Sunday, May 30, 2010


I'm an early riser and if any gardening is to be done it had better be done early. I am no longer fooled by the perfect temperature at 6:30 am. It's going to be another day in the 90s. This morning we both agreed to skip breakfast, work outside for a few hours and enjoy a late morning brunch.
One of the first jobs of the day is checking for eggs on the squash. Today, there were more to remove but today was also the day I was to discover that at some point several eggs must have escaped my notice and had hatched. A small pile of telltale frass at the spot where they had entered the the stem. I took one of my coat hangers and wiggled it around in the hole. Hopefully this would put paid to the larva. So far his year has been my best year for squash.

The sun doesn't reach the front garden until around 12:00pm, so the day lilies are much later to begin their bloom cycle. These groupings have been in the garden for 8 years and would probably benefit from division. Maybe in the fall. They are such reliable and prolific bloomers that I hate to disturb them.

It certainly feels like mid summer but a few things are flowering now that should not be flowering until the fall. Here Eupatorium, fragrant mistflower, shrubby boneset. It is even in a shady location underneath a Texas persimmon.

Mums. I keep trying to get rid of these, pulling them out, but they always return from underground stems.

Mums and California poppies at the same time!
I think that this year is turning out to be one of the craziest garden years I have ever known. Missing from the scene this year are oakleaf rollers, harlequin bugs and leaf footed bugs. Not to mention hispid cotton rats. Instead we have little black beetles on the coreopsis- how dare they attack native plants, and hundreds of furry caterpillars who eat everything. If I thought they were the offspring of the red admirals who appeared in their hundreds a few weeks ago, I was wrong. There will be no fruit on the Meyer lemons which survived the winter, the sago palms will spend a year looking rather bare with only one rosette of new leaves, Mexican feather grass has gone to seed already. New rosettes of rose campion have germinated late but will likely not flower because it will get too hot- it is too hot.
Of course there are the faithful; squash vine borers, hornworms, the little beetles who frequent the purple skullcap; a nice crop of pomegranates; blue flax which has put on a magnificent show; winecups galore; hundreds of blackfoot daisy seedlings. Yes, that's gardening.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I'm going fishing and when I come back I expect you to have removed the cross vine from the gate, so I can paint it, and remove the weeds and bluebonnets, marigold mint, Mexican hats, feather grass, poppies, blanket flowers and a host of other things, growing in my granite path.
No seriously, I know he wants the pathway to be a pathway and he needs to paint the gate and he has gone fishing so this morning bright and early I set about doing those two tasks.

Job done.

Job almost done. Feather grass not removed, yet. I may need it somewhere else. Of course it looks a lot better. The best thing is David will be pleased and I am very pleased that he is bringing back his daily quota of redfish, caught on the fly.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I'm always on the lookout for something I can repurpose and use in the garden. This old metal lampshade, for instance. I happened to be driving by a garage sale at the end of the morning and this item was free. It is an old lampshade with a broken interior support. Perfect to turn upside down and turn into a planter. I filled it with a loose gravel, pumice, fibre, granite mix and a few cactus pads that had been kicking around in 4" pots. Et voilà.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


When each new day begins I have no idea what it will bring. Every day is different. One thing is sure. As soon as breakfast is over I will head out into the garden to take a walk around. This morning, with no sun, I had camera in hand. The pale pink achillea and magenta rose campion have formed a partnership.

A pale lavender larkspur with hot orange cosmos.
and mother nature has paired this dahlberg daisy with a prairie verbena. Perfect.

For the first time in our 10 years horsemint has shown up at the far top of the lot by the road.

No surprise because it is growing everywhere along the roadsides and in the fields. What was so special about this year? Surely it wasn't just the wet winter.
And so my gardening day started on a happy note. Then--

I went into the greenhouse. What's this in my container of pumice? Oh no! It's a nest.

Then the realization hit. Over a week ago the door of the greenhouse, which had been held open by a tin of sand, closed. There had been a strong wind.I saw the trail in the pea gravel as the wind had pushed the tin across, and the door closed. When I saw it I took note but I ignored it. The bird, which must have been sitting on the eggs, must have flown out in a fright as the door began to move, never to return. The door had shut. I felt so sad. I wish the wrens would build nests in the bird houses I provide for them rather than in the teapot hanging in the potting shed or on top of the towel on the peg, in the bike shoes in the garage. It always ends in disaster.

