currently in Austin

the show

Garden Maintenance 101

air date: January 18, 2014

Designer Ginger Hudson spares us mistakes from tools to plants with interactive how-to for every season in her iBook, A Guide to Landscape Maintenance for Central Texas Gardens. On tour in Hutto, home of the hippos, Donna and Mike Fowler spark a family creative co-op of art, food, wildlife and fun.
Daphne multi-tasks hair clips to control unruly vines. Her Plant of the Week, ornamental kale, chases off the winter blues. John Dromgoole shows how to start seeds indoors with some new tricks.


Question of the Week

What’s an easy way to tie up vines and climbing roses?

Hair clips!

Recently, I had to anchor and train a very vigorous star jasmine. Twine is what lots of people use to tie up vines, but I got tired of continually dropping the twine down to the yard below while I clumsily tried to get it around the stem and into a knot.

I had also just tied tying up very thorny shrub rose and had the scratches to prove it. I thought: there has to be a better way!

And the next day, when clipping my hair up before heading out into the garden, the proverbial light bulb went off: I could use my little hair clips to hold the stems in place until they established the growing pattern that would keep them where I wanted them.

This technique worked so well that I went to the store for more hair clips. Although much more expensive than garden twine, hair clips are easier and faster to use, and can be recycled year after year.

You can remove them once the vines are growing in place on their own. Unlike twine, hair clips can be easily removed, without those annoying little knots that you need to untie or cut.

If you have vines or brambling plants that need to be attached more permanently, I’ve found that plastic zip ties are a good alternative and hold the stems in place more tightly.

Be sure to use twine or zip ties somewhat loosely on large-stemmed or woody plants to keep the plant from growing around the tie and becoming a part of the stem.

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Plant of the Week

Kale (Ornamental)

Kale (Ornamental)

Winter annual ornamental kale brings color to garden beds that would otherwise be empty during the colder months of winter. The foliage grows as a tight, colorful rosette until it shoots up a flower spike once the weather warms up. Ornamental kale is available in a wide variety of colors, but the most common are green purple or white accents. Unlike most other plants in the home garden, ornamental kale, with their uniformly round shape, look great when arranged systematically in tight rows or other patterns. You can also use them alone, in pockets among other attractive winter edibles and herbs, or to brighten spots with dormant plants all around. Plant ornamental kale in areas or full sun, or only light shade and water infrequently, or never, if winter rain is abundant. The plants tolerate a wide variety of soil types and also perform well and look great in shallow containers. A small plant, ornamental kale gets only 6 to 12 inches tall and about 18 inches wide, so they're perfect for container or patio gardens too.