Let’s gear up again!

August 27th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

I’ve been buzzing around to launch our fall programs!

Bee on Pride of Barbados Central Texas Gardener

Even though August is a real drag, we’re getting twinges of inspiration, like from ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod (Solidago rugosa).

'Fireworks' goldenrod  Central Texas Gardener

To pump us up again, on September 6, Nathan Unclebach from Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery picks drought-defiant beauties, even for small gardens. Here’s Yucca gloriosa ‘Tiny Star’.

Yucca gloriosa 'Tiny Star' Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery

On tour, designer Russell Womack reduced lawn for a low-water panorama for neighbors and wildlife.

reduced lawn for wildlife plants Central Texas Gardener

wildlife garden for drought central texas gardener

September 13, Dr. William Welch illustrates how Spanish/Mexican designs influenced our garden melting pot. We snagged a “family” portrait with William’s wife Lucille.

William C. Welch, Tom Spencer, Linda Lehmusvirta Central Texas Gardener

On tour, Claire Golden’s mission-styled courtyard renovation reflects Spanish roots through a central aqueduct or rill that cools things down with just a bit of water.

garden rill San Antonio mission-courtyard central texas gardener

The courtyard’s majestic doors are reminiscent of San Antonio’s missions.

garden courtyard mission gate san antonio central texas gardener

Garlic’s a Mexican food staple we can’t live without! Trisha joins Ivy Lara from Dripping Springs Garlic Queens to show how to grow flavorful garlic you’ll never find in stores. Our group shot includes co-founder Jana Kaura.

growing garlic central texas gardener

September 20, Andrea DeLong-Amaya from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center explains what insects really see, which may be quite different from our perspective!

Bordered Patch butterfly on zexmenia central texas gardener

crossvine wildlife vine central texas gardener

On tour, Heather Ginsburg dumped the lawn so her young family could actually see some insects and birds.

Xeric-style no lawn wildlife garden San Antonio central texas gardener

Trisha demonstrates the latest tools to banish those pesky tree seedlings without breaking your back.

Pullerbear and Lawn Jaws sapling removal Central Texas Gardener

Sept 27, Master Gardener Ally Stressing’s got the tips for a tasty fall and winter vegetable garden.

Tom Spencer and Ally Stressing Central Texas Gardener

On tour at Wells Branch Elementary, future gardeners make groundbreaking connections, in Spanish and English.

Wells Branch Elementary School garden Central Texas Gardener

Oct. 4, loveable Red Dirt Ramblings blogger and author Dee Nash jumpstarts new gardeners with hands-on tips from soil and design to pathways and raised beds.

20-30 Something Garden Guide Dee Nash

On tour, young agrarians at Ten Acre Organics turned a suburban yard into a garden of food and aquaponics to build a neighborhood food network.

Ten Acre Organics ATX Central Texas Gardener

Ten Acre Organics backyard aquaponics Central Texas Gardener

Of course, Daphne picks the plants to go for this fall and answers your top questions, like why this prairie verbena is rotting.

prairie verbena rot central texas gardener

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time, Linda

Dirty Birdie Bath Time: 20-second-break

August 20th, 2014 Posted in 20-second-breaks, birds | No Comments »

It’s HOT! Cool down with this cardinal for a 20-second-break!

Fireworks in August!

August 12th, 2014 Posted in drought, groundcovers, habitat, hummingbirds, lawn replace, native plants, succulents | 6 Comments »

First, big deal fireworks for Central Texas Gardener! We’d sure love your vote for our SXSW panel: The Future of Food: Tradition Meets Technology. It takes just a minute to register and vote.  Just click on the button.

Vote to see my session at SXSW 2015!

Our esteemed and lively panel includes: Dustin Fedako from East Side Compost Pedallers, Paige Hill from Urban Patchwork and Michael Hanan from Ten Acre Organics. We all thank you for spreading the good word at SXSW!

Our garden future lies in plants that sustain essential wildlife, including food crop pollinators, while conserving water. This red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) was on the job nurturing an eager hummingbird, until I got in the way!

red yucca hesperaloe parviflora hummingbird plant

On my daily drive to KLRU, I really like watching this front yard evolve over the year with its play on colors and textures, even in drought.

reduced lawn front garden native plants

I’d like to be this tidy. I’m not.

reduced lawn front yard with wildlife plants

We do have something in common: structure with lots of plants for wildlife, like Tecoma stans (Esperanza or Yellow Bells) that attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.

walkway with native plants web

On the home front, I was lucky to find the native Tecoma stans. Note the different leaves from cultivar ‘Gold Star’.

native tecoma stans austin garden

Desert willow is another hummingbird champion with its hot weather fireworks.

desert willow drought small tree for hummingbirds

Even though my crinums don’t sag a bit in heat, so far this mystery one is the only to bloom.

