Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Starting the winter garden

I haven't been out to the garden in awhile. After the last freeze a few weeks ago, I know I lost a bunch of plants. So I figured I'd go out today, clean up all of the dead stuff and then plant some winter stuff.

Friday, November 13, 2015


A large amount of rain in November has certainly helped my drought stricken plants.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

It is beginning to feel like fall!

Last week, the temperatures dropped out of the 100s and we got our first real rain in over two months - about an inch, I'm guessing. All the plants that was barely holding through the dry oven-like summer are starting to stretch their limbs and look a little lively.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A small corner bed

All summer, my lantana in the front bed seem to go dormant.  But with the first breath of slightly cooler temperatures, they seem to regain steam and bloom out again.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fall Plants

Natural Gardener was having their 25% off perennials sale.  So I took the opportunity to purchase a few plants I have been eyeing.  The truth is, I'd prefer to wait to put them in the ground for another week or so.  We are still in the midst of a heat spell.  But it is hard to turn down a sale :o)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A tough time of year

This is a post for Mom, who thinks her verdant oasis looks bad in the summer heat...

The hot sun was contained behind clouds this morning, and in the cool shade, one begins to hope that cooler temperatures and hopefully rain is just around the corner.  Then the clouds clear, and the reality hits like a hairblower!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fall ideas for new plants

Half way through August, just a few weeks left in the 100 degree oven.  This is supposed to be a nice wet fall, so I am thinking about trying some early September plantings, to see if I can get them established by the winter.

Plants I'd like to purchase this fall

This is at the top of my list for things to buy this fall. A couple of neighbors have these growing (at least, I think they are calylophus) , and I just love the look of them.  They seem to bloom in early spring, which is nice.

Mexican Honeysuckle
Needs partial shade, so it would work well in the back corner, by the beauty berry and the turk's cap.  It may suffer freeze damage, so I'll need to be careful with it.

Jerusalem Sage
Last year, in the dark days of winter, I was craving a little green in the backyard. Saw a post about Jerusalem sage being evergreen.  

It is full sun, so I am thinking about maybe putting it in the left porch bed, since that bed is completely dead during the winter except for the salvia.

Coneflower and cosmos
I tried planting cosmos from seeds a few years back... I put them in the now defunct "wildflower" bed at the side of the house.  Only a few came up.  Even fewer the next year, and none now.  But I really like the loose look of these summer flowers, so I am thinking I might try again.  Either in the wildflower bed again or somewhere along the side bed.

Nabob abutilon
Mom is going to by one of these for my birthday.  She randomly picked them out as something she liked.  I am not sure that I should be growing anything that is difficult to grow, but I guess I'll give it a try!

Saw this mentioned in another Austin garden blog, and it looks really beautiful. It sounds like it blooms in late winter early spring, and has year round foliage. After the cold brown winter, I'd really like to add some greenery to my winter landscape.  The blogger said it grows well in dappled shade, so it might be perfect in the side bed near the beauty berry.  

I might even buy two and put one around the back corner of that bed and add an Indian Hawthorn.  That area is 100 percent shade, though,  I need to find something that looks good in all shade.

More reading indicates these may be hard to grow.  :o(

Datura Wightii
Opens at dusk, heat tolerant.  Only bad thing is that is is poisonous.  Maybe put somewhere out of the way.  Sun, part shade

New plants that were on my list last year (and are now in my beds)

Purple heart
Tried this - rabbits ate it to nubs until it finally died.  I still like this plant, but I don't know how to avoid ahving it eated by rabbits.

I want to add some winter color and some low lying ground cover to my side bed.  I have never paid much attention to what I think of the 'background' plants.... but I recently saw a picture of a winter bed with some purple heart, and it was really pretty.  So I am thinking about picking some up in a few weeks and planting it around some of the shrubs in the side bed. Maybe between the esperanza and the Salvia Farinacea Henry Duelberg.

Put this in my front garden, and so far it has done well.  Interestingly enough, a few months after I planted this, I found some very similar plants growing native in the rock, just a few feet over.

Hymenoxys is a perennial that works well in many styles of  gardens, including sparse rock/succulent gardens and lush perennial beds.  Hymenoxys is a small plant, so it’s best placed in the front of a bed, rather than behind something that will tower or flop over it

Day Lillies
I moved my day lily closer to the front of the bed, and it has done well.  It hasn't bloomed, but it is alive -- which for me is doing good! I did divide out two smaller roots of the day lily, and I think those have died in the last few weeks of heat.  At least the smaller one has; I am not sure about the larger one.

