

As we approached the door we could see the path and front bed with its scattered decorative stones would need some spring cleanup, too.

Inside, the dining room looked welcoming and we chatted in the kitchen while breakfast was cooking.

I decided to slip out and snap a few photos of the wildflowers around Mindy's house.

As we drove to Mindy's house there were some native Antelope Horns milkweed showing along the roadside. Now I had a closeup view of some plants near her fence. These milkweed plants were making flower heads just in time for the Monarch butterfly migration - sure hope the Monarchs found them!

A purple spiderwort had seeded near the driveway - it's some kind of wild Tradescantia, but I couldn't begin to guess what kind... as the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center says, "Tradescantia species will hybridize in just about any combination." Whatever its parentage, it's a pretty plant.

I'm pretty sure this little flower is Wild Garlic/ Allium drummondii.

Back inside, the table was set and ready for breakfast.

On the buffet were Apple-nut Muffins, a huge strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, Kiwi fruit salad, and another muffin named "Dirt Bombs" - sort of appropriate for a group that calls themselves the Divas of the Dirt, right?

Mindy merged two recipes to make these Dirt Bombs: Here and Here

Let's take a closer look at that gardening Bunny!

Out in the kitchen, Mindy and her helpers had Chicken-Apple sausages and Scrambled Eggs with Red Onions ready to dish up. It was a lovely breakfast, with funny stories and news and friendly banter.

Once outside, we again realized the scope of what we were attempting. From the end of the bed looking along the side, the cactus looked like a wall.

Remember that first photo of the Rainbarrel in 2009? By April 2014 the rainbarrel was not only invisible, there was no way to get near it to use it.

Out came every tool we had - from shovels and forks to pruning saws and sharp-edged digging tools. Compared to the usual cactus -  obviously armed with spines - the spineless cactus was not so well-equipped to fight back. Instead, that so-called spineless cactus was Sneaky - having small, almost invisible spines that went through gloves and clothing like needles.

Diva Mattie took this photo to show how large the trunks of the cactus were. And dotted around those cactus trunks and the walk were some very impressive fireant hills.

It was a long battle but eventually the Divas of the Dirt were victorious. (Mattie also took this photo of Sugar & Buffy.)

Cactus-wrangling may have been the main task but a lot more was done that day.  Some Divas worked on the two gardens down by the road, one on each side of the gate. (I'm quite annoyed at myself for forgetting to walk down to take after photos!)
Others worked on the side entrance garden and path, cutting back the winter-killed Barbados Cherries and Shrimp plant, weeding and cultivating. Sugar was the good sport who tackled the oak sprouts - an annual PITA!
We sifted the decorative pathway stones out of winter's debris and set them aside for Mindy. And as always, mulch was liberally applied to every bed and border.

Since this is the Country - not the 1/4 acre lots owned by most of us - there was room in an out-of-the-way place for Mindy to pile up the cactus and let it sit to dry. At first we used our trugs and totes, and pulled and pushed barrowloads of chopped and pried-up chunks over to the pile, but then Mindy decided to use a cart that attaches to a vehicle - much easier! Here's just one cartful.

On one return trip, Karla decided the empty cart reminded her of a parade float and Mattie caught her taking a royal ride!

Mindy found innovative, delicious recipes for her lunch menu. Here is Absurdly Addictive Asparagus with pancetta and pinenuts.

The Beets and Red Grapefruit Salad recipe from Whole Foods sounded weird but tasted fine.

And Killer Quinoa Salad was irresistible - dried cranberries, dried apricots, avocados and almonds in a perfect blend.

I'm not sure how the carrot cupcakes arrived for dessert... it would be fun to think those gardening bunnies brought them, but Costco or Central Market or Whole Foods are more likely.

When we left, the view from the end of the bed had a lot of blank space.

The Side Entrance bed looked very different post-Divas of the Dirt.

The path no longer has a design in flat stones, but it looks good, and the design can be redone.

And thanks to Mattie - there is one more photo of the finale to our great Cactus Adventure.

This post, 2014 - April MINDY'S GARDEN DAY, was written by Glinda/AnnieinAustin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

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