From the producer: 6/21/08

Today I feel like the “roving reporter.” This is what grass looks like when you cut it too short in marathon heat.

Mine is hanging in there, since we keep it tall, and let the clippings fall where they may, our free way to fertilize.

Over the years, I’ve whittled away the lawn by 70% or so, but some remains. Since I don’t give it special attention or any more water than the perennials, it’s the lowest maintenance part of my garden. And I really can’t handle any more plants right now! Hardscape or gravel paths come with their own set of duties, while the grass tidily absorbs leaf litter and seeds that fall its way. And you can’t beat it for playing ball with Chester the cocker spaniel!

With these record hot days, I’m glad for the Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ and white plumbago in front. They make me feel cool just to see them. The plumbago will go into full swing in the next few months, when it’s a cloud of white, even in August. Since I moved the blues, they’re just coming on, but soon they’ll mingle with the white to refresh the most scalding of days.

The purple trailing lantana that frames this bed will soon join them in earnest. Beyond, the daylilies are upstaged for the moment, but they don’t mind, since they know they’ll get the starring role next spring.

In the beds leading to former photinia-ville, the Barbados cherry is ready to eat, though typically we sample one and leave the rest for the birds. This evergreen shrub/small tree tolerates drought and just about everything else.

Here are its flowers from a few months ago, free food for the bees.

Long ago, I planted a flame acanthus (Anisacanthus wrightii) in front of it for a double whammy of wildlife food. It flowers best in sun, but I’ve got some now in partial shade that are hanging in. It goes dormant in winter, and in February, I cut it to the ground. Springs back up in a minute. Very drought tolerant and I’ve never seen an unwelcome insect on it. I divided this one from one in back a few years ago and dug it up this spring to remove invasive ruellia from its rootball. Obviously that didn’t slow it down!

You can tell that it’s a flower designed for hummingbirds.

At one front street bed, the desert willow also invites the hummingbirds to join us. I saw the first one on it this week!

This week on CTG, I thank a viewer who introduced me to Martha’s Bloomers in Navasota. What a charming place!

Along with plants, mulch, and soil, they have a tearoom, antiques shop, pottery, gifts, and adopted pets, including Martha and Bloomer. I think this one is Martha. And I had nothing to do with this cat picture! Actually, I thank Sabrina Mayfield from Martha’s for sending them.

Gay Houston, a passionate plant person and clever designer, pulls together enticing combinations that include sedums and other drought-tolerant plants. The full list will be on our web site.

On tour, we visit Roxane Smith and Gary Aitcheson in a soothing, cooling garden they created with backbreaking work. They’re very busy right now, too, organizing a fabulous Garden Conservancy Open Days Tour for October 4, so mark your calendars!

Until next week, Linda

11 Responses to “From the producer: 6/21/08”

  1. This fall and winter were so dry that my grass didn’t really have its usual chance to grow and get tall before the heat set in. I’m glad I live in South Austin where people can let the lawns go brown with fear of retribution. I was just noticing today how many lawns on my street are already brown.

    I’m glad to hear someone else say “I can’t handle any more plants.” I love plants but in this kind of weather just the ones I have seem overwhelming.

    • Linda says:

      Dear MSS! I’m glad to hear someone else say they live in a neighborhood where lawns are allowed to grow brown! That’s mine for sure! What’s really awful is that our director, who lives near McCallum HS, keeps his lawn high–not that high–and he’s gotten TWO notices from the neighborhood to cut his lawn. I hear this all the time, which is why I made it part of the blog. That is AWFUL!

      And on plants, whew, it’s really glad for me to hear that a fellow gardener feels overwhelmed.

  2. Pam/Digging says:

    I haven’t checked my Barbados cherry to see if it has fruited yet. I’ll have to do that.

    My calendar is marked for the Open Days tour in Austin. That’s my birthday, and I’m treating myself to a day of garden decadence.

    • Linda says:

      Pam, what a great way to celebrate your birthday! It will be decadent. I think it’s hilarious that gardeners spend important anniversaries, like birthdays and weddings, doing garden things or getting garden gifts.

      Everybody, mark your calendars for Oct. 18 too, for San Antonio’s first Open Days. Outstanding gardens and I’m so excited!

  3. I’m checking in here for the first time. You have reminded me that I planted a flame acanthus last year but I put it in a shady spot. I’m sure that’s where they had it at the WFC. Anyway, now that you have reminded me I must go look for it and see if it survived the re seeding yellow columbines. I am terrible for putting in 4″ pots and then forgetting where I put them.
    My Powis is doing really well this year too. How does the Barbados cherry taste? I have never tried one.
    Jenny

  4. Linda says:

    Hi, Jenny! Great to hear from you. I think of you and David all the time. I’m glad to know that someone else “loses” plants. Recently I saw a plant I got from the WFC sale and had forgotten all about it! I was told the flame acanthus would take shade but it really blooms better for me with some sun. The Barbados is a little astringent, but we probably sample one when they’re not quite ready. But within a few days, the birds get them (which is why I planted it) so not sure what they’re like when really ready.

  5. sandy leas says:

    I met Sabrina Mayfield last month at First Monday and I bought a rug, a plastic sort of rug for the porch. I want to order another one and have her bring it to First Monday.
    I went to the web at Martha’s Bloomers.com and no matter what I did, i couldn’t get to where I needed to be.
    Please call me so I can describe the rug.
    Thanks. Sandy Leas 903.275.7808
    or sleas72491@aol.com

    • Linda says:

      Hi, Sandy! I will pass on your comment to Sabrina and email you with the phone number in just a minute. The rug sounds great! Lind

  6. Editor says:

    I found your blog on Google. I’ve bookmarked it and will watch out for your next blog post.

  7. Ann Jones says:

    Thank you Central Texas Gardener! Love you!

  8. Vintage Vase says:

    The Barbados cherry looks beautiful, I’d never heard of them before.

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