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?”
It’s natural to be a little wary when treading on new ground, especially when it means keeping something alive. My young Copper Canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) gave me a scare last summer. Oh yes, we ARE taking risks if we don’t water even drought-tough plants their first year. This one forgave my negligence by blooming this spring. I was lucky.
I finally cut it back several inches, since I want it to lush back out: not just for my visual preference, but to cover itself in flowers for migrating and resident butterflies this summer and fall.
Weird years (and that’s most of them), keep us coming back for more. Many weird years ago, I took a risk when I dug up a huge stretch of lawn. At one end, I decided to have a rose arbor. I couldn’t decide between New Dawn or Buff Beauty, so I took a design risk and put one on each side. Well.
I wasn’t so lucky when I planted an Iceberg rose in the den bed, where I figured it would get “just about enough” sun. Nope. I moved it to a really hot spot that I rarely water and never fertilize. Now, it’s almost always in bloom. It reminds me: the odds are better by following SOME of the rules.
Peggy Martin loves her hot spot trellised on my chain link fence as a little privacy and to share with our beloved neighbor.
Recently, Saliva farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ joined Texas betony in the island bed. I found it in a nursery, thanks to horticulturist Greg Grant, who collected seeds in a La Grange cemetery and named it for the headstone nearby. I also thank the Texas growers who took a risk to take it public.
And what about avocados, allspice, cinnamon, hibiscus for tea, and other tropical edibles? Amanda Moon from It’s About Thyme joins Tom this weekto entice us to follow this delicious trek.
I snagged this picture of allspice in Lucinda Hutson’s garden last fall. She does overwinter its container in a garage with a Grow Light when she remembers to turn it on! Like all plants protected in a garage, gradually bring them back out into the light to avoid sunburn.
Ragna went totally organic since butterflies and other beneficial wildlife matter more than a few pests. Oh, and since then, she doesn’t have many pests! One way to attract butterflies is with summertime annual, Mexican tithonia, Daphne’s pick of the week.
Yes, says Daphne, unless there’s been a past problem with oak leaf rollers. She also explains why oak leaf drop happened earlier this year for some of us. Have we mentioned watering trees in drought?! Don’t risk your trees: do water.
Quick, tell me, pick a word to describe the personality of a plant in your garden. My word for newly opened Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’: “Dreamy.”
My silver germander? Hmm. . . “Convivial.”
I bring up this word game thanks to Antique Rose Emporium founder, Michael Shoup, who matches rose personalities with our gardens in his ground-breaking new book.
He and Tom have a blast comparing notes on drought-tough roses with monikers like “Whimsical,” “Greedy” and “Romantic.”
Can’t you just imagine Michael’s fun with categories like “Reliable Showgirls,” “Tenacious Tomboys,” or “Big-Hearted Homebodies?”
In Empress of the Garden, Michael makes it easy to select the right rose for you, how to grow it, and how to do it organically. I see that my tough-as-nails fragrant Buff Beauty falls into “Balloon-Skirted Ladies.” I agree with Michael’s tag words for her: “Versatile, languid, warm-hearted.”
This shrub rose is fragrant, blooms without missing a beat in Texas heat, and isn’t easily troubled, as it certainly isn’t at the Travis Extension office.
It does have thorns. Essentially, it’s like a grandma who showers the love and pinpoints all your troubles with gentle advice or a well-timed verbal swat ala Downton’s Dowager Duchess. What word would YOU pick?
‘Grandma’, like our other “Tenacious” shrub roses, doesn’t need fancy pruning. But since all roses gain a lot more personality with a yearly haircut, Daphne explains why we prune them in February.
Since roses and many of our plants want good drainage, especially in heavy soils, Merredith Jiles from The Great Outdoors shows what to do. If starting from scratch, definitely check out his explanation of expanded shale, something I rely on now for new succulents and any new plant in my clay.
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.
Even though rain and sweet cool days perked things up, I know that fall is here when my self-seeded goldenrods start blooming. Soon, they’ll be clustered with butterflies, bees and little wasps.
They’re already heading to the shrub/small tree Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra) that rebounded from a brief summer break to flower yet again. Later, birds will hone in on the fruit to fatten up for winter.
