Sneaking into summer

May 30th, 2013 Posted in Summer plants, Tours, butterflies, compost, grafted vegetables, native plants, passalong plants, perennials, ponds, tomatoes, water features

Now here’s a plant for your list. My native snake herb (Dyschoriste linearis) sneaks in to attract butterflies in its carefree perennial spread in part-time sun.

Snake herb (Dyschoriste linearis)

When Michelle Pfluger from Green ‘n Growing introduced it to us last year, I raced to get a few. They’ve done so well that I got more, and still want more! Graceful foliage all the time with “come find me” flowers in spring through fall.

snake herb flower

Despite “snake” in its name, sadly, it’s not deer resistant.

An old-time summer favorite is Althea (Rose of Sharon), a shrub/small tree. This new color for me is a passalong from friend Bob Beyer.

pink althea flower

From Central Texas Gardener’s Facebook page, some of our friends fondly refer to Althea as the “granny plant.” We all agree that we need a good granny now and then!  I still have some of the lavender ones that came with my 1950s house. It’s a great adaptable accent or deciduous companion in an evergreen natural screen.

Another passalong is from Daphne herself, when she was trialing Peter’s Purple monarda. Hummingbirds and butterflies, here they come! Find out more about this great beebalm.

peter's purple monarda

Daphne’s pick this week is Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’.

orange jubilee tecoma

It’s a cultivar, like the ‘Gold Star’ you may know, derived from our native Tecoma stans, also called yellow bells or esperanza.

orange jubilee tecoma

Here’s a “new” idea that actually is historic: grafted vegetables. John Dromgoole explains why grafted tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are making a sensation, thanks to insect resistance and faster and bigger production.  Actually, by mail, I received three ‘Mighty Matos’ to test.

Mighty Mato in Central Texas

Like the ones that John, Trisha and Travis Extension are growing, mine took off like gangbusters, even though I got a late start. Certainly, I’m going to be looking more into them, and CTG plans a follow-up this summer.

Weeds are always sneaking in—you know how that is! Daphne answers: can they be put in the compost pile? She explains cold and hot composting. Since mine is a cold one, I’ll put in weeds before seeds are mature, since they add nitrogen. Once they look like this, I send them to the city’s hot piles in my leaf bags.

ripe weed seeds not for cold compost piles

Now that the heat is on, let’s all dive into some water—like ponds, streams and fountains! Not only do they cool us off visually and relax us spiritually, the thirsty wildlife will thank you.

This week, Tom meets with Kathy Ragan and Karl Tinsley from the Austin Pond Society to show off a few of the designs on this year’s tour, June 8 & June 9.

Austin Pond Society tour

Featuring 21 ponds in all styles and sizes, you can meet the ponders in person to learn anything you want to know, from technical details to tips on fish and plants.

Austin Pond Society tour

Austin Pond Society tour

Austin Pond Society tour

The evening of June 8, experience some night-time pond magic, too! Get the details and buy tickets in advance.

In Georgetown, Claudia and Ronnie Hubenthal’s ponds and streams started with a serendipitous find.  Here’s a sneak preview.

This Saturday, June 1, check out the fabulous gardens on the NXNA tour: the North Austin Coalition of Neighborhoods. 13 private gardens will be on tour, along with 5 school gardens and a community garden.  On June 2, check out their garden talks and photography exhibit. All proceeds benefit AustinVoices to beautify north Austin. Find out more.

And here’s a huge shout-out to our friends, Rick and Kelle Stults, at Wild Birds Unlimited in the Westwoods Shopping Center, who’ve signed on as local underwriters for CTG. Please tell them thanks the next time you’re in!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

  1. 8 Responses to “Sneaking into summer”

  2. By Jenny on May 30, 2013

    I was just reading about grafting tomatoes in the New York Times. It sounds like a great answer to soils with nematodes. So glad the NG is going to carry them.


    Linda reply on May 31st, 2013 6:48 pm:

    Hi Jenny! Yes, John has had great luck with them. Trisha reports that hers grew twice as fast. Extension reports the same thing! They’re expensive but I’m certainly going to be looking more into them.


  3. By Michael - Plano Prairie Garden on May 30, 2013

    I like the look of snake herb, but I think I will be removing mine soon. I started with one four inch pot about three years ago and now it fills a 15 foot area of my parkway (aka hellstrip) in full sun with minimal supplemental watering. The thing that turned me against it was the discovery last summer that it has exploding seed heads like the dreaded Mexican petunia. Seconds after spraying a little water on the plants, seeds began flying everywhere. Some of those seeds took root as I found a few plants growing outside the parkway this year.

    I love watching CTG online!!! Thanks for producing such a great program.


    Linda reply on May 31st, 2013 6:47 pm:

    Hi, Michael! Thanks for writing! I LOVE your garden and have you on CTG’s blogroll. Wow on the snake herb! Uh oh. And thanks for the compliment–great praise. I grew up just a snake herb seed’s throw from you.


  4. By Joyce Foster on Jun 4, 2013

    I heard John Dramgoole mention the grafted veggies early this year, started looking for them. None available locally and the only mail order source I found was Jung Seed & Nursery in Wisconsin. I ordered 4 plants as well as some red echinicia or cone flower. They warned they could not ship until after April 15th but you will recall the weather was awful in their area. Both coneflowers arrived badly frostbitten one lived and they replaced the other (replacement was frostbitten) then about the end of April I received the tomatoes. Only 2 of the 4 arrived alive. They are doing well and Jung has promised to refund for the two frostbitten ones. Please let us know of some closer grafted veggies available to us, particularly from a closer mail order source for next year.


    Linda reply on June 5th, 2013 3:30 pm:

    Hi, Joyce! The Natural Gardener may still have some grafted vegetables and I’m sure many nurseries will have them next spring. I’ve seen that many seed companies carry the grafted vegetable seeds if you want to start your own next January.


  5. By Linda on Jun 25, 2013

    Thank you, Cindy! Mine are still not performing like Daphne’s, but maybe next year!


  6. By Elegant Ground Water Features on Jul 22, 2013

    The blooms are just lovely! I wish my garden is just as great. I have very limited space so I have very little flowering plants, just added a couple of water features to brighten up the garden.


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