Wednesday, November 11, 2009


This past Sunday it was Remembrance Sunday in England. A day on which those who died in the great wars are remembered. Remembrance day or Veterans day as it is know in the US is November 11th and at 11am on this day the country observes two minutes silence to remember those who died in the wars. November 11th at 11am is the moment at which the First World War came to an end. In England the Flanders or corn poppy, Papaver rhoeas, has become the flower synonymous with remembering those who have died for their country.

Corn poppies grow wild in my garden every year. Their seeds brought up from the deep as I work the soil, just like those of the poppies which grow in the fields at Ypres. They were disturbed by the the building of trenches and the artillary attacks.
In 1915, Lt Col. John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Canadian forces, wrote this poem in memory of his friend whom he had buried in May 1915. The poem appeared in the December issue of Punch that year. The poppy has become synonymous with the day and in England the poppy is worn in the buttonhole to remember those who lost their lives in the wars.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

This fall I planted seeds which came from the poppies in those fields, kindly given by Walt Krueger, one of Austin's Master Gardeners.

Let us all remember those who have given their lives that we might be free.

Monday, November 9, 2009


I am so glad our trip to San Antonio was on Saturday. Sunday we woke to an entirely different day.

There was a mist hanging over the garden and it really did feel like the end of our good weather was coming to a close. Dull days are great for taking photos so I went out to take my last photos before I leave.

It would have been a great day for gardening except for the fact that it came on to rain quite heavily and by the end of the day there was an inch of rain in the gauge. I didn't get any gardening done.

Through the archway and past the Philippine violet I could just see a smattering of fall color.

A Virginia creeper is growing up the wall in the English garden. I leave it for its fall color. In front a wax myrtle, probably brought in by a mocking bird, has taken root. I have a feeling it is the southern variety so I'm sure I will have to pull it out soon.

At the same time my eye was drawn to more color and saw an oak tree has started growing in this same raised bed. It will have to come out before the fight to get it out becomes impossible.

I haven't watered for weeks, in fact since we went on stage 3 water restrictions so I am glad for the inch of rain yesterday.

Zucchini are still growing and the last of the tomatoes Juliet, just won't leave my garden. Not my favorite, but at this time of year who can be choosy. I am late with fall planting, which will have to wait until later. I only have beets, pak choi, napa cabbage, radishes, snap peas and rhubarb in the ground- all from seed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


On Saturday a group of Austin bloggers drove down to San Antonio. First stop was Madrone Gardens in San Marcos. I was unaware of this garden until Lee at The Grackle mentioned his visit the previous week.

Owned and operated by Dan Hosage, Madrone is a native plant nursery..... with a difference. You had better know your plants because there are no labels on any of the containers. We spent a some time walking with Dan and then we scattered looking at the various pots picking them up and asking each other "do you know what this is? " It was a bit of a guessing game.

However, most of us managed to find something we just had to have and many of us left with a swamp bay plant. I still have to do research on exactly what I bought.

We continued on our way to the Botanical Gardens in San Antonio.

The gardens gave a very tropical feel on first entering. Lush growth under the large trees.

We all recognized the Cranberry hibiscus, Hibiscus acetosella, we had seen in Eleanor's garden.
In Austin we all need to add some fall color to our gardens and this one would do the trick, either in a pot or in the ground.

Children would certainly delight in seeing the larger than life insects displayed around the garden.

My favorite was the giant spider seen in the East Texas Pineywoods area.

Several theme gardens highlight plants in a particular habitat.

In the Japanese garden, it didn't seem to matter that there was no water in the central feature. The blue river rocks still gave the impression of water.

As ever, the bamboo fencing, which demonstrated several different forms, was magnificent.

In the Garden for the Blind. Low walls made the plantings available for touch.

There are several enclosed exhibit rooms where the climatic conditions are controlled in order to support a number of different habitats.

The exhibit room was filled with exotic leaf forms and orchids.

There was a great deal of interest in this tree from of Euphorbia. I did look at the tag but my memory didn't retain the name. Should have photographed the tag.

It reminded us all of the pointsettia, which is also a Euphorbia.

I loved the combination of plants in this pot. When it comes to pots this olive jar shape is my favorite.

