From the producer: May 24, 2008

May 22nd, 2008 Posted in Uncategorized

“Perhaps more than most, the farmer or the gardener understands that his control is always something of a fiction, depending as it does on luck and weather and much else that is beyond his control. It is only the suspension of disbelief that allows him to plant again every spring, to wade out into the season’s uncertainties . . . (The gardener) eventually learns that every advance in his control of the garden is also an invitation to a new disorder.” Excerpts from Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire.

I read this section just a few hours before thundering hail had us leaping out of bed. This prickly pear cactus left his umbrella in the car.

prickly pear hail damage

From hail and wind to aphids and grasshoppers that fell our work, I figure that gardeners are the biggest risk takers out there. We jump out into the wilds of our yards and take a chance. Our struggles simply renew our dedication to figuring it out: how to make a garden. Just when we think we have a clue, we realize that we’re merely silent partners in the overall corporation.

But in my case on hail night, aside from general cleanup, that cactus and this caladium I showed you last week were the most severe casualties.

caladium hail damage

My car Scooter got the worst of it, but at least a tree didn’t fall on him, or crash through our kitchen, and we didn’t lose power like some of our viewers. His dings, like his headliner punch, will be part of his story.

On taking chances, I took one a few years ago when I couldn’t resist the latest thing, a Salvia greggii ‘Teresa,’ and planted it in the bed alongside Amelia’s fence. There’s really too much shade for her, but she seems happy, and the bees and butterflies are, too.

Salvia greggii 'Teresa'

To the left is a Salvia leucantha, with Hamelia patens (fire bush or hummingbird bush) just now returning from winter dormancy. In a month or so, it will be 4′ tall, and as the heat comes on, flower with distinctive coppery red. They’d both prefer more sun, too; in fact, they’d like as much sun as they can get their hands on. But they’re hanging in there.

Teresa, leucantha, hamelia patens

My little scheme was for a fall ensemble: Teresa’s soft pink and leucantha’s lavender flowers-and by then silvery foliage-against Hamelia’s fire.

hamelia patens flower

Just to the right is Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’.

Salvia 'Indigo Spires'

Originally, I planted it in too much shade under the Chinese pistache (now home to the shrimp plants). I moved it out to the end of that bed, and then it got too much sun. Fed up, I dug it out and was heading for the compost pile. On the way, I saw a blank space underneath the Rusty blackhaw viburnum at the end of Amelia’s fence bed. Since I hate to send anyone to the compost pile, I scrabbled out a hole and threw it in. Bingo! It found its perfect, happy place, where it’s grown like crazy for two years. Indeed, nature is in charge; all we have to do is listen.

This week’s program was inspired by a viewer’s question about hostas. Jeff Yarbrough from The Emerald Garden gives us a tour of shade-lovers, from hostas and hydrangeas to other lovely textures. Knowledgeable plant lovers like Jeff remind me how lucky we are to have our locally based nurseries.

Here’s a hydrangea I saw on the Windsor Park Garden tour. I certainly hope to tape this garden, and get you the scoop on this gardener’s success with this huge stand of them!


On CTG’s tour this week, we visit Brent Henry, a talented new gardener who figured things out pretty darned fast for his shady space (and is planting more, I know, even as I write this!). Not only did he inspire me, I got a good laugh when he commented that CTG gardens “tend to have cats in them.” I kidded him that he should have borrowed one. But really, I assure you, I have NOTHING to do with the cats that show up in our videos!

Speaking of, here’s Cedric supervising dinner.


Seven years ago, he showed up on the patio and decided he was home. Like gardening, there are other life-changing events out of our control, and Cedric is definitely one of them. And, when he figures out how to blog with kitties, he’ll be sending one to Brent very soon (not his own, of course).

I love the pictures you’re sending, too, and your comments, so keep ‘em coming! Linda

  1. 6 Responses to “From the producer: May 24, 2008”

  2. By mss @ Zanthan Gardens on May 22, 2008

    Very timely quote from Michael Pollan. I, too, was feeling all smug and satisfied about having things under control. I was getting the spring annuals tidied up and the beds mulched and neat for summer; then the storm hit, dropping hail and tree limbs.

    As Henry Mitchell said, “Defiance makes gardeners.” Something about the destruction just goads us on to work harder. Sometimes it opens up new possibilities in the garden for us, if we open our heart to the changes.


  3. By Linda on May 24, 2008

    Great to hear from you! I love your blog! And, indeed, I agree that “defiance makes gardeners.” Maybe that’s why we stick with it, even in sticky heat like today.


  4. By Annie in Austin on May 26, 2008

    Just planting a hydrangea can seem pretty defiant when you live in Central Texas! Thanks for the glimpses of your garden, Linda and the way you talk about what goes on there. You really do seem like someone we already know, even if we haven’t actually met. Maybe part of that is because we know your voice from television, so can ‘hear’ you speaking the words in your posts?

    I enjoyed the visit with Brent Henry this week – this gardener really seemed to enjoy not only making his garden but being in it.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


  5. By Linda on May 27, 2008

    Hi, Annie!

    I took a chance on this show with the hostas and hydrangeas, since viewers asked me to do it. Plus, I keep running into these plants everywhere! I couldn’t believe it when I saw a huge stand of hydrangeas in my own east-side neighborhood. Not everyone can do it, but for the folks who can, I hope we helped, or helped other gardeners understand why they don’t work for them. Yowsers, producing a garden show is harder than gardening itself!

    I really appreciate your kindness, since my garden is not fancy at all, and I hope I convey in the blog and on CTG what it’s like to become a new gardener and ask, “What in the heck do I do now?!”

    Brent has become a dear friend since we met. He tells me that he’s done a lot to his garden since our taping last fall. As you well know,once you venture into the garden, that’s where you always end up and nothing remains the same.


  6. By Brent Henry on May 28, 2008

    Thanks for the words. Linda has been EXTREMELY helpful in helping me on becoming a better gardener. She has cost me a few dollars as she gets to see all these cool new plants and I just HAVE to try it. ;-)
    A few years ago I was that person that would say “What in the heck do I do now?!” I had my own “ideas” but putting things all together was somewhat of a mystery. This show and Linda has truly been a godsend for me as I have become quite passionate about gardening now. It’s like a calling for me and I just needed some guidance to get going.



    Linda reply on May 28th, 2008 5:48 pm:

    Brent, that makes my day, my week, my year!


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