Thursday, May 28, 2009


If I hadn't been in the bathroom drying my hair
I wouldn't have caught a glimpse of a furry tail passing by the window
and I wouldn't have got up to take a closer look at the fox
and I wouldn't have seen the flower on the lace cactus, Echinocereus reichenbacci,

and if I hadn't mentioned it to D he wouldn't have told me that there was another lace cactus blooming out in the front,

and if I hadn't gone out to look at it I wouldn't have seen the buds on this clump of cactus, Escobaria missouriensis about to burst into flower any day,

and if I hadn't gone out to check on it the next morning I wouldn't have seen the flower on the rain lily that appeared overnight (The plants that MSS gave me a few weeks ago) It was such a perfect white bloom.

And if I hadn't gone out to photograph the cactus again a few hours later I wouldn't have disturbed the three deer that hang about all the time,

and I wouldn't have gone over to look at the rain lily and seen that it was completely mowed down.

Oh, well I guess our very pregnant doe is eating for three along with her children from last year(a little boy and girl) They have fine taste in foods.

But at least I got to see the cactus in full bloom.

Monday, May 25, 2009


The morning couldn't have been more perfect. A wonderful coolness in the air and the garden refreshed from a little rain and a cool night. 

The spring flowers linger beyond their time.

It's time for the summer flowers,  Agapanthus.......

..... and sky blue flax Linnium perenne.

The Mandevilla boliviensis vine on the trellis, wintered over in the warmth of the house.

The common native cosmos, Cosmos sulphurous. Guaranteed to put in an appearance every year. The goldfinches have a feast on the seeds in the fall. It comes in shades of yellow and orange.

Gazanias galore. Here in front of bat faced cuphea.
Now if only the day would stay this way. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I think D is going to get quite a surprise when he walks down the pathway to the back gate of the vegetable garden. He won't have hop skip and jump over the blanket flowers and assorted others which have seeded between his wonderful pavers.

Except here. I had to leave one blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella, so I could collect some seed and put them out on the septic field again. At the end of the pathway the way was completely obstructed. 

Now all that is left is a Mexican ruellia, Zinnia augustifolia and Coreopsis tinctoria on the corner. All have made themselves at home in the gravel. I have removed several Gomphrena and settled them into their new home in the flower beds.

The mullein knows it stands a good chance of staying if it grows in an unobtrusive place; here along the edge of the wall by the gate. Not for too much longer though. One or two are OK.

Between the square beds a dahlberg daisy, Dyssodia tenuifolia is growing. It serves a useful function just before the drain, where it catches all manner of 'floaters' if we have a heavy rainfall.  

This mexican marigold mint, Tagetes lucida, seems to like the pathways too.

...and I couldn't possibly pull out this Rudbeckia, at least not until after it has flowered.

Between the long beds the Verbena bonariensis is just too pretty to remove. I guess it won't be too long before we won't be able to walk down the pathways again!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Yesterday I picked a nice bunch of rhubarb, beets and one tomato. We have really enjoyed eating the rhubarb and I would count the experiment as a great success. We can only grow it as an annual in central Texas but I am really surprised how it achieved such a size, from seed, after 8 months. Two of the plants have wilted but the third is still producing. I noticed the price of fresh rhubarb in the store the other day was $6.99 lb. It was nice and pink but even though this variety, Victoria, is green it seems to be less astringent than most. Growing up we used to force rhubarb in the early spring, by putting a cover over the top. This would result in tender pink stalks. I did try that early on but the stalks grew long and lanky, probably because there wasn't sufficient root to hold the stalks up.
Beets have produced well this year and I make use of the tops and roots. We shall be having pasta with sauteed beets, basil pesto and parmesan tomorrow. Tonight the roasted beets will accompany a pork pozole, which has become a favorite. It has tomatillos in the recipe so I need to grow those next year.

The tomato is a mystery variety. Bought as Viva Italia, it was mislabeled.  No matter, the fruits are delicious and an early ripener. I have already picked 4. None of my other tomatoes are anywhere near ripening.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Billowing clouds of Coreopsis tinctoria are the plant of the moment in the garden and along the roadsides. This native plant seems to prefer to be inside the garden rather than outside. I just cannot get it to grow well in my native areas. The few plants that come up are always eaten by the deer. Yet, in the garden beds and between the cracks in the pathway they seed in incredible numbers. To ward off the blues from my previous post I brought some into the house to enjoy.

Two new varieties have popped up this year. This bronze one, Coeropsis tinctoria"suntan"

This is also Coreopsis tinctoria, 'firewheel' Those are my names. I think I'm allowed to name new varieties.

