Monday, April 21, 2014


Sometimes it is necessary to make changes to the garden. Maybe you don't like a particular planting or a tree grows too big or maybe it is simply a measure to reduce the amount of work you have to do.

The main planting in this bed: spineless prickly pear and pink knockout roses had become a free for all of larkspur, cone flowers, poppies, love-in-a-mist and other annuals. I'll call them my weeds. So I redid the sprinkler system putting a circle of drips around the roses. Then I shovel full of rabbit poo and a covering of hardwood mulch. I couldn't quite bring myself to pull out the germander, ice plant and the rose campion but maybe later in the year I will.

  I think the rose campion, Lychnis coronaria, and spineless prickly pear cactus make a happy combination and the rose campion will only be there for a short time longer.
I like the tidy look and there are plenty of places in the garden where it is a free-for-all. Maybe just a little ice plant to soften the edges of the stone but that is all.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


There is great excitement at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildfower Center as the final touches are being added to the new Luci and Ian Family Garden, which will open to the public on May 4th. The garden is named for Luci Baines Johnson and her husband Ian Turpin who began the fund raising for the garden with a generous donation.

I was fortunate to be invited to visit, a little over a month ago, for a private tour of the garden still in the construction phase.

Watering holes
There remained much work to be done but once construction was over it was time for volunteer gardeners to come in and add native plants. It is going to be a wonderful place for children of all ages to explore just as many of us who enjoyed greater freedoms in our childhood.

Hill Country Grotto
When Mrs Johnson talked about her childhood spent out in the fields picking and examining wildflowers, I could relate to my childhood. With none of the distractions of television, computer and phones I was outside every waking minute. I would spend hours searching for four-leaf clovers and marveling at the tiny flowers on scarlet pimpernels. For many children this will present a special place to connect with nature. A place where no one will tell them not to climb on rocks or step off the trail.

The cave

The stumpery

A young visitor was ready to look for eggs in the Giant birds' nests.

Eleven separate gardens will entertain children and there will be plenty of places for adults to sit and watch children just be children. They are Dinosaur creek, the Dry creek overlook, the Giant birds' nests, the Hill Country grotto, the Metamorphosis maze, Nature's spiral, the Nectar garden, the Play lawn, the Robb Family Pavilion and the Watering holes.

Members of the center have the opportunity to visit the garden the day before the official opening. However, due to the the high volume of expected visitors that day it will be necessary to get a timed ticket. You can get information here. Garden visit May 3rd.

On May4th there will be all kinds of fun entertainment for young and old alike. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Welcome to my April garden for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day hosted by Maydreams Gardens. It is a gorgeous day here in Texas after yesterday's lashing rain, wind and hail and the threat of a frost last night. Thankfully it never got down to 32°. There is a mighty clashing of colors going on out there.

Eyes down to the Claret-cup cactus, Echinocereus coccineus.

Eyes up to Zepherine drouhin. Both are putting on a spectacular show.

Of course the Lady Banks rose is also in full bloom right now although somewhat smaller in bloom size this year.

 My yellow Rosa banksia 'lutea' is enormous compared with the white one.

I purchased this white one at the Rose Museum in Tombstone, Arizona, which boasts the largest Lady Banks' rose in the world. It came originally from Kew gardens as a cutting and this is a cutting from the Tombstone rose. I have it planted on the fence behind the pool; not the best place as I have to continuously cut it back.

While on the subject of white roses this white Knockout lights up the English garden.

Along with the lovely fragrant Felicia.

There are lots of native plants. The yellow Missouri primrose, Oenothera macrocarpa.

And the square-bud primrose, Calylophus berlandiera, along with bluebonnets in the sunken garden.

Gulf coast penstemon, Penstemon tenuis.

And my ever blooming chocolate daisy, Berlandiera lyrata.

Rose campion, Lychnis coronaria.

Mock orange, Philadeplhus X 'natchez'

The sweetest smelling stocks, Mathiola incana.

The cross vine, Bignonia capreolata back again on the greenhouse.

Beautiful heads on my multiplying onions, Allium cepa.

Blue flax, Linum lewisii

 An unknown tiny rock daffodil with wiry stems. Planted several years ago this is the first time it has bloomed. It must have liked the extra chilling.

Orange mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua.

There are poppies galore, and columbines and so many more flowers in bloom. Come back again later this week and take the long tour of all the gardens enjoyed by a visiting garden group today. In the meantime visit other garden bloggers sharing their blooms on the mid April day.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


There is hardly a day goes by when I don't go out into the garden to snip a few herbs to add to my dinner. So when I came across a recipe that called for parsley, mint and basil it was easy to go out into the garden and gather what I needed. Recipe later. Imagine how much 3 bunches of those would have cost at the grocery store? Always one of the most expensive items, per weight, in the produce department.

I call this area the herb garden because this is where you will find most of my herbs.

From top left garlic chive, lemon balm, chives, basil,Mexican mint marigold, sage, oregano, Italian parsley with Swallowtail caterpillar, mint, rosemary, thyme and curly parsley. The parsley, being a biennial, is going to flower but I have started new plants for a new crop. It's easy to tuck in a few herbs among your flowers. Most will grow with a modicum of sunshine, especially the ones that don't flower. Chive flowers can be used in salads. Mexican marigold mint is our Texas substitute for French tarragon which is difficult for us to grow. I also have lemon grass in another part of the garden. A few stalks survived from the large plant I had growing for several years.
So let's get to the recipe. Apparently this comes from a restaurant called Fresco in NYC. Thank you Fresco. It's a winner at our house.