Children had clearly been at work here. A large mural depicts life in different areas of the jungle.

In the Kleberg Desert Pavilion we all spotted the flower on this Huernia. I can see why they named this the Life-saver plant, Huernia confusa.

The Palm and Cycad pavilion.

The Fern Grotto.

Finally the gardens have designed a Water Saver Exhibit. Above is an example of the typical American front garden. Each one of the following gardens gives suggestions on how to design and plant a garden for low water use.

The Spanish Courtyard.

The Cottage Garden

The Manicured Xeriscape.

The Texas Hill Country Garden

The Wildlife Garden

After leaving the Gardens our final stop of the day was at the Antique Rose Emporium, before heading home to Austin.
Thanks Pam for organizing a really great outing. Happy planting garden bloggers.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Today was the start of the big clean up. It's not easy for me to pull out plants when they are still in flower but if I don't make a start soon the alyssum seeds will not have a chance to germinate.

I made a start by removing most of the narrow leaf zinnias that were growing between the pavers in the herb garden, but not before I had collected seed for next year. I took the rest of the plants out onto the septic field where I rubbed them together so the seeds would fall onto the grass. Maybe they will come up there. So far the deer have not eaten the ones growing outside.

I rather like being able to see the pavers again. For now I have left the Mexican mint marigold which seeded there this year. A few weeks ago I went round with a kettle of boiling water, pouring it on the thousands of coreopsis seeds that were beginning to grow. It was very effective.

Copper Canyon daisy, Tagetes lemonii, is the last flower to bloom in my garden. In a haze of fine foliage the small yellow flowers are a magnet for the bees.

The flowers spill over the wall in the vegetable garden and mix with yellow Mexican mint marigold growing below.

The improved Meyer lemons will ripen early this year. The lemons are much smaller than usual, probably because many of the leaves fell off during the heat. I think they need treatment with iron chelate. I see pots of lemon curd on the horizon.

The mangave, Macho mocha, a passalong from Pam at Digging, has established itself very quickly and has put out several new leaves. It shows off its form quite nicely as the leaves drape over the sides of the pot. I am still trying to decide whether to leave it in a pot or put it in the ground.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Maybe there is another yellow rose that does well in Texas. After all there really should be. Even as I child growing up in England we had a little song about the yellow rose of Texas and the man from Laramie who went to David Crocket's to have a cup of tea!!

This rose is a recent introduction. It is one of the Knockout roses, rosa 'radsunny'

The buds open to a clear yellow flower which carries a lemony fragrance. The bush is more upright in growth and not quite so vigorous in growth as the other knockout roses but still carries all those wonderful properties of disease resistance.

The plant weathered our extreme summer temperatures and now that cooler days and nights are here it is putting on quite a show.

The flowers fade to white with pink markings. Yesterday I took several cuttings which I dipped in rooting hormone and stuck in the ground in a sheltered spot. Hopefully they will root over the winter and I will have more "sunnys" in the garden next year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Much as I like fried green tomatoes, a winter without green tomato chutney would be hard to take. This year, as my second planting of tomatoes struggled to make it through the hot summer, I thought there would be little chance of my picking tomatoes in the fall. I managed to pick 4 lbs last week and they went straight into the pot. Here's the recipe from last year's post.

Monday, November 2, 2009


When the rain went away it was replaced by warm fall days as what Texans call a "cold front" passed through. We love those cold fronts and so do the bees and butterflies.

Each day the garden is filled with them fluttering by on the still air.

Here is out new little butterfly, our granddaughter Ananya, in her third week of life. She can't help but learn about butterflies as her room is filled with them.

This beautiful mobile, made by a friend, hangs over her crib. It is exquisite, with birds and butterflies dancing overhead.

On Sunday we all went out to the Dallas Arboretum. The gardens were decked out in fall colors with pumpkins like you have never seen.

The summer plantings have been replaced by fall mums.

The leaves are turning but will never reach the fall intensity seen in northern gardens.
Our grandson, Savar, made friends with the armadillos.

And enjoyed pushing around the pumpkins that were floating in the water.

Children flocked around the pumpkin house which was surrounded by all manner of colored pumpkins. Weren't they all orange at one time? It was a glorious day to be out with the family.