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Creative Gardening with Recycled Finds

encore air date: December 19, 2013

original air date: November 16, 2013

William Glenn from Garden-Ville grabs our imagination with repurposed finds that are inexpensive and fun. On tour, Paul Lofton relied on ingenuity, instead of cash, to turn grass into delightful garden destinations. Celebrate Lady Bird with Daphne’s Plant of the Week: Texas Superstar ‘Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue’ bluebonnet. If it’s time to cut back your too-woody thyme, Daphne shows us how. Eric Pedley from East Austin Succulents propagates succulents for a wealth of free plants.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Garden Design on a Budget with Paul Lofton

Paul Lofton partners with imagination and DIY creativity in his expansive low-water garden on a budget. When he finds a good plant, he simply makes another. He adds to his home-made compost with Pflugerville’s free compost and mulch to turn lawn into gardens that attract wildlife of all kinds. Scavenged stones become walkways, intimate garden spaces and benches.


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Question of the Week

My thyme is really woody. What can I do?

Thyme, like many perennial herbs and groundcovers, can get woody, with new growth just at the edges and a woody unsightly center.

This happens a lot with the ones that are marginally evergreen here in Central Texas, since our winters aren’t always cold enough to freeze them to the ground every year.

And while some plants are completely wiped out by frosts and freezes, other plants really need those frosty temps to kill back all of their top growth and make way for new, reinvigorating growth from the roots.

But when those frosty temps don’t arrive, they just keep growing, mostly from the tips, leaving a pretty ugly, and unhealthy, plant.

This happened to me this year, with some thyme that I planted a couple of years ago. It grew quickly, as did the plants surrounding it, and was trailing over the retaining wall in no time. It was so pretty and lush that I just couldn’t bring myself to prune it last year, so this year I paid the price.

The result was an ugly, twiggy mess that finally had to be dealt with. If you have this issue, be brave and cut it all the way back to the ground.

Start by pulling everything away from the center and just cut it all off; even areas of new growth. When you start to pull back and cut, you’ll notice lots of sprouting leaves trying to make their way out from the bottom. But don’t be tempted to leave any of that behind. Cut all the way to the ground. Even if you have one side that’s relatively healthy and green, go ahead and prune that out too.

The plant won’t produce any new growth back in those old, woody areas. It needs fresh, tender shoots to grow from. If your plant is struggling, you can cut it back anytime, but the fall is a great time for this garden chore.

After pruning to the ground in fall, put the plant to bed for the winter. Cover the small twigs and bits of new growth completely with mulch. This will protect and insulate the plant, and encourage it to concentrate on roots for a few months. And next spring it’ll take off like a rocket, refilling the space in no time.

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Plant of the Week

Bluebonnet (Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue)

Bluebonnet (Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue)

'Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue', a new Texas Superstar, is indeed a star to celebrate the First Lady who championed our wildflowers. There are lots of different colors of bluebonnets, including pink, white, and even deep crimson maroon. There are also a wide variety of blues. This new cultivar truly is royal blue. It was originally found in a field among other bluebonnets, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension specialists snagged some seeds and went to work. Bluebonnets are notorious cross-pollinators, so flower colors do not remain true unless selections are isolated. Since 2007, our researchers have been working to make sure that any seed of this new cultivar will be truly royal blue, and now you can purchase seed packets of this gorgeous wildflower. If you act quickly, there's just enough time to still plant from seed in mid-November. But if you miss your window or seed suppliers are out, pick up transplants at local nurseries now or even in the spring. Be sure to keep bluebonnets and all other wildflowers watered throughout the winter, but don't overwater transplants in spring. If you have heavy clay soil, these plants will rot in a heartbeat if they stay too wet. Bluebonnets are annuals that die every year, but will leave a bank of seeds behind for the future. These seeds may not all come back royal blue, though, since any other native plants in the area will have pollen blowing around. So you'll likely notice your bluebonnet patch revert back to mostly the pretty pale blue flowers in the future, unless you remove all of the seed from your plants and use new seed each year.