I seriously don't know what I was thinking planting my little day lilly at the back of the bed.  Probably I was thinking it would die anyway ;o)  But my two Stell de Oro Day lillies have done very well, with very little attention.  

Okay, so I am always afraid to transplant stuff.  So little of what I grow lives, that moving it seems just too much like rolling the dice.  But, as I get a bit braver, I am thinking about putting both lillies together in one of the porch beds. 

Planted this in the front bed, and it is doing extremely well!  Success!  Now we'll see how it does in the winter.  My ptted plant dies back every year, but since this one is in the ground, maybe it will winter over?

I love the one in my planter (okay, I love anything is my yard that actually grows and blooms for more than one season before dying, let's be honest). The one I have is currently in a planter.  But I think anotherwould look really good somewhere else as well.  

Bamboo muhly
Planted one of these, and I still love it.  It has grown and done well in the front bed. We'll have to winter over, to call it a complete success.

I have been waiting for natural Gardener to get in the 5 gallon varieties of these, because they are expensive, and I'd love to have a few more.  But so far, no luck

I love the feathery green look of this plant, and it is supposedly evergreen (though parts might turn brown after a deep freeze). Again, I am trying to get some more greenery in the back yard.  I am not sure where but I love the fluffy green look .  Maybe somewhere along the left side of the house, but the fig tree and plum - up against the fence where there isn't much light?

Mexican orchid tree for dappled shade (left fence?)
I have purchased three of these.  Two are in my back bed, and one in my front. They are really struggling in the dry heat.  They have not grown very much.  I didn't realize these were on my list last spring.  I picked one up at NG when I was shopping with Martha - and then liked it so much, I picked up two others at Home Depot a few weeks later.  If they can make it through the summer, I'd be thrilled.

"As winter and spring duke it out in late February, Chinese fringeflower (Loropetalum chinense) starts strutting its stuff, flashing hot-pink, strappy-petaled flowers amid its dusky-purple, evergreen leaves. Dark foliage is kind of rare in central Texas — our native and adapted plants tend to have gray-green and silver-blue leaves, an adaptation for surviving heat and drought — so the wine-colored leaves of this Asian shrub are a welcome addition to our gardens."

Partial to full sun

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The front bed ... before 50 days of hell

Here is a record of what my plants in the new front bed look like before the begin of August (with 100 degree temps and no rain).

Things have grown quite a bit!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mom's Plants

Agave Oliphant “Quadricolor - #7124 

Agave gentry “Jaws: - #6478

Agave Americana “Mediopicta - #6288

Yucca filamentosa “Color Guard: - #1568 - $17.00

Agave “Chisos Affair - #9757 - $16.00

Abutiton “Orange Hot Lava -# 7302 - $14.00

Abutilon “Fool’s Gold” - #8001 - $14.00

Achilles “Strawberry Seduction” PP 18,401 - #9200 - $13.00

Agastache “Blue Fortune” - #3209 - $14.00

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Two new plants

I know this is the worst possible time to put in new plants... I really do.  But I was in NG this morning picking up pumpkins and cucumbers, when I saw a plant called Bee Balm...

I've noticed that the bees don't seem to really like the flowers I have planted, and with a name like Bee Balm, it seemed like this might be a good one for them. And then right next to it was a plant called Lion's Tail, which looked kind of cool.  I figured it I kill one plant, I might as well try and kill two ;o)  So I purchased both.

The Bee Balm said it needs partial shade, so I put in near the back of my side bed by the Oxalis and Plumbago.

The Lion's Tale says it gets to around 3 to 4 feet, so I put in near the center and back of the new street bed.

Now, to see if we can get them rooted in this heat.

July Vegetable Garden Update

Due to all of the rain, the garden is doing better this summer than in any other year.  After being gone for a week, I spent the entire morning weeding, watering, planting some pumpkins and cucumbers and staking up the tomatoes.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July Flowers - Side bed

So begins the ten week period of scorching heat and no rain. 

Actually, it has been a mild summer so far, with far more rain than expected. So hopefully a strong spring will help power my plants through the next few months.