In a bowl toss baby spinach with ½ cup fresh torn basil, ½cup chopped mint, ½cup chopped flat leaf parsley, 1cup frozen green peas thawed, 2 T sliced spring onions. I made a vinaigrette with dijon mustard a dash of agave syrup and some juice from one of my Meyer lemons. Whisk in olive oil until taste is balanced. Season with salt and pepper and toss salad. Serve with grilled crostini topped with goat cheese. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Yesterday the garden hosted a lot of visitors. First in the early morning a friend and her out of town guests and then in the afternoon Marty Wingate brought a group of garden enthusiasts from the Seattle area on a Texas Bluebonnet tour. In the morning they visited Tate Moring's garden, followed by lunch at the Grove and then on to visit our garden. Those of you who have visited this garden know that we always bring people in through the side entry off the driveway. Maybe you would like to follow them.

The entry deck is where many of my overwintered cactus and succulents get to spend the summer. Not too much sun and when the sun does reach this garden it is filtered by the large overhanging live oak.

How fortunate that the queen was out to add her greetings. She has been indoors for a while because I did get rather tired of her incessant waving and banished her indoors. She has help from a solar panel in her ever present handbag. I would never have a gnome in my garden unless I was given one, as I was with HRH. Just a bit of a joke.

The Whale's Tongue agave is going to make the first impression. You see her before you even walk up the steps. But then eyes will be drawn to the sound of water coming from the disappearing fountain.

It's a favorite place for the finches and cardinals to come for water. You may recall having heard the history of the fountain. We found it in the alley behind our son's house in Dallas. The hexagonal piece of concrete once held a post, so the square hole in the center, with a couple of cross nails, was just perfect through which to feed the water. We had always had a water feature here but it was just a piece of limestone rock with a well positioned hole we had found in our wild areas. This was enormously heavy but the two of them managed to get it into our truck and somehow David, single handed, got it in place.

To reach the gravel patio you have to cross the little stone bridge.

 Someone standing at the entrance yesterday said it was like Beth Chatto's gravel garden. What an enormous compliment that is.

Among the bluebonnets are pink and purple skull cap, Scutellaria wrightii, creeping germander, Teucrium cossonii Claret cup cactus, Echinocereus  triglochidiatus, square-bud primrose, Calylophus drummondianus and blackfoot daisy, Melampodium leucanthum. No irrigation here.

You must smell Zephirine drouhin. She is the most fragrant of roses and as you bend over you will catch a glimpse of the flower stalk on the Mangave 'Macho mocha' I hope this doesn't mean the end because I don't see any pups and this one, a pass-a-long form Pam Penick at Digging, has taken a few years to achieve this size.

Sit down for a minute in the shade of the umbrella. A humming bird may come by to sip nectar from the Texas betony, Stachys coccinea, behind you.

Texas betony
I am definitely going more xeriscape on this side of the garden. Partly to reduce the work and to enable me to remove all irrigation. These plants will have to go it alone.

As you turn back Lady Banks' rose comes into view. She will be getting a big trim back after she finishes flowering, to give more light to the understory plants.

It isn't the easiest of gardens to visit because there are all kinds of plants growing in the gravel and if you know me you know how protective I am of those little seedlings. After all, they may be next year's plants. Hope you enjoyed the tour of this garden.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Over the last few days Zepherine drouhin began to open blooms. This cerise, thornless, climbing rose has the sweetest fragrance. On the front courtyard wall, where we frequently drink our mid morning coffee and eat our lunch, who could not pause to take in her sweet perfume.

She wins me over again every year. There is always some point at which I say I am going to remove her but then spring arrives and once again I let her stay. I really need to learn how to prune her to the best. She is very vigorous and has this tendency to send out side shoots which grow forwards instead of laterally. 

In the same garden, another thornless rose, the Lady Banks, Rose banksiae 'lutea' No fragrance but a reliable rose which covers her branches with clusters of pale yellow blooms every April. This year the blooms are smaller than I have ever seen them, due in part to our droughty winter and spring. So little rain has fallen that flowers everywhere are smaller than normal. At least she tried. I think that next week it will be Felicia's turn.

Friday, April 4, 2014


I wonder if anyone is familiar with the expression, A turn up for the books. It was one I heard family say when they had an unexpected piece of good fortune. I just had one.

So here is mine. This chocolate daisy, Berlandiera lyrata. After 8 years of growing this plant it finally had a baby. I had watched the seedling over the past few weeks but wasn't completely sure about its identity until I saw the characteristic flower bud forming. Many times in the past I have seen similar leaves and they have all turned out to be blanket flowers.
It has settled itself in very close to mother, between one of the pavers in the vegetable garden, and has topped the mother plant to produce the first flower of the season.

I do have one other chocolate daisy in the sunken garden. It is back again this year opening multiple buds over the last few days. But for all its years of living there it has never once produced a baby.

It seems to favor this spot among pavers where its roots are protected. At the Wildflower Center  chocolate daisies grow to be 3' tall but this one never gets much larger than this. It usually gets one cut back during the summer resulting in a further flush of blooms later in the season.

I year ago in October I planted this red veined sorrel in the herb garden. As soon as any leaves grew they would be eaten, probably by those decollate snails. I have made a concerted effort to reduce their numbers and suddenly leaves started to poke through the soil. After our terrible winter it is hard to believe that the plant had survived. Both plants have returned and hopefully will have a better year.

This may look like a regular bearded iris but it is a dwarf variety. It stands only 6" high. I picked this up in Boise at a Saturday market 3 years ago. It is the first time it has bloomed or rather the first time I have seen it bloom. Almost smothered by yarrow leaves I just caught a glimpse of it as I walked by. I think a more prominent location next year.
A real turn up for the books.