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, 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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bloggers' road trip

The Austin Garden Bloggers' outing Saturday to San Antonio and other points south has been well documented by now, and a good thing, too, because... after taking just 9 shots, my battery died!  Oh well, here is a partial look at what was a glorious day in beautiful surroundings with a dozen or so affable companions.

The first stop was Madrone Nursery outside of San Marcos where we met the slightly eccentric but very knowledgeable owner, Dan Hosage, who regaled us while we were waiting for the rest of the group with tales of keeping predators from his chickens with something akin to a .44 Magnum.  He has a lot of good natives, especially trees, and maintains that his plants are survivors because he raises them 'tough.'

Next stop, the San Antonio Botanical Garden, 33 delightful acres with a decidely south-of-the-border feel.

Besides the many outdoor themed gardens here, there are four glass-enclosed indoor exhibit spaces:

Alas, the camera died just before we went through the Palm & Cycad Pavilion.  But I did manage to catch the Children's Garden, which was chock full of tomatoes and other veggies and protected by not-so-frightful scarecrows.

We had lunch at the restaurant here on the outdoor patio--I give it 4 stars.  The SABot is now on my list for a spring visit--there is so much to see here.  And we got in free with our LBJ Wildflower Center membership cards!

Last stop was just north of San Antonio at the Antique Rose Emporium.  This location is not as large as the main one at Brenham, but still has huge variety.  The atmosphere here is tranquil and very laid-back, with a most helpful staff.  Three of us came away with a rose I've been drooling over for some time, "Livin' Easy," a floribunda of a color that is hard to describe (Creamsicle?). 

This is what it looks like:

Now to find a place to put it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What I meant to say...

In attempting to clear up what the plant was in Pam's "reds" photo from my garden (see previous post), that looked an awful lot like Japanese maple, I managed to muddle things further by calling it a "red-leaf hydrangea."  I don't think there is such a thing.  It's actually a red-leaf hibiscus.  Sorry about that.

A very happy day

Inside Austin Gardens 2009 will remain a vivid memory for a long time to come. Fantastic weather, appreciative crowds,

kindly comments, cooperative plants (for the most part). My daughter, who comes over a lot, said, “It looks, well… different.” I told her she was missing the hose sprawled on the lawn, the wheel barrow half full of mulch, the shovels and gravel piles that until last week were spoiling the “ambiance.”

It was an altogether fantabulous day, and I have my fellow Master Gardeners to thank for making it so, especially Elaine, the well-organized garden captain, Janelle (everyone loved the plant tags), Rosalie, Holly, Vertie, smart and entertaining speakers Susan and Carolyn, and the many other MGs and interns who made everything run smoothly.

It was so interesting to see what people were drawn to: the Chinese ground orchids (bletilla striata-see previous post) that I got at Home Depot ($3 marked down from $17) after Elaine put me on to them, the gomphrena “Strawberry Fields” that have proliferated from a 4” pot bought 4 years ago and that reseed like crazy, the color combo of them plus the red-leaf hydrangea behind them that Pam caught so nicely in her photo (fooled you Pam, I know it looks like a mini-Japanese maple), the sprightly pigeonberry with its pink flowers and red berries that I had hoped would get noticed, the salvia azurea with its glowing blue blossoms that now is one of my favorites, the blazing red zinnias, the last-minute birdbath of concrete rounds and a handmade bowl (nice photo by Jenny), and the white spiderwort that resembles a starry night in deep shade. Not to mention the manfreda undulata “Chocolate Chips” that some bloggers now covet.

Then there were other things I hope got some attention because they so kindly chose to bloom at just the right time, such as the sweet rose, “The Fairy” next to the sidewalk with its clusters of small , pink blossoms,

and the big indigo spires also spilling over the sidewalk. And I hope people were able to see the new benches full of potted succulents along the driveway fence as they made their way into the back yard.

Oh, if the flame acanthus had just bloomed! The Martha Gonzales roses

are covered with new buds, so drive by next week if you’re in the neighborhood.

Stealing an idea from Randy Case to show "before" pictures, here are a couple from mine in late 2002, the day before I bought the house long-distance based only on these photos:

Strange thing—I spent Saturday evening thinking about all the new things I want to do with my back beds and how much wonderful stuff I saw in the other gardens I can cram into my place by March. I guess it’s a good thing that gardeners never rest on their “laurels.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Now that it's cool...

Working outdoors pretty much every day in the summer from hell left little energy for blogging, so I wimped out until now.  I took only one photo between July and September--no point when there's only rack and ruin and half-finished projects to look at, except for this amazing two-striped walking stick that appeared on the front porch one night in August:

Anisomorpha buprestoide (with male on back)

But then the rains came and with them a second spring.  Wouldn't it be interesting to calculate the rate of plant growth per hour over the first 2 weeks of September.  It seemed I could almost sit and watch things unfurl.

Chinese ground orchid

Passiflora 'Incense'

The storm that hit the Hwy 290-183 area on September 4 brought the schoolhouse lilies on September 6!

And there was a population explosion of anoles--this little guy was barely 1 1/2 inches, sitting on a salvia leaf.

