Friday, December 2, 2011

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

My husband and I have been talking about taking a trip to Austin for awhile now. Both of us briefly went to college there, before we knew each other, and we haven’t spent any significant amount of time there since. I strategically planned our trip for the weekend of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center fall plant sale in October. I have given the front yard flowerbeds a complete overhaul and my intention is to plant primarily natives in the new and improved beds. The only downside to my plan was that he is not a gardener, so my time to spend wandering around and taking pictures was limited.

This was my first trip to the Wildflower Center. The entire center covers almost 300 acres, but the display gardens are all pretty close to the main entrance. There are also trails representing different ecosystems, but I didn’t have a chance to explore those.

Here are some shots of the gardens from the top of the tower



I went directly to the plant sale after we arrived at the Wildflower Center. I already had a list of plants that I was looking for. After I scored my loot, I took a leisurely stroll through some of the gardens. I was on the look out for appealing shady scenes. After all, my small front yard is almost entirely shaded by three 30 year old live oaks.

Here are some of my inspiration photos.


This is our native red turk’s cap, blooming in the shade of an oak tree.



The fall blooming asters were electrifying the shade in every part of the gardens.



In the above photo, there is more of the red turk’s cap and something new that caught my attention…


Inland Sea Oats. After seeing these, I had to take another trip back through the plant sale to pick up some of these for the new front yard beds.

This is what I came home with:

For the front gardens:
Malpighia glabra, Barbados Cherry
Salvia Regla, Red Mountain Sage
Chasmanthium latifolium, Inland Sea Oats
Conoclinum coelestinum, Blue Mist Flower
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, Fall Aster
Callirhoe involucrata, Winecup
Salvia arizonica, Arizona Sage
Chile Pequin

And for other parts of my garden:
Monarda Lindheimeri, Lindheimer’s Bee Balm
Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot (I haven’t had much luck with Monarda since I moved back to Texas, so maybe these natives will succeed)
Sphaeralcea incana, Gray Globemallow
Passiflora incarnata, Maypop
Passiflora foetida, Scarlet Fruit Passionflower
Flame acanthus
Mexican Red Hat
Salvia gregii, Red Autumn Sage
Erythrina herbacea, Coralbean

Even though these are all Texas natives, Texas is a big state, which means these plants aren’t guaranteed to do well in Houston. So, this is my own little SW Houston experiment. Some might be too invasive, some may not be quite right for Houston, but that’s why gardening is so much fun! I can’t wait until next summer to see how these plants will handle the whims of Houston weather.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Forcing Bulbs by Accident

Forcing bulbs is so easy, you don’t even have to plan on doing it…

Another one of my annual plant sale traditions is the Houston Garden Club’s infamous Bulb and Plant Mart in October. I planned so far ahead, that I pre-ordered bulbs in August. They have a great selection of amaryllis, I bought a couple more varieties this year, despite the fact that I already have 5 different kinds and I’m not sure where in the garden these will end up. The two newbies this year are Pasadena and White Peacock.

A couple of weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. I went into my home office and decided to do some yoga to relax, hoping that it would help me get back to sleep. In the middle of my yoga session, as I moved into a standing forward bend, I noticed it. Peeping from a brown paper shopping bag. The light green leaves. Oh no! My amaryllis bulbs were starting to grow!

There went my concentration, all I could think about was getting those bulbs into pots. Pasadena was much farther ahead of White Peacock. Now, I have 7 beautiful Pasadena blossoms, all because I left the bulb in a brown paper shopping bag for a month.



So, you see folks, anyone can force bulbs indoors in the winter. Smile

Monday, November 21, 2011

November Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

I love Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Lately, life has been so hectic, bloom day is the only excuse I have to spend some time roaming around my garden to see what it’s up to. Despite the fact that my bloom day post is late, my pictures are from the actual bloom day Winking smile.

Finally, the first blooms of pink firespike. This was a new one this year, I’m glad to see the pink blooms as we head into fall. (Yes, I said fall. It is Texas after all)


OK, these aren’t blooms, but I think they are interesting. These are the fruit of a white turn’s cap.


