Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Copper Canyon daisy, Tagetes lemmonii, is the hands down November favorite in my central Texas garden. The plant is daylight sensitive so it blooms during the fall. It is deer resistant and can withstand the fierce summer heat of Texas. For this reason it will do well on the west side of the house. I photographed this plant this morning before the 9/10" rainfall. It has spent the summer in the vegetable garden. Not the place where I really want it, but this is where I planted the young plant just before we went away in April so that it would not be stressed from lack of  watering during the heat of summer ( the vegetable beds are on a drip system).  A month later it was too big to move. As it grew larger I would brush past it as I walked down the path and the air would fill with its distinctive fragrance. I suspect this is what keeps the deer away.
I frequently put young plants next to a drip when I have to leave the garden for any length of time so I always have flowers in the vegetable beds.

My garden relies heavily on serendipity. This blanket flower and the alyssum have seeded here in the sunken garden. Both are prolific re-seeders. The air is filled with the sweet fragrance of alyssum and the bees are having a ball.

How could I evict these flowers, narrow leaf zinnias and alyssum from this bed. This summer it held peppers so there was plenty of room for these guys to grow; now they  bed alongside Nappa hakusia, tenderheart, a small chinese cabbage from Kitazawa Seed Co. I wonder if they will form a head like the picture on the seed package?

This is not grass growing here but larkspur seedlings which have just germinated. I'm going to have quite a job thinning them out. I turned over this area this summer and maybe exposed seeds from previous years. Much as I love larkspur even I find this over the top.

In front of this is a planting of Osteospermum. The seeds came from a friends garden in California. Spring is their prime flowering time but the recent cool evenings have prompted them to put out a few flowers.

The same is true of Delospermia cooperii along the edge of the pool and enjoying the cooler temperatures of fall.

This succulent has similar foliage but has red flowers.

This succulent is also in flower at the moment. It is rather annoying to purchase  a plant with a tag that says "succulent" with no further identification. Maybe someone can identify it. It is a delightful succulent to grow in a hanging pot as the fleshy leaves are long and pencil like and then it makes these interesting flowers. When enlarged the detail on the petal is interesting.

Butterfly pea, Clitoria ternatea. might have found a better place to grow than at the bottom of the steps where it is often crushed as we walk by.

Even the cross vine is enjoying the cooler evenings. 

After the rain today I have no doubt that seedlings will be popping up all over the garden, and weeds too. Work doesn't stop during the winter in Texas.
And just to show that fall is on the way in Central Texas----

Monday, November 10, 2008


This is a great recipe for using all the green tomatoes left at the end of the season. As frost is in the forecast for this weekend Austin gardeners might like to try this chutney which is great with curry, cheeses, ham etc. Every bit as good as Branston pickle!
I went ahead and picked green tomatoes this weekend. I don't think they will ripen this late in the season although I have left some of the larger ones on the south side of the plants in the hope that they will.

After all the chopping was done the pot went on the stove.

And it wasn't long before the chutney was in the pot.

As I am a great saver of all things that might have a second life, I pot the chutney up in old jam jars. Here's the recipe.

Green Tomato Chutney
3 lbs green tomatoes
2 lbs tart apples (I use granny Smiths)
2 c raisins
1 1/2 c diced onions
2 tsp garlic minced
2 c packed light brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
2 tsp nn- iodized salt
1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
3-4 T minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 T mustard seed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp finely minced fresh red pepper or 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes

1. Cut up tomatoes into 1/2" chunks, removing stems and blemishes. About 8 cups. Place in large deep saucepan.

2. Peel, core and cut apples into 1/2" chunks and add to toms with raisins, onions, garlic, sugars, salt and vinegar. Bring to boil and when boiling reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently.

3. Add ginger, mustard, coriander, cinnamon and hot pepper and continue to boil slowly until the chutney holds its shape.

4. Ladle into sterilized hot jars and add lids. Process 10 mins in water bath.

I usually omit this last step. I find that packing into hot jars and capping is sufficient as long as the lids pop. If the lid fails to pop I put in the fridge.
Keeps for months.


Austin garden bloggers had a busy weekend. A group visited Peckerwood gardens on Friday and on Sunday several members of the group met at Mayfield Gardens to learn a little more about garden photography. Rachel of In Bloom shared some of the knowledge she had acquired from her photography classes. Thanks Rachel for sharing your Sunday afternoon with us. Being somewhat new to photography I already know that I have a good deal to learn; not just about the how to compose the photograph but also about the camera itself. I think I came away from the afternoon having learnt some good tips and I hope to be a little more thoughtful in composition in the future. Here are a few of the photographs I took today.

A few paperwhites were already in bloom. 

This statue of a little boy reading will soon be surrounded by paperwhite blooms

Most of the leaves have fallen from the beautyberry but small clusters of the brightly colored berries still remain.

 The property sits on a steep limestone cliff so there is no shortage of rubble limestone with which to build. Judging by the shelves inside this was used as a storage shed in the past. 

Limestone rubble was also used for this wall.

A solitary water lily on the pond is reflected in the water.

After today's class I am trying to be more thoughtful about composition. One of the next steps is to invest in a tripod. Im hoping this will improve close up photography of flowers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Last Saturday was a simply gorgeous fall day. A perfect day to visit the Dallas Arboretum. The entrance was filled with pumpkins and gourds. What I wouldn't give to grow a few of these although they may have to be of the miniature variety. The theme in the gardens was definitely fall with oranges and yellows everywhere.

I think I might just grow some of this variety of Gaillardia ( Gaillardia commotion "frenzy") next year.The petal form is like Cosmos "sea shells". I particularly like the yellow and this plant seems to flower throughout the year in central Texas.

Anyone know what this plant is?

I loved this water feature.

The armadillo on the edge of the pond was eyeing the koi intently.

Even they were dressed for fall.

I know I have seen these lily pads ( Victoria amazonica) before. Kew Gardens? Do I remember seeing a photograph of a Victorian lady standing on one?

This pot maybe left over from the summer but what a wonderful combination.

The Dallas Arboretum has a reciprocal arrangement with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center so there is no entry fee. What a great deal!