Garden of E


My Info

Austin, Texas
I've lived and gardened in urban Austin for the past 8 years, after retiring from the last of my several careers. BR (before retirement), most of my life was spent in colder places like Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, and Boston MA. Best thing I've done AR-- becoming a Master Gardener. Other passions-- Austin Farmers' Market, grandchildren, and travel.

photo by Elsa, age 7

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Happens in January When Your Back is Turned

I spent a week in Michigan freezing my butt off, and another week of general busy-ness.  Then two days ago I finally made the rounds in the back garden--it's amazing what exuberance the rain and whacky weather have created.

Such as... 25 square feet of tightly packed lettuces, 6 different kinds:

Giant leaves of chard just waiting to be thrown into chicken soup:

A six-by-six bed of carrots grown twice as large as they were two weeks ago:

Self-sown larkspur crowd into a corner by the back fence:

And oops, looks like I threw down an awful lot of poppy seeds:

A Supertunia I've had since April 2010 has risen again:

And finally, what a surprise to see the loropetalum 'rubrum' covered in bloom!

What will happen if we get a prolonged sub-freezing spell like last February's? Anyone willing to wager how many days below freezing we'll get between now and March 1?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blooming in spite of it all

I promise I took these shots on the 15th, though I'm a little late posting for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  Some plants are carrying on bravely but look somewhat washed out in our harsh summer light.
One of my favorite is gomphrena--here are the red and purple varieties against a background of trailing lantana.

This summer snapdragon (angelonia ) is true to its nickname.  Next to it is a supertunia picked up at Shoal Creek.  In June it browned back severely, so I cut it back to a few green stubs, and this is its comeback--super.

If they're lucky, my several plumbagos get some water about once a week.

This dianthus was potted three years ago.  The cleome seeds itself everywhere.  Zexmenia (background) would live in hell if it had to.

Thyrallis looks spring-like and fragile but will bloom in the heat for a long time.

Passionvine blooms seem to come in waves--this week about ten popped up on this plant.

Pigeonberry--the happy little groundcover that continues growing and blooming even while forming its red berries.

And what would I do without my giant flame acanthus bush within a few feet of my back porch.  Hummingbirds galore!

Elsewhere in the garden-- riots of orange cosmos, four-nerve daisy, Black n Blue salvia, indigo spires, frogfruit with its tiny white blossoms, tropical sage, Pride of Barbados, and the ubiquitous blackfoot daisy.
Can we keep this up for another month?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The dead, wounded, and missing in action

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings

To his strong bones, strides o'er the groaning rocks:

He withers all in silence, and his hand

Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

- William Blake, Poetical Sketches - Winter, 1783

It's taken a couple of bleak winter weeks (and I hope they're the last this year) to prompt me to post after a long hiatus. Texas gardeners are fond of taking risks with marginally hardy plant, and this year has proved which ones have true mettle. The scene last week didn't look promising.
In my garden some things definitely look dead, such as this no-name euphorbia that once upon a time was upright

and the pretty pine-cone cactus that has lost its oomph.

Another of my favorite succulents looks like it has some real green left; it's not an upright form, so its recumbent state is normal.

The society garlic, of which I have many, looked like goners, but then I noticed some bright green at the centers.

I was worried that my manfreda undulata "chocolate chips" that I had dug up and divided when it pupped in the fall would be mush, but it looks like the center spike has life.

I saved what little bulbine survived last year's 17 degrees and replanted it. Through that act of natural selection, it looks like it will pull through.

Aloe "lizard lips," my favorite variegated aloe, earns a gold star for being hardy enough to survive two winters without being brought inside.

In the vegetable garden, the more exotic plants in the mesclun mix are toast

and the more common lettuces like Red Sails and Salad Bowl are a little shriveled but still growing.

The sweet bay tree is still green and pretty with its snow frosting. Other things I found healthy and green: lambs' ears, Mexican oregano, both kinds of rosemary, lavender, oregano, and snapdragons.  Those paperwhites that had dared to start blooming lost their heads.

