Preserving America’s garden heritage is what drives The Garden Conservancy. Through its Open Days program around the country, gardeners like us can connect with amazing gardens, diverse styles, and the people who created them. Here’s a bit of inspiration from a few Austin tours.
Austin’s on break this year, but hey, isn’t it about time for a road trip? Head up to Ft. Worth on Oct. 13to check out what they have to say about gardens.
As always, each garden speaks its personality. I always find a concept or plant that invites me to try it, too.
AND, if you can’t make the trek to Ft. Worth or the gardens nationwide, read about them and see pictures online.
Check out these CTG Open Days’ features to jumpstart your fall design!
As we head into primetime seeding and transplanting, consider the holistic picture of wildlife food and habitat along with your on-going delight. Coneflowers shine in spring and again in fall. Their seeds feed little birds for months if you don’t tidy up too fast.
Got shade? Then you’ll want some perennial cedar sage (Salvia roemeriana) for flowers March – August.
Sun-loving annual American basket-flower (Centaurea americana) will re-seed after flowering in late spring.
Yum, get a subtle scent of chocolate from sun to part shade small perennial Chocolate daisy (Berlandiera lyrata) that nectars insects from April to November. No clue what the nectar tastes like to insects!
An annual I’m seeding this fall in my sunny “prairie” is Partridge pea. It will germinate this winter to grow into a 1-3 foot nectar banquet from June to November.
Let’s not forget native grasses to seed or transplant. Daphne makes Big muhly (Lindheimer muhly) her pick of the week. This winter, butterflies and small animals will shelter in it, so keep the winter-browned leaves until February. Here it’s joined with fall fellow Salvia leucantha.
25 years ago, Jan & Bill Neiman looked beyond “yards and plants” to the holistic picture, to redefine the land with a code of ethics to preserve water, land, and habitat when he started Native American Seed.
He explains some of the symbiotic relationships that extend beyond the flamboyance that’s most evident.
Native American Seed has mixes for every soil, habitat and intent, from erosion control to scorched earth restoration.
Order online from their web site packed with information. I treasure their print catalog, too, and carry it around to read the stories and mark the seeds I want to plant.
Jan and Bill’s children, Emily and Weston, are part of this hard-working family team. Emily is one of the co-authors of the Sustainable Food Center’s The School Farm, for guidance in starting a community food garden with children. Emily deserves an Associate Producer credit for this show, too!
Here’s Weston with a seed drill, prepping for an expansive restoration project at the San Jacinto battleground!
In the vegetable garden, it’s also time to plant cool weather seeds and transplants.
Trisha gives us the scoopon what to plant from seed and those that most of us will start as transplants. Here’s her list and how-to tips.Must tell you that my arugula seeds were coming up like mad, until a fast 2” of rain battered them. They were too little for that. A few made it, but I’ll add more this weekend. Drought or drown: that’s Texas for you!
Several viewers have asked: why are my jalapeno and Serrano peppers turning red?
Get Daphne’s answer. Oh, if your peppers have been wimping around (as we all do in August), they’ll gear up soon. Mine are about to explode!
On tour in Temple, don’t miss this fabulous wildlife habitat makeover that Mary Lew and David Quesinberry cheerfully rendered one heavy boulder at a time!
I couldn’t resist making a batch, flavored with garlic, hot peppers, and some really good dill seed from Penzeys’ Austin location. Oops, forgot to take a picture before I scarfed down half the jar.
What a kick to watch the transformation in just one day. Here’s Trisha recipe. Works great for cauliflower, okra, and lots more.
Back outside, I hope to see a little more butterfly action soon. It’s been a tough year for them and my plants that are usually so lively with them. Drought devastates our creatures, too. How interesting, though, that bougainvillea nectars butterflies like this Gulf Fritillary.
Shoestring acacia is a drought tough tree that attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. I adore the little fluffy flower balls!
Daphne makes this Southwestern native her Pick of the Week.
Now, did you ever consider how the bird and butterfly migration works hand in hand (or rather mouth to mouth)? Get inside storieson butterflies with Marianna Trevino-Wright and Max Munoz (Cowboy Max) from the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas.
