Wednesday, October 19, 2016


There's still time to sign up for the Ladybird Wildflower Center event to be held in our garden this Friday, October 21st, from 4:30-6:30pm. It's going to be a glorious afternoon with clear skies and temperatures in the 70s. Fall at last.

Join us in the house for drinks and appetizers, followed by a short talk and a walk around the garden.
Ticket sales benefit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center and can be purchased here

Monday, October 17, 2016


We had a taste of fall last week. Gardens and gardeners alike breathed a sigh of relief. We opened the windows and delighted in turning the air conditioners off. It was short lived. Summer came back with 90 degree temperatures. The windows were closed and the AC turned back on. Will it ever end?

Two fall plants in the English garden, Gregg's blue mist flower, Conoclinium greggii,  and a Japanese anemone, Anemone x hybrida  purchased so long ago I have lost the name. I would love to have a white one but have not seen the anemone for sale since the time I bought this one.

They spread quickly by underground runners so are easy to propagate. This area of the English garden is fairly shaded from the hot summer sun by the cedars outside the wall although there is less shade now that we have removed the yaupon holly tree. It was leaning forward because of the cedars outside the garden and was just generally in the way. The bed will now be herbaceous plants only.

The Mandevilla vine has reached the top of the trellis but it is not as thick and healthy as it should be.  Possibly due to it being on this south facing wall. Maybe a change of location next year I can keep it alive over the winter.

I'm getting ready to change out the plants in the window box in front of the potting shed window but with the profusion of narrow leaf zinnias, Zinnia liniaris and the 90º temperatures I think I will wait. This is a very hot wall.

The Philippine violet, Barleria cristata is just beginning to flower. I can think of no other plant that is as fuss-free as this one. It has never been visited by insect or disease. Famous last words! I now have nearly a dozen of theses plants that have seeded around the garden. Of course they are all along the edge of pathways where the seeds were blown.

Philippine violet
This is one that grew along the edge of the path and was never removed!

We are now waiting for the emergence of the copper canyon daisy and the Mexican mint marigold. They should flower well into November. Roll on those perfect Texas fall days. I think we may be getting one this weekend which will be perfect for the Wildflower Center Happy Hour event, in our garden, this Friday.

Friday, October 7, 2016


In celebration of Texas Native Plant Week, October 16th-22nd, David and I will be opening our gardens for a happy hour event to benefit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Join us in the house for a glass of wine, beer, and light snacks, provided by the Wildflower Center, where you will mingle with other guests. This will be followed by a short presentation on how we were inspired to create these outdoor spaces around our home and a tour of the gardens.

Date: Friday October 21st

Time: 4:30-6:30pm

Cost: Members $31.50, non-members $35  Proceeds to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Tickets are limited and can be purchased only through this link to the Wildflower Center Website 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


A week ago I found myself breakfasting alone, a little later than usual, and too late to eat with the birds in the English Garden because the sun was already over the top of the wall. I moved into the Front Courtyard where it was still shady. One of the benefits of having multiple places to sit around the garden. My chosen book was Succulent Container Gardening, by Debra Lee Baldwin.

Debra Lee Baldwin is certainly the queen of succulents in my eyes and this book is one of my favorites; full of wonderful ideas on how to bring out the best in your cactus and succulents; pairing plants with pots and unique ways to style your collection.

Almost all my plants are in terra cotta pots and that is probably where they will stay, but it doesn't stop my enjoyment of turning over each page to an reveal a new and wonderful pairing. And one of those photos gave me an idea.
In the side entry to the house is a table holding my shell collection. A large conch shell which we picked up many years ago has always sat on the table. There was space enough to plant a succulent or two in the open mouth. I looked around for something to plant in there and came up with these. Maybe not the perfect choice, but until I find that perfect plant here they will stay.

Then I saw another idea. I won't be making a fairy garden but I do have some little Chinese figures and I might try to find a succulent with a tree-like appearance to create a Chinese garden in a dish.

Friday, September 23, 2016


I'm thrilled with how my garden balls worked out. I decided to relocate all the balls to the English garden. They are a perfect complement to the circular pavers and all things circular in this garden. Now, I just need to find a bigger mold. Once I tried to use a child's ball but it just collapsed. Probably the wrong kind.