This guy seems to be meditating

The September rains caused a lot of things to bloom before I wanted them to, such as the Souvenir de la Malmaison and Martha Gonzalez roses, and the brugmansia, which went wild up until last week, at times having 10-12 blooms on at the same time.  I do see a couple, though, that look like they'll open by Saturday.

The wonderful little white spiderwort that I got at the MGs' plant sale at Zilker Fest have spread well and will probably still be in bloom on tour day.

Speaking of tour day, it's fast approaching--my nerves are a bit frayed, my arms are covered with mosquito bites, my back is sore, and my cheeks and nose are sunburned, but I've enjoyed every (well, almost every) minute of the preparations.  There's a great sense of satisfaction in seeing ideas come to be.  I am so grateful for the moral support of my gardening friends, not to mention their labor on projects big and small.  The truth is, I could not have done this alone!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Break from the Heat

A couple of weeks ago I went back east to visit friends. What a lovely surprise to see that it has been raining in the rest of the world. In the Boston area and up in coastal Maine not only were temperatures quite cool, but it also rained about half the time.

In Washington DC they say there hasn't been so much rain in 30 years, and it was evident in the lush, green surroundings. An old friend took me to see three places I'd never been before in our nation's

(note: real rain clouds)

First we spent half a day walking through the 50-acre Brookside Gardens near Silver Spring, Maryland, a spacious, Olmsted-inspired site that contains a variety of local and exotic plants--a very 19th century feel. Brookside has many specialized landscape areas such as the Aquatic, Azalea, Butterfly, Children's, Rose, Japanese, Trial, and Rain Gardens, not to mention a Woodland Walk.

Woodland Hydrangea

Indian Pink
Japanese Garden

Rose Garden

Kousa dogwood (Japanese dogwood)

and water, water, everywhere...

Then we took a driving tour through the 446-acre U.S. National Arboretum, a beautiful and fascinating place to wander in, preferably if one has more than a couple of hours. Established in 1927, it's an part of the Agricultural Research Service (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture), and is equal parts educational and research facility. Many 'improved' plant varieties have been developed here; introductions from the USNA include 25 varieties of crapemyrtle such as Natchez, Sioux, and Pokomoke. Since its beginning, the Arboretum has developed and introduced over 650 new varieties of plants. Some of the collections are astounding, such as the 15,000 Glenn Dale azaleas, and 1000 daylilies, including 150 award-winners from the American Hemerocallis Society. Too much to describe here--definitely a must visit if you find yourself in D.C., expecially in spring. Here's the website.
The next day after a few showers we visited the U.S. Botanic Garden. Established by Congress in 1820 "to collect, cultivate, and grow the various vegetable products of this and other countries for exhibition and display to the public...", the garden's first greenhouse was constructed in 1842; eventually the garden was moved to the southeast end of the Capitol grounds. The current conservatory is a complete and accurate reconstruction of the one built in 1933, and was reopened in 2001.

The 3-acre 'National Garden' that now surrounds it was completed in 2006 and contains mostly plants native or adapted to the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as rose and pond gardens.

Box garden near main entrance

Inside the conservatory- Garden Court

The Jungle- the dome here is 93 feet high

In the orchid collection...

painted metal flower sculpture

The conservatory also contains desert, primeval, medicinal, southern U.S./Mexico, and rare and endangered species exhibits. I enjoyed it enormously in spite of the heat and humidity inside. Check out more photos and info here.

What a treat to get away briefly from Texas summer, even though it was still as hot as ever when I returned!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The tomato situation

It's just like all those years we had such high hopes every spring for the Red Sox only to have them dashed in August. I'm underwhelmed by the tomatoes' progress. This German Johnson has not one fruit on it, and the leaves have malformations, not to mention that the lower ones are turning light yellow.

Then 2 of the lower green fruits on the Jaune Flamme turned up like this. I believe it's the tomato fruitworm, aka corn earworm. Disgusting! No worms on any other plants.
These are the holes where the worm entered.

And this is clearly bird damage-- there were 3 of these on the lower part of the BHN-444, still hanging from the stem.

Current Tally (all green):

  • German Johnson--no fruit, but topheavy with new blooms
  • Azoychka--2 large, undamaged fruits, some new blooms
  • BHN-444--4 fruit, lots of bloom
  • Black Cherry--lots of fruit and blooms
  • Jaune Flamme--lots of fruit and blooms
  • Juliet--lots of fruit and blooms
  • ripe and eaten so far--1 Juliet and 1 Jaune Flamme

So I'm thinking I could have spent some of the $$$ I threw down on compost, fertilizer and plants at the Farmers' Market instead and had a BLT by now. No tomato picture (although they have lots), but here's some of the other great stuff at the Austin Farmers' Market last Saturday. If you've not been lately, you should hike on down there to the corner of San Antonio and 4th St. soon. Great people and dog watching, friendly farmers, terrific pickup breakfast food, the best coffee, and live music! Peaches, blueberries and blackberries in abundance.

When not yelling at the vegetables, I'm now enjoying the new fountain that was installed last week. Those darn birds seem to like it, too.