Thursday, December 12, 2013


I ventured out into the garden today for the first time in over 2 weeks. Thanksgiving followed immediately by an injury to my foot, which is very slow to heal, has kept me indoors. Yesterday I got good news from the Orthopedic surgeon. As long as I can find a comfortable shoe to wear I can walk on the foot. UGGs are my friend. I ventured out into the garden today and this is what I found.

Do you know what I think when I see this? Loggerhead shrike, Lanius ludovicianus. That innocent looking but cruel butcher bird who impales his prey on barbed wire and branches.
 But on closer inspection I decided that this was just an unfortunate accident. He leg was impaled by the growing spike of this agave. What was he doing? Jumping from one agave leaf to another? I know its a favorite hang out of anoles. Was he being chased by our resident roadrunner? I'll never know. So sad.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I'm afraid I wasn't among those rushing out to buy Black Friday bargains. While visiting family up in Dallas I just headed out Into The Garden.

After all the frenzy of Thanksgiving; 9 adults, 2 children and a newborn baby under one roof, David and I took the opportunity to head over to this lovely garden store in Dallas. I hadn't been there in years and was so glad to find it still there.

If you are like me then you find it wonderfully uplifting to walk into a nice garden store.

There is usually the sound of water tricking though a disappearing fountain. Here a couple of old crows bob up and down as the water spills from their beaks.

The walls and shelves are filled with all manner of gifts a gardener would delight in opening on Christmas morning.

And you know how much I love clay pots. I love the ones that are made of a slightly different clay and are of a different shape.

Just a feast for the eyes. It didn't take me long to find just what I really needed. David was taking a look at the rain gauges and he spotted the one attached to the metal dragonfly. He had seen this one before at Ronnie's garden a few weeks ago and commented how much he really loved it. Nothing like the seal of approval. It's in the bag!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Crazy Texas weather again. 80s two days ago, 30s today and wet and windy as well. I just ran out into the garden to pick a few things for dinner tonight.

There's baby pak choi, Meyer lemons and rosemary. They are the flavorings for my crock pot chicken dinner.

The seasoned chicken is nestled on a bed of halved lemons, a whole garlic with top sliced off and sprigs of rosemary. Seasoned inside with s/p garlic and lemon; slices of lemon on top and some dried seasoning herbs. Actually this is a mix that came form HEB for bread dipping. It is so good.

Everything is in the pot, lid on and ready to go. I came across this recipe when hunting for a crock pot chicken recipe here. It had rave reviews.
Now we are heading out to walk around the lake. Thermals and rain suits, scarves and gloves.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I didn't really do any bargaining of course.

I didn't have an Agave Victoria-reginae in my garden and I still don't. I thought I was going to when I picked up this, labeled as such, plant at the Austin cactus and succulent show a few years ago. When it started making pups I knew I didn't have the plant I wanted. This is Agave ferdinadi-regis. 
To my mind the king has nothing on the queen. The leaves a have a more open structure and then it has all these attendants! However, he has been there for about 5 years and I suppose that means he will stay. Maybe I'll eventually get my queen.

Then there is the Agave ovatifolia. This was my first one. Notice how the leaves fold over giving an open vase appearance. Then compare with this.

Also sold to me as Agave ovatifolia, but quite different. The leaves are more upright. I would never guess that this was Agave ovatifolia. When it put out a pup I called the nursery where it was grown. They called the seed merchant in Germany who stand by their identification! It certainly has a different form but it is not unloved.
I might also include packets of seeds that don't live up to the the pictures on the cover. Lots of those.
Have you always got what you bargained for?

Friday, November 15, 2013


Winter arrives in Central Texas. Just when I was enjoying the response of the garden to our recent rainfall, following a droughty summer, old Jack Frost points his icy finger at my garden and zaps my most vulnerable plants. Last night the temperature dropped to 27°

Just two days ago I was planning to show you how the Philadelphus virginalis 'Natchez', was back in flower again.

and how pretty the Gomphrena globosa 'little grapes' looked against the sweet potato vine. Now all these vulnerable plants have wilted and burnt. Only the hardiest are still in flower and those that are in warmer places in the garden.
It is a great time to discover microclimates in the garden. We all have them. I have one big microclimate in my garden. Most of the garden will be colder than the surrounding area as a result of our being low down on a hill. But within the garden I have one or two pockets which are more forgiving. So this morning the plumbago was still blooming.

And the Philippine violet, Barleria cristata, which seeded at the edge of the pathway, close by, was unscathed. Unlike its parent around the corner.

The Copper Canyon daisy, Tagetes lemonnii, is always the last of the natives to flower in my garden. Brush past the foliage and you can smell why the deer avoid this plant.

Mexican mint marigold, Tagetes lucida, Survived the cold night.

And of course alyssum. Present throughout every season.

Surprisingly Gaura sp. also continues to bloom.

And it a few places the gomphrena 'fireworks' he narrow foliage seems to make this more hardy than the other gomphrenas.

Texas enjoys wild swings in temperature. This weekend we will have a high of 85° Now I need to protect the plants int he greenhouse, not from frost, but from sunscald!
I hope you will join Carol of Maydreams gardens, this November Bloom Day, to share your bloom day photographs. I shall be checking them out. Thanks Carol.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


With the threat of a freeze tonight we had to get busy yesterday. First the houseplants. Three large plants have spent the summer outside by the front gate where they receive a little shade from the overhead structure. One of these is now a 6' Euphorbia. This plant has been severely mistreated in the past and I put it out thinking it would likely be its last year. Not so. In fact it loved being out there and quickly fattened up and put out new leaves.