This one’s on the side of the house, formerly photinia-ville, joined by a white-blooming Cenizo ‘Silvarado Sage’, a hybrid of the native Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens). A non-native thryallis (Galphimia glauca) joins them to screen and shade the air conditioner.
Daphne’s Pick of the Week, native damianita (Chrysactinia Mexicana) is going great guns in the right conditions, which I don’t have. This one thrives in the hot curb strips at Mueller. It’s a deer resistant low-grower that blooms for months (attracting pollinators) as long as it has sunny, well-drained spots that don’t get a ton of water.
My native frostweed (Verbesina virginica) opened its first flowers, too, ready for the butterflies in frenzy feeding.
Someone you’ll meet at the LBJWC sale is E.E. “Mitch” Mitchamore from Hill Country Natives, who grows hard-to-find native plants in his home-based nursery. This week, he joins Tom to pick a few native trees to create a canopy for shade, understory, fruit and wildlife appeal.
One he details for us is Bigtooth maple. At a mature height of 15’ or so, it’s perfect for smaller gardens. At his nursery you can see planted specimens to get a true feel of what they’ll look like in a garden. I like how he’s used salvaged fencing to protect this young Bigtooth from browsing deer.
A native fruit tree he and Tom showcase is Blanco crabapple, like this beauty at the Selah Bamberger Ranch Preserve. If you’ve never visited David Bamberger’s habitat restoration, check out their tour and workshop schedule to celebrate Native Plant Week all year long!
Daphne answers, “How can I solarize to kill grass, weeds, and nematodes?” A viewer asked if she could solarize with an old clear plastic shower curtain. Daphne reports: Yes, indeed! She explains why to choose clear or black plastic and how to do it.
Last winter, my neighbor solarized front yard grass with black plastic for months.
This summer, they turned in compost and planted a native habitat. Already, it’s thriving with Salvia leucantha, Lindheimer muhly, Blue mistflower (Conoclinium), zemenia, desert willow and Gulf muhly.
First, I have to admit: I’m a bulb freak. I’d buy a thousand more if I could. Instead, I divide my naturalizing wealth and then forget where I planted them. That’s okay, because garden surprises like these oxblood lilies are treasures every year, especially abundant this September, thanks to the rain.
I walked out last weekend to find this red spider lily (Lycoris radiata) peeking out in the turk’s caps.
Red is a color that many gardeners are seeing this year from oak leaf galls.
This week, Daphne explains what’s going on: “The small, reddish galls on the undersides of our oak leaves right now are caused by tiny wasps. They lay their eggs on the leaves and the tree responds by forming a protective structure, the gall, to contain the wasp eggs while the insect larvae grow into adults.”
You’ll probably never see these non-stinging little wasps. As Daphne tells us, there’s no reason to treat. We have them every year and they don’t harm the trees. This year was just insect-crazy, so they’ve become especially noticeable. Thank you, Danielle & MaryAnn, for sending us your pictures!
Soon, I expect to see some yellow in my garden. I have high hopes that my young Skeleton-leaf goldeneye will look like this!
This native, evergreen drought-tough perennial is Daphne’s pick of the week. Its flowers from late spring to frost attract many beneficial pollinators, like this tiny wasp.
It requires sun and good drainage, so in my clay soil garden, I amended with compost and decomposed granite.
Our first gentle cold front reminds us that soon we’ll need to snag some of our cold-tender herbs to dry or freeze. So, this week, Trisha shows how to dry herbs in any season (including our evergreens) for homegrown flavor and tastefully beautiful gifts. Get her tips for your files.
Next week, get her tips for freezing herbs, like basil, that don’t stand up well to drying.
Now that I’ve tidied up and revised my plant list, I’ll be hitting the nurseries soon. I respect a tag with Gabriel Valley Farms’ name on it.
On tour, we visit this innovative wholesale grower near Georgetown to see how Cathy and Sam Slaughter grow tried and true Texas plants organically, starting from seed.
