Scootin’ into Summer

May 8th, 2014 Posted in Crinum lilies, Nurseries, Summer plants, annuals, container gardens, cut flowers, herbs, roses | 2 Comments »

Jerusalem sage, like this one at Georgetown’s Monument Cafe, loves that the heat is on.

Jerusalem sage at Monument Cafe garden Georgetown

Not so my Angelica pachycarpa. Its glossy foliage dominated a wide spot under a deciduous tree all winter.

Angelica pacycarpa winter foliage

Soon, its leaves will ornament the compost pile. Already, Mexican honeysuckle and plumbago are eager to fill the blank. Hard freezes didn’t mar her a bit or interrupt the flowery farewell until next year.

Angelica pachycarpa flowers

Perennial white Penstemon cobaea and yellow columbine will stick around for foliar fun after they scatter their seeds. Annual larkspur will spit out the seeds and hope for the best.

Penstemon cobaea Austin garden

Poppies have moved from glamor into propagation (though I love the seed heads, too). For a last view until next spring, CTG’s Picture of the Week goes to Karen Cowan’s “Wizard of Oz” field.

Poppy field Georgetown Texas photo by Karen Cowan

Soon, sweet peas on this gardener’s arbor are but a really sweet memory.

sweet pea trellis austin texas

Roses are headed for dead-heading. This year, Jen Rhodes has roses that are totally a different color and leaf than her original plants. What happened?

Dr. Huey climber root stock rose

Daphne explains how many roses are grafted onto another plant. If a rose produces new canes from the roots, instead of the bud union above ground, you get the original plant.

Climber Dr. Huey is one of the top root stocks. A few years ago, I dug out a problem rose, but didn’t get all the roots. Bingo, here it comes again; this time as Dr. Huey instead of its original yellow.

Dr. Huey climber root stock rose

Summer-lover crinum lily is cranking up after its mushy disgust with winter. I find it’s easiest to shear off the mush with toothed scissors.

crinum Ellen Bousanquet austin texas

Daphne makes this heirloom her Plant of the Week. Even though it likes moist soil, mine perform just fine in drought.

white crinum lily central texas gardener

You can divide them, too.

divide crinum lily bulbs

In fact, I just divided some for a semi-shady area near the patio that gets morning sun.  It’ll be years before they bloom, but I like them for the floppy, glossy foliage as much as the flowers.

Pink crinum lily Central Texas Gardener

Our friend Greg Grant never fertilizes them, but they do like sun. He notes that some, like JC Harvey, hardly bloom at all. Others bloom after each rain.

Rosemary is a super drought tough evergreen that hates too much water. Along with its structural attraction, its bee-loving flowers are edible for us, along with the leaves. Trisha takes us on a tour of the many varieties. If growing in too much shade, she has luck by avoiding mulch.

rosemary varieties Trisha Shirey Central Texas Gardener

Create tall drama with ‘Gorizia’ that gets 5-6. Tuck smaller ones like ‘Blue Lagoon’ into containers or small spots. ‘Huntington Carpet’ charms a border at just 12 – 15” ht. x 30” wide. I loved mine until the 2011 freeze took it out. But it’s worth another try.

Rosemary Huntington Carpet border

As we swing into summer, Marcus Young from Bloomers in Elgin joins Tom to dazzle us with perennial and annual color.

Tom Spencer and Marcus Young from Bloomers Central Texas Gardener

Replace worn out snapdragons with annual heat-lover Angelonia that attracts bees and butterflies to its high performance, low-care flowers in sun. Perfect for containers, too.

angelonia summer annual central texas gardener

Double wow: this compact mounding Joseph’s Coat ‘Gold Threads’. Can’t you just see this tucked into that hot spot or in a vibrant container?

 Joseph's Coat 'Gold Threads'

Plant cosmos from seeds or transplants to bring on our favorite pollinators, too.

Cosmos summer annuals Bloomers

Marcus answers THE top question every year: how to keep hibiscus and bougainvillea blooming? Hibiscus wants high phosphorous.

how fertilize hibiscus

For bougainvillea, give it high nitrogen every two weeks to start and monthly after that. Keep the water on low.

Grow up with Mexican flame vine.

mexican flame vine Central Texas Gardener

He has lots more, but here’s one of his darling container shade combos, designed by his daughter: Begonia, caladium, foxtail fern, torenia and up there in the left corner, pink Brazilian plume flower (Justicia carnea).

Brazilian plume flower shade container

On tour, meet another family operation at Cuts of Color Flower Farm in Weimar. Rita Anders has switched seasons to guarantee fresh cut flowers and custom-made bouquets all summer, including weddings and special occasions like Mother’s Day.

