Sneaking into summer

Now here’s a plant for your list. My native snake herb (Dyschoriste linearis) sneaks in to attract butterflies in its carefree perennial spread in part-time sun.

Snake herb (Dyschoriste linearis)

When Michelle Pfluger from Green ‘n Growing introduced it to us last year, I raced to get a few. They’ve done so well that I got more, and still want more! Graceful foliage all the time with “come find me” flowers in spring through fall.

snake herb flower

Despite “snake” in its name, sadly, it’s not deer resistant.

An old-time summer favorite is Althea (Rose of Sharon), a shrub/small tree. This new color for me is a passalong from friend Bob Beyer.

pink althea flower

From Central Texas Gardener’s Facebook page, some of our friends fondly refer to Althea as the “granny plant.” We all agree that we need a good granny now and then!  I still have some of the lavender ones that came with my 1950s house. It’s a great adaptable accent or deciduous companion in an evergreen natural screen.

Another passalong is from Daphne herself, when she was trialing Peter’s Purple monarda. Hummingbirds and butterflies, here they come! Find out more about this great beebalm.

peter's purple monarda

Daphne’s pick this week is Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’.

orange jubilee tecoma

It’s a cultivar, like the ‘Gold Star’ you may know, derived from our native Tecoma stans, also called yellow bells or esperanza.

orange jubilee tecoma

Here’s a “new” idea that actually is historic: grafted vegetables. John Dromgoole explains why grafted tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are making a sensation, thanks to insect resistance and faster and bigger production.  Actually, by mail, I received three ‘Mighty Matos’ to test.

Mighty Mato in Central Texas

Like the ones that John, Trisha and Travis Extension are growing, mine took off like gangbusters, even though I got a late start. Certainly, I’m going to be looking more into them, and CTG plans a follow-up this summer.

Weeds are always sneaking in—you know how that is! Daphne answers: can they be put in the compost pile? She explains cold and hot composting. Since mine is a cold one, I’ll put in weeds before seeds are mature, since they add nitrogen. Once they look like this, I send them to the city’s hot piles in my leaf bags.

ripe weed seeds not for cold compost piles

Now that the heat is on, let’s all dive into some water—like ponds, streams and fountains! Not only do they cool us off visually and relax us spiritually, the thirsty wildlife will thank you.

This week, Tom meets with Kathy Ragan and Karl Tinsley from the Austin Pond Society to show off a few of the designs on this year’s tour, June 8 & June 9.

Austin Pond Society tour

Featuring 21 ponds in all styles and sizes, you can meet the ponders in person to learn anything you want to know, from technical details to tips on fish and plants.

Austin Pond Society tour

Austin Pond Society tour

Austin Pond Society tour

The evening of June 8, experience some night-time pond magic, too! Get the details and buy tickets in advance.

In Georgetown, Claudia and Ronnie Hubenthal’s ponds and streams started with a serendipitous find.  Here’s a sneak preview.

This Saturday, June 1, check out the fabulous gardens on the NXNA tour: the North Austin Coalition of Neighborhoods. 13 private gardens will be on tour, along with 5 school gardens and a community garden.  On June 2, check out their garden talks and photography exhibit. All proceeds benefit AustinVoices to beautify north Austin. Find out more.

And here’s a huge shout-out to our friends, Rick and Kelle Stults, at Wild Birds Unlimited in the Westwoods Shopping Center, who’ve signed on as local underwriters for CTG. Please tell them thanks the next time you’re in!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

Structure + Soft = Powerful Designs

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.

Cenizo, Iceberg rose, thryallis
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.”

Pink althea, Rose of Sharon
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!

Milkweed, Turk's cap, rock rose, lantana
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.

Old-fashioned pink petunias
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.

Red billbergia
On CTG this week, that’s just one of many plants that Tillery Street Plant Company’s Jon Hutson highlights in his talk with Tom.

Jon Hutson Tillery Street Plant Company
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.

Tom Spencer and Jon Hutson at Central Texas Gardener
One he brought along is native candellia (Euphorbia antisyphilitica). Isn’t this nicho at the Wildflower Center just so appropriate? A plant “candle.”

Candellia at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Cent
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!

Woolly stemodia
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.

Foxtail fern and inland sea oats

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.

Manfreda bloom stalk
Gardener Matt Jackson snapped these pictures of native Manfreda virginica for CTG.

