Saturday, January 29, 2011


Yesterday we went from below normal temperatures to above normal temperatures. Typical Texas weather. It was lovely.

It was just the day to break out the new gloves and pruning shears, some of my 'gift' from Gardeners' Supply.

It was a day to work out in the front courtyard. This little guy was a gift from a friend and I thought a good place for him was next to the Whale's tongue agave. Our real roadrunner never manages to find his way into this garden and he probably wouldn't recognize himself if he did. As I was working I heard the real road runner calling on the other side of the wall. His three note call has been heard frequently in recent days. I wonder if he is looking for a mate? Even with all the sightings of roadrunners around our house I have never yet found a nest or seen any young ones.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I spent the last weekend in the Valley of the Sun, and sunny it was. How I love those winter desert days. Cool sunny mornings warming up to a perfect afternoon.

This is rather a quiet time of year for flowers, even in Arizona, but I did find these sunny little flowers on the golden barrel cactus.

It is always a surprise to see frost damage to plants. In my son's neighborhood this lemon tree was not the only plant to suffer from some very cold nights. Bouganvillea, ficus, and even a few agaves suffered badly this year. Like the weather all over the country, it has been a colder winter with more frost days.
Even with a busy schedule at my son's house we still found time to visit the Phoenix Botanical Gardens. I hope that by visiting my grandchildren will learn a little about gardening in the desert and desert dwellers past and present.

The girls learnt how native peoples used to grind their seeds using a metate.

My six year old grand daughter took advantage of an empty docent table to tell us what she had learnt.

The entrance way to the gardens has some fabulous tiered, stonework.

A bed of Manfreda 'macho mocha'. Now there's an idea

The tall giants of the garden.

Love those golden barrels.

The boojum, named for Lewis Carroll's 'Kingdom of the snark'.

Gorgeous aloes.

My alter-ego just couldn't resist doing a little weeding. Then it was time to go to the shop.

I wonder how many other people go away for the weekend and bring back a bag of pumice an agave and a few cuttings (the latter from my son's garden).

Thursday, January 20, 2011


"A garden in winter is the absolute test of the true gardener. Fair weather gardeners are to gardens what interior decorators are to buildings-they only know half the story"

My goodness, is that really true? Was Rosemary Verey just talking about garden designers or was she talking about every gardener; the likes of you and me; those of us who can't keep our fingers out of the dirt. We know we haven't quite got it right yet and we keep striving to create something that satisfies us and makes us proud but I believe we think of ourselves as true gardeners. Maybe we haven't yet passed the test.

The winter garden is certainly the most difficult part of the garden year. When plants have gone dormant, and all but disappeared below the soil, what is there to give interest. Evergreens are so important to tide us through the winter months. In Texas we are fortunate to have many such plants, yaupon hollies, live oaks and rosemary bushes to name a few. Then there are the agaves, yuccas and sotols. But even these are still the winter icing on the cake, as flowers are the summer icing. We still need the hardscape around which to plant, the pathways, walls, patios, arbors.
I know I looked out on my winter garden this morning and knew there is much more I could do to improve its appearance at this time of the year. Maybe Rosemary Verey is right. Summer is this easy bit.

"Gardens that look and feel good in winter do not happen by chance; they are the culmination of designs first sketched on paper then considered and perfected."

Now there in lies my problem!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Just when I was beginning to think we weren't going to have any bluebonnets this year, we have 3" of rain in one week and kaboom! Hundreds of bluebonnet seedlings germinate. A little relocation may be necessary.

In fact, I had moved a few seedlings the day before and yesterday when I checked them out, this. What on earth has been munching the leaf.

I dug around in the soil and this is what I found.

I thought they were my friends. Two years ago the decollate snail started to show up. Like all snails the numbers of this snail have increased as the numbers of the small round snails, pill bugs and slugs has declined. I am very happy about that but is there so little for them to eat that they are now becoming vegetarian. I may have to reduce their population.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I have never bothered growing carrots before, but...

last spring someone gave me a packet of carrot seeds. I planted some then, but summer arrived too quickly and they never grew to a decent size. This year I planted the rest and I have some lovely good sized carrots this time. They are so sweet.

As part of my selection from Gardeners Supply I ordered some veggy scrubbing gloves. They make short work of cleaning the carrots. No peeling needed.

