Saturday, October 13, 2018


I made good use of some very hot and humid days recently by sorting out some of the garden paraphernalia I keep in the little Korean chest in the corner of the living room. Among the stacks of papers are my garden notes, clippings from newspapers, pages of garden ideas I have cut from magazines, and lots of thank you notes from visitors who have been to our garden. This seemed like a good time to organize them into files.
I'm not a keeper of letters. I did once keep a bundle of love letters from David but I burnt them before I got on that plane to come to America! But for some reason I have kept all the cards and notes from people who have been to visit our garden. I'd like to think that some time in the future my descendants will look through this file and learn about how much I loved to garden and share it with others. I know how much I treasure the three cards written by my great, great grandfather to his beloved in the 1840s, and saved down the male line for me to read so many years later. And the excitement David felt when he came across the diary written by his great, great uncle which told of his great grandfather's visit to Australia and his plan to immigrate.

Hand written card from my GGGrandfather
Among many of the letters and cards I received was a favorite which had a photograph of the pot which used to spill water into the pool- long gone and replaced by something more durable. And these two envelopes gave me quite a chuckle. Addressed to the Garden Queen of Austin and Queen mother of Austin gardening. It was nice that he thought that way but very far from a reality. I sent him some of my Monarda and in return he sent me some seeds for my garden.

I ended up organizing the magazine articles, newspaper articles and publications of our various garden tours, into a big binder. But I still need to find a better way to organize that big bulging sleeve of cards. Maybe a better idea would be to just copy and print the contents of each note.
There were lots of photos( taken before a digital camera became an important garden tool) some taken by me and some taken by the visitors and sent to me. It is a reminder of how the garden looked in its infancy.

Would you recognize the garden today? This is how it looked after David finished making those patio stones. Today they have aged and those cracks are home to many self sown plants. I'm afraid it is a weakness I have or is it just my gardening style.
Fall clean up 
And spring in this same garden.

In the front courtyard a photograph of before I planted the Lady Banks rose. It was a visitor on one of the garden tours that asked me if I knew the story of the Lady Banks rose and later sent me some clippings from a National Geographic magazine about the plant hunting expeditions of Sir Joseph Banks and  the origin of the rose's name. The two crape myrtles are long gone although they keep trying to return from roots left behind.

And today. Maybe time for a little clean up, although winter will take care of much of this. Would I ever be bold enough to have a clean sweep so that the rocks would once again be visible?

All these reminiscences were a good thing. This morning I got out in the garden and started the task of removing some of those weedy grasses. But, as always, I just pulled a few here and there preferring to leave it for a few days before I go back and remove more. Once pulled they can never be put back. And then returning heart and humidity drove me back inside the house. But all that is to change in the blink if an eye.

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Trying to work outside in this horrendous humidity is downright miserable. Where is our October weather? Those clear, dry days we expect after a brutal summer. They are just not happening this year and it means a delay in our fall gardening jobs.  This morning I took a walk around the garden with camera, while waiting for some garden visitors to arrive.

The entry garden doesn't see much in the way of change through the seasons although it won't be long before many of these plants will be moved to their winter homes.

In the front courtyard the pink crystal grass, Melinus nerviglumis is starting to flower. Those seed heads will ensure a new crop of grasses for next year.

You wouldn't know there was sunken garden here. Viewed over the wall from the English garden.

In the English garden Rosa 'Felicia' with her beguiling fragrance. Just a glimpse of her through the Sun and Moon archway.

The Philippine violet on the corner of the patio is just starting to bloom.

As is the shrimp plant. A new addition to this same corner.

The planter of bunny ears cactus, Opuntia microdasys, is back on the wall.

Peas are up.

Mexican mint marigold, Tagetes lucida, is just starting to bloom.

Lots of grasses in the herb garden and one big one over by the potting shed. This one is lemon grass, Cymbopogon.

The stock tank pond surrounded by gaillardia, cosmos and narrow leaf zinnias.

A splash of pink from the Japanese anemone. Are their petals supposed to be distorted?

The fall bloomers have definitely enjoyed our recent rains. And there is more to come this weekend.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


I have often mentioned how red was my least favorite color among garden flowers. But there are beginning to be more and more times when I eat my own words, and that time is now. Sometimes red gives that little pop of color which just brings the whole garden to life.

Whereas spring in the front courtyard is mainly about the blues, whites and yellows, fall is mainly about the the varied greens of the grasses and other textured plants. The salvia, Salvia greggii, dormant all summer, spring into life. One of those straggly plants that every year I think of removing until now. Here, straggly looks better than bushy as their arching branches reach over the rocks.

