Friday, October 25, 2013


I was surprised....... by flower on the crinum lily, Crinum procerum 'splendens' in my water garden.

I emptied......... the three outside water tanks, filled the rain barrels in the garden and watered all the plants. It's going to rain this weekend!

I watered.... the flowers growing between the pavers in the potager.

I collected.....seeds from the red spider zinnia.

I potted up.......snapdragons and violas from their 6 packs into 4" pots. They will spend a couple of weeks in the greenhouse until they have made new roots, making them easier to transplant.

I noted.......that the wonderful, fragrant Felicia might need a trellis on which to twine next year.

I jumped over...... the narrow leaf zinnias growing in the pathways between the vegetable beds.

I decided........ that the Philippine violet was at the peak of its bloom.

I resolved ..... to  thin the baby pak choi for tomorrow evenings dinner.

I gave.... the Aloe marlothii a new pot.

It is so happy.

I realized....... that it is time to take lots of cuttings to save for next year.

I did a lot of other things too. Like tackling the fire ant problem and weeding and sowing but the fun bit is always just walking around with the camera.
What did you do today?

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Timberpress is offering those who sign up for their contest the chance to win a copy of the book Seeing Flowers, plus a print of one of the flowers. To enter the contest just click on this following link and enter your email address. The contest is open until November 8th.

     Some years ago a photographer friend showed me a macro photograph of a cluster of harlequin bug eggs. The intricacy and detail was something the naked eye was unable to see. As a gardener who takes photographs I have also learnt to appreciate the fine structure of flowers which might be missed with a casual glance.
    In Seeing Flowers, Robert Llewellyn, with his remarkable photographic technique, brings that world right into our living room. By taking many images of each flower, at different points of focus, and stitching them together, we see the flower as though we were holding it in front of our eyes. When I first opened the book I felt a little disappointment. I think I was expecting to see the kind of detail I saw in those little eggs. Small parts of the flower shown in incredible detail. That is how I think of macro photography. Then as I looked more closely at the photographs I really did begin to see the flowers captured on paper in their full depth and glory. A cluster of Ipheion flowers with every part of the flower in full focus. How many times have I tried to do the same with my camera and my Ipheion; without success. The photographs are truly amazing.
   But this is not just a book of beautiful photographs. Of the several hundred families of plants in the plant kingdom twenty eight have been chosen and each is given its own chapter. Terri Dunn Chase, writer and editor has teamed with Llewelyn to share some characteristics about each family. Not just the usual information found in a flora but interesting facts. Did I know that the name of that poisonous alkaloid, atropine, found in Deadly nightshade, comes from the Greek word atropos. Its meaning is "to cut the thread of life" Or that those beautiful blue petals on my love-in-a-mist are actually sepals. In the photograph it is just possible to make out the diminutive true petals which lie beneath the stamens. Here there is much to learn and much to enjoy in the pages of Seeing Flowers. This is a book that should delight gardeners and non gardeners alike.
    You can read more about the book and the authors when go to the giveaway web page. Don't forget November 8th is the deadline to enter.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The third week in October has been designated Texas Native Plant Week. In celebration I am highlighting one of the native plants I have growing in my garden; the blackfoot daisy, Melampodium leucanthus. Mela meaning black, pod meaning foot, leucos meaning white and anthos meaning flower. All from the Greek.

In bloom during almost every month of the year the blackfoot daisy makes a low growing perennial which can reach a diameter of 30" It would be ideal as a ground cover in well drained soil. In my garden it seeds in gravel areas and would like to take over the pathways. I cut it back in the fall so that next year it will be more bushy and manageable.

Sometimes known as the plains blackfoot surely this plant was named for the Blackfoot Indians. The association probably comes for the fact that the Blackfoot sometimes dyed their moccasins black and our little daisy also has a blackfoot.
Each of the notched, white ray flowers is subtended by a small foot-shaped bract which turns black as the flower matures.

It self sows easily popping up in all kinds of locations. This one greets me when I enter the greenhouse. It has lots of company as seeds that fall on the adjacent potting shed floor are swept out into the gravel. This is a great place to 'shop' for new plants.

