From the producer: September 26, 2008

September 25th, 2008 Posted in Uncategorized

After trying hard to get a picture of the hummingbird on the patio turk’s cap, Greg is the one who did it.

When the hummers aren’t there, they’re on the Dicliptera suberecta, the flame acanthus, or countless other plants. This wouldn’t be possible if we hadn’t adopted a chemical-free garden or planted for wildlife.  The hummers still like our sugar-water feeder, but it’s just the extra treat, not the main course.

I’ve learned a lot about plants and natural garden techniques from Howard Garrett’s books.  In 1997, when I returned from my mother’s funeral, I really wanted to attend Austin’s first “green” convention (Eco-fair, maybe?) to meet the Dirt Doctor himself. I’d even listened to his radio broadcast while I was in Dallas, preparing the after-funeral lunch. Actually, going to the event–when I was totally exhausted–was a mental escape from that sad week. My desk was piled high with stuff I needed to tend, but my understanding boss said to go.  Nervously, I handed Howard my card and asked if some day he’d be a guest on CTG.

Since then, Howard has driven from Dallas to join Tom for many programs.  Aside from his knowledge, it’s been wonderful to watch his progression and analysis about safe and healthy garden techniques. This week, we meet with him for his latest insight, to celebrate an updated version of his The Organic Manual, my constant reference.

Want to know the benefits of alfalfa?  Or how to make garlic/pepper spray?  Or how to use vinegar in the garden?  This is the book for you.  And every week, you’ll want to check out his blog, forum, library, and much more.

Also this week, Trisha brings new hands-on insight to planting herbs in fall.

And get ready to Choo Choo Ch/Boogie at a backyard garden railroad!  Steve Blackson’s G-Gauge railroad, depicting the early 1900s Hill County, is bound to put you on a new “track” of garden design.

My garden is right on track with Skip’s Plant of the Week:  Philippine violet (Barleria cristata), a plant I met at a fellow gardener’s home years ago. I ran out to get my first one that weekend.

Now, I have three in the crepe bed, though this one’s shorter and skimpier than the others– it had a few issues with last year’s rain, I think.  I thought it had died, but it’s rallying!

They get early morning sun, quickly filtered to brightness, then to shadow the rest of the day. I also have one in the rental bed, but I think it needs more light, so I plan to move it in spring. If you haven’t grown them before, they freeze back in winter, but come out pretty fast when it warms up, for evergreen texture in semi-shade all summer, and flowers in fall.

Also in the crepe bed, the Knock Out rose put on a few flowers.  They’re not huge-it could stand to have more sun, but this is definitely a trouble-free rose to add to your list.

On the back fence, near the newly turned lettuce garden, a sweet group found each other on its own. Well, I planted the flame acanthus from a division, but the zexmenia and eupatorium joined in for my own version of a “wildflower meadow.”  I suppose it looks messy to some eyes, but I jumped for joy when I saw it.  The toadflax is still blooming, too, though not for this picture.

In former photinia-ville, the Barbados cherry responded to the severe haircut I gave it last spring.  I’m planning to move one of the Tecoma stans to that hole at the corner next spring, or even this fall, if I’m brave.  That will look great against the foreground plumbago/lantana, just out of frame.

It’s even blooming again.

Around the corner, in front, the evergreen sumac is about to flower.

Near the front porch, the ‘Pride of Houston’ yaupon holly is getting ready for mockingbirds.

And at the porch itself, meet my latest greatest find!

I was on the way to the grocery store last Saturday when I couldn’t resist three minutes at a neighborhood estate sale.  I nabbed this treasure for $20, and with a wire brush, some spray paint, and an end-of-season-sale cushion, we’ve got the perfect porch hiding place for UPS packages.  We may even sit in it when the cats aren’t there.

Until next week, Linda

  1. 11 Responses to “From the producer: September 26, 2008”

  2. By Jenny on Sep 25, 2008

    Now those are fabulous photographs. I wish I could get close to the hummers. This morning I was out and they were diving around like spitfires then hovered in my face and said “get out of here” What a nerve. However, knowing the journey they have to take and need to stock up I left them to it.
    I have a couple of how comes for you; how come you Philippine violet is flowering and mine isn’t; how do you get good color when you take a photo of your knockout rose. Mine does not turn out the same color as the rose itself. It doesn’t seem to be able to cope with that color.
    Love your chair.


