Thursday, December 23, 2010


We may not have a white Christmas in Texas but the snowy scene here is part of our traditional English Christmas celebration. On Christmas day we will cut into our Christmas cake. Baked from a recipe in Mrs Beeton's Cookery book, and covered with marzipan and royal icing. The British never make jokes about fruit cake. We love every crumb!
Merry Christmas, gardening friends.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Despite the mild fall this year, those few frosty days took their toll and banished summer flowers, leaving garden bones. Fortunately they are not bare bones.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on a Whale's Tongue agave, A. ovatifolia, having been introduced to the plant by Pam at Digging. When we redid the area in the front garden earlier this year I gave it pride of place. It settled in quite nicely surrounded by several grasses of ruby crystals Melinis nerviglumis. Yes, this grass is about as invasive as mexican feather grass, all these plants having reseeded here, but I am starting to prefer it. For one thing it has a more mannerly appearance, staying green throughout the summer with no irrigation. It sends up beautiful pink plumes, particularly in the late fall. Of course, Mexican feather grass will always have a home here too.

In the sunken garden, I am still searching for the perfect plant for the center. I feel like the spot needs something tall but it would have to be a plant that can survive in all weathers. No water in dry times but could cope with lots of water during wet times. This area behaves like a rain garden getting much of the drainage from the surrounding raised areas. This year the purple fountain grass, Pennisetum setaceum, did not fare well during the dry summer. I may have to revert to the regular Miscanthus grass which I know does well here. I am still struggling to remove it from one area of the sunken garden, despite having taken up some of the stones to get at the roots.

This squid agave, A. bracteosa was shrouded all summer long with gomphrena. Now it has the winter spotlight. I removed 4 pups this fall. Best to get them out when they are young.

Heart leaf skull cap, Scutellaria ovata, has taken over the corner of the patio, where once the yellow columbine flowered. It might take over the whole garden if allowed.

Once the spot where a rosemary bush grew, followed by Agave desmettiana, is now a soft leaf yucca, Yucca recurvifolia. I hope it will flower next year.

All the narrow leaf zinnias are gone leaving behind the purple and pink skullcaps. I wonder what will show up in the cracks between the stones next year?

Thursday, December 2, 2010


No self respecting English garden could call itself thus unless it had a hedgehog or two. When I was growing up, in England, we once had a hedgehog visit our garden. We gave him the rather unimaginative name of Prickles. Our dog used to rush around the garden looking for his hiding place and received many a prick on his nose for getting too close. Prickles was pretty flea ridden but he had an appetite for slugs which made him very welcome.
This harmless, nocturnal little creature came alive in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, where he was used as a croquet ball. His natural tendency to curl up into a ball made him the perfect subject. Beatrix Potter treated the hedgehog a little more kindly in Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.
Hedgehogs are closely related to moles and shrews but their fur has been adapted to form sharp spines. They molt every 18 months or so and hibernate in the fall, during which time they can lose up to 1/3 of their body weight.

It seems I have quite a weakness for the little critter. This is my collection of hedgehogs picked up at car boot sales on trips to England. They are my indoor hedgehogs. No, I don't belong to the hedgehog fan club or wear a hedgehog T shirt and I won't be standing with a placard. Nor will I be sending off to a breeder in the US for an exotic pygmy hedgehog. I'll just have to do the slug hunting myself.