Friday, October 30, 2009


When Pam, Digging, invited me to go over and see her garden this past Wednesday it was not an opportunity I was about to miss. I know everyone who follows Austin garden blogs has seen the many wonderful photographs she has taken of her new garden over the past year. I was undecided as to whether I should take some myself and in the end I decided, with later regret, not to. Just this one of succulents in a bowl, as we walked out onto the patio. Pam has done wonders with her new garden in such a short time. Her post of before and after photos is a credit to this.
We soon became absorbed in discussing the merits of different plants. Pam has been a test garden for some Proven Winners plants this year and stand out was the cleome, "Senorita rosalita". The agastache which also proved to be a success in her garden were from High Country Gardens, her prize for winning the "picture this" photo contest. It will be interesting to see how these plants do in their second year. I asked where the yellow knockout rose was and it was hiding underneath the long spikes of cleome flowers. This plant certainly has found a good spot to grow.
I got to see the famous Whale's Tongue agave, A. ovatifolia, which has settled in very nicely to its new home. It is a stand out feature plant. I certainly hope the one in question in my garden does turn out to be a Whale's tongue.
Who wouldn't love the new tank she has installed in her garden. I loved the reflection of the overhanging trees on the surface of the water. Unfortunately I was not to see a water lily in bloom as the season is over but her plants have grown with amazing vigor in such a short period of time. Pam has great plans for a walkway around the tank and removal of much of her St Augustine grass. I am quite aware of the work she faces in doing these projects but it will look wonderful when she is finished.
We walked out into the front garden where Pam faces some drainage issues. We had that same problem in our front and have managed to solve it by creating a dry creek. We tried to visualize how this treatment might work in her garden.
We had just planned to go out for lunch afterwards but Lucinda Hutson had invited Pam over to visit her garden and I was to go along with her.

I had been Lucinda's garden many years ago when the Newcomer's garden club arranged a visit. This was long before I had a digital camera or even thought of taking photographs. Lucinda greeted us out in the street and took us into her house. Rather like her garden, her house is a feast for the eyes. Wonderful Mexican crafts fill every nook and cranny in each room.
Lucinda is well know in both gardening and cooking circles. Her book The Herb Garden Cookbook, not only includes tips on growing the herbs and using them in the kitchen but anecdotes of her travels. A colorful and mouthwatering addition to any library. We began our tour of the garden in the front. Mixed in with the traditional planting are the herb plants that Lucinda uses in her cooking. She bent down to pinch of a leaf, crushing it and inviting us to smell herbs and plants I had never even heard of.

Even her roses have culinary names, like "Julia Child", and although not in flower at the time, this unnamed rose caught our eye for its delicate peach and yellow combination.

This ornamental, multi colored pepper literally shouts "fiesta". Lucinda' house and garden are just one big Fiesta. I can just imagine all the fun parties that have been held in her wonderful home and spilling over into her many garden rooms.
Thank you Pam and Lucinda for inviting me to do one of the most fun things to do in the whole world- visiting gardens.
For many more photos of this visit go to Pam's posting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I had no idea that the winners of the photography competition, sponsored by Gardening Gone Wild, were announced today. An email from a fellow blogger alerted me to the fact that I had won a Silver Medal for my pomegranate picture in this month's competition. There were so many wonderful photographs and I feel honored to have been selected. Congratulations to Charlotte, at Life in a Day, who received the Gold Medal. Here are the results and a link to all the photographs in the competition.
I could not have done it without my abundant crop of pomegranates. This year they have been wonderful. It should be no surprise that this tree carries the varietal name 'wonderful' We had such a crop that even after giving many away, David and I spent hours getting out the precious juice, freezing it, drinking it, making pomegranate syrup for margaritas, just eating the seeds and finally making the sorbet pictured above. I have blogged about the crop and photographed it and now I have a silver award to post on my blog, ( not sure yet how to do that) The tree has never been pruned and the time has come to do something about that. Selective pruning will begin in the spring in the hope that the tree will continue to bear fruit through the process. I really wish now that I had been more careful about its care.