Manfreda virginica

Manfreda virginica flower buds

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.
Manfreda (Mangave) 'Macho Mocha'

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.

Eric Pedley East Austin Succulents Central Texas Gardener
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.

To complete our east Austin tour of innovative ideas that combine structure with softness, take a tour of Lee Clippard and John Stott’s garden.

Many gardeners, like Russell Bauer, have asked us about blossom end rot! Daphne explains why this happens and what you can do.

Tomato blossom end rot Galveston Texas AgriLife
Thank you to Dr. William Johnson, Texas Agrilife Extension/Galveston for sharing his picture! Usually, the second crop comes out clean, as Russell shows us with his second harvest.

homegrown tomatoes
Certified Backyard Habitat gardener Susan Brock shares this picture from her organic garden: another reason to diversify your garden. Cardinals selected her Knock Out to raise a new family!

cardinal nest in Knock Out rose
Stay cool until our visit next week, Linda

Plants that survived the Texas Two-Step: Freeze and Drought

Spuria iris (c) Linda Lehmusvirta

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.

The Undaunted Garden Lauren Springer Ogden

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.

Ogdens' Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens
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 week when 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.

Tom Spencer, Lauren Ogden, Scott Ogden
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.

Dioon edule (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
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.

Lady Banks rose (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
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.

Lady Banks rose, spuria irises

Spuria iris

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.

Lady Banks rose under renovation

A few weeks after I began its renovation, it had already filled out and bloomed.  White Lady Banks is sweetly fragrant.

White Lady Banks flower
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.

White Lady Banks growing in during renovation
In Waterwise, the Ogdens include various Jerusalem sages (Phlomis). This P. fruticosa is blooming like crazy in a hot median strip at Mueller.

Jerusalem sage, Phlomis fruticosa
I spotted this lush display, accompanied by pink skullcap, in an east Austin garden.

Jerusalem sage Phlomis fruticosa with pink skullcap
I’m treasuring my P. lanata, a dwarf form, that fits so well into one of my front beds.

Jerusalem sage Phlomis lanata
That bed includes another Ogden inspiration, a Yucca recurvifolia ‘Margaritaville’. I saw it in one of their books and nabbed one for myself.

Yucca 'Margaritaville' with Phlomis lanata

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.

Merrideth Jiles, The Great Outdoors

Among his success stories: Olive tree (Olea europea). Since 2006, this one’s been growing in the garden of my friends, Molly and David.

Olive tree in Austin Texas
They also have a fine-looking sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), another that Merrideth and the Ogdens include on their lists.

Sotol Dasylirion wheeleri
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.

Sedge, Carex texensis
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!

Salmon pink globe mallon
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.

Mountain Laurel flower young flower bud
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.

Genista caterpillar (c) Wizzie Brown Texas AgriLife Extension

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?

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.

See you next week! Linda

My garden's out of control!

I’ve created a madhouse.

Central Texas Gardener spring flowers
I knew I needed to thin spiderworts, larkspurs and poppies, but I just couldn’t bear it.

Poppies, spiderworts, abutilons, columbine (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
So now I’m  pulling some out since they’re suffocating everything underneath. Good grief, we have poppies that are 4’ tall!

Oriental poppy, Austin (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
Others, along with spiderworts and larkspurs, are pushing over 3’.

Poppies, bearded iris, spiderworts in Austin Texas garden (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
Painful as it was, I yanked out many to rescue the plants underneath and to make room for the new Variegated flax lilies (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’) I wanted to get in before the rain. Beyond, the spiraea and Lady Banks rose are still in gear; the Cecile Brunner on the shed trellis still to burst.

Poppies, spiraea, Lady Banks rose Austin garden (c) Linda Lehmusvirta

Here’s a view after some thinning.

Spring garden Austin (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
Another Freesia laxa showed up against the Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ that I also whacked, since it was flopping all over the place. Some people dislike this plant because it gets woody and sparse, but if you prune it now, it will fluff out nicely.

This front view reveals our latest project in the works—details and more pictures coming next week!   Still playing with ideas to replace the dead grass.

Here’s a closer shot, where Cedric’s found a new spot to nap near Greg’s sculptures. In the recent granite section beyond, I planted frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora), a native groundcover that attracts bees and butterflies.

