Spring into summer with gusto

Can you believe this? We’ve had spring (and winter!) longer than 15 minutes. Poppies keep popping up with spuria iris.
corn poppy, seedhead, spuria iris

I can’t have too many native winecups.

winecup central texas gardener
In the cat cove, they team up with Gulf penstemon and Calylophus berlandieri ssp. Pinifolius.

Gulf penstemon, winecup, calylophus
And this time of year is just about my favorite on the patio, when Marie Pavie and star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) double up on perfume whammy.

rose marie pavie and star jasimine flower fragrance
In a Temple garden we taped recently, I love this combination of Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Yellow’, bluebonnets and sotol.

yellow hesperaloe, bluebonnets, sotol in Temple Texas
But it’s about time to shed spring and get those hot weather beauties in the ground.

Jeff Yarbrough from Emerald Garden Nursery and Watergardens joins Tom this week to dazzle us with annuals, perennials and shrubs that put the love back into summer!

Tom Spencer and Jeff Yarbrough Emerald Garden

Get his list for hot weather sizzle, including an intriguing dwarf pomegranate ‘Purple Sunset’ and a new esperanza on the scene.

Oh yes, don’t forget that Jeff’s an expert, locally-oriented plantsman who can help you with anything, including ponds. Emerald Garden also hosts free workshops on every topic under the sun!

Now, about local nurseries: Howard Nursery populated many gardens from 1912 until 2006.

Howard Nursery austin texas
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?”

So, it’s a special honor to present her as our featured gardener on tour. At home with Robin, now working as a landscape designer, she gives us her essential starting points with plants and design. I love our conversation about the changing trends that we’ve witnessed together.

Something I never knew about Robin is her artistic whimsy, like these bird baths she crafted from plates and vases.

bird bath with old plates and vases Robin Howard Moore

This one inspires a trip to the thrift store: a marble-embedded bowling ball, a gift from Anne of the Shady Hollow Garden Club, to brighten up a shady spot.

garden art bowling ball with marbles

Robin’s growing Rangoon Creeper in semi-shade, but in San Antonio, Ragna Hersey has this adaptable plant in a few hours of sun. Others have it in full sun.

Daphne gives us the scoop on this drought and freeze-tough tropical that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

Rangoon Creeper flower

Our viewer question comes from Pete Vera: how to mulch with our scatter spots of rain?

soil compost mulch

Wow, is this a great question or what? You know what happens: we get that 1/10” that just sloughs right off. As always, Daphne has the answer.

And, Trisha’s got the perfect answer for all those weeds that love that little bit of rain: put them to work as natural teas to fertilize your plants!

Until next week, visit your local nursery and thank these hard-working folks for helping us grow locally and beautifully. Linda

Make a Fall Resolution to Get Growing!

It’s a sure sign that fall is really coming when Oxblood lilies bloom! Mine started showing up two weeks early near the  patio Turk’s cap, thanks to the bit of rain I got. We’re finally turning the corner, folks.

Oxblood lily with Turk's cap
So, that means it’s time to get a jump on holiday ornaments—at least for those who don’t wait until the last minute (I’m raising my hand). One that even a non-craft person like me can handle is the dried seed pods from butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera), Daphne’s Pick of the Week.

Butterfly vine seed pods as Christmas ornaments
She explains how to grow this drought-tough perennial for brilliant yellow flowers that bloom all summer to feed beneficial insects. When the green pods dry to brown, you’re ready to go.

Butterfly vine flowers and green seed pods
Now, here’s something truly fantastic with them and poppy seed pods. The artisans behind these creations just hit a landmark age: 10 years old!

butterfly vine crafts for kids
Thanks to Nina Matts and her friend Tylar for sharing, and to mom Maria Matts for sending along to inspire your little artists!

I bet many of you have seen this, due to the healthy population of black-margined pecan aphids, crape myrtle aphids and whiteflies.  Even other trees in my garden got hit this year. Thanks to Felicia Kongable for this picture of her blotchy pecan tree leaves affected by aphids. Daphne explains what is going on, why sooty mold then develops, and what to do about it.

Sooty mold on pecan leaves
My lamb’s ears and other plants suffered from sooty mold, the “byproduct” of insect honeydew secretions “raining” on them from the overhead crape myrtle. They’ve all recovered just fine.

Lamb's ears with sooty mold
My list of fall projects is longer than my arm, but here’s the site of one back-to-business coming soon.

linda project

I’m digging out the primrose jasmine and wayward passion vine (there’s tons more, so the butterflies are good) to build a new fall vegetable garden with 2 levels of 6×6 dry stack stone. It’ll be around 3 x 10; I’ll leave room between it and the turk’s cap.