My next 'downer' was to see one of my dahlberg daisies looking very sick. I pulled it out and found root mealy bugs. I had these last year on some blackfoot daisies. Maybe the dry conditions over the last few weeks have led to this. I doused the others in the area with some spinosad. Later, I read diatomaceous earth might help.

I spent he rest of the morning cleaning up the gravel and the perimeter bed in the vegetable garden. I cut the coreopsis and brought them into the house then headed off to the Senior Activity Center to the garden club, where the speaker was to talk on Plant Propagation. Right up my alley.

Monday, May 24, 2010


This week I removed and cut back masses of trailing wine cups. They were taking over the sunken garden having had a self seeding bonanza this last year. You can still see several smaller ones along the edges.

It might also be called trailing wine cup as it has found its way up into the top of the yucca.

This is the 3 year old root that I removed from center spot. I took it along to Garden a Go Go Saturday. Someone took it home and it will be interesting to see if it survives. I decided I needed something taller in here so planted a Pennisetum setaceum "rubrum" In the past I had a miscanthus grass which looked very attractive in the fall and all through the winter, but it left its mark on many places in the garden. Seeders I can take but not this one. Impossible to get to the roots. The wine cup was very happy growing here so I hope the new plant will take to this highly alkaline spot. The rock below which it sits continually degrades and flakes producing pebble sized pieces of rock. I removed a bag full from the top.

As the poppies and larkspur fade the purple cone flowers, Echinacea purpurea, come out to play. They are just the common or garden variety. I have tried to grow some of the others but with little success.

Along the back wall of the pool, which I completely cleaned out this year, here they are again.

Among the cone flowers a day lily blooms. I finally had to do something about the slugs who were enjoying stripping the color layer off the surface. I sprinkling of Sluggo did the trick. Sluggo is non toxic and biodegradable.

Looking back to the house Coreopsis tinctoria fills in among the Salvia leucantha. What will be next to bloom I wonder?

Friday, May 21, 2010


I love the common or garden coreopsis, golden tickseed, Coreopsis tinctoria. Especially when I get some variations on a theme. This year two different flowers have shown up.

These are the kind of surprises I love.

This is the kind of surprise I can do without. Yesterday I discovered my swiss chard eaten to shreds. Overnight!

Here's the culprit. They can move with some speed. I have seen them barreling across the ground.

Or should I say culprits. I no longer have any tolerance for these caterpillars and they are getting the bag treatment. Birds don't want them and nor do I. What are they anyway? I have so many of them. Some eat mint, some eat zucchini leaves, some eat chard.... in fact they eat everything.

Then there is the time spent on bended knee checking for the eggs of the squash vine borer. It's the only way to have squash.

A lucky catch. this morning I caught the culprit, but not before she had been busy laying eggs. A count of 15 this morning.

Tomatoes are looking good this year. I picked the first ripe one this week, which is a record for this garden. It was celebrity in more ways than one.

It looks as though we are going to have a late crop of beets this year. This is the first time I have planted them other than in the fall. Beets and beans in the same bed.


It is prime time for day lilies in Central Texas.

and the daylily parade has begun in my garden too. This was the first to open.

Followed by this one.
If you enjoy day lilies then here is an opportunity which you should not miss. On Sunday, May 23rd, from 10:00-3:00, Rich and Anna Marie Rosen will open their garden to the public to view their collection of day lilies.
Here are the details;

Rich & Anna Marie Rosen Daylily Garden
10903 Catthorn Cove
Austin, TX 78759

From Hwy 183 in NW Austin, take Oak Knoll exit

Turn west (left if coming from Austin) on Oak Knoll
Go 5 blocks, turn right on Fire Oak
Go 1 block, turn left on Oak View
Go 6 blocks, turn left on Buckthorn
Go 1 block, turn left on Manzanita
Go 1 block, turn left on Catthorn Cove
The day lily annual show and flower sale is on Friday from 1-5pm at the Holiday Inn NW.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This week I have been at my most gardening ruthless, and it wasn't easy. I had allowed this area of the herb garden to become over run with larkspur, crowding out the santolina, variegated creeping oregano and dittany of Crete. Yesterday I pulled the lot. The patch looks very bare but I think I may have learnt my lesson. All too often in my garden the bullies take over and crowd out the smaller plants.

