Green roofs, garden in transition, m. laurel flowers for next year

May 13th, 2010 Posted in Uncategorized

My garden’s in transition. Spring flowers have faded or are waning. Summer’s perennials are taking a deep breath for the job ahead to fill blank spaces. Last Sunday, I cleaned up like crazy. Aside from the overgrown mess, this helps fend off snails. They were partying down on all the dense spring growth, including the lambs ears. I hated to cut the spiderworts before they seeded, but at this point, their moisture-laden mess invites snail happy hour. Now that I’ve “closed down the joint,” the snails moved on.

I collected the last of the poppy seeds and pulled out the stalks. A few weeks ago, their hats were about to pop.

poppy seedheads with columbine

Everyday, I watch the hats. When they pop their tops, I cut them off and sprinkle them into containers to dry in the house before I seal them in bags. Like a kid at Halloween, I rejoice at the loot!  But boy, am I glad I don’t do this for a living. By the way, MSS at Zanthan Gardens has poppies that bloom later to extend the poppy season, so I may give those a try next year.

Also, I deadheaded roses, cutting down past a few leaf stems to a leaf axil in the right direction. Bunnies Harvey & Gaby “composted” them.  If I were a good person, I’d also give the roses some fertilizer. But since I’m not, they’re on their own. New Dawn is used to a thrifty diet.

Rose New Dawn Austin Texas

So is Buff Beauty.

Rose Buff Beauty Austin Texas

Here’s the new ‘Senorita Rosalita’ cleome in its pot next to Buff Beauty on the cat cove trellis. I gave it a bangs trim, too. Actually, anything in my path got a haircut. Or pulled out.

Senorita Rosalita cleome with Buff Beauty rose

In the cat cove, Pelargonium sidoides is still busy with blackfoot daisy and winecups.

Pelargonium sidoides with blackfoot daisy and winecup

Every spring, I get questions about mountain laurels not blooming. There are many reasons, which Daphne explained a few weeks ago on CTG, but one is pruning off their flower buds. Now that they’ve leafed out, they’re putting out next year’s flowers. Go see how many flowers you’ll have next year!

Texas mountain laurel flower spike

Unless caterpillars chomp everything to pieces. Like me, they’re on a rampage to cut back everything in their path. The insects are exploding, the good with the “bad.” Fend off the caterpillars you don’t want with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) but don’t go crazy and lose your butterfly larvae too. I’m leaving my bolting parsley to attract swallowtail butterflies to lay their eggs. Bolting lettuce attracts aphids for the ladybugs. I can deal with that mess for a few weeks more.

This week on CTG, we venture to new heights with green roofs. Designer Casey Boyter and architect Lauren Woodward Stanley meet with Tom to illustrate a few designs and explain the spiritual and ecological benefits of green roofs.

Lauren Woodward Stanely green roof Austin Texas

With partner Dylan Seigler, their GRoWERS team wants to bring even pocket-sized green roofs to everyone.

Casey Boyter green roof Austin Texas

On our video tour, visit Casey’s personal “bunkhouse” green roof in Central Austin. Get the story behind her venture into this new technology and how she grows cascading roses, butterfly plants, and even a “lawn” on a tiny space with a big perspective.

Casey Boyter green roof Austin Texas

I thank professional photographer Sandy Carson for both his pictures and the music from his band Iglomat!

Have you ever wondered why some zinnias work great and others just fall over in summer? Trisha has the answer this week, with great fungal-free, no-deadheading choices.

Daphne explains why some bulbs don’t naturalize for us. If you have some special favorites you really want to store over summer, she explains how. Get CTG’s various lists for naturalizing bulbs on our website. By the way, one of my cleanup chores was cutting back browned foliage. As you know, you want to wait until the foliage is brown, so that the naturalizing bulbs can collect fuel for next year. Wait too long, and you’ve got a snail party!