Find out why South Texas is home to so many unique butterflies.
And those butterflies that migrate: what happens on the way from your backyard to New Jersey and back?
And oh yes, before we dump all the blame on “elsewhere” for diminished populations, first let’s take a closer look at home.
Now, here’s the ultimate road trip to see a bounty of butterflies! Clean off your camera cards and head to Mission for cute butterfly overload Nov. 2- 5 at the 18th annual Texas Butterfly Festival. Check out all that’s going on, thanks to the dedicated people at the NBC to preserve these essential creatures to our ecology.
Extend the trip at the 20th annual Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival, Nov. 6 -10. Incredible birds & speakers, too! And do check into Fiddlewood tree, a nectar & larval host for butterflies and berries for the birds.
Tropical mandevilla attracts butterflies, too, and it’s a pretty annual vine for summertime. Question of the week comes from Marie, whose mandevilla is in a little trouble.
Get Daphne’s answer, which applies to many plants, including plumerias and even natives that can suffer from sun scald.
Our viewer picture comes from Daphne’s garden! What a cutie snuggling on her periwinkles.
On tour in Kyle,see how Ida Bujan worked with her HOA to create an almost lawn-free garden with mostly native plants.
In a fairly small space, she crams it full of plants that attract resident and migratory animals, like on her carpet of frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) and perennial zexmenia (Wedelia texana).
When I started gardening, ligustrums, nandinas, and Japanese honeysuckle were common garden fare. No question that they thrive under tough conditions, but they also swallow up diverse native plants that support our wildlife. Even before destructive exotic invasives hit the radar of public perception, I ventured into natives that are equally durable. Two of my first were rock rose (Pavonia) from Barton Springs Nursery in its baby days, and Turk’s cap, a passalong from KLRU engineer and ACL editor Dan Martaus. It’s quite astounding how fast butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds showed up!
Daphne makes rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) her Pick of the Week, since this tough-as-nails perennial fuels butterflies, bees and other beneficial flying insects.
Here’s another of mine with native Calylophus berlandieri that also serves wildlife.
Now, it’s prone to powdery mildew in warm humid days and cool nights, especially in spring. Daphne says to just ignore it, which is what I always do!
Our house came with a hedge of ligustums along the back chain link fence. We seeded mountain laurels after we chopped the ligustrums to the ground. At the time, we didn’t have a ton of money, and new-to-nurseries mountain laurels were pricey. Indeed, this was not instant gratification, but well worth the wait. And fun, actually. A big part of gardening for us is the adventure and watching it enfold.
The front bed also had a ligustrum too large for me to unearth. I chopped it, too, and planted my first native Salvia greggii and asters.
This week, we’re delighted that a new voice has tackled the mission to banish exotic invasives. Joining Tom is high school student Benjamin Shrader, known as Commander Ben the Invasive Hunter, who wields his mighty sword of knowledge.
Find out what inspired him (at age 12) to pursue this mission and speak to kids and adults, support the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and have fun with his dad, Ted, producing fun and fabulous videos! On his site, watch them, learn more about Commander Ben’s projects, his Invasive Hunter Academy, and his adventures with dyslexia.
I’ll admit, this was the first time a CTG guest was driven to KLRU by his charming mom, Mary, who home schooled Benjamin until this year, his first in high school.
We all know that natives can stand up to drought, but they’re not exempt from recent years of above average temps and below average rainfall. We’ve lost many established native trees. This week, Daphne analyzes what happened to this cedar elm.
Indoors, we cultivate gardens too, and many viewers ask: how can I fertilize naturally? John Dromgooleshows how to make a mini compost tea in a recycled water bottle (3 tablespoons or so of compost to a bottle). Plus, he has a dandy idea to water your plants when you’re on vacation, like during holiday season.
Inside, step into Benini’s gallery that depicts his artistic journey in vibrant acrylics and assemblages.
Watch the whole magnificent experience!
Viewer picture of the week comes from Hella Wagner. When her Agave americana bloomed and died, she replaced the gap with soft leaf yucca (Yucca recurvifolia). Even though it bloomed this spring, it’ll be around for years to come.