Saturday, December 29, 2012


On Monday we were invited for Christmas Eve dinner in Round Rock. Isn't it supposed to get colder the further north you go and isn't Round Rock north of Austin? So why do they have these wonderful cactus growing in their garden?

My jaw dropped when I walked into their back garden and I saw these.

These cactus are so happy in its surroundings that they are making pups.

Of course I learnt long ago that my garden is a 'frost bucket' which makes it impossible for me to entertain growing these wonderful cactus unless they are in pots. There they will have to stay.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I'll say one thing about my husband. When I suggest a project he gets right on it and finishes it in no time.

Even though the builder put in this little wall to hide the air conditioners from the street, I didn't like seeing them when I drove into the garage.
Do you remember when all fences had upright slats? I was looking through an old garden book and there wasn't a fence in sight with horizontal slats. Today they are quite common and to my mind much more attractive. Here they play off the side gate which also has horizontal slats. The fence also hides the aerator on our septic equipment. We pondered whether to add a return at the other end but in the end decided not to. It would have spoiled the look from the raised driveway.
A neighbor came by and couldn't understand why we were doing such a project. "Only the deer will see it" he said. I say we because I did do the staining.
Hm!! let me see what else I can think up to keep him busy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I haven't spent very much time out in the garden recently. Far too busy with festivities and it shows! Still, I'm not too busy to notice little things going on with my plants.

The calamondin is starting to bloom again. I have to say that this is the easiest of the citrus to grow. My lemons produce heavily but their leaves frequently look out of sorts. The calamondin just stays as green and fruitful year-round sending out sprays of fragrant blooms several times. So pretty to have in the house in the winter.
Not that I don't appreciate every one of those 100+ Meyer lemons from this year's crop.

I have made up several batches of lemon curd. Great on bread, ice cream or in cakes. I used to watch my grandma make this, in her huge brass pan, on her Aga stove. It was the slow heat and constant stirring that thickened the lemon juice, egg, sugar, butter mixture. I use the same recipe.
3oz butter
8oz sugar
rind and juice of 2 lemons.
I use a double boiler, but for years I just used a bowl over hot water and constant stirring.

I managed to ID this plant which had seeded itself in a pot in a friend's garden. A beautiful light airy plant with pretty white daisies similar to blackfoot daisy. I didn't find it in my wildflower book but when I went to the Wildflower Center resource page and scrolled through the Aster family there I found it. Bidens alba. I was extremely grateful that it showed up in the Bs!
Yes, it is native and sometimes called Common beggar ticks. If you look at the seeds(of course I collected some) you can see why. I had trouble removing them from the tissue I used to save them.

I will be trying them out in the native landscape next year.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I've got plants everywhere.

Three days of frost and all the tender plants came inside. The lemons are all in the potting-shed but this little calamondin, with its pretty orange fruits is small enough and attractive enough to come inside the house.

Am I the only one with agaves inside the house, I wonder! I have 3, from my front garden, potted A. desmettiana inside the house. I think they make a very attractive house plant.

Then there are all the small cactus and succulents which normally spend the summer on the hearth of the outdoor fireplace. Now they are in a sunny window.

The greenhouse is full to bursting. Plenty of A. desmettiana in there too. These are the big ones but when I took 2 out of the ground I removed at least 8 pups. They are also potted up ready for next year.

All the lemon trees are in the potting shed and there is a large agave in the garage.They are inside for the rest of the winter.
Things aren't much different from years ago, before I had a greenhouse, and would grow my pots of seedlings on a big door in the kitchen. I should have built a bigger greenhouse.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I have missed so many bloom days this year, due to absence from the garden, and this was to be a really nice one. We had so much summer-like weather in November and December that the whole garden was blooming crazy. Then......

Three nights of temperatures in the 20s. Does this look like a Christmas tree to you? This poor wilted mother of thousands. I thought it did and I also thought it deserved a star!

The tough soap aloe, on the other hand, shrugged off those freezing nights and the bloom promises to fully open this week.

The gray mallow also survived. How I love this plant and so do the bees. It may be lucky being somewhat sheltered from a north wind but all around are shriveled and blackened so I think this is a tough survivor.

Not looking so happy is the one Celosia spicata I permitted to stay in the garden.

And yet just 10' away, outside the garden and behind the compost bins, a survivor.

Finally the flowering, soon to leave this world, Agave desmettiana, opening its lower flowers and then getting zapped. I'm afraid the others will not open.
How is your garden faring now that winter is upon us in the Northern hemisphere and summer has arrived in the Southern hemisphere? Share your bloom day photographs with the rest of us at Maydreams.

Monday, December 10, 2012


It wasn't just the threat of a freeze tonight which had me removing the succulent Huernia schnederiana from the front gate. I've known for a while that the plant needed a severe hair cut.

I didn't have to do much cutting though because as I transported it to its winter haven lots of branches broke off. They have now been potted up.

But the real reason was Christmas decorating. I cut some branches from the holly, added some raffia and a bow to make a simple arrangement. Now we are all set to welcome guests. I just hope the mockingbird doesn't pinch the berries.

Friday, December 7, 2012


For several years now we have spend at least a few days every summer in Salt Lake City. Anyone who has done genealogical research knows that the Family History Library in Salt Lake has the most incredible collection of microfilm records anywhere in the world. That is what drew us to Salt Lake in the first place. Now a visit to gardens at the mouth of Red Butte Canyon is a must. They truly are spectacular.

The four seasons garden

Set against the stunning backdrop of the Wasatch Range these gardens rank at the top my list of favorite garden to visit. 100 acres of natural, display gardens and walking trails exemplify the garden mission which is to "cultivate the human connection with the beauty of living landscapes" Red Butte is part of the University of Utah and is the largest botanic garden for the testing, display and interpretation of regional horticulture in the Intermountain west.

I would love to see the gardens in the spring when the hillsides are filled with wildflowers but temperatures are always in the 90s and above when we are there. An early morning visit is a must. We take the higher pathway which leads first into the children's garden.

This year they have added a new feature in keeping with the 'green roof' movement.

Under the bridge and into the waterfall garden.

A family enjoys a quiet lunch in the shade.

There are flower pot men.

Birthday cakes .

And a sand box surrounded by critters.

A few years ago they began work on a new rose garden. We have watched it develop into this beautiful arena of color and fragrance. The perfect wedding venue.

The pear arbor

The floral walk

But my favorite gardens of all are the fragrance, medicinal and herb gardens which follow on one from another. There is nothing I like better than to see flowers spilling over onto sandstone pavers.

Their pots are always spectacular. I think the large size really helps to keep the plants healthy in the heat of summer.

I like the way they group the pots to break up large areas of concrete paving. This area s outside the Orangery, which is used as a wedding venue.

We stopped to have our own lunch in the beautiful courtyard setting. Then, I wasn't going to leave without a visit to the shop.

I'm quite sure we will find the need to do a little more research in Salt Lake's Family History Library and another visit to these spectacular gardens.