In another corner of this garden the same is true of the firecracker fern. I have seen magnificent displays of this plant when grown in good soil but mine stays rather short and retiring until rain and cooler temperatures bring out the bloom.

Under the shade of the Lady Banks rose, dormant all summer, the shy and retiring Oxblood lilies, Rhodophiala bifida, respond to a good soaking rain by sending up their naked blooms. And what a show they put on this year.

And in the back garden there are the annual strawberry gomphrena, Gomphrena globosa and spider zinnia, Zinnia tenuifolia, and they are red too. Although they usually reseed each year I still save save seeds just in case we have an unusually hard winter.

Another red flowering plant that will be moved into the garage for winter is the Japanes Lantern hibiscus, Hibiscus schizopetalus. It is certainly worthy of a home in the entry garden, if only for its exotic frilled bloom.

Look how deep the color is on the blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella. Cooler nights are responsible for the depth of color. All flowers seem to take on more color during the fall.

Yes. Red is good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Do you like to bring a little gift or two home for your garden when you return from a trip? For me it wouldn't be quite right to come home with nothing. And when we take a road trip then I can fit just about anything in the truck, can't I?
But let's begin with the small things. First my Mother's Day present from Phoenix. Too heavy to send at the time it had to wait for my visit. I'm undecided yet how to display it so for the time being it is keeping company with another prickly pear from Arizona.

At the Denver Botanical Garden I picked up another little bird for the window ledge. He's also metal but staying inside.

In Telluride I spied this little prickly pear wall mount and the green man. The prickly pear is only a couple of inches tall and the green man about four inches. I need to get out the drill  and get busy mounting.

In the gift shop at the Great Basin National Park I bought two things for myself. A book mark and earrings. Of course they remind me of Ladybird Johnson and I think she would have approved of the message on the bookmark. And I shall wear those little darling little earrings when I next give a tour. Imagine, they are made from cereal boxes.

Those were fun little purchases but let's get to the real fun. Finding things at garage and estate sales. Some may be looking for antiques or jewelry, me, I'm looking for garden things. And you may wonder what we are doing going to garage sales and estate sales while on vacation. The fact is that when we are traveling in the trailer we are generally staying put somewhere over the weekend and that's when these events happen. So we went to a few estate sales and garage sales in both Montrose, Co. and Ketchum, Idaho. I like to look on these finds as my providing a good home for something that someone else once loved or used. I like practical things too.
This little cluster of metal objects caught my eye.

After a good brushing and a coat of sealant these ants found their new home on the rocks in my front garden.

The little book ends serve to hold the books I found on the trip. Of course they're all garden related.

A new bird house. I need to add some bark shingles to the roof to protect it. And two little boxes. Just a couple fo dollars each.

And judging by the numbers of hummingbirds in the garden the birds are already on their way south.

And I like to find more practical things too, like this little sharpening stone. It is really handy to carry in my pocket.

And I picked up 2 more polystyrene boxes to make more garden troughs, 2 galvanized buckets for holding plant stakes, a long window box, several protective eye goggles and two large Italian clay planters. Nothing was more than a dollar or two except the clay pots. The fun is in the hunt but now there is work to be done.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


This week at our house it has been a little like the British game of cricket, with all the ins and outs.

When I left on vacation I put a great number of my plants out in the side entrance, under the trees. It was partly in the hope that they would get a little rain during my 6 week absence. Lots of succulents, cactus, orchids, begonias most of which spend much of their life under the shade of the patio, and on the fireplace at the back of the house. That rain never happened so, on my return home, I watered them and carried them all back to their rightful homes. A week or so later with the promise of rain I pulled them all out and now after a week of rain I pulled them back in.

Just about every place which has cover has plants.

Orchids moved into the greenhouse.

 And as usual when we have a lot of rain there are plenty who will take advantage of this kind of weather.

Eventually if the sun ever comes out I'll take them out again and the game of cricket will be over. And in case you don't know anything about cricket here is all you need to know.

 The Game of Cricket                                                    

  • You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.
  • Each man that’s in the side that’s in the field goes out and when he’s out comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.
  • When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.
  • When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out.
  • Sometimes there are men still in and not out.
  • There are men called umpires who stay out all the time, and they decide when the men who are in are out.
  • Depending on the weather and the light, the umpires can also send everybody in, no matter whether they’re in or out.
  • When both sides have been in and all the men are out (including those who are not out), then the game is finished.
  • Attributed to the Marylebone Cricket club
For those who live on the east coast. Thinking of you and those who have gardens. Hope you have moved to safer ground.