The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is celebrating this week with garden walks. If you live close by please join the Texas fall wildflowers in this special garden.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


There are some plants that are the stars of the fall garden by virtue of their enjoying shorter days and cooler nights. Among these fall bloomers one of my favorites is the Philippine violet, Barleria christata. It has been a faithful return bloomer in my garden for many years. Dying back down to the ground in all but the mildest of winters it seems to harbor no pests staying green all summer long and then blooming throughout October. I was surprised to see a seedling in the sunken garden. Along the edge of the pathway I will be removing in when dormant and sharing with one of my gardening friends. My garden could not support more than one of these bushes.

Mexican marigold mint, Tagetes lucida, our substitute for tarragon is another late bloomer seen here in the potager.

Careful trimming earlier on in the season will give maintain a more rounded shape as it can get quite large.

My Japanese anemones are just beginning to bloom. They are not as prolific this year because of lack of rainfall.

The tree senna, Cassia corymbosa, is the fourth major bloomer in the fall, although a little battered by the rainfall this weekend. It is a fast growing, short-lived tree but always makes more seedlings than you care for. I usually select one to replace the old tree.

Clouds of golden-eye, Viguiera dentata outside my gate. Scatter the seeds after they ripen and they will come.

And pink clouds of ruby crystal grass, Melinis nerviglumis, inside the gate. My love affair with this grass may soon be over!
There are pink flowers in the back gardens too. Gomphrena 'firecracker'

And the sweetest smelling rose, Felica. She has been blooming non-stop for weeks.

Amaranth, here again for another year despite my having pulled out as many seedlings as I could find. This one was growing by the gate and is now 5' tall. I saw a hummingbird there one day which really surprised me. The flowers are so dry and papery you couldn't imagine there being any nectar.

and pink gaura which the bees adore.

There are lots more blooms out there but these are the stars of my fall garden. If you would like to share your fall bloomers then please join Carol at May Dreams for Garden Bloggers' Bloom day.

Monday, October 14, 2013


A day without gardening is like a day without....sunshine. Neither of those today as a strong rain system hovers over Central Texas. It did bring us much needed rain yesterday, in fact too much for many, as creeks overflowed, houses flooded and ACL was cancelled. My rain gauge flowed over at 6" so I have no idea exactly how much we had but we estimate from a filled bucket it was closer to 9" About 3 miles away they had 12" Today brought another inch.

This is Barton Creek at the bridge on Lost Creek Blvd a mile from our house. Before they built the bridge this flooded roadway was the only way across. We used to call these fords in England. As a child it was always so exciting to cross a ford. In Texas crossings like this are a death trap when we get heavy rains. Lives are lost.

We have never seen this before. Along our road water was pouring out of the ground at the base of the cutting, in two places. I had often wondered if animals lived in these holes in the rock. If they did then they probably got the ride of their life. It is typical of this terrain to have sink holes into which water flows during heavy rains. It found a way out here. But that was yesterday. It is still raining today and I did a couple of garden related things.

The first was to frame and hang this little print of a clasping coneflower, Dracopsis amplexicaulis. At the Wildflower Center last week, in the volunteer room, they were giving away folders of prints given to them by a local bank. I am sure you know how it is when it comes to framing prints. It costs a fortune, but then I am not really fussy about the frames and 50c with the mat certainly was too good to pass up. I have four prints so I will be on the lookout for 3 more!

The second job was to bring the cactus and succulents under shelter. More rain is forecast for tomorrow and I fear for their wellbeing.

And these two little chaps will be very happy that their plant is being taken under cover. This one looks distinctly under the weather.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I have to admit I'm a garden magazine hoarder. I have magazines dating back to the early 90s. When I get them out it is often as though I am reading a new magazine and I always hope that this time around I will find nothing of interest to me and I will be able to throw the magazine away. Even though my tastes and ideas change over time I usually find something there which requires me to put that magazine  back on the shelf. The other day after lunch I sat down with a 1998 Sunset Garden Guide.

This is a photo of a retaining wall in Scott Spencer's Southern California garden. Oh my! This photo makes my garden soul jump up and down. My friend Pam Penick wrote on her blog recently about reproducing a garden scene from a magazine by substituting plants local to one's own area. What a great idea, which you can read about here.

I have the retaining wall. Isn't it a beauty? David did this retaining wall hauling thousands of pounds of limestone rocks from lower down on our lot.