It sits in  10 square inch pot and what scrappy soil and rock was in there is now only 8" And yet it is as green and healthy as can be. A testament to the resilience of such plants. All is forgiven it seems and now I want to keep the plant. How to move it.

Let it be known that this is a plant which has to be protected from itsef. Like many euphorbias it will bleed when damaged and those sharp spines on the outer edges of the stem can do more damage to the plant than to me. To prevent such damage I usually pad between the stems to prevent this.
I wish someone could have taken a video of the procedure. It took the two of us and a dolly to move it. The plant is so lanky with an obvious poor root structure that any movement caused the stems to bend. It had to go down two steps, up two steps, down two steps and up two steps to get it to its final resting place for the winter.

It will bear the scars of this move for the rest of its life.

Finally it is inside for the winter and next spring I will be cutting off the tops and replanting to make a new plant. This time I will be more generous with both pot and soil.
Unfortunately the anole who was sheltering in this plant was evicted more than once. From the Euphorbia, to the rubber plant to the fig. I hope he managed to find a new place to hide during tonight's freeze.

Monday, November 11, 2013


                                                                 Went the day well?
                                                                 We died and never knew.
                                                                 But, well or ill,
                                                                 Freedom, we died for you
                                                                                          John Maxwell Edmonds

The Bayeux War Cemetery

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


You probably already know that I am a great repurposer. Before I throw anything away I think about whether I could give it a new use. So, when I saw this little beauty at a garage sale at a bargain $3, it didn't take me long to think about what I could do with it.

In its first life it was a tiki torch. It had a little stainless steel cup in the center and I knew for its second life it was going to become a succulent pot. I proudly showed it to my dinner guests that night. They didn't seem quite so impressed. In fact I think they were speechless! It didn't have the plant so maybe that would have made a difference. Or maybe it is another case of beauty in the eye of the beholder.

You all know their first life.

 In their second life they are pot feet. It helps to keep the ground underneath the pots clean.

The corks are easy to cut to size. For most pots I cut them into 4. Sometimes all I need are thin slivers.

Then stick them to the bottom of the pot. Or just place them underneath the pot.

I have also used them when attaching something to the wall to keep the item off the wall.

But not to forget the rest of the item. At this time of year I also keep the wine bottles. I fill them with water to use in the greenhouse as a passive solar heating. I also fill the one gallon milk jugs. Can you imagine what kind of party they think we have had when I put them out for recycling in the spring.

In their first life they were salsa cups from our weekly trip to Whole Foods for breakfast tacos.
In their second life they are a perfect place to keep seeds.

In their first life they held plants at the Great Outdoors nursery. In their second life they will keep bags of mulch and our firewood stack off the ground off the ground. We arrived just as they were throwing them in the trash.

In its first life it was a towel.

In its second life it is a new wicking mat for my greenhouse tray. The original one had the fuzzy surface removed to line a mouse's nest! I have in the past used strip of towel from pot to gallon jug of water to water plants when away. It works very well.
I recycle lots of other things too. I cut and bend coat hanger wire to make hold downs for the drip irrigation system.
I'm sure you have lots of ideas to recycle items around the home. Do share.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Some must wonder at how Texans just can't stop talking about it when they have rain. We had plenty of rain on Wednesday. Enough to wash the garden away.

This time around we got good warning about how much we might be getting. How glad I am that I decided to pick a spray of the hybrid musk rose Felicia to bring into the house. I always cut this rose back hard in the spring and this year she has grown with long arching stems laden with powder-puff pink, fragrant blooms. Next year I have plans to let her grow as a pillar rose and provide support for her lovely tresses.

In the late afternoon, before the rains came, when I walked out through the front gate I detected the unmistakeable fragrance of another fall bloomer, the white, fragrant mistflower, Ageratina havanensis.

The deer have been nibbling away at the branches resulting in this very late bloom. As an understory bush it produces open airy branches loaded with puff ball blooms. I added two more plants this year positioning them near the oak trees and hopefully not in the deer pathway.
And then came the rains. Throughout the night the rain came down. When it falls on our Edwards plateau land it finds its way though sink holes into voids in the limestone. Then it must find a way out.

On the side of the hill by the road it found a place. It has been gushing out of here all day. It's on its way down to Barton Creek and into the Colorado.

Friday, October 25, 2013


I was surprised....... by flower on the crinum lily, Crinum procerum 'splendens' in my water garden.

I emptied......... the three outside water tanks, filled the rain barrels in the garden and watered all the plants. It's going to rain this weekend!

I watered.... the flowers growing between the pavers in the potager.

I collected.....seeds from the red spider zinnia.

I potted up.......snapdragons and violas from their 6 packs into 4" pots. They will spend a couple of weeks in the greenhouse until they have made new roots, making them easier to transplant.

I noted.......that the wonderful, fragrant Felicia might need a trellis on which to twine next year.

I jumped over...... the narrow leaf zinnias growing in the pathways between the vegetable beds.

I decided........ that the Philippine violet was at the peak of its bloom.

I resolved ..... to  thin the baby pak choi for tomorrow evenings dinner.

I gave.... the Aloe marlothii a new pot.

It is so happy.

I realized....... that it is time to take lots of cuttings to save for next year.

I did a lot of other things too. Like tackling the fire ant problem and weeding and sowing but the fun bit is always just walking around with the camera.
What did you do today?