Sunday, October 31, 2010


What could be better for an indoor arrangement, in the fall, than dried seed heads. In this wooden vase I have poppy, garlic chives, nigella(love-in-a-mist) miscanthus, celosia, various grasses and a new addition this year. The dried seed heads of honesty, Lunaria annua. Some know this plant as money plant. It was always in the cottage gardens of England and my grandmother had the dried seed heads in a vase in her hallway.

At a recent Austin garden bloggers' plant and seed swap, Diana, Sharing Nature's Garden, was sharing seeds sent to her from a garden in the northern USA.

The seed heads look rather brown and dirty until you pull away the paper coating to reveal the beautiful silvery money. The seeds lie between the two layers. I plan to sow some of the seeds in the spring but as this plant is a biennial I will have to wait another year for my windfall. That is unless the plant behaves like some other biennials I have grown and flowers the first year.

Friday, October 29, 2010


This is not the only plant to surprise us with an unusual bloom time. The mock orange, Philadelphus coranarius 'Natchez' is blooming for the second time.

Not just one or two blooms but many, with more buds opening every day. Are these next years flowers come early? I certainly hope not.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Once in a while I do something completely out of character. Pull things out or rather give permission for someone to pull things out or cut things back.

We haven't been able to look through the archway, into the English garden, with an uninterrupted view, for years. The problem has been the pomegranate tree. Our lovely, fruitful pomegranate tree, with its yearly abundant harvest. But all was not well.

First of all the space was really too small. Well, it might have sufficed had I pruned it or even thought that it might need pruning. I didn't! I think I am paying the price. For two years branches, hanging over the entrance way, have been tied back with rope. I began to think about pruning it last year when a center branch died back. Unfortunately it might have been a branch that I would have left as it was more upright in its growth. This year, despite the harvest, more branches died back. I noticed the bark peeling away from the trunk and branches.

I didn't think was a good sign. Yes, it may have been a result of no rain all summer followed by 8" overnight, but I didn't think so. And so on Saturday, as I left for the garden bloggers' plant swap, I gave permission for the cutting off of several branches. It's hard for me to go cold turkey and say, "please remove the whole tree," but it may come to that in the end. I know I will replace it and prune it but oh, how I we will miss those pomegranates for the next few years. Or will I have to?

Tree number two is from a seed. Of course it is in the wrong place as plants often are in my garden. It is only 3 years old and this year had 2 small pomegranates. I meant to take it out in the winter, when it was dormant, but failed to do so. I'll bet I can't get it out now, although I know someone who is insisting I take it out and is willing to try! And that 's not all...

In the side entry D removed the flowering senna, all the rocks and graded the soil. All ready for a new planter. We are looking into a metal planter which will follow the lines of the walls and be planted with low maintenance plants. It's definitely the time of year for removing plants and making plans.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Of course Keats did not have Texas in mind when he wrote his poem, To Autumn. Nevertheless, the change of season comes to gardens in the south.

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless"

The pomegranate tree has, once again, blessed us with its bounty.

Berries begin to ripen on the pyracantha. A seedling plant, the seed dropped by a bird in just the perfect place, has been trained into an espalier.

The ornamental chili plant rushes to make new 'pearls' in the hope that they will ripen in the late autumn sun.

The mockingbird has returned. I wonder if he is the same one that was here last winter. He knows there is a bounty of chili pequin, lantana, pyracantha and yaupon berries. Enough for all the neighborhood birds. They won't be allowed to feast here because he patrols from front to back all day, sleeping in the Lady Banks rose at night.

"And still more later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease"

Now is the time for the plants which respond to the shortening of the days. Frost weed, Verbesina virginica, so named because with the first freeze the stems split open exuding sap which becomes a mass of frothy 'ice'.

The mass of tiny flowers reminds me of spring apple blossom. The plant is a magnet to the bees.

The Japanese anemone, Anemone japonica, adds brightness to a shady corner of the English garden.

Mexican marigold mint, Tagetes lucida.

Golden-eye, Viguiera dentata.

Fragrant mistflower, Shrubby boneset, Eupatorium havanesis.

The Philippine violet, Barleria cristata.

"Where are the songs of Spring, Ay where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too"

Monday, October 18, 2010


There is more to taking photos for a catalogue than meets the eye.

Meet the team from Gardener's Supply Co. From left to right Susan Romanoff, creative director, Lizzy Williams, producer and photo stylist, Geoffrey Fosbrook, photographer,Lenny Christopher, photo assistant and Rod Cain, horticultural stylist. They spent the last two days in our garden filming new products for the upcoming catalogue.

Having decided where to place the bench, soon to be available in their catalogue, the work began.

There must be no shadows on the product. Lenny brings out the silk screen and climbs up onto the wall to get into just the right position.

First Susan checks the shot.

Then Lizzie, before the final photos are taken.