Pink crinum perennial bulb for drought austin garden

Since I don’t fare well with most yuccas, Beschorneria yuccoides ‘Flamingo Glow’ deeply satisfies structural contribution in this somewhat shady spot blasted by late afternoon fireworks.

beschorneria flamingo glow austin drought garden

I’m still exploring its foreground options. For now, purple heart (Tradescantia pallida/Setcreasea pallida) gets the role.

purple heart Tradescantia pallida austin drought garden

Yes, I know it’s common as mud, but who can resist a purple plant that defies drought and attracts insects to its flowers? Perhaps that’s why it’s been such a standby for years, don’t you think? And you don’t need a degree in horticulture to grow it.

purple heart flower drought tough groundcover

A Tradescantia that surprised me is cobweb spiderwort (Tradescantia sillamontana).

cobweb spiderwort drought tough austin garden for wildlife

This experiment has been such a success that I may propagate it for the Beschorneria’s foreground.  It dies back in winter, but not for long! Bonus points: it attracts beneficial insects, syrphid flies (hover fly).

syrphid fly (hover fly) on cobweb spiderwort austin drought garden

Aptenia (also called ice plant) just doesn’t give up, either. When I pulled out the lawn in this area, I stuck in a few cuttings. It hasn’t let up yet and even bloomed in December! A few ‘Fireworks’ gomphrenas are drooping over for a chat.

Aptenia ice plant and fireworks gomphrena drought austin garden

Native frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) is blooming its little head off in this heat, most appreciated by tiny insects.  It’s as cooling as the grass that once lined this strip, but with so many more benefits!

Native frogfruit drought groundcover austin texas

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for helping CTG get to SxSW! Linda

What’s in a Name? Actually, a LOT!

July 30th, 2014 Posted in botany, hummingbirds, native plants, perennials, wildlife | 4 Comments »

Hummingbird bush. Can we even count how many plants have that name? Well, here’s one: Dicliptera suberecta. Indeed, its summer flowers do attract hummingbirds.

dicliptera suberecta with dianella central texas gardener

Dicliptera is also called Mexican honeysuckle. Ah, and SO is Justicia spicigera.

mexican honeysuckle Justicia spicigera flower

Neither are honeysuckle vines; perhaps the name comes from the sweet flower nectar that attracts hummingbirds.

Flame acanthus (in the Acanthus family) is yet another called “hummingbird bush.” Its botanical name, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii, is such a mouthful that it’s no wonder that someone gave it a nickname. And yes, my hummingbirds are all over it.

flame acanthus central texas gardener

flame acanthus flower central texas gardener

My head is starting to hurt, but here’s another “hummingbird bush.” This one is Hamelia patens. And it’s also called “firebush.” I don’t even want to think about how many plants have “fire” in their name.

Hamelia patens hummingbird bush

Honestly, hummingbirds could give a flying fig about what a plant is called. What DOES matter to us is that we can really mess up if we go by common name alone.

In common, though, these “hummingbird bushes” all have orange tubular flowers shaped for you know who. Beyond that, they are quite different.

dicliptera suberecta hummingbird fave central texas gardener

Dicliptera suberecta is an herbaceous plant to about 2’ tall. Wonderful silvery leaves. Sometimes it dies back in super cold winters but always returns. Accepts part sun to part shade. Perfect low-water companion for succulents like my Agave celsii.

Dicliptera suberecta with Agave celsii

Joining it here: Dianella and Salvia coccinea, a friend to butterflies and bees, too.

dicliptera suberecta, dianella, salvia coccinea garden design drought

Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) is another herbaceous plant to about 2-3’ tall. In warm winters or protected microclimates, it can remain evergreen. Usually, it freezes back, but returns. It’s a good one for part shade, though I’ve also seen it in lots of sun. More confusion!

mexican honeysuckle Justicia spicigera Central Texas Gardener

Flame acanthus (Anisacanthus wrightii) is a deciduous shrub about 2-3’ tall and almost as wide. It wants as much sun as you can give it, though in my garden it gets shade part of the day. It freezes back in winter. Cut it all the way to the ground.

flame acanthus, lantana wildlife plants

Hamelia patens is a sun-loving shrub, too, though it can take a little shade. It really performs best in sun. I’ve seen them almost 4’ tall but it’s in the 3’ range. It too, dies back in winter, so cut it straight to the ground. Joining it in Lucinda Hutson’s enchanting garden is Salvia leucantha, commonly called Mexican bush sage, a dynamic duo for wildlife in late summer and fall!

hamelia patens salvia leucantha in Lucinda Hutson's garden

All are drought tough and grow in diverse soils, including my Blackland Prairie heavy soil. Plant a few and you’ll have lots of drop-by customers!

Need a quick CTG capsule? Find me on Pinterist! Follow CTG’s adventures on Pinterist

Until next time, Linda