On the back side of the mountain laurel, I pulled out a few of the widow’s tears (false dayflower) and my beloved Baby blue-eyes, a passalong from MSS at Zanthan Gardens a few years ago. I’ve left plenty to guarantee seeds for next year!

At the rental side fence, I cleared away a few oxalis and baby blues to rescue a butterfly iris (Dietes bicolor).

Even though the oxalis is out of control, I’m keeping lots of it because the bees LOVE this winter bloomer.

What a spring it’s been, even though it’s only been official a few days. In Devine, near San Antonio, Donna Sanders has never seen her huisache trees (Acacia farnesiana) bloom quite like this!

Huisache tree in San Antonio (c) Donna Sanders

Huisache flowers (c) Donna Sanders

There are lots of events coming up! One of the big ones is the Zilker Garden Festival March 31 and April 1. I’ll actually be joining a super lineup of speakers! At 12:30 on March 31, I’ll present Psycho (Lighting) Plants. And be nabbing a few more plants, of course!

Inland sea oats seed heads (c) Linda Lehmusvirta

Hope to see you there!  See you next week, Linda

Homegrown perfume factory

Right now, my garden is a perfume factory working overtime. Mountain laurel blossoms mingle with the sweetness of bridal-gowned Mexican plum.

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta

Beneficial insects swoop between them and ‘Spring Bouquet’ viburnums.

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta
As I pruned ‘Maggie’ at last, I had to stop now and then to “smell the roses.”

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta
Narcissus ‘Falconet’ beckons a tête-à-tête to catch a gentle whiff.

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta
I have to get even closer to catch the scent of spring starflowers (Ipheion uniflorum) and the few grape hyacinths I have. These are actually Muscari, though I have no clue which one.

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta
White summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) and the flowers of silver bush germander (Teucrium fruticans) are too subtle for my allergy-stricken nose, but they sure are pretty.

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta

Here’s a wider shot that includes snapdragons, the first I’ve planted in years. I’m loving it!

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta

Perennial Scotty’s Surprise oxalis (discovered by Scott Ogden) and winter annual snapdragons appeal more to the eye than to the nose.

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta

This bed is more structural than fragrant, with young pine muhly (Muhlenbergia dubia), shrimp plant, Yucca ‘Margaritaville’, pink skullcap, dwarf Jerusalem sage, purple heart, heartleaf skullcap, and winter annual stocks.

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta

Still, the Jerusalem sage has a slight sage-y scent, and the stocks are nose-stoppers!

(c) Linda Lehmusvirta

Sadly, the 89° last week means that my stock of stocks is about to run out. Fun while it lasted! In April, I think I’m going to install Texas Superstar angelonias in their place.

Event of the week: The First Austin African Violet Society hosts its 44th judged show and sale “African Violets and Other Wonders of the World” on March 17 and 18 at Zilker Botanical Garden. Guaranteed to make your indoor garden as glamorous as the one outside!

See you next week, Linda

Drought-tough bulbs

Spiderworts (Tradescantia gigantea) say, “Hey, what drought?!”

Spiderwort leaves emerging in fall
These native early birds are already up. Like kids counting down to Santa, they can’t wait to open their presents to us come spring.

Pink spiderwort tradescantia gigantea
Drought doesn’t scare off naturalizing rhizomes like spiderworts, or bulbs like Narcissus ‘Falconet’.

Narcissus Falconet with spiderwort

Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’ and Leucojum too have shared more than one rain-deprived season with me.

Narcissus Erlicheer with leucojum
If anything, it’s the monsoon years or diligent sprinkler systems that rot bulbs to death. Narcissus ‘Grand Primo’ is another that’s been around in gardens longer than mine, rain and shine.

Narcissus Grand Primo
By November, when it’s time to plant our spring bulbs like Spring starflower (Ipheion) you know it’s bound to be cooler!  With or without the first pop of rain, the oxalis will show up soon, too.

Spring star flower (Ipheion) with oxali
Still, the ones that can entice us may be annuals for us. That’s fine if you want that burst of magic for just a year.  If you’re like me, and prefer to plant for the long-term, join Tom and Chris Wiesinger this week to select the naturalizing bulbs that will be around a lot longer than the time it took you to plant them!