Viewer question I got this week: Why are my squash fruits falling off? And, my tomatoes are tall and healthy but not much fruit. My response was lack of pollination on the squash and too much nitrogen on the tomatoes. But, I’m no expert, so I sent it to the boss, Jo Dwyer from Angel Valley Organic Farm, who added to my dilettante knowledge.

That woman doesn’t sleep!  She returned the answer in seconds on a Sunday night, no less!  “Yes, you’re right about the squash not getting pollinated.  If he has male flowers — the ones on stems, rather than the ones that turn into fruit, obviously — he can take a Q-tip and put a little pollen from the male into the female.  (kind of X-rated, but it works!)  And I think you’re right about the tomatoes, too.  See if he’s been spraying them with fish or anything like that.  Tomatoes don’t necessarily need bees or other insects to pollinate, but they do need some kind of movement like a breeze or a wiggle or two from the gardener every day.  Each flower has both male and female properties.  The pollen just needs a little push to travel down the flower to the female part. Now, if he’s not getting many flowers, though, that’s too much nitrogen for sure.”

All you vegetable gardeners (Jo & I deplore the term “veggie”), can get great tips on Jo’s weekly blog from the farm.

Until next week, Linda

  1. 27 Responses to “Green roofs, garden in transition, m. laurel flowers for next year”

  2. By Judith Tye on May 13, 2010

    How nice to hear that I’m not the only one who despises the term “veggie.” Yuck! And while I’m up, I might mention that if I hear the phrase “Texas tough” just one more time…oh, well, no use making idle threats!


    Linda reply on May 13th, 2010 6:52 pm:

    Oh, sorry, Judy. You’re right. Texas tough is becoming cliche. I avoid “focal point” like the plague. Will add TT to my list!


    Pamela Price reply on May 14th, 2010 8:14 pm:

    I hear “Texas tough” and I think Jim Adler, the lawyer on TV. =)


    Linda reply on May 15th, 2010 3:08 pm:


  3. By Iris/Society Garlic, Austin on May 13, 2010

    Love your blackfoot daisy/winecup combo! I think this is the 2nd or 3rd time I’ve left that same comment, but it’s just great.

    Attended green roof lecture by UT’s School of Architecture a coupla years ago and came away thinking it sounded very expensive and often impractical. So I particularly look forward to your green roof segment for newer info!


    Linda reply on May 13th, 2010 7:11 pm:

    Yes, Iris, I’ve avoided green roofs on CTG because they were so high end/corporate/etc. It’s still not the garden that everyone can do, but Casey & Lauren are bringing it to “regular” folks. Right now, it’s still like solar energy and other techno stuff for people with a bit of money, but I think that Casey & Lauren will change the future.


  4. By mss @ Zanthan Gardens on May 13, 2010

    “Rejoicing at the loot.” That’s exactly how I feel this time of year as I collect seeds from bluebonnets, larkspur, and poppies. Every seed holds my feelings of anticipation for next spring.


    Linda reply on May 14th, 2010 8:13 pm:

    I was thinking of you when I wrote that! I knew you’d be going crazy with your organized seed collecting!


  5. By Pam/Digging on May 13, 2010

    I haven’t had a big problem with snails, but caterpillars are devouring all the flowers on my ‘Senorita Rosalita’ cleomes. Today I handpicked them off and fed them to the goldfish in my pond. Totally organic pest control, and saves on fish food!

    I know Casey and look forward to hearing about her green roof.

    And sorry, I’m sure I use “veggie,” “Texas tough,” and “focal point” all the time. I probably drive some folks nuts by talking about garden rooms too! ;-)


    Linda reply on May 14th, 2010 8:13 pm:

    Uh oh. Will go check my cleomes for caterpillars. But yea for free fish food. For some reason, I haven’t had the caterpillar explosion like usual.

    On words, yea, we all tend to fall into the same banter. Oh well. Sometimes you just have to make your point and fast. But no “veggie!” Makes me think of the Richard Simmons (?)–the health guru. “Ok, girls, after this, we’ll eat our veggies.” Yowsers.