Too bad they have taken them out of the catalogue because they do a great job. However, they are available from other sources.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


This is only my second January to be home since I entered blog world, and before that, since my husband retired, we were often gone. I'm beginning to think it is a good time to be away. For one cedar allergies are rife and secondly if I thought I was going to do some gardening, I was wrong. A hectic schedule and the inclement weather, when I was free to garden, have kept me indoors. I could quite easily wish for a blanket of snow. It would add some interest to a sad looking garden. Nor can I get enthusiastic about the seed sowing I have often done in the past. I will be away from home for three weeks during the seed starting season. This year I will just have to buy my tomatoes and peppers.
Nevertheless, I went out into the garden with camera in the hope of finding a few stray blooms. This is not the January 15th of 2009.
The four nerve daisy, Tetraneuris scaposa, has to be one of the toughest plants around. Neither wind, rain nor freezing temperatures will stop it from blooming. I'll forgive it for its habit of seeding all over the garden for producing a sunny little bloom on a miserable winter's day.

Daisy fleabane, Erigeron, will take plenty of punishment too. It is always one of the first blooms to appear in late winter.

Snug in one of my multiple microclimates, alyssum usually blooms all winter long.

My mulleins became very confused with our favorable fall temperatures. Instead of producing that gorgeous low mat of fuzzy leaves it sent out a flower stalk and is now blooming. Texas tough.

I am hoping to overwinter this ice plant. It continues to bloom, while protected from the elements, in the greenhouse. Apart from these few blooms the garden sleeps, preparing for a new season.
Happy bloom day gardeners and thanks to Carol at Maydreams for hosting. Y'all me your blooms to brighten a gloomy day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


There was a surprise waiting for us this morning; The American Ring-tailed cat, Bassariscus astutus astutus, found the tempting treats of apple, asparagus and parsley I left in the Havahart trap. On this basis I am going to say that he is the guilty party, despite the fact that by all accounts he is more of a carnivore, enjoying a meal of mice, crickets etc. Some years ago we came home at night to find one perched on the ledge outside our kitchen. I think he had been eating pyracantha berries.
It was very cold last night and I have no idea how long he was in the trap so I feel a little guilty. However he was pretty feisty, hissing at me when I approached. I covered the trap with a thick blanket and took the trap into the greenhouse, where a small heater had been running overnight. When he has warmed up a little he will be free to go.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


It's going to be one of those days. I have never seen the pollen from the Ashe juniper let go so early in the morning in such huge clouds. I was outside at 9am when it began and with each puff of wind the air just filled with pollen. You could see it in the air as a fine mist. You should have heard the oohs and ahhs- it was as good as a firework display.

We are not going to let it spoil our walk around the lake, although we will pay the price.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I need to borrow my neighbors night cam. He has captured some amazing shots of night prowlers in our neighborhood.

I'd certainly like to capture this critter. He has decimated my broccoli. Every single head and some leaves too. He finished off by sweetening his breath with some parsley leaves.

Then moved on to eat California poppy. I think it has to be a rabbit although the poppy is in a raised bed which would require a hop . On the other hand rabbits tend to be delicate eaters and something really had a go at the broccoli.

I set out the havahart last night hoping to tempt with asparagus. No luck though.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Many of us have new garden projects planned for the New Year, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is no exception. I am delighted that they have decided to build an English cottage garden, using native plants, replacing the present Members' garden.
Here are the plans and more information on this and other projects can be found here. Cottage garden.

I am really looking forward to this project as I like to think of my own garden as having the influence of both English cottage garden and Texas styles. My garden is always in need of tweeking and this will be a good source for planting ideas.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Once the New Year begins the gardeners' thoughts, quite naturally, turn to the months ahead and the arrival of a new growing season. For us, in central Texas, it begins early. We anxiously look for bud formation and green shoots making their presence known. One of the earliest bloomers here will be the viburnum, 'Spring Bouquet" At least there was one spring bloomer which didn't try to bloom in the fall.

Unlike this iris, which paid the price by blooming in December! I don't know if it was damaged by frost before the rain came a week ago, because we left Austin at the beginning of December, only returning 3 days ago. I seem to chose the worst time to abandon my garden. This time it wasn't the icy spell of last year but a lack of rain.
It's great to be home and I can't wait to get 'stuck in' again. There's plenty to keep me busy and burn off those extra Christmas pounds.
Happy New Year and may your garden bring you much happiness in 2011.