Friday, October 26, 2012


Ah! the first days of Autumn and the promise of cooler days to come. Well, not quite yet for central Texas, at least not in the afternoons. But the mornings are cooler and we are starting to think of the fall garden which is really our best gardening season. I would say that rarely a day goes by that I don't go out into the garden to pick herbs to use in cooking. Now is the time to do a little work in the herb beds.

Herb garden
This is my main herb growing area. I have sage, oregano, thymes of all varieties, garlic and regular chives, basil, lemon balm and our Texas tarragon substitute, Mexican mint marigold, Tagetes lucida. Also a few herbs I don't eat but which are technically herbs, santolina and society garlic. Parsley is missing this year because the plants, being biennial, flowered and died and the new seedlings I put in the ground didn't make it. I just bought a replacement parsley plant.

Silver and lemon thyme
One of the things about herbs is that they, like all the other plants at this time of the year, start to send their nutrients back down into the roots. The oils in the tissue become more concentrated which means they freeze at much lower temperatures. We are fortunate to have most of our herbs throughout the winter. If we cut back now then new leaves will form and they will be full of flavor and will also make better cuttings. I have never been much of a pruner but I do prune my herbs constantly. Oregano gets a constant pruning and keeps flushing out new leaves.

Thai basil 
When basil seeds between the pavers I let it stay. This one I cut back a few weeks ago so that it would bush out. It will die during a freeze but the seeds that fall in the cracks will germinate when the weather warms up in the summer.

Mexican mint marigold.
Mexican mint marigold, Tagetes lucida, dies back in the winter but is sure to return to the garden either
as the old plant or as a re-seeder. This one has also seeded in the pathway and will be trimmed to form a rounded bush. It will stay for a few years until it becomes so large as to overstay its welcome.

Culinary or common sage Salvia officinalis
The sage gets a frequent chopping because recently I have discovered how wonderful the leaves are when fried until they are crisp. Wonderful over cheese ravioli. I prefer to use this common sage but at a pinch will use the Salvia Berggarten, below.

Berggarten sage
This sage makes an attractive plant in the rock garden but it does have a tendency to travel so in the spring I remove the newly formed plant and plant somewhere else.

variegated chile pequin
Last year this variegated form of chile pequin showed up. I am happy to see it appear once again. The mockingbirds are welcome to the chiles. In fact they have been having a feast moving from chile pequin to lantana, to beauty berry. I often wonder if it is the same one that comes back year after year because at night he sets up camp in the Lady Bank's rose in the front garden. He has a tough job policing all the gardens but he does manage to chase the other birds away. He may have met his match the other day. The roadrunner came into the garden. I know he's looking for my lizards!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I don't care what they say you can always find room in a garden for the Knockout roses. Much as I value the antique roses for their wonderful fragrance, Knockout roses just keep on blooming.

This year I added some white ones to the English garden. They have some growing up to do before they can compete with the red ones.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Do you think you might be a little bit obsessed about gardening?  If you do then here is a book you are sure to relate to. Thomas C. Cooper has gathered together thirty well known gardeners and asked them to share the roots of their obsession. Just leave me a comment with your name and I will enter you in a random drawing to win this book. The winner will be announced on November 16th.

In the meantime you have a second chance to win this book, four others and a tote bag, in a drawing that is being sponsored by Timberpress. From now until November 16th 2012, at 5pm Pacific time, residents of the US and Canada can submit their email address to the Timberpress competition site Garden Outside the garden.

Now, don't forget to leave me a comment for your chance to win my giveaway book and then head over to see what else you might win at Garden Outside the Garden.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


It is showtime for the flowers that bloom in the fall.

Here is the big show-stopper Philippine violet, Barleria cristata. What a beauty she is. Responding to the shorter days she is now blooming in all her glory in the English garden.

The Japanese anemone is another fall bloomer which enjoys light to partial shade in the English garden. It spreads easily by underground runners so I always have lots to share.

