Saturday, March 31, 2012


The soap aloe, Aloe saponaria, blooms against the wall of the house. Sometimes it comes as a surprise to find it in bloom.

That's because the pot sits on a large stone outside the garden walls.

There is only one plant in the ground in this area, a small sharkskin agave. The rest are cactus and agave in pots. It is a good spot for them to spend the summer months and adds interest to a rather bare area. The massive drystone wall was built by David to retain the slope that remained after the house was built. I would love to have plants growing from the wall but I think a lush wall planting here would look inappropriate.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I spotted a new wildflower out in my wild areas this morning.

I came in the house and checked in the Wildflowers of Texas handbook. Later I photographed the flower and examined it closely for structure. It is purple phaecelia, Phacelia patuliflora, frequently confused with baby-blue eyes, Nemophila phacelioides. Judging by the seed pods below it has been flowering for quite a while. I will be checking back for those mature seeds so that I can sow them in a place we can enjoy them more.

Growing alongside were some prickly poppies, Argemone albiflora, texana. They were the beacon that led me to the new plant and show up from time to time. Like all poppies it is much sought after by bees for its pollen.
They made me forget for a moment those nasty weeds that showed up this year. Phacelia, you made my day brighter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


The gardener is faced with an overwhelming variety of objects with which they can enhance their garden. The way we garden, our plant choices and decorative objects we add, is often a reflection of our personality. The important thing is how to add without overdoing it. Here is how I have added interest to our front courtyard.

It doesn't have to be an expensive process.  A few pots at the entrance way to a garden. My preference is for clay pots of all shapes and sizes, most of which I have picked up at garage sales for just a few dollars.
I think the clay offsets the riot of color otherwise found in my plantings.

Looking towards the main gate from the side gate the large bare area of wall demanded some filling. A weathered bench, with overhead hayrack planter, and  surrounded by pots did a lot to take up visual space.

On the other side a metal sculpture from Garden Ridge, sprayed brown, replaced the cross vine which had one been there. When entering through  the gate another grouping of clay pots leads the eye around the corner to the garden proper.

It is easy to find gifts for the gardener. This metal buzzard was a gift from one of my sons.

When we removed two crape myrtles from in front of the wall we were suddenly faced with an expanse of bare concrete. Having decided not to replace the trees we added these mirrored windows, (Sunset Magazine). David had already made three for the outside wall and there happened to be two mirrors left over. I robbed the outside of this wall of its pot gecko threesome.

A simple concrete birdbath adds height to the start of the dry creek bed.

One of my homemade hypertuffa pots with its prickly resident and surrounded by river rock. I made them originally for the English garden but I decided they looked better in the front.

A few sculptural plants. like this Whale's tongue agave  Agave ovatifolia, a metal bee and a pot with some bamboo (Thanks ESP).

And of course a place to sit and enjoy it all. This last shot taken last October when all the bluebonnets were gone.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I'm beginning to think that the garden is not saving anything for April, May, June and the rest of the year.

Today the blooms on the blue-eyed, Sisyrinchum grass opened.

They weren't too noticeable among the bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis,  and purple skullcaps, Scutellaria drummondii,  until evening. Late afternoon/ evening is their time.

The first claret-cup cactus, Echinocareus trichochidiatus, opened. Unlike many of the cactus blooms they have a life span of several days.

The white wine cup, Malvaceae Callirhoe involucrata, seen here sandwiched between the square bud primrose, Calylophus berlandieri, on the left and the alyssum on the right is a much more mannerly wine-cup.

The trailing wine cup may have a more stunning bloom but it is also can be very aggressive in the way it smothers everything in its path. Try digging it out when it has taken a firm hold between pavers. It has a large turnip shaped root. It is easily transplanted and very drought tolerant.

Clouds of damianita, Chrysanctinia mexicana.

In the evening light the soft leaf yucca, Yucca recurvifolia,  gets ready for the evening moth invasion.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Sunday morning, we were having garden visitors and I was doing some tidying up. Once in a while it is good to remove the pots, rake, wheelbarrow, stray plants, gloves, multiple pairs of shoes and all manner of other paraphernalia I leave around the garden. When all is cleared away I wonder why I can't keep it looking this way all the time. But I can't.
So, the sun was already over the tree tops by the time I had finished and before I decided to get my camera out. The sunken garden was still in shadow and even though the poppies were still closed there was plenty of color.

Those tall spikes in the potager are Verbena bonariensis. I have often wondered how, in English gardens, those spires buried in among other plants in the herbaceous borders, reach such dizzying heights. Now I think it is a result of a milder winter like the one we just had. That crop of plants, bluebonnets, blanket flowers and verbena are all growing between the pavers. They look so pretty I don't have the heart to pull them out.

 I have pulled out bucket loads of bluebonnets this week. A few came into the house. They actually last quite a long time; probably glad to get away from all the overcrowding. Many came out of the English garden where it is now possible to see the stepping stones. But most came out of the front courtyard.

 It hardly look as though I have made a dent in the population.

In this one corner, which we created last year, bluebonnets came from no where. The corner receives little sunshine so when the rain came they flopped  and failed to recover. I feel much happier now that I can see the creek again.
No bluebonnets in the front garden next year. I distinctly remember uttering those words a few years ago.