Here is how the various beds are doing:

Side bed

Friday, June 5, 2015

June Garden Update

With all the rain, everything is doing pretty good!  We are starting the hot and dry season now, when most things don't produce.  But we had a good month in May!

Friday, May 22, 2015

An empty garden

I have pulled up the onions and most of the potatoes, leaving a big hole in my garden. The carrots are just waiting to be picked. Although I still have a bunch of tomatoes on the vine, lots of tiny cucumber buds, some tomatillos, the garden feels sort of ... empty.

So, I stopped by the Natural Gardener today and picked up five more melon plants and one Jack pumpkin.

That should fill it in :o)

I have never had much luck with melons.  Every year, I plant a few plants, and I'm lucky if I pull one melon off. But with so much rain and cool weather in the forecast, I thought I'd give it another try this year. 

We'll see.  Most of the plants seem to show a 75 - 85 days to harvest, so we're looking at early to mid-August before we see anything from them.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hummingbird Moth

Dylan and I saw a crazy looking bee-like moth today on the Lantana.  A little googling quickly identified it as a Hummingbird Moth.

Although the insect looks like a bee and acts like a Hummingbird, it is, in reality, a Moth.  Identifiable by its long antenna. 


Friday, May 15, 2015

After the rain

The bi -color iris has never been a favorite of mine, so I was surprised the other day when Kyle pointed out to me, and said it was one of his favorites. This year, it is easy to see why, with all of the rain, they are heavy with blooms - and they look really beautiful.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Harvesting potatoes, carrots and onions

It sort of makes me want some stew :o)

The onions started falling over about a week ago.  The notes I read said to let them stay in the ground ten days or so past falling over, so they are probably pretty ready.  I picked about six of them today, and they look great.  I am hoping to get the rest of them up this week.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

New Plant and Transplants

With 4 to 12 inches of rain predicted for the upcoming week, it seemed like a good time to put down some new plants, as well as move some existing seedlings.

Crushing blackberries :o(

After babying my blackberries all winter long, fertilizing them, putting Serenade on them, mulching them.. In return I get.... Nothing :o(

About two days ago, I noticed one or two pieces of fruit getting hard spots on them.  It was toward the end, and I figured I just missed them with the Sernade.  The. I looked at them yesterday, and about half of them had it.  I ran over to the NG, tears in my eyes.  He said the canes had a fungus disease called anthracite.  He called the berries mummy berries.  His suggestion was to wait until all the fruit was gone and cut the canes to the ground.  In the meantime, pull off all the mummified fruit.  Well, that is most of it.  And it is sort of hard to tell which ones are mummified, and which are turning black.  I probably pulled off thirty berries... Most of them.  I sprayed the remaining one with a Serenade.  This spread so quickly, I doubt I will get any fruit this year :o(. But maybe I am closer to understanding what is wrong with the plants.

A sad tale.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The first sign of red!

Woot!  The tomatoes I planted on March 7th, showed small fruit on April 15th, are *finally* showing a teeny, tiny bit of red of May 8th. 

This is a very slow process, taking waaaay more time than I have patience for :o)

And, unfortunately, in trying to see if this was really red and not some sort of evil fungus, I knocked one of my other precious tomatoes off the vine.  I am trying to ripen it in a paper bag with a banana... we'll see if it works.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May Showers

We have had one of the rainiest May's on record... and it is only May 6th. Seriously, last night, we had more rain fall then is typical for the entire month.

Of course, it all happened an hour after I had just sprayed all of my plants with a fungicide...  Oh well, I'll always choose rain!  Here is my early May Garden update.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I have not been happy with my left porch bed for awhile.  I put some plants in really wonky locations, and during the winter it all dies down.  In fact, most of the plants in the bed are late starters and don't really shine until mid-spring. So for most of the spring, it looks just like this.

Day Lily Delight

This year, the day lily is really shining. It must really like this bed.  Every year, it gets bigger and bigger, while the one in the other bed stays pretty much the same size.

Monday, April 27, 2015


I finally found some eggplant plants today at the Natural Gardener.  A little late in the season, but I remember last year, my plants were so shaded by the tomatoes, they didn't start producing until mid-August, when I finally pulled the tomatoes back, and they starting getting some sun.

I purchased my regular variety:  Black Beauty, but then decided to try a different variety:  Rosa Blanca.

Days to Harvest:  It says 80.  As always, I am not sure it that is from a seedling or from the plant.  Since everything I grow runs late anyway, I'm guessing we might get a harvest sometime mid-July.