If you missed my posting on how I made the balls you can find it at project if the week.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


What do you do when the temperature and humidity are so unpleasant you can't possibly work outside? I toyed for a moment with household chores and then thought of something very useful that I could do gardening wise, in the house. Seed sorting.
Yes, I'm a seed saver. I collect seeds from my garden, gardens I visit, accept seeds from other gardeners and hoard old packets of seeds. Where do I do this? In my laundry room-and other places.
This is one of those other places-in the kitchen. But by far the largest collection is in the laundry room.

It is embarrassing to say I have seeds dating back to 2009. My first job was to go through all those packets and throw them away-oh the pain.
On the floor were two grocery bags of dried bluebonnet seed pods. 

I had already done one bag earlier in the summer by hand. This time I was a lot smarter. I trampled no the bags crushing all the dried pods until they released most of the seeds. So much easier on the hands. After putting them in  container and blowing away all the chaff I am left with a total of 14oz of seed that will not be in places I don't want them.

Next the scarlet flax seeds. 

I think I am finally getting there.

Next job is to sort them into seasons. Those to be planted in the fall like bluebonnets, larkspur, nigella, rose campion, violas and the winter vegetables, like carrots, beets, peas, lettuce, arugula. radishes. Those to be started in the late winter like stocks, poppies, nasturtiums. And those to be planted outdoors in the summer, zinnias, gomphrenas. Then there are the miscellaneous -unlabeled. I will just throw those outside and see what comes up. I like surprises.
With the promise of rain this weekend I think this might be a good time to start putting out some of those seeds. I will try once again to establish a bluebonnet colony on the septic field. One of the problems is the strength of the grasses out there; the enemy of wildflowers.  So, we decided to bag the grass in future so the ground is poorer. I will also add Indian paintbrush seeds which a semi parasitic putting their roots into grass. I have read that yellow rattle does the same thing and is a good way to establish a wildflower meadow.
Aren you ready to plant some wildflowers this fall?

Monday, September 19, 2016


I always have projects buzzing around in my head. How many get done? Not so many. This week I finished a couple and hope to finish 2 more by the end of the weekend.

The first was a fairly simple one; replacing the silver ponyfoot in the side entry garden with river rock. Earlier on in the season, when the ponyfoot was growing very nicely, I thought I would give it a top dressing of compost. Unfortunately that compost, although sold to me as cold and composted, burnt the life out of the plants. I thought maybe they would recover, and they did somewhat, but whatever was in the mix was clearly detrimental to the soil. The seller came out and said he was sorry and that it had never happened before. Later I found another garden friend shared a similar experience a few years ago and her soil is still not right. So, this week, I ripped out the plants and irrigation system and replaced with New Mexico river rock. David and I went down to the stone yard and hand loaded onto the truck. We seriously underestimated how much we needed and a second trip was necessary. Being a great lover of all things rock I am happy with the result.

On the way back from the stone yard we stopped in at the new Habitat for Humanity Restore which opened in the last year. We had found the brick there that we used in the English Garden. I was greatly disappointed in this new store but did pick up 3 things. A small polystyrene cooler and these two globe lights.The first to make a trough and the globes to make a couple of hypertufa balls. The two pieces of wood are for a third project; a bird feeder.

Today, when it as just too hot to be working outside, I took myself into the garage and made the trough. I had it done in less than an hour  So much easier than the real hypertufa and at little cost. David thought I overpaid for the cooler at $1!The only other tools needed were the wire brush, grill lighter to seal and paints. I had all of these. Even the bunny ears cactus found a new home.

Project number 2 involves cement, which is not a product I like to deal with. The plan is to spray the inside of the globes with oil and then fill with the hypertufa mixture (equal parts of cement, vermiculite and peat moss). I had the peat moss and the vermiculite but needed to buy bag of cement. Why does it come in such heavy bags. In Europe there is a law which says the bags cannot weigh more than 50lb. Clearly to protect backs. Anyway we were able to get a bag on sale at our local stone yard.
First thing Saturday I opened the bag of peat moss that had been sitting around outside for years. Surprise!! A Texas garter snake, Thamnopsis sirtalis,  had taken up residence in there. I know he is a garter snake rather than a ribbon snake because there is no white dot in front of his eye.

With the snake out of the way I measured out the ingredients and mixed with water.

Sprayed the inside of the globes with cooking spray.

And filled with the mixture.

Next day I placed the globes in a plastic bag and carefully tapped the glass until it broke off.

Now the balls need to sit for a time until they dry out and harden throughout. Then they will join the other two globes in the front garden.