Friday, March 23, 2012


When Steve Bender and Ralph Anderson, from Southern Living, fixed the date to come out and film my garden last year, I was a basket case for weeks. I think Steve was too! Every gardener would like to show their garden at its best and so for weeks I was saying to myself, 'Drop everything and come today, what will be left, will it be raining, will it be windy?' I don't suppose I will ever change. I was just the same when Central Texas Gardener came to film for TV, the Wildflower Center Tour, The Master Gardeners' Tour and Gardeners' Supply catalogue. It was all OK in the end. The flowers were still there, the sun shone and all was rosy in the garden.

It is enormously rewarding for a gardener to have their garden showcased in a magazine and we are thrilled with the 5 page spread. Ralph Anderson took wonderful photographs and Steve Bender, who oversaw the whole process and put our garden into amazing words, finally convinced me that it really was ready to share with their readership. The filming concentrated on the sunken garden and the English garden, both located at the back of the house. You can see the rest of the photos in the April edition of Southern Living Magazine.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Texas didn't name the bluebonnet, Lupinus texensis, the state flower for nothing.

 In fact it is hard to imagine that they ever thought of having any other plant as their state flower when they began the selection process in 1901. Someone suggested the cotton boll, as cotton was certainly king at the time. Another wanted the prickly pear cactus. In the end it was the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America who put forward the buffalo clover or bluebonnet, Lupinus subcarnosus. And so this diminutive bluebonnet which grows in the sandy soils of the south Texas plains became the state flower. Now began the arguments. Others wanted L.texensis, a far more showy bluebonnet, to be the state flower. It took 70 years before the argument was settled. In 1971 the legislature combined the two species and "any other variety not heretofore recorded" There are actually three more species, L. havardii, L. cocinnus and L. plattensis.

Leaving the house is becoming increasingly difficult as L. texensis takes over every available inch of space smothering everything in its path.

Inside my walls, outside my walls. They are everywhere.

They sure are beautiful.

Monday, March 19, 2012


This gardener is very happy for the rain but at the same time the gardening blogger knows what she has to do. Go out there with her camera and take photos of things that may no longer be there in a day's time. They are forecasting as much as 6" of rain, and possible hail and right now the winds are very strong as the cold front moves closer.

The cross vine, Bignonia capreolata 'tangerine beauty' is almost in full bloom. In the English garden the vine has crept onto the gate.

and up into the Yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria, where it has replaced the long-gone berries.

The vine also grows on the pool wall where it cascades over the other side. It would like to go onto this gate also but if it did the gate would be sealed shut.

It looks as though it is time to cut back the vine on the greenhouse. The trellis was supposed to support cucumbers but the vine put paid to that idea years ago.

Years ago I put a few freesia bulbs in the garden. They were under the dwarf wax myrtle ( which by the way is no dwarf) Yesterday, while standing talking to visitors by the myrtle, I saw a glimpse of magenta.
Two freesias in bloom. No point leaving them there for only the pill bugs to enjoy.

Friday, March 16, 2012


A serious attempt has been made to take over the pathway behind the walled garden.

 I am powerless to do anything about it.

You might think that this was a bed edged with limestone and planted with bluebonnets. When it is actually a pathway edged with limestone running along the edge of the septic field. You can see the bluebonnets are so dominant that nothing else can match their ability to smother all in its path.

And this is a vegetable bed in which bluebonnets may have met their match. The blanket flower looks poised to overpower. Much as I love our native Texas bluebonnet I just wish it would stay in the right place; the septic field.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


It's the beginning of spring in the sunken garden. The unseasonably warm winter and spring means that everything is bursting into bloom. I hear that northern gardens have also experienced a milder winter. To find out what is blooming in everyone's garden join Carol at Maydreams for our March Madness in the garden.

The California poppies have been truly magnificent this year. They even surprised me with a yellow form that seeded at the foot of the steps in the herb garden.

Most, however are the more common orange color.

The Iceland poppy, Papaver nudicaule, 'champagne bubbles' A rescue plant from a big box store.

My faithful little blue gilia, Gilia rigidula.

The false garlic, Nothoscordum bivalve. Better appreciated in close up. I think it makes pretty clumps of flowers.

And the first red corn poppy, Papaver rhoeas, appeared. There are going to be plenty of those this year.

The wine cup, Callirhoe involucrata, against the paler purple alyssum.

Yellow columbines, Aquilegia chrysantha, var. Hinkleyana.

The Lady Bank's rose in the front courtyard is almost in full bloom. The only thing I have to do to this rose is to cut back its rampant growth.

You can see in this shot that pruning is something at which I do not excel.

In this same garden the four nerve daisies and the blackfoot daisies are in full bloom.

Bluebonnets have even found their way into the rockery. In fact they are everywhere.

Species tulips nested in beside the Agave parryi.

Bluebonnets and blanket flowers in the herb garden.

Blooms of the cross vine, Bignonia capreolata, on the wrought iron gate in the English Garden.

Gazanias galore. They are magnificent this year, the plants having survived the mild winter.

The chocolate daisy, Berlandiera lyrata,is as old as the garden itself. It grows in a crack between the pavers in the sunken garden.

A new plant in the garden this year is this desert mallow, Sphaerlacea ambigua 'red' It really is more pink than red. I also have an orange one.

And finally the iris. All passalongs, and none of which I know the name except for the white cemetery iris, Iris albicans.
I hope all my gardening friends are having a happy bloom day.