Tom Spencer and Chris Wiesinger

Known as “The Bulb Hunter,” Chris is the guy behind The Southern Bulb Company.  He drives the back roads to save old bulbs from bulldozers, and knocks on doors to collect a few heirlooms from old fields and gardens. He’s found the survivors that pass along the rich heritage that bulbs contribute to our garden delight.

Crinum lily Southern Bulb Company

He and Tom get into bulb details, like how to plant and fertilize.  Then they travel the bulb road from spring to fall. One for spring is Narcissus ‘Golden Dawn.’

Narcissus 'Golden Dawn' The Southern Bulb Company
Late spring brings Johnson’s amaryllis (Hippeastrum x johnsonii).

Hardy Amaryllis Hippeastrom x johnsonii

For summer, think crinums, like ‘Mrs. James Hendry.’

Mrs. James Hendry crinum lily

In fall, pair oxblood lilies and lycoris with Autumn crocus (Sternbergia lutea).

autumn crocus (Sternbergia lutea)

Ooh, can’t you just imagine those little tufts of yellow peeking out among the brilliant reds?

Get Chris’s bulb list. A caveat: some of them he mentions, like Tulipa praecox, are extremely hard to find. Give The Bulb Hunter some time and keep an eye out for them. Find out lots more in his incredible book, Heirloom Bulbs for Today, published by Bright Sky Press.

Heirloom Bulbs For Today

He and co-author Cherie Foster Colburn fill your imagination with heritage stories, but fulfill your practical side with exact information on planting and bloom times.  Along with exceptional photographs, it’s beautifully illustrated by Loela Barry and Johan Kritzinger of JoLoè Art.

JoLoè Art Narcissu Grand Primo illustration

And if you’re on the hunt for indoor décor, notecards, or original design clothing, here’s more from JoLoè Art!

JoLoè Art tulip note card

JoLoè Art Bellissimo clothes

Here’s a picture of the whole gang in front of framed prints. Johan, Loela, Cherie, and Chris. And thanks to Michael Hardy at The Southern Bulb Company for all his help!

Heirloom Bulbs for Today

Daphne continues our “bulb” theme with a question we often get: Why don’t my bearded irises bloom?

Bearded iris 'Raspberry Frills'

These are supreme drought-tough plants, beloved for their perpetual striking foliage and bounteous flowers in spring. But if they don’t bloom, they could be lacking in sun, nutrients, or suffering from borers or rot. Most of the time, they’re simply over-crowded. Daphne explains what to do!

For a demonstration on how to divide bulbs, check out this video with Trisha.

On tour, we re-visit Lauren and Scott Ogden’s garden where drought-tough structural plants join seasonal surprises.

In these endless hot days, I’ve been shading new plants like crazy. We think of row cover as frost protection, but this week Trisha explains how to use lightweight rowcover to block 15-20% of the light barreling down on your new plants.

Trisha Shirey row cover and rebar hoops

This is a great idea if you’re planting vegetable seeds this hot fall. A little shade will protect those seedlings so they don’t fall over in disgust.

And since you never know what winter will bring us, be looking around for heavyweight rowcover to protect tender succulents and vegetables in a few months.  Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine cold weather, but you may recall last year’s “weather event.”  Boy Scout motto for gardeners, “Be Prepared.”

Augie doggie’s Garden Pet of the Week is Jack!

Central Texas Gardener Pet of the Week Jack
Jack’s a miniature schnauzer who loves his dad’s garden. And we do, too!  Is that gorgeous or what? Seth Moore set up this birdbath for our thirsty garden friends, but they can’t resist sharing with cute little Jack!

Hey, send me your favorite garden pet, drought-tough plant, tip of the week, and question to to feature on CTG!  What’s your plant or tip to help us through the drought?

Follow us on Facebook for CTG updates along with super viewer tips and pictures.

Until next week, Linda

Tough plants for tough times|William Welch Heirloom Gardening in the South

The garden’s under serious sag alert. Not many of my plants are whiners, but right now I need ear plugs. Crinum ‘Ellen Bosanquet’ didn’t join the chorus, though she delayed her yearly performance by about 10 days until she got a dose of rain.

Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet'
She is a tad grouchy, but has seen worse since Louis Percival Bosanquet hybridized her around 1930 in honor of his wife.

Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet'
Like us, she sags within minutes when her flowers open in early morning.  By early afternoon, when shade gives her a break, she’s done for the day. But she’s a tough old broad who rebounds the next morning.

Crinum lily 'Ellen Bosanquet'
Then, in the scalding afternoon sun on July 4, the mystery pink crinum in the cat cove decided to put on some fireworks.  This one gets full sun almost all day.  To each her own.

Pink crinum lily with flame acanthus
Both of these were passalongs, and their recent history is glued to mine. But as we ponder when rain will come our way again, let’s get the backstory behind some of our toughest plants.

In Heirloom Gardening in the South: Yesterday’s Plants for Today’s Gardens, recently released by Texas A&M University Press, William C. Welch and Greg Grant captivate us with the cross-cultural melting pot of garden design that influences us today.

Heirloom Gardening in the South: Yesterday's Plants for Today's Gardens
To tell you a few of the stories, this week on CTG, Tom meets with William Welch, Texas A&M Extension Landscape Horticulturist.

Tom Spencer and William C. Welch on Central Texas Gardener
Today’s designs found their roots in the settlers who brought along their seeds, divisions, and visions, eventually revised and integrated as the melting pot converged.

Bottle tree Heirloom Gardening in the South

Heirloom Gardening in the South William C. Welch

In Heirloom Gardening in the South, discover which native plants were respected for survival, those that made their way to our shores, and the ones that have stuck it out through thick and thin. Discover the reason behind “swept gardens” and how plants like crinums and Phlox paniculata ‘John Fanick’ found their way into our backyards.

Phlox paniculata ‘John Fanick’
In this beautifully written and illustrated book, Bill and Greg remind me of the origin of my reliable oxblood lilies. Some Septembers, drought deters them a bit, but I never lose them.

Oxblood lily
For years, Bill and Greg have been my vicarious garden mentors. As a new gardener, I devoured their book, The Southern Heirloom Garden (their new book is an expanded and revised version).  Other books by William C. Welch to add to your library:

* Perennial Garden Color
* The Bountiful Flower Garden: Growing and Sharing Cut Flowers (with Neil Odenwald)

And be sure to check out Greg Grant’s heirloom plant stories and cultivation tips at Arcadia Archives. Also, every month in Texas Gardener magazine, travel with him along the back roads of plant history and restoration.

Onto my Christmas Kindle, I even got his Kindle book: In Greg’s Garden: A Pineywoods Perspective on Gardening, Nature & Family.

On tour, the past meets present in garden designer Mitzi VanSant’s positively adorable 1929 Arts and Crafts bungalow and formal garden in Smithville.

Mitzi VanSant The Fragrant Garden

Mitzi VanSant, The Fragrant Garden

She was but a name to me when years ago, she joined the Texas Rose Rustlers–along with William Welch, Michael Shoup, Pam Puryear, and many others–to rescue old, hardy roses and bring them into cultivation

In her new garden, 2011 meets 1929 with hardy roses and other fragrant plants, along with vegetable gardens lined with pass-along irises. See how she designed a children’s garden to pass along to her grandchildren the sensory memories from her grandparents. On Mitzi’s website, The Fragrant Garden, get her diverse plant list to  include in your waterwise garden.

Daphne’s plant of the week, Lamb’s ears (Stachys Byzantina), found its way to Central Texas from its origins in Turkey, Armenia, and Iran.

Lamb's ears 'Helen von Stein'
Its low fuzzy silvery-gray foliage is a delicious prompt against flowering plants or taller evergreens.  As Daphne tells us, its enemies are poor drainage and too much water, which leads to rot. And even though it likes sun, Daphne reminds us that it wants some protection from hot afternoon sun. I can attest to that! I’ll spare you the picture: it’s gruesome.

Plus, get her summer survival tips. For sure, take a break and let your plants have one too. Avoid fertilizing and pruning (light deadheading is okay). Raise that mower up and never mow more than 1/3 off the top. I watched someone scalp my neighbor’s yard last weekend. What little grass was left will be dead by this weekend.

But you can fertilize and prune your pond plants! Steve Kainer from Hill County Water Gardens & Nursery demonstrates how to tidy up your pond plants.

Steve Kainer, Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery, Central Texas Gardener

And, get his technique to fertilize your pond containers with ONE 10-26-10 tablet per gallon of pot.

Until next week, hang in there! Linda