Rita Anders Cuts of Color Flower Farm

Sunflowers are just one of the few in her fresh-cut bouquets.

Sunflower Cuts of Color Flower Farm

She grows lots of succulents, too, that blend in beautifully with seasonal picks.

succulent and flower arrangement Cuts of Color Flower Farm

Watch her story now!

Thanks for stopping in! Next week, see how to keep your soil alive in drought and join us for our tour of the Texas Quilt Museum. Linda

Express Yourself + Pond from Swimming Pool

May 1st, 2014 Posted in Vines, bees, garden art, garden structure, habitat, house plants, plant propagation, ponds, water features, wildlife | 6 Comments »

Like the paint and furniture we pick inside, gardens are snapshots of ourselves. I like bold surprises, so am thrilled that Amaryllis ‘San Antonio Rose’ joined the bulb parade this week.

Amaryllis 'San Antonio Rose' Austin garden

I wish I were indeed bold enough to paint my house the color of passalong Byzantine gladiolus.

byzantine gladiolus austin garden

I was surprised when this winecup turned out white. I didn’t plan this scene with pink evening primrose, but I sure appreciate it.

White winecup with pink evening primrose austin garden

My latest find is a little picture in a pot: ‘Little Pickles’ (Othonna capensis), a succulent from South Africa. I mixed decomposed granite into loose potting soil for a container that won’t need much water this summer. Grower Tom Peace confirms cold hardiness to 0°.

‘Little Pickles’ (Othonna capensis) succulent

Every fall, I get emails asking about the vibrant coral pink flowers trailing over fences and climbing skyward on any available host: Queen’s wreath/Coral vine (Antigonon leptopus).

Queen's Wreath Coral vine on Austin fence

Queen's Wreath vine on windmill Antique Rose Emporium

This week, Daphne explains how to grow this perennial vine (though usually winter dormant) for traffic-stopping flowers in late summer through fall. It’s a traffic jam for bees and butterflies, too.

Bee on Queen's Wreath vine austin texas

And I positively adore this little frame at Paco’s Tacos.

Queen's Wreath vine on Paco's Tacos pacos galvinized fence

Native plants express themselves to attract pollinators, like Baptisia bracteata that Kimberly Wieberg spotted near Houston. I hit up Houston award-winning author and blogger Cherie Colburn for the ID.

baptisia bracteata wildflower

Indoors, we accent that furniture and paint with strategic houseplants. This week, John Dromgoole shows how to propagate your favorites.

propagating house plants John Dromgoole Central Texas Gardener

And check this out!  That pencil actually rooted. We didn’t get a good shot, so Brandi Blaisdell at The Natural Gardener took this for us.

Pencil rooting in soil picture by The Natural Gardener Austin Texas

To excite our imagination with garden art, Chris Smartt from Sol’stice Garden Expressions in Dripping Springs joins Tom this week.

Tom Spencer and Chris Smartt, Sol'stice Garden Expressions

At Sol’stice, his mom Irene Anderson runs the nursery, selecting mostly locally grown plants that defy drought and deer.

Garden art Sol'stice Garden Expressions

She also selects gorgeous hand-made jewelry and other accents to express your “ensemble” and your home. Chris presents garden art from renowned designers, along with his custom crafted bird baths, fountains, sculptures, gates, tables and fire pits, to name a few!

Fountain from recycles by Sol'stice Garden Expressions

Fountain from recycles by Sol'stice Garden Expressions

Artistic steel design to hide AC by Sol'stice Garden Expressions

Artistic gate by Sol'stice Garden Expressions

He shows us how to power up a view.

Hanging garden art heart Sol'stice Garden Expressions

And how his kids’ discarded CDs inspired a trip back to the shop.

Recycled CD garden art Sol'stice Garden Expressions

The trick to garden art, he tells us, is selective placement to enchant. Fun backyard room from recycles Central Texas

Colorful backyard patio room with handmade fire pit by Sol'stice Garden Expressions

Chris designed this fire pit.

hand-made fire pit Sol'stice Garden Expressions

He crafted this charming totem from recycled finds.

artistic totem by Sol'stice Garden Expressions

He reminds us that the super trick with recycled finds is to give them credence with a place and personality of their own. One object can be clutter; a scene enchants.

