The fall season of Central Texas Gardener is here! We sat down with Linda Lehmusvirta, the producer of Central Texas’ best gardening show, who told us which episodes you can’t afford to miss this season.
On Oct. 10, ahead of Texas Native Plant Week from Oct. 18-24, Linda visits with a young couple in Weir who restored eight acres to contain thousands of native wildflowers. “It’s the most gorgeous thing,” Linda said, and it subverts stereotypes that native plants tend to be messy or ugly.
On Oct. 17 for Hispanic Heritage Month, Linda visited Velia Sanchez-Ruiz’s front yard garden with plants for fragrance, pollinators and traditional Mexican recipes and talk to Austin Resource Recovery about tips for composting. Sanchez-Ruiz lives in a small place in South Austin, and she has a beautiful front-yard garden that people love to walk through and stop and talk. She grows traditional Mexican herbs and uses them for recipes and healing.
Linda says you also can’t miss our drought-defiant plants episode, which airs on Halloween. Fall means it’s time to plant trees, and Linda spoke to Mary Irish, who she calls “one of the most knowledgable horticulturists around.” Mary has picked out some native trees that adapt well to both drought and flooding, and they also attract wildlife!
Then, on Nov. 7, we have a special Veteran’s Day episode. We visit the Warrior and Family Support center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, a premiere medical facility for burn patients. A private individual in San Antonio raised the money to create a beautiful activity center and gorgeous garden designed to help the soldiers heal, since some of them are there for years recovering. Linda said it’s a beautiful space for spiritual comfort, but it’s also designed to help soldiers learn to walk again on different surfaces. The garden is fully funded by donations, including volunteer gardeners. Linda talked to the mother of a burn patient who cannot come in the sunlight and cannot regulate his body heat, so the garden has porches and pathways with misters on them so soldiers can be outside but stay cool in the shade. “It’s just the most emotional thing we ever have done,” Linda said. The same episode addresses the mistakes people make when planting trees. “Fall is the time to plant trees,” Linda said, “And if you do something wrong off the bat, five years later, it’s dead and takes forever to get your tree back.” So she sought tips from an arborist who attended Stephen F. Austin’s forestry program and now works at a tree company.
On Nov. 21, Linda addresses the trend of moving food out to the front yard instead of hiding in the back. “Edibles in the garden have become a big deal, so you don’t have to just have this dedicated vegetable space. You can have your native perennials with pollinators, and then you have your lettuce and broccoli interspersed.” Linda talks with Cheryl Beesley from Adelante Landscape, who incorporates edible gardens into beautiful designs. “My philosophy in my garden years ago when we were first facing water restrictions, was that I decided if I had something in my yard, it had to have some kind of benefit. It couldn’t just be pretty. It had to feed wildlife, it had to feed me, it had to provide cover for toads — it had to do something,” Linda said.
Linda is also preparing for future seasons of Central Texas Gardener by taping various locations across Central Texas. One is a normal-sized lot that uses wicking beds instead of traditional watering practice, which Linda said is an old concept, but has become really popular again recently. The man Linda spoke to collects water for the wicking beds from gutter rainwater collection systems, so he almost never has to water. It automatically feeds through the wicking beds. Then, Linda said, she’s talking to a garden designer she found on Instagram who lives in a small condo, so she’s going to show us how to create a beautiful design in a tiny space. You can also look forward to visiting a food forest in South Austin, the Family Support Community Gardens at Fort Hood and Killeen, and an artist inspired by wildflowers.
If you follow KLRU and Central Texas Gardener on social media, you may remember our “summer faves” contest in August. Our winner got to hang out with the CTG hosts and guests, and for episodes airing on Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, Linda will be sharing some of the photos our viewers sent in on social media depicting their favorite summer plants!
“All our viewers are out there with their phones all the time — beautiful flowers, or projects, or whatever — send them on!” Linda said.
Central Texas Gardener is more than a how-to-garden show, Linda says. There are endless resources for new or experienced gardeners on the website: plant lists and garden videos, and the CTG YouTube channel gives you the ability to binge-watch gardens for ideas on what to do for your own!
“We represent so many different styles, because Austin is very eclectic,” Linda said. “We have contemporary, minimalistic garden styles, we have cottage garden styles, we have vegetable gardens, we have the rose people, we have the succulent people, the pond people…we’re trying to represent all the diverse ways that gardeners express themselves.
CTG is not just this little how-to-garden show. It’s an art show. We’re illustrating how people express themselves visually. With plants, with artwork in the garden, by painting the fence a certain way — it’s all a creative experience.
It’s also an environmental awareness show. We can all read the serious stories about the drought, but many people still don’t get it until you see it, but they need to go in their own backyard, and that’s where it hits home. If I spray a certain chemical, I’m going to kill all my bees, and it’s proven that gardeners do most of the environmental damage. Also, with the water issue, just because it’s dry it doesn’t have to be ugly. You just have to plant for the right soil, you have to plant native or adapted plants, and mulch and compost.”
Central Texas Gardener airs Saturdays at noon on KLRU. Visit the CTG website here, and be sure to follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Click here to see a schedule of all upcoming Central Texas Gardener episodes. Happy gardening!