I also brought some coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea into the house along with a few stems of inland sea oats, Chasmanthium latifolium. Always plenty of them to spare.


This is not the first time I have come across this problem on my blackfoot daisies. Today I noticed that this plant in the sunken garden had died. I pulled it out and saw these insects on the root. I am almost positive that they are root aphids. Last year I saw the problem in the front gravel garden; decline of the plant and a few ants around the base of the plant. They were busy farming the aphids for honeydew. It has been a bad year for my blackfoot daisies and I think I now know why. The only thing I can think to do is to drench the base of the plant with spinosad and see if that gets rid of them. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Texas is home to two native clematis, although most lovers of the clematis might not recognize them as such. The first is Clematis texensis, seen above. Endemic to the Edwards Plateau, on which many central Texans garden, this clematis has small pitcher shaped flowers. The delicate looking but leathery flowers are really formed from the fusion of sepals and not petals. Flowers grow on new wood so there is no problem when it dies back down to the ground in winter. Several cultivars are available, duchess of Albany, Etoile Rose and Princess of Wales. When on a visit to England last year I saw the plant Clematis texensis "Lady Bird Johnson." We don't even have that one here in Texas! The more common cultivars are Duchess of Albany, Etoile Rose and Princess of Wales. 

The second more common clematis is Clematis pitcheri, known also as the purple leather flower. I took these photographs yesterday when I was over at the Wildflower Center. This vine is slightly more vigorous and more common, although as with all clematis the lower part of the stem should be covered with a good layer of mulch or even soil for its own protection.

Both these vines used to grow in the entrance to the auditorium, but yesterday I noticed that that the Clematis texensis was no longer there. I was told that it suddenly went into a decline and they cut it back hoping that it would resprout. The one I photographed is near the insectary growing into a small bush.
I have been watching the progress of the flower stalk on this Agave harvardiana as it sends up its flower stalk to the heavens. The flowers are just forming and will be open any day now. I don't think many people notice it as they pass by.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I could feel it in the air as I worked outside this morning. Rain was on the way and now it has arrived. A really heavy downpour. Driven into the house, but only for a few minutes as I gathered up my indoor plants and put them outside for a good soaking.

It didn't take very long for the dry creek in the front garden to fill up.

I did get out earlier with my camera.It was good light for taking photographs and there were plenty that didn't get their place in the limelight on bloom day. This nice stand of cornflowers.

Now that I have removed all the pink primroses and bluebonnets we can actually see this day lily from the front.

and the yellow knock out rose which had been overtaken by poppies.

I've always liked the cleome although it seems to be difficult to grow from seed. Last fall it seeded all over the place but the seedlings died over the winter. It seems to need very specific conditions for the seeds to germinate and we don't seem to have them at the right time in central Texas.

Sometimes you just can't beat the way nature plants a plant. Here rock rose by the edge of the patio in the English garden.

Today I also spied a new variety of Mexican hat; this one with an orange tint. It's the only one out there.

I will often let plants plants grow until I am sure that I don't want them anymore. This was growing by the path in the vegetable garden. Delightful little flowers but I've a feeling it's a weed and I don't really want it. Worth a photo though, and maybe someone will identify it for me.
Latest update-2.2" rain.

Friday, May 15, 2009


By now many northern gardens will be in full swing and ready to show off their blooms on Garden Bloggers' Bloom day, hosted by Carol at Maydreams. Here's what is blooming in Austin, Texas.

I'm quite amazed this year how long the blooming of spring flowers continues. The larkspur, corn poppies and pink primroses continue to bloom among the newly blooming purple cone flowers, despite the record heat. 
I have done a lot of tidying out in the sunken garden, removing all the spent bluebonnets, alyssum, toadflax. I need to keep it a lot tidier in future. One of my absolute favorites is the swan river daisy Brachycome iberidifolia. I save the seeds each year and they come back in shades of blue and purple. The pill bugs love this plant but I usually manage a fairly good flowering. Not long lived in the heat but oh so worth it.

In the vegetable garden achillea and gaillardia pair together.

Coreopsis tinctoria is also in this garden. It tends towards weediness, but such a pretty plant wafting its blooms in the breeze.

This is my first year for growing heartleaf skullcap, Scutellaria ovata. It is definitely on my list of to keep plants.

Here's another 'weed' but I allow one or two to grow for a little while anyway. I usually pull them out shortly after they get to this bloom stage.

A new addition to the garden this year is this echinacea 'harvest moon'. I wonder if seeds are available? If so I'll be getting some next year.

Outside the garden it has been a superb year for the prickly pear flowering. 
In the front garden the pale orange daylilies begin to bloom.

I faithful rebloomer, an English daisy.

And finally, the Texas clematis.