Recycled garden art patio Sol'stice Garden Expressions

Oh, about art on trees: this week Daphne answers Nancy Smith’s great question, “Can we put a nail into a tree?” Find out why Daphne says it’s perfectly fine on a mature tree.

put nail in tree central texas gardener

On tour, Irene Anderson got fed up with the maintenance-hog swimming pool that came with her house in Wimberley. She even told husband John McMillan that she wanted to flat out move to get away from it.

swimming pool turned into pond

Instead, her son Chris Smartt and business partner at Sol’stice Garden Expressions had an idea: turn it into a native habitat pond!

swimming pool turned into pond Chris Smartt design

swimming pool to habitat pond Central Texas Gardener

John’s daughter Sarah McMillan and husband Clinton Robertson, biologists for the Texas Parks and Wildlife River Studies program, guided its self-sustaining design.

swimming pool turned into native pond central texas gardener

Chris and his kids gently caught native fish for the natural ecology.

swimming pool to native pond

After they covered the concrete surround with rocks, Irene tucked in low-water plants.

swimming pool to native pond

Tucked against native plants for wildlife, Chris added subtle, yet never-dormant art handmade art.

swimming pool to native pond

This mushroom is acid-stained concrete with bits of recycled glass.

garden art concrete mushroom recycled glass

Here’s another mounted on cedar.

garden art concrete mushroom on cedar

Take the whole tour now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week for hot popping summer color. Linda

Wild Ideas for You + Luci & Ian Family Garden

April 24th, 2014 Posted in Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Techniques, Tours, bees, children, destinations, lawn replace, native plants, wildflowers, wildlife | 6 Comments »

We’re not all so lucky to have a wildflower front yard scented with acres of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush!

Bluebonnets Indian paintbrush prairie restoration central texas

At least I get a wildflower pop driving home every day past the Mueller prairie strip along I-35.

Wildflower Thelesperma I-35 Mueller strip

Wildflower Thelesperma I-35 Mueller strip

Most of us can’t have our very own prairie, but we can go a little wild in our gardens.

Wildflower Indian blanket and Thelesperma Austin Texas
At Mueller, I spied spikes of lavender Texas vervain (Verbena halei) among Indian blanket and Thelesperma.

Wildflower Texas vervain Thelesperma Indian blanket austin texas
I used to have some vervain until things got too shady. Now I have a sunny spot where I’ll seed next fall.

I’m tempted to try Erodium texanum, since it’s growing only a mile from my house.

Wildflowert Erodium texanum central texas mueller wildflowers
Then, garden artist Bob Pool told me, “It’s also called fillaree by almost all Texas ranchers. It is already growing by fall in a low, ground hugging manner and is the most important plant in the Hill Country for a lot of wildlife. It is the highest in protein, about 17%, of any plant in the Hill Country.”

That sounds great, but I’m on flat Blackland Prairie, not on a scruffy soil slope. But I do qualify for purple prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida).

glandularia purple prairie verbena Mueller Austin Texas
I’m not the only gardener on the block who’s made a fatal mistake in assuming that “native” translates to “my garden.” So, this week, Daphne answers, “What is a native plant?

Indeed, what’s native to rocks or sand is not native to my soil. Many are adaptable, like Engelmann’s daisy.

Engelmann's daisy native plant for wildlife
Calylophus berlandieri isn’t the best choice for me, but it works where I’ve given it extra grit in the looser spots.

Black-eyed Calylophus berlandieri Austin Texas
After a few misses, I found a perfect spot for spring-blooming Salvia roemeriana.

salvia roemeriana austin texas
I finally figured out where columbine is happiest for me, here joined by really really happy Widow’s tears (Commelina erecta).

columbine and widow's tears shade garden austin texas
I rely on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s native plant database to keep me on track. Also, the City of Austin’s Grow Green program now has a fabulous searchable database by soil type.

We’ve all learned that some plants simply move themselves to the right spots. That’s the case with my Gulf penstemon, a busy bee right now. Aside from conserving water, wildlife is tops on my list to choose natives when I can.

gulf penstemon bees

Bees love wildflowers, even the seed heads on Indian blanket!

bee on Indian blanket Mueller prairie

bee on Indian blanket seed head Mueller prairie

I’m totally impressed that Matt Jackson snagged this shot of a bee heading to Mexican buckeye on an energetic park romp with his young children!

bee on Mexican buckeye photo by Matt Jackson

In the right spots, native plants will increase their population without our help. To up the ante, this week John Dromgoole shows how to take cuttings.

cuttings from native plants with John Dromgoole

10 years ago, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center launched its Mother’s Day weekend Gardens on Tour to help us visualize native plant designs in our gardens.

Chris Levack sculpture Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Gardens on Tour

This week, Director of Horticulture Andrea DeLong-Amaya joins Tom for a preview of this year’s May 10 tour.

Tom Spencer and Andrea DeLong-Amaya Central Texas Gardener

Put on your walking shoes, grab your camera and get the details!

The Wildflower Center is on the tour, of course, and you don’t want to miss the new Luci & Ian Family Garden that opens May 4.

