Now, about local nurseries: Howard Nursery populated many gardens from 1912 until 2006.
Perhaps you met granddaughter Robin Howard Moore behind the counter where she and brothers Hank and Jim gave hands-on advice. I’ll never forget them as some of my first garden mentors. In fact, Robin always knew when we’d wrapped up another Pledge drive, Auction, or other intense production. I’d drag in on Sunday as my reviving treat. She would say, “So, Linda, guess you just finished a big project. What are you looking for today?”
Native Gulf penstemons absolutely suck in the bees. I have them everywhere, including the cat cove; not by my design, but by theirs. Like all parents, plants point their progeny in the right direction.
I don’t mind if they crowd the path for now. I’ll cut them back after the parents launch their seeds to the big wide world. It does take a while for the seeds to brown up, so hang on to your patience.
Sometimes I lose my beloved ground-hugging native Calylophus berlandieri that so well favors the hues of penstemons and winecups in spring, and rock roses (Pavonia lasiopetala) through summer. Recently, I added these: Calylophus drummondii var. berlandieri.
On a fence bed, winecups soothe Macho Mocha mangave in its recent snail attack.
Pink evening primrose is an opportunist who moved right into the path we laid last year. They’re overwhelming the frogfruit underneath, but it’s holding its own.
To the right in the bed, Texas blue grass (Poa arachnifera) leans over from its shady spot underneath the mountain laurel to chat with hotspot edge plant blackfoot daisy.
Hunkering in the shadier spots on the other side, columbine and widow’s tears (Commelina erecta) unite.
Although it wants sun, it can handle a shade break. Its spring-to-frost flowers feed many beneficial insects. Cutting it back now and then encourages more blooms, but do allow some flowers to go to seed for small birds that will swoop in.
Natives join the not-so-native for me. Jenny Stocker’s garden is my dream of the compatible blend. Oh, recently we taped it again, this time in HD, coming your way in early 2014.
Although native plants are very tough, this week Daphne answers, “Why are highway wildflowers sparse in some areas this spring?” Drought. At home, we can water the seeds that germinate in fall and winter.
I absolutely fall for fall, when everything explodes at once! A few white-blooming ‘Silverado’ cenizo (Texas sage) flowers hooked up with re-blooming Iceberg roses and hot weather thryallis.
White mistflower (Ageratina havanensis) will pop us a few flowers in spring, but it goes for the gusto as the days get shorter and cooler, attracting migrating and residential butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds.
Daphne makes this native perennial her pick of the week. This wildlife favorite can grow as tall as 6’ but usually I’ve seen it in the 2-3’ foot range. Late winter shearing will encourage shrubbier growth and more flowers, since it blooms on new wood. The ones I planted last fall are now among my favorites! This one’s in the front bed with Yucca ‘Margaritaville,’ pink skullcap, purple heart, daylilies, bamboo muhly and soon to bloom Copper Canyon daisy.
I include plants for pollinators in every season, since one of the top secrets to a healthy garden is abundant wildlife. Plus, you’ll be “on tour” every day to a thankful crowd!
Far South is a wholesale nursery, so don’t show up at their doorstep! Instead, ask for these plants at your nursery, since they supply many in Texas. But, do check out their great plant list for details about some of the tried and true plants they grow.
A new one to me is Indian mallow (Abutilon palmeri), with silvery velvety leaves on a plant that can get 5’ tall. It wants full sun and good drainage. Since it’s only hardy to 25°, it may be a re-seeding annual in cold winters.
Another for sunny dry spots is native Gray golden-aster (Heterotheca canescens) that gets about 1’ tall to attract small butterflies from July to September.
Whoa, check this out: a pink-blooming Anisacanthus (Anisacanthus puberulus).
Unlike the orange flame acanthus beloved by hummingbirds in late summer/fall, this one blooms in spring, with a more arching habit, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and moths.
A little one I relish in spring is native blue-eyed grass (many species). This member of the iris family actually showed up in my desert-like yard long ago. As soon as I amended the soil, off if went. Now, I’ve got a return every year with transplants in the sunny cat cove, where I’ve dug in a few bags of decomposed granite, assuring good drainage.
A perennial evergreen groundcover that doesn’t like much water and well-drained soil is groundcover creeping germander (Teucrium cossonii). I planted my first ones this year to cover the ground under The Fairy roses (set back by drought, but quickly returning).
This well-drained curbside bed gets the west afternoon sun, reflected street heat, and minimal water.
On tour in Kyle, see how Ida Bujan reduced her lawn thumbprint and turned her small garden into a native habitat.
She’s got the most glorious Barbados cherry ever!
Crystal recommends native frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora). I love how Ida replaced lawn with this white-flowering, evergreen groundcover on this side slope.
See how Ida did it!
Herbs also attract many beneficial insects. Right now is prime time to plant cool weather yummies for us, like cilantro, parsley, dill and fennel. This week, Trisha shows what she’s planting and how to divide crowded nursery transplants for even more to flavor your recipes.