Diagnosing Blackberries

So, every year, the blackberries seem to bloom, berries form... and then nothing.  The fruit never ripens, or maybe it turns shriveled.  I can't really remember.

So this year, we have kept a close eye on them.  Anything that looks out of the ordinary, we run over to the Natural Gardener.

The first thing Dave noticed a few weeks ago was that the new leaves were all much paler than they should have been.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Growing Trees

We planted our Chinquapin and Burr Oaks around 7 years ago. They have steadily grown bigger and are now finally large enough that they actually provide shade.  This year, with the rains, they are their most beautiful yet!

My fence side bed

I finally got a chance to weed and mulch the side fence bed.  The bed is now officially three years old.  Here's how it is doing:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pride of Barbados

Every year, in early spring, I start watching my Pride of Barbados to see when it appears. It always seems to take longer than I think it should.

For future reference, this third week in April, we are just starting to see the tiny sprouts of PoB appear.  


When I was first building the front yard garden bed, I was arranging rocks on the wall, and pulled an existing one away, only to find one little frog hiding behind said rock.  I left the frog and his rock in place :o)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mid - April Fruit Update

I really, really want some blackberries this year.   So we have been keeping a closer eye than usual on them.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


A few weeks ago ( see this post) I transplanted a foxglove from outside the fence to inside the fence.

A new transplant

In my left porch bed, I used to have two pretty bushes.  The one whose name I forgot and a Tropical Milkweed.  But the obedient plant completely took over that part of the garden and killed both plants.

So, I was very surprised to see something sprout up at the base of one of the old plants.

Bottle Brush

This bottle brush has never done very well.  

Sweet Potato Slips

Another new venture for me.  I am trying to grow sweet potatoes for the first time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Harvesting spinach

Last summer, I went to the Natural Gardner, looking for some kind of lettuce plant that I could grow in the heat.  They recommended the New Zealand Spinach from  

Mid-April Garden update

The spring has been rainier than our last two or three years.  Which is not to say we are out of the drought, but it hasn't been quite as dry as it was in previous years.

I have been so busy putting together the new front yard flower bed, that I haven't had time to get in and mulch and prepare this bed.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An uplift for the asparagus

I noticed a few weeks ago that the taller asparagus plants were falling over.

When I was at the Natural Gardener, I talked to them about this.  They said that to prevent this, when I cut the stalks down in the fall to go dormant, I should cover the stalks with a solid layer of compost.  This will make the roots deeper, which will prevent the stalks from falling over.  Makes sense, I will try to remember to do that next November.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Second half of the front bed

After a good full week of hard work, my front garden bed is done! I have pulled up grass and weeds until I literally broke my garden claw. I have laid miles of weed cloth and over 40 bags of mulch. I have dug 25 holes in solid rock (okay, my boys dug half the holes, but I still dug a good dozen).  And here it is!! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Some more blooms

Because of all the rain we got in March, the bluebonnets are out in force.  Here are some from our front lawn!

Another year

Last year I took a picture of my back porch garden on April 4th.  I went, as I often do, to look at what I had from a year ago, and lo and behold, I had taken a picture on the same day the previous year.  It was amazing this difference. Two years ago was a standard Texas winter... last year was very cold and had a very deep late freeze.  So the difference between the beds was startling.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A huge new project

When the builders built the road in front of our house (before our house was built), they had to cut into the hill to make the road level. This make a steep incine right at the front of our house.  When they built our house, they put a small retaining wall in the front, and then put grass on the remainder of the hill.  Over the years, the grass has not thrived and weed whacking the whole thing is a pain! Over the years, the hill looked worse and worse.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Some new plants for the side bed

Having just come away from the brown of winter, I have decided I want to add more green to my side bed.  Also, I have a bunch of shrubs.  Some are evergreen, some deciduous, but there isn't a whole lot to fill it out.  So I decided that the evergreen I wanted to add should be low lying plants to fill out the areas in between and in front of the shrubs.  Preferably ones with texture.

On a whim, I went to Lowe's to see what they might have. I went there with a couple plants in mind: Purple Heart and Bamboo Muhly (which I didn't find) and Artemisia.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring is here!

On this official first day of spring, it really does feel like it!  Two days of heavy rain in the forecast.  Everything is starting to bud out, and the peach tree is beautifully in bloom!

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