currently in Austin


From the producer: May 21, 2009

So, a few months ago,  I came up with an idea for this week’s CTG:  “soft sculptures.”  My little plan was to counterpoint the spikier forms we’ve mentioned.  I couldn’t resist putting this one in designer Scott Thurmon’s head, since he’s got a new plant idea for every notion.  With his list, I’m sure he and Tom will get some ideas going for you, too. Remember, Scott’s complete plant list will be on our website. And I’d love to hear what you like to use for soft structural sculpture!

Right now in my garden, I’m not sure there’s any structure, soft or otherwise.  To me, it looks like a big mess. And I mean a mess.  Late spring-cleaning is not as fun as winter’s chores, since mosquitoes and icky sticky weather tax my good intentions before I’m close to being finished.

But last Sunday was a treat!  I took advantage of the cool breeze and the wet ground, perfect for plucking weeds and runaway runners. I barely made a dent in the pruning, but did enough to double the compost pile. Turned with bunny litter, it should heat up nicely.

I feel a little overwhelmed, but am adopting a “do what I can when I can” attitude. Then I’ll put on blinders and jump into kiddie pool, scheduled for “installation” this weekend.

The best thing about this transitional season is what’s showing up, like turks cap.

Turks cap bud

Like usual the past few years, spring meets summer and fall.  In the den bed, I’ve got orange mums with a columbine that finally got busy.

orange mums Columbine canadensis

Although many larkspurs are already in an old kitchen wastebasket until I bag up the seeds, these larkspurs recently arrived in the crape bed.

White larkspur with artemesia 'Powis Castle'
Philippine violet is already flowering, since it barely froze back this year.

Philippine violet

The Dicliptera suberecta is flowering just in time for the first hummingbirds in our garden.  This is one of the zealous growers I’m shearing yet again this season. For me, it does best in a shade/sun mix. In too much shade, it tends to languish. With a little sun, it goes crazy.

Dicliptera suberecta

In the crape bed, I paired my new white ‘Nymph’ Salvia coccineas against it and the Dianella (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’). Wish I’d gotten ‘Coral Nymph’, but I need a few more, so maybe I’ll get those to sprinkle in.

Salvia coccinea, white 'Nymph' with dianella

The coneflowers are getting earnest. This one is supporting a spider web’s strand, sturdy enough to lift a petal.

Purple coneflower

In the crape bed jungle, Pavonia (rock rose) sneaks out from under a coneflower that stretched for light to get past the fervent pink evening primrose.

Pavonia (rock rose) under coneflower

Next fall, when the primrose emerges, I’ll thin them out before they take over. Isn’t that like a gardener?  First, you want more.  The next year, you want less.

I guess that’s why the “internet” was really started-not the current version that you pay to access, but the first one that was free-where gardeners who had too much passed it along to someone else who dearly wanted it.

On passalongs, I want to explore how to propagate my purple umbrella plant (Trachelium caeruleum), now on its second spring.

Purple umbrella plant, Trachelium caeruleum

In the cat cove, just beyond the cottonwood stump, here’s my first Buddleja, ‘Butterfly Heaven’.

Buddleja 'Butterfly Heaven'

Even though I feel like I’ll never catch up with the chores, and I know my garden will never be “fancy,” it’s like a wonderful surprise to walk out every morning and see what it’s doing. Despite floods, drought, hail, and the freeze/heat swings that catch us by surprise, I’m always astounded at how tough plants are. Sometimes I dread the work, but the payback is always worth it.

Until next week, Linda