Certainly, you’ll want extras of parsley, fennel, and dill to attract swallowtail butterflies to lay their eggs. A few caterpillars eating your plants late next spring mean lots of butterflies all over the place!
It’s also the best time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. But what’s the best way to water them?Daphne answers Mary Riley’s great question: Do I water my shrubs to the drip line, like for trees? Find out how.
Plants fascinate me! With no internet connection whatsoever, they know exactly what to do when the time is right. My Byzantine gladiolus corms always greet winter with tidy upright leaves. They time their vivid flowers for April to make sure we notice them in spring madness.
Usually the larkspurs hang around to join them.
The cat cove rose arbor is a little out of control. I’ll tame it after I get my quota of homegrown perfume.
When I planted my Christmas present arbor a few years ago, I couldn’t decide which roses I wanted most. So on one side, I planted Buff Beauty.
On the other, New Dawn.
They’re good friends that astound me with their self-sufficiency and tenacity through flood, freeze, and drought, with fragrance so rich you can almost see it.
Equally self-motivated: Marie Pavie rose and Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) in the patio cove. If I could bottle their fragrances (with a cute label, of course) I’d be rich, rich, rich!
I’ve trained my Star (Confederate) jasmine into a shrub form. You can also use it as a groundcover or as a vine to hide a chain link fence. Or on a trellis to hide the neighbor’s boat!
The white theme continues on the garden side of the patio with blackfoot daisy, winecup, and my new native frogfruit, already blooming tiny white flowers. They are too small to see in this view; will post pictures when they go into full gear.
This front bed got out its post-Easter whites, too. The stem of my Yucca pallida fell over in excitement to hunker down with purple heart.
If you’ve always wanted to meet her, now you can connect to this passionate writer who chronicles for us her journalistic exploration into the botanical intricacy of orchids. Susan also explains what started her obsession that drove her to swamps, abandon normal life, and ultimately inspire the movie Adaptation! Personally, I like the book much better!
On tour, meet orchid grower Monica Gaylord, who just steps outside her bedroom doors to an orchid greenhouse that soothes her soul and intrigues her mind.
Lots of events this weekend but here’s another: It’s About Thyme invites you to their free workshop on Sunday, April 22 at 20 p.m. George Altgelt from Geo Growers presentsthis Earth Day Special: “Realizing the Principles of Food Safety and Self-Reliance
within the Texas Home Gardening Tradition.”
Although my spuria iris flowers astound me just once a year, they do it every year—drought, flood, or freeze—since Scott Ogden shared a few divisions with me years ago.
My garden is resilient, too, thanks to the words he’s shared with me through all his books. Lauren Springer Ogden is another mentor, through her The Undaunted Garden (recently revised with Fulcrum Publishing) for garden design, plant resumes, and the poetry of words that express our love of the garden.
Lauren and Scott collaborated on Plant-Driven Design, which ought be be in your grubby hands, if not already. Their latest (and very timely) partnership is Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens, a quick-read, hands-on guide to peruse as you head to the nursery.
Icons quickly indicate each plant’s favored conditions (including deer resistance and wildlife attraction). With each featured plant, the Ogdens include other options and companions.
Wow on CTG this weekwhen they join Tom in a passionate conversation about the plants that took the “double spanking,”—Lauren’s on-target description about last year’s extreme freeze and drought.
One they mention as a durable replacement for sago palms (cycads) is Dioon angustifolium (formerly Dioon edule var. angustifolium). That’s one on my list for this year. In the meantime, I nabbed a Dioon edule.
Another is Lady Banks rose (Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’). Here’s mine in full bloom in the cat cove. I don’t think I’ve watered it since it was a youngster.
The Ogdens love seasonal bulbs and rhizomes as much as I do. I’ve divided the original spurias again and again to include their strappy foliage in several sections of my garden.
When they brown up in a few months, I’ll cut them back. In some areas, neighboring perennials fill out to cover the spot or I’ll seed annuals.
Here’s a great example to illustrate the tenacity of Lady Banks. Years ago, I planted the fragrant white one ‘Alba Plena’ (included in Waterwise) at the back fence. Primrose jasmine grew up to smother it. No irrigation, fertilizer, or even attention until it sent its light-deprived stems into the trees to bloom.
In our recent project, when I dug out the primrose jasmines, I discovered that she was still there and had even rooted a second one.
A few weeks after I began its renovation, it had already filled out and bloomed. White Lady Banks is sweetly fragrant.
I’ll keep working to promote her renewed form, but I suspect she’ll cover that fence by summer’s end! I’m training some long stems to cover that back fence, too.
In Waterwise, the Ogdens include various Jerusalem sages (Phlomis). This P. fruticosa is blooming like crazy in a hot median strip at Mueller.
I spotted this lush display, accompanied by pink skullcap, in an east Austin garden.
I’m treasuring my P. lanata, a dwarf form, that fits so well into one of my front beds.
