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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Enchanted April the name of a beautiful film about four interesting women on a sort of retreat in an Italian coastal villa. It's also an apt description of what's been happening the last couple of weeks hereabouts. Before April ends I must catch up on Bloom Day and Earth Day.

Plants large and small have been showing off with little or no help from me:
This magenta Wave petunia has been blooming off and on for the last 14 months with no fertilizer since last summer.

This is a double petunia I bought at Lowe's--it's taken over a 3 foot space in the driveway bed.

One of my top 10 favorite plants of all time, Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa), is bigger than ever and can be seen from a block away. Its alien-looking flowers bloom all along the stem, and its velvet-like sea-green leaves are delicately edged in white. And it's evergreen.

Here's a view of it alongside Martha Gonzalez roses, mealy blue sage, and indigo spires, looking along the sidewalk from the front walkway.

The new bed where I took out 400 square feet of grass in the back yard is coming along. I have adorned it with my buy of the week--a copper dragonfly found at Wildseed Farms near Fredericksburg. It has green marbles for eyes.

A few of the stella de oro daylilies have burst out all at once after having been divided. I believe the name means 'stars of gold.'

On the other side of the front porch the Black 'n' Blue (salvia guaranitica) has already been cut back once and insists on crowding the roses. It's almost as tall as me. The name refers to the large cobalt-blue lipped blooms and true black sepals. It spreads by underground shoots which can easily be pulled up (and potted up for friends).

The tomatoes and peppers are gung-ho from the rain and a couple of molasses/fish emulsion cocktails. This "Black Cherry" is doing the best. I'm growing some others I've not tried before such as "German Johnson," "Azoychka" (yellow flesh), "Flamme," and BHN-444.

Pam of Digging gave me the vegetable mulch idea--on the way home from picking up a visiting friend at the airport, I zipped into Callahan's and got a bale of coastal Bermuda hay. It spreads easily and smells nice, doesn't cost much, and I have plenty left for next year.

Another watering vacation this week with .8" of rain since Monday.

Both birdbaths magically filled themselves, and the glossy abelia (background) responded with more blooms than I've ever seen.

In honor of Earth Day I had the old and new rainbarrels linked and set up on higher foundations. My other contribution was to give up my Statesman paper delivery. Instead, I subscribed to the e-edition, which is 1/3 the cost and comes every morning by email, a page by page replica of what's in the paper edition. No more throwing mountains of timber in the recycle cart!

On the other hand, I used a lot of gas on the 600 mile trip to and from Marshall for my first state Master Gardeners' conference. Most of the sessions and speakers were very good, and I bought 2 purple passion vines (passiflora 'Incense') I had been looking for. Everyone was given an EarthKind rose in a pretty Marshall pot (the area is known for its pottery). All in all, it was probably worth the trip, but I wouldn't necessarily go every year. I think the central Texas one-day conference last fall was every bit as good if not as elaborate.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April is the cruelest month...

How easy it is to forget what spring is like elsewhere, when we've been basking in warm weather, reveling in emerging greens and bursts of color here at home. Now, I grew up in Michigan, so I should know better, but I went off to visit my mother the day after April Fools (how apt) optimistically taking my gardening shoes, gloves and pruners with me. I could help Mom out by getting a start on cleaning up the garden from the ravages of winter. The day I arrived was warm and sunny (Michigan definition of 'warm'- 65 degrees). The next day (this is where the cruel part comes in) it rained all day and stayed around 45, as it did on Saturday and Sunday without the rain but with high winds. Then Sunday night a dire forecast. This is what we woke up to Monday morning:

No, I didn't take these shots in black and white.
The next day we drove through the last flurries to the airport, and I arrived home feeling as though I had just clicked my ruby slippers together three times. The garden had continued on in my absence.

Iris and larkspur play off against the three new pots in the shade corner.

Bluebonnets and zexmenia are spilling onto the sidewalk.

This Texas yellowstar must have hitched a ride when I dug up my first two bluebonnet rosettes from my daughter's farm a couple of years ago.
By the way, Eliot didn't really mean that April is cruel because it can snow when you don't want it to; he was lamenting that spring awakens too many conflicting emotions about life and death and thus is disturbing.
"April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers."
Maybe this is a deliberate turning-upside-down of Chaucer's more joyful lines:

"When that April with his showers fragrant
The dryness of March has pierced to the root,
And bathed every vein in such liquid
By which power engendered is the flower,
When Zephyrus also with his sweet breath
Inspired has in every woodland and heath
The tender crops, and the young sun
Hath in the Ram has his half course run
And small fowls make melody,
That sleep all the night with open eye...."

I could add, "and Monarch caterpillars munch and dream of May."