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

Obsessed With Fascinating Plants

Plants fascinate me! With no internet connection whatsoever, they know exactly what to do when the time is right. My Byzantine gladiolus corms  always greet winter with tidy upright leaves.  They time their vivid flowers for April to make sure we notice them in spring madness.

Byzantine gladiolus (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
Usually the larkspurs hang around to join them.

Byzantine gladious with larkspur (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
The cat cove rose arbor is a little out of control. I’ll tame it after I get my quota of homegrown perfume.

Rose arbor Buff Beauty and New Dawn roses
When I planted my Christmas present arbor a few years ago, I couldn’t decide which roses I wanted most.  So on one side, I planted Buff Beauty.

Buff Beauty rose
On the other, New Dawn.

Rose New Dawn
They’re good friends that astound me with their self-sufficiency and tenacity through flood, freeze, and drought, with fragrance so rich you can almost see it.

Equally self-motivated: Marie Pavie rose and Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) in the patio cove. If I could bottle their fragrances (with a cute label, of course) I’d be rich, rich, rich!

Star jasmine and Marie Pavie rose near patio fountain

I’ve trained my Star (Confederate) jasmine into a shrub form. You can also use it as a groundcover or as a vine to hide a chain link fence. Or on a trellis to hide the neighbor’s boat!

Star jasmine trained in shrub form

The white theme continues on the garden side of the patio with blackfoot daisy, winecup, and my new native frogfruit, already blooming tiny white flowers. They are too small to see in this view; will post pictures when they go into full gear.

Winecup, blackfoot daisy, frogfruit
This front bed got out its post-Easter whites, too. The stem of my Yucca pallida fell over in excitement to hunker down with purple heart.

Yucca pallida flower with purple heart

Yucca pallida flowers

One of the most fascinating plants in the world is the orchid. This week on Central Texas Gardener, I’m thrilled to meet with Susan Orlean, staff writer for The New Yorker, and author of The Orchid Thief.

Susan Orlean on Central Texas Gardener

If you’ve always wanted to meet her, now you can connect to this passionate writer who chronicles for us her journalistic exploration into the botanical intricacy of orchids. Susan also explains what started her obsession that drove her to swamps, abandon normal life, and ultimately inspire the movie Adaptation! Personally, I like the book much better!

The Orchid Thief

On tour, meet orchid grower Monica Gaylord, who just steps outside her bedroom doors to an orchid greenhouse that soothes her soul and intrigues her mind.

Meet Monica in person and soothe your own soul at the Heart O’ Texas Orchid Society’s show and sale on April 28 and 29 at Zilker Botanical Garden.  Like Susan Orlean, I bet the rest of the world will vanish as you gaze into flowers so intricate that they could inspire a book!

And what about this fascinating growth that’s showing up in gardens all over?

Slime mold (c) David Mcniel
It’s slime mold, Daphne’s question of the week. Thanks to David McNiel for sending this in!  Is it harmful?  What should we do about it? Daphne reports that bacteria are their preferred food source.

Slime mold occurs when there is high relative humidity and warm temperatures—exactly our conditions lately.  And no, they are not harmful. Enjoy them for their oddity or throw them in the compost pile.

Before you throw all your (non-seeding) weeds into the compost pile, turn them into nutritious fertilizer!  Trisha Shirey explains how to make weed teas for your garden and container plants.

Trisha Shirey makes weed teas
Get Trisha’s instructions and extensive list, which includes the nutrients and trace minerals from various weeds, old Swiss chard, comfrey, eggshells, coffee grounds and more.

Lots of events this weekend but here’s another: It’s About Thyme invites you to their free workshop on Sunday, April 22 at 20 p.m. George Altgelt from Geo Growers presents this Earth Day Special: “Realizing the Principles of Food Safety and Self-Reliance
within the Texas Home Gardening Tradition.”

See you next week! Linda