Friday, June 22, 2012


A flower that seems to bloom year round is the native blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella. It has many faces.

A pale face with just the tips of the ray flowers yellow.

The yellow tips getting smaller until.....

finally they disappear.

The ray flowers are deeper with some fused.

More fused flowers until....

all are fused.

Now returning to its roots. The ray flowers tipped with yellow. Always a joy to anticipate.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I may have lost all the buckeye caterpillars on my snapdragon vine but by golly I have pups coming out of my ears.

I counted 10 new pups under the mother Agave pototorum 'confederate rose' It seems to like life in the hypertufa pot in the herb garden.

This small agave, with its leaf imprinting and burgundy spines, forms a dense a rosette of leaves and is perfect for a specimen plant in a pot. This agave would not be hardy enough to plant in the garden but would be happy to spend the summer in the ground and then be potted up for winter safety. With so many pups I may try some in the ground next year. The others I will share with my gardening friends.

Then yesterday I noticed another little pup. This time on the Agave parryi which I had purchased at the Desert Botanic Garden in Phoenix several years ago and brought home on the plane, fingernails clipped! This is exciting news.

Which made me take a look at the Agave ovatifolia, which I purchased at BSN and about which there was some controversy when I noticed a pup. The whale's tongue agave does not usually pup.

I hadn't looked for a couple of years so I pulled back the lower leaves and sure enough there it was. A long and lanky pup.

Not nearly as handsome as its mum but then give it time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


There is no lawn to mow in our gravelly garden but there are grasses. Not the sweeping vistas of grasses that are sometimes used in garden design but individual clumps scattered throughout.

One of my favorites is the ruby crystal grass, Melinus nerviglumis, with its pink puffs of seed heads It mixes well with the Mexican feather grass, Stipa tenuissima. Melinus maintains its green color throughout the season, flowering several times, whereas feathergrass takes on buff tones after producing its seeds. Despite their propensity to reseed in great numbers they are a valuable asset in the landscape.

In the past I have had little success with the burgundy fountain grass in the ground. This year I decided to grow the plant in a pot where it receives regular water. Success at last.

I can never understand why lemon grass, Cymbopogon, is so expensive to buy in the store. Although not hardy through the winter here it quickly grows from a four inch pot into an enormous plant. It did survive the mild winter last year and I found a much better spot for it to grow. Alongside the potting shed where it is welcome to the sandy gravel below. I think it makes a carefree stand.

Among the more diminutive grasses Festuca glauca, is a favorite and easily grown from seed.

I am on the lookout for more grasses for my garden. I don't mind if they reseed but they must be pretty carefree of their surroundings. Having said that no Miscanthus please. I have one in the sunken garden which I cannot get rid of. We have pulled up the paving to get to the roots but still it comes back. Let me know if you have ideas.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


It isn't often that I can be drawn away from my garden in the morning but the chance to visit a bridge playing friend's ranch near Blanco was enough to do it. Friday we drove out though Dripping Springs, making a quick stop at Vivero Gardens, on the way. We arrived at the entrance to the ranch and this splendid gate. A good sign of things to come. Passing through we drove along the rather rough unpaved road, past an uninhabited house and through another open gate in a high fence to reach their hacienda. After the pleasantries of introductions were over we took a tour of the new patio that J has been working on for some time.

I persuaded the two of them to pose beside the structure which houses their pizza oven. J explained that the free standing oven housed inside was build without any mortar; even the domed roof and lintel! And if you don't care for pizza then move over to the barbecue area on the other side.

There is a fire pit for those chilly Texas evenings!

What a classy outdoor shower this is.

This area uses the Texas limestone with which we are so blessed but where concrete has been poured for walkways they are decorated with impressed patterns of large leaves.

So where do you think this door leads? I would have guessed 'a bathroom'. Were we to get the surprise of our lives.
Now we all know what is under the ground where we live here on the Edward's Plateau. Several hundred feet of solid limestone. We may hack away with a pick axe to make a hole large enough to plant a plant but......

Not many of us dig this deep.

Assured that the roof would not be coming down any time soon we climbed down the steps Looking back you can see there is a room in which appears to be a perfect place to store wine. One wall has been provided with such accommodation.

Our host assures us that there is a large slab of extremely hard limestone shelf overhead! We move further on down the narrow passage way. There is evidence of the many layers of limestone formed over times when the shallow seas came in then receded.

large chunks of geodes protruding from the wall surface.

And then the light at the end of the tunnel.

And we were outside looking back.

Wow! Look at all this work. So this is where the project started. At the top of the tunnel there was a small horizontal slit in the hill. Shining a light in there they could see it was a small cave. That is how it began. The floor was gradually lowered so that walking would be comfortable for J who is rather tall. And let me just add here that they dug this whole structure out by hand. The cave was shallow and went nowhere.
We talked about landscaping above the seating area. I favored native agaves and plants with good solid structure. A mullein was already growing there among small shrubs and trees. The cave lies on the edge of the escarpment, the land dropping hundreds of feet to the valley floor.

We ate lunch on the screened porch. You can see how the house is situated on the top of the escarpment.

A Texas style gargoyle.

The rainwater collection system. One of two tanks.

We left through the side gate having spent a fun day on a Texas Ranch with lots of surprises and a full understanding of why J is known as  'The Cave Man of Blanco'

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The middle of June already!  What is more amazing than that is that flowers are still blooming in my garden as we join Carol of Maydreams for a late spring bloom day. After all, we have been having summer in Texas for weeks on end with very little in the way of rain.

The pink evening primrose, Oenothera missouriensis, is blooming along the pool edge, for the second time this year. I cut it back severely several weeks ago and here it is again. Angel's fishing rod may not grow in this climate but the arching flowers of the gaura are a great substitute.

One favorite from last year is the Gomphrena 'fireworks' In the fall the root had gone so deep that I couldn't pull it out. I just cut it to the ground thinking the root would rot over the winter. Happily the mild winter didn't kill it and here it is back again. Gomphrenas of all varieties are a summer favorite because they just keep on blooming.

Here's the flower, hence the name.

On the other side of the pool more favorites, like the narrow leaf zinnias Zinnia linearis,  line the edge. They come from seeds saved from last year.

By and large this is a self seeding garden and at the far end a beautiful cone flower has seeded in among the stones, its growth curtailed by lack of irrigation.

They would normally grow much taller as the ones above next to the yellow knockout rose.

The chocolate daisy never seems to stop blooming. It is there in the morning but flowers have faded by late afternoon.

Among the flowers that the hummingbirds adore are Dicliptera suberecta, above, and flame acanthus, Anisacanthus quadrifidus, below.

I think it's about time to cut back the lantana, in the sunken garden, once again before it takes over..

Another plant ready for a clipping is the wall germander, Teuchrium chamaedrys. I am gradually re-establishing the plant as a low hedge in the English garden.

Last week we planted a new tree close to where the 5 Spanish oak trees once grew. It will never take the place of those trees but it may eventually offer some shade in the lower garden. It is the native, desert willow, Chilopsis linearis 'bubba' Although they say this is a small tree I have seen some pretty large ones around here. I have put it on a drip system to make sure it makes it through the summer. On the subject of the lost shade in the once Spanish oak garden I planted a new seed today. I talked at dinner about the possibility of doing an overhead arbor in this garden! We really miss the shade we once had and I see the plants in this garden are none too happy.

And who would not fall in love with its pretty orchid-like blooms?

There are lots more blooms but I think I will end here with my 50c pot of plants. They came from the rescue table at Lowes. Each 4" pot was marked down to 10c. All they needed was some TLC.

Have a great bloom day and a great summer!