Monday, October 26, 2009


What a difference a day makes. I think I said that once before but this time the temperature shot down from the 80s yesterday to the 50s today and the rain gauge says 3.1" of rain have fallen since last night. No gardening today.

Thank goodness I got out yesterday and planted all my bulbs which arrived the previous week. They should settle in nicely over the next few days. I added to my species tulips which were so beautiful last year. HCG had a special 2 for 1 and I can never resist a sale.

I also planted the cactus pads which Zanthan gardens had kindly given me. I hope I am not too late with this project. Last year I potted one up and kept it inside for the winter. Opuntias are pretty tough so I will risk it this year.

I also found this fragrant white mist flower, Eupatorium havanense, was in bloom. It is the first time it has flowered because often the deer browse the leaves before it reaches this stage.
I got down to smell and it does have a fragrance.
On Saturday I managed to identify my mystery flower. It is the native Toothleaf Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata. I have distributed its seed around the outside garden and it is now growing in many places. It is a fall flower.

On Saturday, there was a garage sale going on close to Lindy McGinnis' garden. I bought these two little wall hangings. $1 and 50c. I know I can find a place for them on one of my walls.

These were another find this summer. I think they were probably used for some floral display and were originally some kind of plant with aerial roots which has been sliced across. I thought they would be nice for some little cactus or succulent. At $1 for all three how could I go wrong.

They are now potted up with agaves and succulents.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Saturday couldn't have been a more perfect day for a garden tour. This year the theme of the tour was Sustainable Gardening for Urban Wildlife.

The gardens certainly followed through with the theme. At every garden there were talks on wildlife gardening and tables filled with literature to help gardeners achieve such a garden.
What really stood out for me was how four of the gardeners had transformed their typical suburban front gardens, removing most of their grass and taking their plantings right to the kerb.

This was the scene at Lindy McGinnis' garden, located on a busy residential road.

Many of the gardens were using bull pen wire to create anything from bird baths.......

to trellises.
Walking along the pathways there were points of interest. Here, a small water feature with recycled glass mulch surrounding young barrel cactus.

What a fabulous idea to use an old bath for a water feature.

The main feature in Jessica Winslow's garden was the meditation area. Here, fall asters surround a statue of Buddha.

One of the things I thought was really well done on this tour was the labeling of the plants. I hardly had to ask about an identification and in this garden I identified a common flower that is blooming all over my native garden at the moment. When I saw the label I recognized the name but had never put it together with my yellow daisy. Not only were all the important plants named in every garden but the metal tags were beautifully printed.

On to our third garden, that of one of our garden bloggers, Eleanor Pratt. Eleanor lives on a very busy Austin road and I'm sure many a driver has had his attention turned to her beautiful front garden planting. No death strip here. A stone pathway leads up to the front door and on either side the garden is a feast for the eyes. It took me a while to get into the back garden because aside from chatting about the plants with Eleanor, my bridge partner, Joyce Cooper, who is a master gardener, was working at the garden. We resisted talking about bridge!

Here was another interesting idea for a bird bath.

Eleanor's back garden is shaded by a large live oak tree. It looks like there is going to be an early spring in this bed. I noticed a ground orchid flowering in one bed. It seems to be doing OK there and one of the master gardeners told me that, although not long lived, it will do well in Austin. I saw these growing at a BB store and was really tempted. No one seemed interested in them and they languished there for several weeks. I read what Scott Ogden had to say about this plant and that was enough for me to stay clear. Of course I garden in completely different circumstances and I am sure this plant would not like my rocky soils.

This is the amazing garden of another blogger, Cheryl Goveia. Passers by must delight in all they see here.

Cheryl has used logs all over her garden in unusual ways. Here a huge log is buried in the gravel pathway to form a bridge.

