You bet, I like to buy new plants! Too bad my budget doesn’t tally with my long dream list. Even though I’m certainly doing my part to support local nurseries this spring, last weekend I also did some shopping in my garden. Our creek bank gifted us with native spiderworts before it got razed. Here’s a cheery one greeting Sunday morning as I gathered the tools and wandered my “aisles” for the best deals.
Actually, some shopping was to move plants that needed a little more “aisle” attention. I pumped up a squid agave’s (A. bracteosa) face appeal in a part shade corner of the island bed for a touch of different texture and form. To its left is a Mexican oregano I dramatically pruned to revive it. I’ve left room since a big comeback is on its mind.
I rescued an aster that was being swallowed up by vigorous ‘Helen von Stein’ lamb’s ears. I like to move asters a little earlier than this, but it’s okay to divide them now. With this drought and wind, though, we just have to water transplants frequently.
To get to it, I had to dig up a clump of lamb’s ears. I’d planned to divide some anyway to fill out the den path, so that simply moved up that task! Next weekend, I’ll divide some more for the new front bed.
My sweet dwarf Jerusalem sages (Phlomis lanata) were struggling in front since a shade tree grew up so much last year. In back, I needed a bit of silvery gray in the island bed spot that’s just too hot for lamb’s ears. Perfect fit!
Even though this bed is well-drained after years of compost, leaves, and mulch, I added a few inches of expanded shale to make sure.
In the back bed that I expanded last spring to get rid of dead grass, I moved a crinum out from a clump of daylilies to give it a forefront claim and breathing room.
When I saw all the offsets on the big momma bulb, I filled in that blank spot with a couple to make a little “team crinum.”
Then, ah ha! I decided to add a couple to the new front bed. Do you ever have a garden day like that? You start with a handful of projects and come up with an armload.
I’d been thinking about adding some grasses to my new front bed. I got a good deal on gulf muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) that were simply misplaced in the bed against the house.
In back, I’d also planted an almond verbena (Aloysia virgata) too close to the Mexican plum.
That’s on the list for this weekend, along with a few more moves. Later in March, I’ll mulch to pretty things up.
Over the years, I’ve whittled away grass, because there are so many fun plants out there! I’m keen on bulbs, especially for endearing combinations, like my long-term Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’ and 3-year-old Yucca pallida.
This leucojum (Leucojum aestivum) surprised me by popping up in my Texas sedge (Carex texensis). How cute!
Overhead in back, the Mexican plum carries on the white theme.
Little spring starflowers (Ipheion uniflorum) touch it up with lavender in a spot that was once plain old grass.
Last spring, we tackled one area where grass never had a chance as our path to the front door from the driveway.
Recently, we completed the next step of the picture. Last year, I simply layered newspaper, compost, and mulch around the tree and thought about things. Thanks to very talented help, my little vision became real last week. In January, I’d already moved some Salvia greggiis that needed a sunnier position and added some asters to match the window bed (currently cut back, so not visible). In the next few weeks, I’ll do some “shopping” in my garden to fill it out, along with a few new nursery plants to widen the botanical adventure.
The bottom slope: still thinking about that one. Already, Mexican feather grasses have seeded themselves. It may be a combo of them and more sedges.
Many times, I’ve banished St. Augustine with the newspaper (or cardboard) technique. In evil spots where Bermuda grass showed up, that’s been a task, though I will say that my newspaper technique worked well for me in a few places. An old-fashioned dandelion puller assists when a stray shows back up.
But I’m sure you all have seen something like this! Not in my garden, thank heavens; I’m very cautious about planting spiky ones if there’s even a sniff of Bermuda around.
On tour, Dani & Gary Moss turned an oak wilt disaster into total enchantment with wildlife gardens, a Chicksville chicken coop, and English style conservatory. When they want to add a touch of art, they make it themselves. Gary welds to suit the purpose and Dani catches the light with her stained glass. Here’s a sneak peek, but I know you’ll want to meet them in person on this year’s Austin Funky Chicken Coop tour on March 30!
Now, with this crazy warm weather, it’s tempting to add some things that really need to wait a bit. This is an excellent time to plant almost everything–except warm soil lovers. Daphne explains why soil temperaturemakes a difference.
Firespike (Odontonema strictum) is one perennial that we want to plant after the last freeze date. But it’s Daphne’s pick of the week, since gardeners like to plan ahead!
Like the ones at Dani and Gary’s, and the one I have, firespike is a dramatic addition for shade gardens. Mine didn’t even freeze back this year. In harsh winters, I thought I’d lost it. I kept my patience, and as soon as the soil warmed again, back it came!
Okay, we’ve seen crazy winters before, but this really takes the cake: on the way to work, I spotted this Mexican tithonia blooming against stems blackened by freeze.
This annual is usually toast long before now. But thanks to this weirdo weather, it’s fueling overwintering butterflies who probably wonder, as we are, “What season is this?”
It’s typical to spy the first heirloom “Grandma’s flag” iris about now, also flowering in that drive-by garden that never takes a break.
Nearby is the lavender version. Which is your favorite?
Some of my bulbs are still pushing themselves out of bed, but this narcissus ‘Gigantic Star’ was ready to get up!
My friend Holly’s Paperwhite pass-alongs spiral into an upcoming bouquet.
This is not the first time that my eager beaver Mutabilis arrives in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s painful to cut back roses when they’re blooming, but she’s overdue for a spa day this weekend.
So, what about those pruners, hmm? Really, we don’t want to “carve” our plants with dull pruners. A sharp, clean tool makes the job so much easier. Guess what? Trisha shows us how to do it without getting a degree in tool sharpening! Spoiler: you can even use your kitchen oil spray and a toothbrush to clean off last year’s grunge.
As I venture lightly into spring cleaning, the creative plant spin is upon me. I’ve earmarked a perfect spot to add lots of Black Pearl peppers (Capsicum annuum ‘Black Pearl’) against silvery yuccas. My solitary experiment last year was successful, but UT’s hardy-all-summer group put these annuals on my list for sure.
As Daphne tells us, the fruit is edible, but watch out: as they ripen to red, they rate over 30,000 Scoville units!
Bookmark this one for later planting, since Daphne notes that they can’t go in until night-time temperatures are reliably in the 60s.
Judy Barrett, publisher of Homegrownmagazine, gardener, former nursery owner, and book author, can tell you how weather, gardening philosophy, and plants have changed in the past few years. To tell some of her eye-opening stories from organic gardening to herbs, she joins Tom this week. Get ready to learn and to laugh with Judy’s true homegrown wisdom!
Not only has she been a game changer in the garden, she’s taken it online with Homegrown, my salvation in its print days and now in its new rendition.
In her conversation with Tom, she culls a few secrets from her many books that have also marked my garden path of knowledge. Good grief, Judy’s got it tapped for gardening right here, right now!
Obviously, I love Judy and her husband Bob! They represent all things good as they’ve forged a path of wisdom and wit to guide our footsteps.
You also don’t want to miss Judy’s recipe book and her very first, wonderful book on tomatillos that got me growing them. Find out more!