This is a herb garden! It looks more like wildflower meadow. Years ago I stopped by the roadside and picked some Coreopsis tinctoria seeds, to sow on the septic field. For some reason they prefer to be in my garden. I do love the way they waft in the breeze but oh how they seed themselves everywhere, except on the septic, of course. The deer eat them.

I left the coreopsis and moved on into the sunken garden, removing vast swaths of trailing wine cups. It really was getting too much. They had seeded in enormous numbers and were taking over. Seeds were already spilling out onto the stones and I made sure I picked up every one. I still have one plant to remove from the center but am waiting for a replacement idea before I do so.

The problem with the red corn poppies is that they greet me every morning. The bees are busy collecting pollen and I can't possibly pull them out. By evening they are gone but it is far to hot to be working outside and they always get to stay another day.

Trying to find low growing plants for my rock garden is not easy. It certainly isn't Englemann's daisy, cut leaf daisy, Engelmannia pinnatifida. Nice plant, great cut flowers, wonderful at hiding the daffodil leaves but too big and starting to spread like wildfire. I cut two of them back and removed the large clump.
All I have to do now is find some well mannered replacements.

Monday, May 17, 2010


This morning I was talking to my neighbor about a coral snake that had been seen in another neighbors garden. As I walked through the gate there was this Eastern Black-Neck Garter snake. They are fairly common around here but this is by far the largest I have seen. A few minutes later I came across another snake, this time in the garage. It was much smaller and possibly a juvenile garter snake. I wonder if it had anything to do with a little frog I saw hopping in the garage the other night. It is one of their favorite foods. Yes, it's that time. Warm enough for snakes and tarantulas and scorpions. I need to make sure I don't leave the door open. Not that closed doors stops the scorpions. I killed one in the living room the other night.

The first flowers opened on the ice plant I started from seed. It is Delosperma floribunda 'stardust' The color isn't quite as vibrant as I had hoped for but it should do well planted in one of the spaces in the sunken garden. The pelleted seeds arrived in a tiny capsule and I had little hope that they would germinate. They did and I have six plants.

I almost missed this group of lace cactus. I was busy removing bluebonnet seeds in the front granite area. It was hiding underneath bluebonnets and zexmania.

The flowers at the top of the now 7' stalk on the Manfreda sileri, finally started to open. Not very interesting I'm afraid.

Now here's a horn worm with a difference. Anyone have an id on him. He's busy eating the Missouri primrose leaves and looks as though he is about to burst. Caterpillars in general seem to be quite drawn to the leaves of the primrose including the pink evening primrose. The furry caterpillars have stripped all the leaves from those plants leaving only the seeds! Smart move on nature's part. I did finally break down and spray the tomatoes with bt. There were just too many hornworms this year.

Finally we watched a young mud dauber emerge from the adobe nest by the kitchen door. He ran up and down the wall drying out his wings and finally made his first attempt at flight. Just a short one, but long enough to know he needed to dry out some more. I think we can finally remove it from the wall.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I can't sleep. The rain is pounding on the roof and thunder crashing all around. It is 4:30am on May Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Although it is going to be a soggy one here in central Texas every gardener is celebrating a good garden soaking. The wine cups and ice plant that have wowed my garden for weeks will likely not be opening today.

Our native Clematis pitcheri will still be open because unlike the more showy open flowered clems. this one has rather waxy petals.

Ever since a packet of Brachyscome or Swan river daisy seeds came in a magazine I have grown this annual. I can't get enough of the tiny purple and white flowers. Open pollinated so I can save the seeds from year to year.

Another year with my gorgeous mounding Wright's skullcap, Scutellaria wrightii. This one has solid purple flowers which is rather unusual.

The more usual is two toned.

Although blanket flowers are blooming everywhere, most are the single petaled variety.

Only one of the fluted form appeared between the pavers in the vegetable garden.

What a surprise I had yesterday when I spotted this pomegranate flower and it is not on my big pomegranate tree, which has been flowering for weeks. This one is on a tree I grew from seed. Of course it is in the wrong place; an impossible place.

It was just in temporary spot and I had every intention of moving it this winter but didn't get round to it.

If I don't do it next winter we will soon be unable to walk down the path.

I think we will be seeing a lot of these this week. Happy Bloom Day.