That’s because it’s time to gear up for fall vegetable planting! This week, Tom joins Randy Jewart from Resolution Gardens for tips for your table.

Randy Jewart Resolution Gardens
Resolution Gardens started in 2009 as a project of Austin Green Art. Their motto is “Grow Food. We’ll Help.” to implement their mission to bring local organic food into everyone’s kitchen.

Resolution Gardens Austin Texas

They’ll build and plant it for you or just come give you a weekly hand.

Resolution Gardens Austin Texas

Resolution Gardens Austin Texas

Resolution Gardens Austin Texas

They also do landscape design, water features, outdoor sculpture and even tree trimming! Isn’t this just lovely? Food for the family & the wildlife!

Resolution Gardens Austin Texas

Visit them at 5 Miles Farms, 5213 Jim Hogg Avenue, to see what and how they’re growing. If you just want to pick up some fresh food, current farm stand hours are Friday & Saturday noon –6 p.m. and Sunday noon – 3. You can also sign up for their CSA. Membership includes free admission to their delightful dinners and hands-on workshops.

5 miles Farms Austin Texas

On September 22, Resolution Gardens is conducting two workshops: Fall Planting Demo and Build Your Own Salad Garden Workshop.  Find out more.
October 20, you’ve got to bring the whole family to make a 21st Century SCARECROW that actually works to repel garden pests! Randy shows off a super cool one on CTG to inspire the artist in you and your kids. Randy invites everyone to #SCARECROW to join the collective goal to promote local, healthy and sustainable food.

Resolution Gardens Austin Texas

And find out how they’re engaging local gardeners in 5 Miles Farms (add your name!), an innovative concept that contributes to their CSA produce. Follow the growing seasons with them via their blog.

On tour, we head to Brenham, where Sally and Jay White built a charming potager on a former Coastal bermudagrass ranch.

Brenham potager Central Texas Gardener
See how they managed to keep the tenacious grass out of their year-round garden of food and flowers. Plus, get Jay’s tips for such a bountiful organic garden!

Brenham potager

Also, check out his freelance stories for Texas Gardener magazine, and his blog, The Masters of Horticulture, for edibles and lots more.

Hey, the next time you’re in Brenham, be sure to stop in at JW’s Steakhouse in nearby Carmine!

JW's Steakhouse

Ed Fuentes, Steve Maedl and I thank Sally & Jay for this yummy recommendation.

fried chicken at JW's Steakhouse

Since it’s still too hot to direct sow some vegetables, John Dromgoole shows how to start seeds in containers.  His tips are great, too, to jump-start summer crops this winter.

How to start seeds with John Dromgoole
Finally, take a look at these Black Spanish grapes that viewer Jason Lantz and his girlfriend are growing. They have a very delicious garden!

Black Spanish grapes
Happy planting and see you next week, Linda

Blooming for Wildlife!

My namesake bloomed this week!

Linda lily
In 2008, I couldn’t resist a try at the Asiatic lily ‘Linda’.  Her visit is brief, but worth it for that vibrant golden orange, just lovely against the last of the larkspurs.

This daylily in the den bed companions the orange theme.

Tawny daylily

When I got it years ago, it was simply called ‘Tawny.’ This could be the “ditch lily” (Hemerocallis fulva) but mine isn’t invasive.

The white mistflowers, also called boneset (Ageratina havanensis) are growing like crazy and flowering way ahead of their fall schedule. I’m adding more!

white mistflower Ageratina havanensis
They’re perfect for those part shade spots to entice butterflies and other pollinators.

hite mistflower (Ageratina havanensis or Eupatorium havanense)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), one of the first natives I planted, is another pollinator love. It runs like crazy, but the delicate ferny foliage is quite a distinctive counterpoint to brisker leaves.  And you can’t beat its tenacity in drought, freeze, flood!

White yarrow (Achillea millfolium)
In front, feverfew towers above the Yucca rupicola x pallida.

Feverfew with Yucca rupicola x pallida
Apparently bees don’t like its flowers but it hasn’t scared them off from other flowering plants nearby.

Feverfew flowers

Here’s another orange for you, Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), a true draw for hummingbirds. On Daphne’s Pick of the Week, she explains how to grow it in your shady spots.  Viewer Nancy Yerks sent in this from her garden, photographed by friend Bob Phillips.

Mexican honeysuckle Justicia spicigera Georgetown Texas
She moved them from a former garden and last year they were a little slow to establish.  They’re now quite at home in the southwest corner of her garden where they get shade from a cedar elm.  Mine are still young and will take another season to fill my partly shady areas and look like these in Paul Lofton’s garden!

Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) in Pfugerville Texas
Daphne notes: It’s not a vining plant at all; it’s actually related to shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana), another great part shade to sun lover that attracts hummingbirds.

On Backyard Basics, Lyda Guz from The Natural Gardener steps in front of the CTG cameras for the first time to share her passion about plants for butterflies!

Butterfly plants Lyda Guz The Natural Gardener
Many of her selections attract other pollinators, too. Plus, she reminds us to plant larval food hosts to invite your “happy hour nectaring” adults to lay some eggs for a return audience in a few months.

Lyda explains how to make a simple puddling spot, which butterflies love to nab some water and salt. Ripe fruit is a bonus. Another shot from Paul Lofton’s garden.

Butterfly puddling bowl

Gourds are another way to attract pollinators with their summer flowers that turn into cool things we can use! This week, Tom joins Suzanne Haffey from the Capital of Texas Gourd Patch/Texas Gourd Society and Charlotte Yeisley from Diamond Y Farm in Smithville to explain how to grow and craft with these historic plants.

Tom Spencer, Suzanne Haffey, Charlotte Yeisley
At the Texas Gourd Society’s show and sale every fall, get the most beautiful bowls, lamps, baskets and artwork. I’ve got several, but here are a couple that Suzanne made. Gorgeous!

gourd basket Texas Gourd Society Suzanne Haffey

Gourd artwork Suzanne Haffey Texas Gourd Society

Meet Charlotte and her husband Ed at the River Valley Farmers’ Market in Smithville for their organic produce. Or head to Smithville and ask for the Diamond Y Ranch for a personal tour, where they’re growing lots of gourds and vegetables.

Find out more about how to grow gourds and prep them for crafts with Trisha Shirey.

On tour, we head to Hutto for a healing garden that celebrates family, community, and wildlife after a scrape with cancer.

In my garden, I’m doing lots of touch-up pruning right now. What do you need to do? Get  Daphne’s answer on how/why/when to prune and how to fertilize as we head into the heat.

See ya next week! Linda

Freeze-dried & my one garden craft


Frozen Salvia coccinea

I knew the Salvia coccineas were soon to go. And they did, when it hit 19º at Bergstrom and 25º at Mabry. But the crape bed won’t be lonesome. It’s mostly intact, including the Dianellas (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’). They got a tad nipped, but are okay. The Agave celsii just beyond is fine. Bulbs, larkspurs, poppies, and the new violas will soon take their bit player roles on the winter transitory stage.

I really hated to lose the Tithonia (Mexican sunflower), since it finally bloomed with gusto for an appreciative butterfly crowd. Not even rowcover could save it. Behind it, the uncovered Swiss chard is laughing at all the fuss.

Frozen tithonia, Mexican sunflower

Visions of snow danced in my head, mainly one of the Iceberg rose frosted with flakes. We’ll have to leave that one to the imagination for now. Instead of a standout role, its ears just got nipped.

Iceberg rose nipped by frost

This weekend I’ll clean up the super fried, like the perennial and annual herbaceous salvias, the Hamelia patens, the Philippine violets, and woody perennials like flame acanthus. I’ll wait until late January for lantana and others.  In my garden, the lantana was nipped, but is still green with a few flowers. In my experience, a warm day sends them back into production. We don’t want that.

The freeze didn’t bother this Gulf fritillary chrysalis. It wiggles around on warm days, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

Gulf fritillary chrysalis

Just a few weeks ago, one of its cousins was chowing down. Hope it got big enough to pupate to safety in time.

Gulf fritillary caterpillar

Their passionvine host tends to upstage its fellow plants by smothering them. It’s difficult to deny the nursery food leaves, though, and the flowers that were still eye-popping lodes of nectar just a month ago.

Passionvine flower

Another vine that can also take over is the butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera).

butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera)

My passalong from neighbors Tom & Priscilla is still tiny, but by next year will do its job to cover a section of chain link fence. The freeze didn’t bother it a bit.

A few years ago, friends gave me bags of dried flowers from their butterfly vines. I’m all thumbs with garden crafts, but this I could handle.  Spray paint.  I turned them into a bowlful of holiday decorations, and even threw in some mountain laurel pods.  They last for years.

Butterfly vine holiday ornaments

Who knows?  When mine fills the fence with flowers, I may even make spring-colored ones, like I did for Greg’s mom.  Or pass along to you!

Today we taped CTG for January 9 and 16th.  Get ready for fruit trees, including dwarf varieties for small spaces,  Peckerwood Garden‘s favorite winter flowers, Lady Bird Johnson Adopt-a-Gardens, and a visit to East Side Patch! Trisha has persimmon tips and how to keep cats off plants. Daphne explains how your mushy agave can reward you yet.

Until next week, Linda