I think it is magnificent and yet it is lacking something.... I have made excuses; no water, no soil, deer, raccoons, turkeys mice, squirrels. Things have changed recently due to the prolonged Texas drought. We have lost many of the trees and with more sun little Texas sedges are starting to pop up everywhere. The yuccas and opuntia I have planted are doing well producing their first heavy crop of tunas this year. Bluebonnet seedlings are everywhere. With some gentle winter rains we may have a wash of blue next year.

When I visit English gardens I dream of having aubretia and campanulas growing out from between the rocks. Nothing seem to survive life in the dry, drystone wall.
Now after revisiting that wall in California I am inspired to make some improvements. I can have Mexican feather grass and maybe a Weber's agave hanging over the wall. Maybe some euphorbias and of course rock rose. I am going to head out into the garden and pick some seeds to throw among the bluebonnets.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I am heading into the agave, cactus and succulent phase of my gardening life. The evidence is right there as you climb up the steps to enter through the side gate of my garden.

It is perfect place for these plants. A few hours of direct sun and several hours of filtered sunlight under the branches of the live oak tree. It is one of the few places in my garden where there is filtered sun. One lucky plant gets to sport the clay collar I found at a yard sale.

When visitors come to my garden I invite them to come in through the side gate. From there they can pass through the front courtyard garden and out through the main gate and around the outside of the house into the back gardens.

Look at the variety of shapes and textures in this plant grouping. Small cactus and euphorbias look better when they are grouped together in a wide-mouthed pot or with others.

Small agaves in hypertuffa pot.

Fireplace grouping.

Strawberry jars make great pots for these plants.

My weekend acquisitions; Candellia, Euphorbia antisyphilitica. That's a handy plant to have around!

But the biggest statement of all comes with the large plants situated in the landscape. On the right, Yucca rostrata, sapphire skies

Paired with plumbago which is having its best year ever.

There's a little experiment going on here with the soft leaf yucca. It was a tangle of offsets and dead leaves. I am hoping that the plant will respond to the cut back and take on a new life. Otherwise I will be looking for a replacement.

Structural plants are needed to give height and statement in the garden and none do it more beautifully than the agaves. And no agave makes a bolder statement than the Whale's tongue agave, A. ovatifolia.

Two of these beautiful agaves live in the front courtyard garden.

This is just the tip of the iceberg!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


My garden friend Pam Penick, invites us to share our stories of visits to National Parks during the month of October. The link is here If you would like to share your trip to a National Park leave a comment on her posting and a link to the park you have visited. Your visit will  be added to the original list of parks. This would be your only opportunity to visit  the parks today because they are all closed. Foreign visitors must be as disappointed as I was the first time I went to Paris and the Louvre was closed for a strike.

During the early 80s, traveling in our VW camper, our family visited almost every National Park in the west. Now with a larger and more comfortable vehicle we find ourselves retracing our footsteps. Two years ago on our return from the Seattle Garden Bloggers' Fling, we crossed into Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was one of the parks we had never visited. We settled ourselves on the campsite for a couple of days and prepared for some hiking and wildflower spotting. I knew it was going to be good because we were at altitude and it had been a very late summer as you will soon see.

 You might think we were in Texas with these pretty bluebonnets but they are a lot taller than the ones that grow in my part of Texas. (Did you know that Texas has 6 bluebonnets and they are all considered the State flower).

It is a surprise to see this yellow one, although I have seen ones with mixed yellow and blue flowers.

Our first hike took us up to the place where we could see volcanic activity, with fumaroles and mud pots and stinky sulphurous air are reminiscent of Yellowstone National Park. The land laid to waste by unfavorable growing conditions.

But first we had to cross snowfields with deep snow and well worn packed trails. I sure am glad I had my hiking boots, poles and sun glasses. It is a warm day and it isn't long before I take off my jacket.

Later we pass semi-frozen lakes. Sorry David, no fly fishing today!

This is one of the lesser known National Parks situated in Northeastern California and boasting the largest plug dome volcano in the world, Lassen Peak. It last erupted in 1915.

We spent 2 days in the park, hiking the trails and enjoying the clear mountain air and the cool nights. Here are a few photos in celebration one of our great National Parks.

Mountain goat!

This boulder was moved here by the action of a glacier.

There were plenty of scenic hikes from windblown mountain tops.

to forests with rushing streams.

False hellebore.

Rock penstemon

Early morning views of Mount Lassen from Manzanita Lake.

I enjoyed my trip down memory lane. I hope you did too. Let's hope the parks will soon be open again for all to enjoy.