    Linda reply on September 26th, 2008 6:34 pm:

    Hi, Jenny! Well, I had the camera out for DAYS and couldn’t nab the hummer. Wildlife photography is hard. On the Philippines, mine just started getting into action this week. Let’s note in our garden diaries when yours bloom and mine do. Our climates are so different, just in Austin! And, I cannot tell you how hard it’s been to photograph Knock Out; digital cameras seem to have a problem with that color. When I took that one, I figured it was a waste of time, but it came out okay, not great. If film is still available, I want to try with my old manual camera and see what happens. XXOO Linda


  3. By Robin on Sep 26, 2008

    Linda, I’m so jealous of your awesome hummingbird photos! Every time I see one, I run get the camera, and of course I never see them again. Good job, Greg! I have a question for you…I saw you mentioned you might “be brave” and move our Tacoma Stans this fall. I was planning to move two small ones this fall – should I wait? Why is it bad to move them now? Thanks!


    Linda reply on September 28th, 2008 3:28 pm:

    Robin, you just made Greg’s day! Thank you!

    My concern about moving the Tecoma is that it isn’t always cold hardy. With our luck, if I move it, we’ll get the 17 degree days and that could be bad since its roots won’t be established. The safe thing to do is move it in the spring. But if I get impatient, I’ll keep it watered, mulched, and even covered if it gets really cold. If we have a mild winter, it’ll have a head start. Every year we face this gambling game, so if you move your small ones, be prepared to cover them or even lose them if things get really severe. Linda


  4. By Vertie on Sep 27, 2008

    Great pictures of the hummingbirds! I like the story of your first meeting with Howard. I became a gardener after my mother died. I’m not quite sure how I would have made it through that time without it.

    I must find a new spot for my barbados cherry. I think it’s getting too much shade. It hasn’t bloomed since the first spring I had it.


    Linda reply on September 28th, 2008 3:31 pm:

    Hi, Vertie! Greg is loving this!

    I think gardening is super therapy for everything. A little physical labor and creative thought goes a long way when under any kind of stress (like tax day).

    I was told that barbados would take some shade, but they do seem to bloom better with sun. Have you possibly been pruning it at the wrong time? Both of mine really fluffed out this year with mid-winter pruning; don’t know if that’s the right time but it made a big difference. Linda


  5. By Robin on Sep 28, 2008

    Thanks for the info on Esperanza. I think I’ll try to trim my back and move them this fall anyway. I just read last night the Farmer’s Almanac for 2009, and they are predicting “great than normal” amounts of snowfall from the Hill Country to Dallas, with the first one in mid-December. They are also predicting continued drought and higher than average temperatures through next summer. I hated reading that part! Sounds like a continuation of ‘08.


    Linda reply on September 30th, 2008 3:52 pm:

    Thanks, Robin! I hate your weather report, but hey, you didn’t write it. With your encouragement, I’m going to move mine too. We’ll be the great experimenters!


  6. By Brent on Sep 29, 2008

    Hi Linda,

    It’s been a long time. My Philipine violets started blooming this week too. They are awesome and my side yards seem to have just enough sun and shade for them. I like how they grow upright. They make an excellent screening for my AC. I also want to congratulate Greg on the excellent hummer photos. Those are “publishing” quality photos! Excellent job.


    Linda reply on September 30th, 2008 3:53 pm:

    Hi, Brent! I bet your Philippines are beautiful. I love that screening idea for the AC–will have to try that! Thanks for that tip. Greg really appreciates your kind words on his photos, too. Thank you so much, Linda


  7. By Deidre of Images By Deidre wildlife photo on Jul 29, 2010

    What a lot of great info! The Hummingbird photos are fantastic! They are so hard to get! And I appreciate the info on the books that you reference and the plants that you have. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!


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