The KLRU crew with Ed Carter and Chris Kim had a blast! Here’s director Ed Fuentes documenting the babies that will head to nurseries and your gardens when they’re grown up! If you grow seeds in a few pots or flats, imagine planting thousands!
Cathy and Sam also share their tricks to fool seedlings to germinate when it’s too hot or too cold to plant, and why it’s important to get organically grown plants when possible.
Keyhole gardens are the hot topic this year!Tom meets with Deb Tolman to explain why these sustainable vessels are perfect to grow vegetables, fruit trees or ornamentals.
Deb explains how to do it for abundant crops, even in small spaces and in thin or dense soils where it’s difficult to grow food. Along with saving water, keyhole gardens are the ultimate design to recycle/reuse cardboard, phone books, newspapers and kitchen vegetable scraps.
Find out more on Deb’s website and get her DVD, shot by videographer Ted Miear, which documents the entire process that you can do in one afternoon! I thank Ted for his support on this segment. Long ago, he was a KLRU freelancer, who went on to launch his own video production company.
Finally, the garden events are gearing up, but here’s one for the whole family! From Sept. 22 – Nov. 18, head out to Barton Hills Farm in Bastrop for a corn maze, live music and more. Family fall fun, for sure!
Happy planning and planting until I see you next week! Linda
Her list includes fruiting and ornamental olive trees, including specimen tree ‘Little Ollie.’ Lana and Bob are growing theirs in a pot for now.
Whether olive trees produce fruit or not, I love the silvery leaves. This one’s a tall shade tree in the garden of dear friends Molly and David.
Get Amanda’s listof olives, compact and ‘Wonderful’ pomegranate, Texas persimmon, loquat and figs.
And be sure to check out It’s About Thyme, where Diane and Chris Winslow and a very knowledgeable team guide you to tried-and-true plants, fabulous herbs, and ideas that will astound you and your garden. Sign up for their informative weekly enewsletter, too, for valuable tips from Chris and culinary expert Mick Vann.
Animals dine on the bark of our trees, especially in drought. Viewer Connie Lawson asked what to do about porcupines chomping her new trees. KLRU colleague Robert found squirrels stripping his trees. Will this kill your tree? Get Daphne’s answer about whether trees will recover, and the best way to protect them.
Since many of us have limited space or limited sunlight, John Dromgoole demonstrates how to plant in containers, for organic food even on a patio, balcony, or driveway.
Although I’m fond of tidy, highly structural gardens, mine doesn’t make that list. I do have many non-fussy anchors, but I wouldn’t be content with an essentially static garden. I’m a drama queen and I like surprises! This sure was a surprise: my Iceberg rose blooming its head off with thryallis and cenizo.
That group only gets water once a week in summer if rain veered past us (yet again!). A few years ago, I replaced the red tip photinias in this AC side yard with these and other sun lovers that I relocated from too much shade.
My altheas/Rose of Sharon that came with our 1950s house have hung around through many a dry year. This new beauty is a passalong from Bob Beyer. In a few years, this large shrub will be big enough to complete the “living wall” that I’m creating for our patio cove “enclosure.”
This part of the back “prairie” is in riot-mode with milkweeds, Turk’s caps, pavonia, lantana and passionvine. It’s a wildlife riot, too!
Old-fashioned fragrant petunias in patio containers are heading into summer break, though not quite ready to give up their perfumed performance. I’ve been cutting them back a little and feeding with a seaweed/fish emulsion/molasses drink which they appreciate.
In a fence bed, this spring I added some red billbergias. They get shade mixed with blasts of sunlight. I just love this color and their tidy form that so beautifully complements the spilling plants beyond them.
I’ve known Jon since he ran innovative Floribunda in south Austin. We were thrilled when he opened equally innovative Tillery Street in east Austin! It’s just across the street from Boggy Creek Farm and down the street from Springdale Farm. Since many talented artisans have located nearby, this is the latest go-to place for food, plants, and art!
On CTG, responding to viewer requests, Jon combines structural and softer forms for sun and shade. He explains how to diversify our gardens with drought-tough companions that strengthen our designs with contrasting forms.
One he brought along is native candellia (Euphorbia antisyphilitica). Isn’t this nicho at the Wildflower Center just so appropriate? A plant “candle.”