Finally, just so we don't lose our perspective on how our weather contrasts with the east coast, this weather map sent to me by a friend in New Hampshire:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Catching Up (or Gettin' A Round Tuit)

I know it's been months since I posted, and I have no excuse, but it was a cold and dreary winter, and garden-wise there wasn't much going on except for the winter vegetables. The lettuces did spectacularly this year, and I was practically begging neighbors and friends to come and get some.  Here's the final carrot harvest so I could make way for the tomatoes and peppers.
The 'good' days to get out and cut back dead stuff were few and far between--it was either raining or too cold. Okay, whining is over, and spring has come and gone. A lot of time was spent simply cleaning up and looking for what was dead or alive. Alive won.

The agaves did well, except for the ornithobroma, which croaked. Amazingly, the manfreda undulata "Chocolate Chips" had just a few little tip-burns, and on April 6 I found this bloom stalk shooting up. (Note the size of the mullein next to it-more on that later.)

Only 9 days later, it looked like this!
Today it measures 8 feet. YuccaDo says it usually blooms in June, but it popped out last week. More weird than impressive.

Cold weather and rain produced other miracles, such as these profuse 2 year old petunias in March...

iris at least a foot taller than ever before in April...

what had been 3 little lambs ears exploding over the gravel path (I was always told they hate to be wet)...
the best my Jerusalem sage has ever bloomed...

and a spectacular mullein that I didn't know would grow this big, and that I had to remove since it was covering up other plants.

Another little miracle was the pair of Carolina wrens that decided in mid-April to build a nest in this gourd hanging from the back porch rafter.
For 2 weeks the 'dad' bird constantly brought food to 'mom' on the nest.  It became obvious that the eggs had hatched when one day I noticed that both mom and dad were bringing food to the nest--it was so cute to watch them take turns, sometimes both arriving at the same time and one waiting patiently on the fence top while the other one poked bugs into the invisible hungry mouths.  About 2 weeks after the feeding began, both birds one morning became very animated, hopping up and down on the porch railing under the nest and singing loudly as if to say, "Okay kids, it's time to fly."  By this time I had begun to see 1 or 2 little heads peeking out from the nest hole.  After about 20 minutes of encouragement, the first one ventures out but isn't sure if he wants to try it.

His first flight is about 6 feet to the fence.

And within the next 10 minutes all 5 babies had taken wing, with mom and dad following them around the yard anxiously and noisily.  The birds got very used to me and I felt privileged to have been a bird 'auntie.'

Finally, as one who is constantly on the hunt for leaf-footed bugs on my tomatoes, I have to share a discovery with you.  One morning on a pink poppy plant that had grown up in the patio I found adult, juvenile and hatchling leaf-footed bugs and promptly killed them.  A couple of hours later I looked again and there were more hatchlings--same process.  I've probably eliminated about 100 of these bugs on the poppy plant in the last week.  Next year I will plant poppies much closer to where the tomatoes are growing to take advantage of this new-found trap!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November Bloom Day

I know, I know, it was yesterday, but I was busy making spaghetti sauce, and then spent the evening eating it, with a Farmers' Market salad and a good chianti.  Besides I wouldn't want to spoil my record of always posting a day late to Carol of May Dreams' invitation to show what's blooming.
A better question might be, "What's not blooming?"  Passionvine and Chiapas sage are all I can think of.

The paperwhite narcissus (against tropical sage) is something I usually enjoy around Christmastime, but this is not a normal year.

Out front, the Fairy rose wrestles for space with plumbago, bulbine, blackfoot daisy, and salvia greggii.

A monarch lights on purple coneflower.

"Kingswood Torch" coleus

The always-reliable cosmos, which has been blooming steadily since April.

The volunteer Gerber daisy

The pigeonberry puts on more color in fall.

Delicate and dainty Cecile Bruner

The very long-lived red, orange, and pink zinnias--remember, Felder Rushing says, "Every color goes with every other color."

Love this pinky-orange.

It's after midnight, late again.