That bed includes another Ogden inspiration, a Yucca recurvifolia ‘Margaritaville’. I saw it in one of their books and nabbed one for myself.
Although some things in this bed are new from last fall, many others have made it through the Texas Two-Step for several years.
Jerusalem sage is one that Merrideth Jiles includes in his Backyard Basics list of “double spanking” plants that made it in his east Austin garden. Get his list here.
Among his success stories: Olive tree (Olea europea). Since 2006, this one’s been growing in the garden of my friends, Molly and David.
They also have a fine-looking sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), another that Merrideth and the Ogdens include on their lists.
Certain species of sedges (Carex) make the list for Merrideth, the Ogdens, and me. I’ve bought it as Texas sedge (Carex texensis)/Carex retroflexa var. texensis/Scott’s Turf.
Merrideth explains how to add Globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), another double trouble star. A few months ago, I finally got one when I dug out dead grass and had a good sunny spot for it. Obviously, I got this picture on one of our luscious cloudy days!
Texas mountain laurel, Daphne’s Pick of the Week, favored us this year with outstanding performance, a keeper for double troubled Texas gardens.
But every year, viewers ask us why theirs didn’t bloom. There are many factors, but one is by pruning off the flower buds that form almost immediately after bloom.
You also need to watch out for the Genista caterpillar, which can defoliate a tree while you’re at the grocery store. Hand-pick or spray Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) to spare the ravage.
On tour, see how Anne Bellomy replaced lawn and invasive plants with waterwise specimens that have turned her formerly wildlife-bereft lot into a garden for resident and migratory wildlife.
Now, what about those exposed oak tree roots?
A viewer asked if she can plant groundcover (like sedges!) in between, and how much soil can she add. Get Daphne’s answer.
Since my roses are trouble-free, I’m on aromatic overload without worrying that soon I’ll be under work overload.
If I dally about dead heading my Marie Pavie rose framing the patio, doesn’t matter much. Blackspot never blackens my on-going view, either.
On the cat cove arbor, equally self-reliant New Dawn and Buff Beauty are taking up where Lady Banks left off. Here’s fragrant BB.
Beyond, blackfoot daisy joins purple winecups, rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) and oregano that creeps between the flagstones. The oregano loves when I nip it and strip its leaves for the kitchen, since that keeps it lush.
In my early garden days, I dedicated one spot for herbs. But that’s like putting all your favorite plants in the same spot. Each herb has its specifics to be happy. Now, I include them sited to their preference, (sun or shade, moist or dry), and mingle their diverse forms and textures among the perennials. There’s feathery southernwood in part sun and fuzzy lemon balm in shade. Silver-leafed society garlic wants sun and good drainage, so I paired my new ones against cat cove winecups. In any garden spot, when other fragrant plants are out of bloom, you can grab an herbal handful to whiff or plop into drinks or dinner.
Since herbs are so easy to grow, even for the first-time gardener, this week on CTG, Tom meets with Amanda Moon from It’s About Thyme. Wow, she has such great new insight and ideas! I’d never even considered pairing Swiss chard with red-veined sorrel, but now I must try it!
This is the ultimate DIY fun: flowers, shading vines and cool stuff you can make. Trisha brought along some of the gourds she’s painted and decorated, but I added my beloved apple gourd and little pears I got at the Texas Gourd Society show a few years ago. Here’s good news: this fall, their show is in Fredericksburg Oct. 14-16. I’ve already marked my calendar because I want one of the gorgeous lamps! And I sure hope they have the popcorn bowls this year–too beautiful!
You’ll also go crazy on this week’s garden tour to Elm Mott! Against acres of wide open fields, energetic Cathy Hejl created a series of cozy family destinations, one weekend and evening at a time. Behind every artistic project, she had a good reason, too.
She has it all: flowers, chickens, ducks, vegetables, a pond and water fountains, wonderful walkways and entryways: all done with her own two hands. When I met her, she said “No more projects.” Then, recently, she told me about three more that have my head spinning! I dearly thank Waco Master Gardener Judy Tye for connecting us to such inspiration.
Cathy goes for tough plants that don’t need a lot of babying. I know she’d approve my gold bearded iris blooming near a Salvia lyrata in the crape bed. As long as you don’t drown them and divide them every few years, they top the list as no-care plants.
Here’s Salvia lyrata, a native perennial groundcover that flowers in spring, just as tough and enduring.
And to keep the gold and lavender theme in the crape bed:
Daphne answers Liz Clark’s question, one I often get: Why didn’t my possumhaw holly produce berries? Does it need a pollinator? Unless Liz got a male plant at the nursery, her female will be pollinated by other hollies in the neighborhood. It may just be too young to produce “offspring.” Let’s hope she gets flowers soon!
Don’t forget: send us your question or a plant picture from your garden to feature on Central Texas Gardener! What is your favorite plant and why would you recommend it to fellow gardeners as Plant of the Week? Send ‘em on to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week, Linda