Get Jon’s list for outstanding additions from upright yuccas to floppy yellow firecracker fern and silvery native groundcover woolley stemodia. I grabbed this shot at Mueller on a cloudy morning. In sunlight, its silver absolutely shimmers!
Another on his plant list is foxtail fern. Mine (this one in a pot) are soft-structure perfect in psycho lighting: dry shade peppered with a brutal spear of afternoon sun. Beyond are inland sea oats and potato vine (Solanum jasminoides) on an obelisk.
Jon brings along a Mangave ‘Bloodspot’, a cross between Manfreda and agave. Since these are great non-fussy structures, Daphne makes Manfreda our Pick of the Week with her insight and planting tips. Gardener Brent Henry has clay soil, so he mixes in decomposed granite to improve drainage. His Manfredas get partial sun with most of the sun in the afternoon, but shaded by a bur oak.
Gardener Matt Jackson snapped these pictures of native Manfreda virginica for CTG.
When I first heard about ‘Macho Mocha’ years ago, it was considered a Manfreda. By the time Pam Penick divided some of hers for me, it was categorized as a Mangave.
Whatever. You’ll see them as both names. As Daphne tells us, the native Manfreda maculosa is considered the Texas tuberose. That’s on my list!
So, once you have your structural succulents, how do you divide these vigorous plants? Eric Pedley from East Austin Succulents shows us how.
In 2011, Eric met with CTG for astounding design ideas with succulents. Now, he’s joined spaces with Jon’s Tillery Street Plant Company. In one visit, you can fulfill your garden dreams, encouraged by two hard-working home-grown owners who are passionate about plants and ready to share their knowledge with you.
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.
It’s a little crazy out there right now with poppies, spuria irises, and Maggie rose to her left.
Since Peggy and this Maggie were brought into the trade thanks to dear William Welch, I call it my Welch garden.
Thanks to the Antique Rose Emporium, I have a young Republic of Texas rose, a low grower I’d planted in front of the den window.
But she didn’t get as much sun as she liked, so I moved her in late February. In the back area, I’d already pulled out the border stones several feet and did the newspaper/mulch routine over former grass. I plopped her in this sunnier spot with little ceremony, and off she went!
Some plants find the right spots for themselves. Years ago, Greg built this decomposed granite walkway alongside our carport. Gulf Coast penstemon (Penstemon tenuis) and Mexican feather grass seeds headed right over to fluff it up. Beyond represents some work on hold when I can snag a day.
It’s not irrigated and never even gets a hose, so you’ve got to give them credit for making it through last year.
In the backyard crape/mountain laurel island, the Knock Out rose deflects our attention from straggly poppies. I’ll resist the urge to tidy up for a few more weeks. It’s worth it to fill a bucket of poppy seeds to pass along.
I love floppy, fluffy plants, but I love structural plants, too. Here’s my combination of Agave striata with ‘Hot Lips’ salvia.
For years, innovators Katherine and Michael connected with contractors and designers in the wholesale trade to toughen up landscapes in low-water times. In 2011, they opened to the rest of us with their fabulous nursery in Oak Hill, next door to Geo Growers. Here’s Katherine at the nursery. She wanted to come, too, but when you’re a mom and pop local nursery, someone’s got to mind the store!
Have you ever considered Lion’s tail or Lion’s ear (Leonotis menthifolia) ‘Savannah Sunset’ that attract hummingbirds to stand-tall plants that hover with the hummers over foreground plants?
At ground level, ‘Bath’s Pink’ dianthus entices with sweet fragrance. Its delicate silvery demeanor belies its drought-tough strength.
Katherine and Michael work long, hot, hard days at their nursery. Then Katherine musters the energy to share her passion about plants, personable stories and great photographs on Vivero’s blog! I’m in awe.
Daphne’s Pick of the Week, thryallis (Galphimia glauca) is certainly energetic as a structural screening shrub with flowers from spring to frost. Perfect to accent silvers, purples, and whatever your imagination throws your way!
But I bet you’ve never imagined this on your oak trees. Please thank Larry Kuehn for bringing it to our attention!