On tour with the Travis County Master Gardeners

October 11th, 2012 Posted in Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Techniques, Tours, cats, container gardens, fall plants, garden design, garden projects, herbs, lawn replace, master gardeners, native plants, wildflowers

How can you reduce lawn, combine edibles, flowers for wildlife, living spaces, and art?

no lawn edible ornamental front yard
The best ideas come from fellow gardeners! That’s why you won’t want to miss the Travis County Master Gardeners’ “Inside Austin Gardens” tour on October 20. This year highlights hands-on gardeners who tuck in food with their salvias and succulents, like Ann & Robin Matthews, who even take it all out front.

no lawn edible ornamental front garden
They unite their garden with neighbor Donnis Doyle, also on tour.

hot curb strip garden
In back, find out how they got rid of grass in favor of paths, coves, and a labyrinth-style vegetable garden.

labyrinth vegetable garden
See how they screen a view with Hardiboard imprinted with ancient Native American rock art they’ve seen on excursions throughout Texas.

Hardiboard garden screen

On tour, you can also see how Donnis screened her view of a daycare center for a soothing spot to hang out with her neighbors.

galvanized steel patio screen

Here’s a sneak preview with CTG’s video visit.

I love the natural screen the Matthews chose on one side: bay laurel!

bay laurel hedge

Daphne makes bay laurel her Pick of the Week to explain how to grow this Central Texas evergreen as a screen or accent. Why buy expensive bay leaves when you can pluck some of your own?

bay laurel leaf

When I got my bay laurel in a 4” pot, I potted it up as a patio container.  It barely grew (though it’s fine in a pot if you have just a small space). Then, I ran into large bay hedges in long-term gardens. I saw Trisha’s huge one at her Lake Austin Spa garden. So, I stuck mine in the ground to shield a so-so shed. It shot up like a fiend in blasts of hot sunlight (not all day) and very little water.  In 14°, it suffered a little leaf damage, but spring pruning flushed it right back out. The Barbados cherry in front died to the ground, but returned, too.

Barbados cherry bay laurel screen

I just pluck a leaf when I need it for the pot. When I prune to tidy and shape, I bring in some to dry. If you missed Trisha’s segment on how to dry and anchor herbs, and the ones to choose, watch it now!

To preview the other gardens on tour, Tom meets with Travis County Master Gardeners Carolyn Williams and Holly Plotner.

Tom Spencer, Carolyn Williams, Holly Plotner Master Gardeners

Here’s just a tease of the diversity on tour this year!

Stock tank vegetable beds Travis County Master Gardeners

No lawn backyard habitat
Cute garden shed Travis County Master Gardeners
Garden fountains Travis County Master Gardeners

Renee Studebaker isn’t officially a Master Gardener (though she’s a master at it!). If you’ve ever wanted a closer look at her garden, here’s the chance! She’s even going to be serving homemade treats from her harvests.

Renee Studebaker's front yard garden

And find out where Daphne hangs out with a visit to the Texas AgriLife Extension Office demo gardens! She and Augie will be on hand (paw) all day to answer your questions!

Not only will you have a chance to talk with the gardeners to see how they did it and where they got it, each site includes educational talks and plant and book sales.  All this for just $20 or $5 per garden, to support their many free workshops throughout the year. Find out more about upcoming workshops and details of the tour.

Since we all like to recycle, a viewer asks: “Can I spread used kitty litter on the grass or non-edible gardens?” Get Daphne’s answer about why this isn’t a good idea—it’s not what you might think. Telo and Camille Farber already watched this on their iCatfonz to pass along to their moms, sisters Galia (KLRU’s production coordinator) and Naomi.

Galia's cats in sink
In the next few weeks, it’s time to plant wildflower seeds like Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella).

Indian blanket Gaillardia pulchella
Andrea DeLong-Amaya from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center shows how to sow for the best success. Since bluebonnets are tops on the list, she explains how to improve germination the first year.

plant bluebonnet seeds
Note: the inoculant she mentions has become very hard to find, so go with one of her other techniques to start your bluebonnet patch. Trisha sometimes moves bluebonnet plants to a new area (or you can buy transplants) to inoculate the soil, too. I’ve always had great luck without the inoculant.

Happy planting until next week! Linda

  1. 9 Responses to “On tour with the Travis County Master Gardeners”

  2. By Jesus Quiroz on Oct 12, 2012

    Beautiful garden design. There is no feature that I don’t like in the Mathews’ layout. Excellent all around.


    Linda reply on October 12th, 2012 2:36 pm:

    Yes, Jesus, so beautiful and such lovely people too. Hope to see you on the tour!


  3. By Hella on Oct 12, 2012

    Hi Linda,
    I have a huge bay laurel too. I cut off branches every 3 or 4 months and stick them under the sink in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as in the pantry. I have been doing this for years now and I do not have any critters (incl roaches) in the house. Another bonus from this great plant!


    Linda reply on October 12th, 2012 2:35 pm:

    Wow, Helga! I didn’t know that! I’m going to do it immediately. Thank you, Linda


  4. By Karo on Oct 20, 2012

    This tour is about MONEY. Two houses side by side and you have to pay for two gardens and it really wasn’t worth one garden. will NOT do another tour with these so called “master gardeners”.


    Linda reply on October 22nd, 2012 4:01 pm:

    Karo, I hope that you will attend one of the countless free workshops that the Master Gardeners do every month to help educate gardeners. Plus, the incredible amount of time they put into the website with valuable free guides for planting. I’m sorry you were disappointed, but really, it is so not about money: at $5 a garden, that just covers expenses.


  5. By Rebecca Sweet on Oct 22, 2012

    Oh, how I wish I could attend this garden tour – it looks absolutely fantastic!!! Love the pile of manequin legs, too – very funny……


    Linda reply on October 22nd, 2012 4:00 pm:

    You know you’d have a super welcoming committee if you could come–or every come this way! So sorry I missed you in Tucson!


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  2. Oct 18, 2012: My garden isn’t perfect, but it’s looking pretty good — with a little help from my friends and a squirrel named Bud // Renee's new blog

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