  6. By Jenny on May 14, 2010

    I would think you have to plan ahead to have green roof and then need some good access to reach it. The best one I have seen was in England and it was just completely covered with a thick layer of moss, eons old. Perfect climate for the growth. I have also been to the roof over the Conference Center In Salt Lake Ciry. Acres of prairie. Look forward to the show. Like you cutting back is the gardening of the moment but not today, it’s raining!! Glory be.


  7. By Tom on May 14, 2010

    Linda, like you I’ve got the mid-May blues with nothing big going on. Seems like there should be. Since I’m trying to advance to the bloom-timing level of gardening, I’m thinking maybe Coreopsis (very nice stand at MLK and Airport) or Gaillardia for my mid May answer for next year. Any thoughts any body?


    Linda reply on May 14th, 2010 8:09 pm:

    Well, Tom, the coreopsis and gallardia are good transitions, but not for long. The salvias like Indigo Spires & its various varieties like ‘Mystic Spires’ are picking up the pace for now. This is where I pump in a few annuals like the ‘Coral Nymph’ coccinea I got today.


  8. By noel on May 14, 2010


    love the roof garden, nice and compact…your spring blooms are amazing, thanks for sharing


    Linda reply on May 14th, 2010 8:06 pm:

    Your garden is totally astounding, since it’s mainly plants we can’t have. But I love to see them.


  9. By Cindy, MCOK on May 14, 2010

    Linda, I’m spending a rainy Friday evening catching up on blogs. The same storm system that came through Austin earlier is rumbling through my corner of Katy. I’ve enjoyed catching up on your posts. I’ve done a heckuva lot of yanking of spent plants this week, too.

    Heartleaf Skullcap is a good mid-May bloomer. Don’t buy it … I’ll be happy to send you seeds!


    Linda reply on May 14th, 2010 8:05 pm:

    Hi, Cindy! My heartleaf skullcap is blooming today! And the storm system: so far, 2/10″. Pooh. Hope you get more.


  10. By bangchik on May 15, 2010

    Poppy looks interesting. I am not too sure if it grows in tropical area….


    Linda reply on May 15th, 2010 3:08 pm:

    It would be fun to try. Wish I could send you seeds.


  11. By Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings on May 16, 2010

    Hi Linda,

    My poppies haven’t bloomed yet. Thanks for the links to MSS’s study of poppies on white plates. :) I also watched the episode on green roofs. You stopped by the other day. Want you to know I love CTG. If only my wifi would reach to my bedroom, I would take my laptop back there.~~Dee


    Linda reply on May 16th, 2010 2:59 pm:

    So neat to know you!


  12. By Chris B. on May 17, 2010

    I had never thought of a green roof as adding a spiritual aspect to the scheme of things, but I really like that! Garden, plants, flowers, trees lift ones spirit! There is a green roof being built in Escondido California on a hospital rooftop! How nice to raise the spririts of those who are not well enough to be at home.
    Thank you for sharing that concept, and new way of looking at green roofs!


    Linda reply on May 17th, 2010 4:37 pm:

    I love the idea of the one on a hospital roof! Indeed, very spiritual. Thanks for checking in!


  13. By Cheryl on May 18, 2010

    The poppy photo is beautiful. I think it’s Chicago that made a manditory green-roof policy on all new city buildings…wish we could get that done too!


    Linda reply on May 18th, 2010 7:24 pm:

    That is so interesting about Chicago! Well, Casey & Lauren are certainly doing their part on our end!


  14. By Chuck Melvin on Oct 3, 2011

    We really don’t have a garden yet, just Passion Vines for Gulf Fritillaries and Cassia Trees for Sulfur Butterflies. We hope to expand next year to flowers and vegetables. (We live in Central Florida). Enjoyed reading your blog, looking at the pictures and reading the comments. Thanks.


  15. By nature's own solutions on Feb 6, 2012

    love your rose, and also your garden so amazing..I’m inspired to do that in my own house..Looking forwad for your some others images of your garden.


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