In a corner of the vegetable garden, Mexican mint marigold, Tagetes lucida, is our Texas substitute for French tarragon.

The flowers on my plumbago, Plumbago auriculata, which grows in morning sun do not appear until later summer.

Texas sunflowers, blanket flowers, globe mallow and alyssum are also enjoying the cooler temperatures.

A flame acanthus has seeded along the pathway. It looks pretty now but I know I will have to take it out next year. There are many more seedlings waiting for a turn.

Alyssum and narrow leaf zinnias, Zinnia linearis.

It is going to be a beautiful clear day and I plan to spend it outside.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


This was not a weekend to be traveling up to and back from Dallas. (The big UT/OU game at the Cotton Bowl). But it was our grand daughter's 3rd birthday and we were going to be celebrating with a trip to the zoo.

Generally speaking I don't really care for zoos. I just don't like to see to see animals pacing up and down in cages or large birds unable to spread their wings. It was fun, however, to get up close and personal with the giraffes. Not that we paid $5 for 6 lettuce leaves to feed them, but plenty did!

It was a little bit of a zoo the next day when David and I went to the Dallas Arboretum to see the Chihuily exhibit. We were warned by our son that it would likely be another zoo and it was! It was a gorgeous morning following a stormy night. I think the whole of Dallas had turned out and with a long queue to get into an already full parking lot we opted to park in the shuttle parking lot. We were glad we did. The shuttle dropped us at an entrance away from the main gate and we were quickly inside the arboretum finding  ourselves near the pumpkin patch area. I immediately forgot why we had come.

What a fun pumpkin patch. Remember the days when pumpkins were all orange and round?

My favorite was cinderella's carriage drawn by two beautiful horses made from dwarf mondo grass and Mexican feather grass.

I really wanted to get in that carriage to have my photograph taken but... it was just a pumpkin pile for me.

Duck gourds in a sea of white pumpkins.

As we left the patch I remembered why we had come. Chihuily.

Dallas Star

Red Reeds

Neodymium & Blue Reeds


Persian Pond

Float boat & Carnival Boat

Mirrored Hornets 

Neodymium Reeds

Aqua Blue and Amber Chandelier

Niijima Floats

Yellow Icicle Tower

Turquoise reeds

Blue Marlins
It was our second opportunity to see a Chihuily exhibit, the first being at the Desert Botanic Garden. We had a wonderful day and a wonderful weekend and now we needed to join all those UT fans on the road back to Austin.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Wherever you live in this world fill your garden with native plants and you will be rewarded with plants that thrive in your particular soil and climatic conditions. From October 14th to October 20th we are celebrating Texas Native Plant Week.
I knew little about gardening with native plants until I came to Texas but now I couldn't imagine a garden without them. As we move into the final few months of the year central Texas is blessed with an array of fall blooming flowers. Let me show you what is blooming in my garden.

False annual broomweed, Amphiachyris dracunculoides. Rose palafox, Palafoxia rosea.

Rock rose, Pavonia lasiopetala.

 coneflower, Echinacea purpurea.

Salvia leucantha

Damianita, Chrysactinia mexicana

Daisyfleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus

Crow poison, Nothoscordum bivalve.

Lantana, Lantana horrida.

Blackfoot daisy, Melampodium leucanthum

Chocolate daisy, Berlandiera lyrata

Wright's skullcap, Scutellaria wrightii.

Blue gilia, Gilia rigidula

Hooker's palafox, Palafoxia hookeriana

Kidneywood, Eysenhardtia texana

Zexmenia, Wedelia texana

Salvia, Salvia greggii


Blanket flowers, Gaillardia pulchella
Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata
We are fortunate to have an abundance of native flowers that are garden worthy. If you would like to learn about the native plants that grow in your area you can contact the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center for lists of native plants in your state. During the week of celebration there will be many activities at the Wildflower Center. If you live in the Austin area, on Monday October 15th from 2-3pm, the Watershed Protection Agency is sponsoring a tree walk though Zilker gardens.