Bottle caps.... hundreds of them, strung together to form jangling ribbons hanging from the trees.

Here's Cheryl, beer in hand, which explains where all those bottle tops came from. Oh, and she is sitting on some more logs.

But this one was my favorite. Cheryl even left the sprouts. This is a garden which delights adults as much as children. We walked around taking in all the whimsical garden ornaments, which enhance her planting.

What gorgeous colors for the little shed.

The garden of Randy Case, who blogs at horselips, is yet another garden where plantings extend all the way to the road. Mostly native and adapted they attract a huge variety of butterflies. The opening photograph on this posting was taken at his garden.

He has a large back garden with wide borders. This gives Randy the opportunity to plant a myriad of "must have, spur of the moment" plants. He admits to this weakness. Don't we all have this! He pointed out this Bow Tie flower, Dalechampia dioiscorefolia, which was climbing a wrought iron pillar.

Randy and Cheryl hunt for yard art together. We couldn't decide what this piece of metal with the fleur de lys might have been in a former life.

But seeing this sign reminded us that it was just about time for a lunch break.

The final garden, the garden of Gail Sapp, was located back on the Edward's Plateau where the soils are thin and rocky. You would not know from the lush plantings. This garden has to be seen from up close to the house because from the street you would get no idea of the dense, healthy plantings.

Another view along the front path showing the Angel's trumpet, Brugmansia.

The back garden was unusual in that it had been fenced off creating a fairly narrow strip of planting, both against the house and the fence. These areas were separated from each other by a strip of St Augustine grass which had been overlaid with mulch for the tour. I had heard comment on the tour about three plants in this garden. The clumping, giant tree bamboo, and it was certainly impressive.

This ornamental pepper I had seen growing at the Dallas Arboretum last fall. I never did find out what it was at the time. It really is a stunning plant.

And this Blue Fan Palm, Bismarkis nobilis, which was tucked up against the wall of the house.

This pretty little rose turned out to be a knockout. It looked like an English dog rose.

This was one plant that had no tag but I would love to know because the colors were spectacular.

The palate of colors in this bed was exemplary.
Travis County Master Gardeners and the Texas Agrilife Extension Service did an outstanding job of putting together this tour for Austin gardeners and garden lovers. We owe them a big thank you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Last evening David and I attended a Community Screenings program of local productions put on by KLRU, our local PBS station. Alerted to the show by Linda Lehmusvirta, who blogs about her garden at Central Texas Gardener, it was an opportunity to visit the set of the TV program which airs every Saturday, as well as get the heads up on local programming.

Local gardeners will recognize that David and I are sitting in the seats normally occupied by the host of the show, Tom Spencer, Soul of the Garden and the guest of the day.

Here is a wider shot of the studio. The table at the front left is where John Dromgoole and Trisha Shirey stand.

Linda is the show's producer and I put her in the hot seat.

I listened intently as she told me all about the gardening program and how it has helped hundreds of Texas gardener's on the way to healthier, organic landscapes with plants that prefer the challenging climate and soils of the Austin area.

Then it was Tom's turn. I questioned him on this succulent plant that seemed to survive the rigors of growing in the windowless studio!!!

Thanks to Tom and Linda for being such great sports.

The studio on the opposite side of the hallway is where they shoot Austin City Limits. This was to be the venue for the evening's program.

Unfortunately the set was not lit, and being no expert with the camera my photograph is not the best. You can barely make out the capital building on the right; the UT tower to the left.

There were presentations and film clips by Evan Smith the editor, and Lynn Boswell, the producer of Texas Monthly Talks. Chet Garner introduced a new program which aired for the first time in early October. Called Daytrippers it is all about places to visit within a short drive of Austin. Then Linda and Tom took the stage to talk about their program, Central Texas Gardener. Thank you KLRU for the opportunity to visit the set and learn more about the local programming.