When it came to the colorful butterfly chairs the sun was even higher in the sky. The problem was solved with the large silk screen. The wind would swirl from north to south, the screen acting like a huge sail. Strong arms were needed to keep it under control.

And now the sun cast a shadow on the rocks so Susan had to use the small screen. Notice my bird bath has been removed. All they need are my flowers. No agaves, cactus. This has to look like a setting you might find in any garden throughout the country.

Meanwhile Rod was in the temporary nursery on the driveway building planters.

These self watering planters were to be positioned on the steps leading up to the English garden.

Oooh! I love the combination of plants in this one.

Setting up for the bistro shoot.

Can't wait to see their photo.

A different take on the usual blue bottle tree we see in Texas. Can you believe there is a store in Austin which sells empty wine bottles?

And finally this frog couple. I think I can find a place for them in the garden.

This morning all is quiet in the garden. The mockingbird has the garden back to himself. It's time for me to get back out working. What a wonderful day I had. A big thank you to the team for tolerating my hanging around, asking questions etc. You were a delight to have. Thanks to Geoff for giving me some photography hints.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Saturday morning dawned with a beautiful sky heralding a great day for two gardening events.

One of the reasons we were up so early, it being rather difficult to wake up with these dark mornings, was the pending arrival of the team from Gardeners Supply. They were here to shoot their products in our garden. At the same time it was the Garden Conservancy Garden Tour and apart from visiting the gardens ourselves, we were working a shift on the entry table at East Side Patch.

The first members of the crew arrived at 7:45am. After a quick walk around the garden they began unloading the truck onto the driveway. They were going to get a lot of exercise walking all their products around to the back of the house. This was going to be their main shooting location among all the flowers.

Work began on putting together furniture. Then it was time to leave Lizzie, Susan, Geoff, Lenny and Rod to their day in the garden and for us to head to the Patch. The crew was going to be back tomorrow so I would have ample opportunity to see them at work.

Philip and Leah have created a garden in which both adults children and wildlife are at home. I never cease to get a kick out of the antics their children get up to in the garden.

Even the next door's cat, with its amazingly wild cat coat was not phased by the large numbers of people who were enjoying the wonders of the garden. You might think that he was eyeing the fish in the tank/pond.

He was really just finishing a long cool drink of water.

All who visit Philip's blog know what a great eye he has for photography. Some of his photographs on the side wall of the house. I saw one family pick out a lovely photo of a ladybug for their toddler's room.
At 12 we left to tour the rest of the gardens. First stop, just a few miles away at the Utility Research Garden.

David Cater is primarily a grower of both ornamental and edible bamboo as well as palms and agaves. I was interested to know how long it had taken for these A. ovatifolia to grow to this size. I was hoping he would say 100years. He said 5. I am now worried about the ones I have planted in my entry courtyard.

Of course what Airstream owner wouldn't note the 1970s model at the side of the property. We even had a little tour of the place David stays when he is in town. More information on David and his business can be found at

The next garden took up straight from Texas to Louisiana. The house in the style of New Orleans with intricate wrought ironwork, was described as a courtyard garden.

Such a lush setting in this nook alongside the entryway. You would never guess this was hot dry Texas. Monkey grass, ferns and crotons under a airy Japanese maple.

My eye is always drawn to hardscape. I love this kind of pathway.

The next garden has what I would describe as having French elements.

Formal hedging, around a bird bath separates the house from this massive limestone table. One could just imagine alfresco dining under the twinkling lights which adorn the allee.

We stood around this water feature discussing the possibility of adding one of these to our side entry area, which is due for refurbishment. I think Bob at Draco had come up with a similar idea at our Garden a Go Go. It would be perfect but the concern is that it would involve quite a bit of work to create well. Maybe a tank would be easier.
I forgot to take photos of the allee of pleached trees. My feeling is that it has now become a little overwhelming for the size of the garden.

From French informal to French formal. The house itself reminiscent of a French chateau and the gardens to match. Fabulous views of Austin from the patio at the front of the house and also from the swimming pool.

These were the areas that caught my eye as I walked around.

The last garden of the day was that of well known landscape architect James David. This is my 5th visit to the garden.

One of my favorite parts of his garden is by the front door.

I love the way he combines pots and plants of all kinds.

At the back of the house this waterspout which pours into a stone tank and then on down the rill in the center of the massive stone steps to the lower garden.

Clusters of fossils stones on the edge of the pool. You can see that I love stone in all its forms!

One of the new ponds held these water lilies with beautiful striped leaves. Always a joy to visit his garden.
Thank you to all who opened their gardens for us to visit today. We had a great time.
Arriving home we found that shooting was over for the day and that Lizzie, Susan, Geoff, Lenny and Rob were busy packing up for the day. As they walked around the corner of the garage one of them exclaimed"Look at this big lizard!"

I just happened to have my camera to hand and snapped a photo of the Texas alligator lizard. He didn't even mind at all having his photo taken.
Stay tuned for day 2 of the Gardeners' Supply photo shoot. I will be home all day.