Luci & Ian Family Garden Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

15 years in conception with lead designer W. Gary Smith, it’s an adventure in imagination and fun with “secret” messages on watershed care, water management, and native plant wildlife connections.

Here’s director Ed Fuentes taping Gary as he installs intricate tiles in the spiral based on plants with spiral flowers or forms. Plants like Turk’s cap and ferns with furling fronds complete the theme.

W. Gary Smith landscape architect installing tiles in the Luci & Ian Family Garden

spiral at Luci & Ian Family Garden LBJWC

The garden extends Lady Bird’s mission in a garden where kids can run, explore, and play.

Cave at Luci & Ian Family Garden

Grotto at Luci & Ian Family Garden

Instead of instructional signs, Gary’s designed interactive elements to inspire the powerful childhood transformation that sticks with us as we grow up and buy our first house and make our first garden.

Watershed lessons at the Luci & Ian Family Garden LBJWC

Gardeners can frolic and wander, too, while getting plant ideas for sun, shade, and rain gardens. Lots of volunteers recently finished planting, so it’s a great way to connect to complementary textures and spacing for brand new plants.

native plant designs Luci & Ian Family Garden

Take the tour now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week for garden art. Linda

Creative plants and gardeners |Master Gardener Tour 2014

April 17th, 2014 Posted in Tours, drought, garden art, garden bloggers on tour, garden structure, lawn replace, master gardeners, recycling, water features | 3 Comments »

There’s certainly been a buzz about the maroon bluebonnets at the UT Tower!

maroon bluebonnets at UT

I don’t understand the uproar at all. Most certainly this is a fluke, not a prank. And, the color won’t last as long as the historic A&M/UT rivalry, since the dominant blue gene will take over in time, according to Horticulturist Greg Grant at Stephen F. Austin University.

maroon bluebonnets UT

Here’s how he and Texas A&M Extension Dr. Jerry Parsons discovered this natural occurrence and developed ‘Texas Maroon’, a Texas Superstar plant.

Now here’s a charming tale for you, “The Legend of the Pink Bluebonnet.” Years ago, an elderly woman spun Greg this story about why white bluebonnets turned pink in honor of the blood shed by brave Texans during the Texas Revolution.

This week, Daphne answers: what is the connection between botany and horticulture? Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ is another that Greg Grant brought into cultivation after finding nature’s botanical invention in a dry land cemetery.

Henry Duelberg salvia

For sure, it’s a weather prank behind my usually early bird Lady Banks and April’s Buff Beauty roses blooming together!

Lady Banks late bloom to join Buff Beauty rose

Thanks to Lady’s late arrival, it’s a first for me that yellow bearded iris and Gulf penstemon bloom along with her.

Yellow bearded iris with Gulf penstemon

Also on the bulb parade: golden Spuria iris.

golden spuria iris austin garden

William Glenn from Garden-Ville explains how natural minerals like basalt and greensand assist our horticultural endeavors by adding nitrogen, iron, and magnesium.

natural minerals for the garden William Glenn Central Texas Gardener

Horticulture in all its creative renditions is what the Travis County Master Gardeners’ “Inside Austin Gardens” tour is all about. This week, Tom joins Master Gardeners Maggie Tate and Wendy Buck to preview the May 3 tour.

Tom Spencer Maggie Tate Wendy Buck Central Texas Gardener

Meet DIY gardeners to see how they took out lawn, tackled shade, drainage problems, irrigation and deer.

vegetable deer protection photo by Bruce Leander

Pond and patio Austin Texas photo by Bruce Leander

removing lawn Robin Howard Moore Central Texas Gardener

Really, it’s a tour of unique expression. Find your style and take it home with you!

creative fence and curb Austin Neal Austin Texas gsrden

Bicycle shade garden plants Robin Howard Moore

Woodland and art garden Jerry Naiser Austin Texas

Meet Daphne, Augie and Master Gardeners at the Travis County Extension demonstration gardens, too.

Travis County Extension demonstration garden

Get all the details and check out upcoming workshops that teach us all year long!

Our video tour takes a closer look at one of the gardens. At Lori Daul’s, see how she dumped grass in her first home.

No lawn front garden Austin Texas

She calls her blog The Gardener of Good and Evil for the problems she faced and how she fixed them. On a budget. And what could fit in her car.

Patio pavers replace lawn control drainage austin texas

Thanks to her artistic eye, you’ll get great ideas for plant combinations in sun and shade, structure, and stylish whimsy.

plant structure in shade garden austin texas

structure plants and birdbath austin texas garden

fun garden water fountain austin texas central texas gardener

best bottle tree ever austin texas

cute garden mirror and prisms austin garden

She’s made some dramatic changes so don’t miss it on May 3. But take our tour right now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week as I preview the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center tour. Linda