Here’s one I have been wanting to post on a bloom day for quite awhile and this month it actually cooperated. It is iochroma cyanea.



Two of my new rose bushes are blooming. Hopefully they will stay happy in their new home.
Le Vesuve
White Heritage

And finally….the pink brugmansia that I received as a cutting is blooming. (thanks Elida). It had a tough time making it through last winter, but it has been persistent. Hopefully, it will make it through another weird weather year in Houston.

Thanks for checking out my November blooms. For more bloom day posts go to May Dreams Gardens.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Roses, Take Two

IMG_0008My first trip to the Antique Rose Emporium was this past April. It is a great place to visit. I purchased 4 roses and planted them around the first of May. (here’s the May post about ARE)

Now, to recap…I planted four new rose bushes at the beginning of the hottest and driest summer in recorded history in a freshly built raised bed.

Within a couple of months I had a lovely flower bed with four dead rose bushes. I also created and planted several other large flowerbeds this spring and the watering was just too much for me to keep up with. Most everything survived, but my poor roses.

So, I have a new strategy…fall planting. Mike Shoup owner of the Antique Rose Emporium recently mentioned this in an article he wrote for Neil Sperry’s magazine.

“Newly established plants (those planted this spring) showed a lot of mortality. It was just too difficult to get enough subsoil moisture to carry the plants into the hot summer. The lesson here is to plant in the fall to establish a good root system.”

I went back to ARE on Saturday and purchased 3 more roses. This time I bought Le Vesuve and Maggie (same as last time) and White Heritage. I decided to forego Cecile Brunner for White Heritage which has larger blooms and is white, which will give my bed a little more color variety. I replaced my Belinda’s Dream a few weeks ago with one from Buchanan’s. Now, it’s a matter of occasional watering and hopefully summer 2012 will be more forgiving.

This weekend also happened to be the Fall Rose Festival at ARE. I wanted to make it up there early enough to hear Felder Rushing speak, but no such luck. I have had too much going on lately which has left me catching up on my sleep every weekend and my alarm clock just wasn’t loud enough to get me out of bed.

Bianca Stein and Zoe Jenkins

However, I did catch a little Shakespeare. The Rose Festival included Shakespeare in the Gardens, presented by Brenham H.S. theatre students.


I took a quick stroll around the grounds. The number of butterflies was amazing. IMG_0002

I also noticed the yellow brick road, which I guess I missed during my last trip. IMG_0009

I couldn’t stay as long as I would have liked, so I will definitely have to make another trip out there some time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

September Hummingbirds

Here are a few of the pictures of hummingbirds that I took last month in my backyard. I think they have all headed south now, I haven’t seen any for at least a week.





Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

I am astounded by the blooms in my garden this month. After the hottest and driest summer in history, all it took was about 3” of rain last week and some cool weather for most of my plants to make a rebound.

Podranea ricasoliana, Pink Trumpet Vine
Hardy Blue Aster
A trade from my native plant gardener/neighbor. Thanks Noreen!
Zinnia 'Profusion Doublefire'
Blackfoot Daisy (Another one from Noreen!) and Salvia coccinea
Turnera alternifolia
Reseeds every year!
Gregg's Mistflower
The butterflies love this one!
Cassia Alata
Another reseeder. This year I transplanted the
seedlings to several different beds.
I need to locate the tag from this one. I picked it up at Buchanan’s in the spring.
Anyone know what it is?

Other plants in bloom this month are: Diamond Frost euphorbia, purple porterweed, pentas, duranta, lipstick salvia, Calliandra emarginata, chenille plant, batface cuphea, shrimp plant, black & blue salvia, bottlebrush tree, fall obedient plant, gaura, mexican bush sage, yellow cestrum, knockout roses, salvia vanhoutii, vinca, Orthosiphon laevigatum (Pink Surprise bush), butterfly weed, plumbago, Pavonia peruviana, Pavonia lasiopetala (Texas Rock Rose), Hamelia patens (Hummingbird bush), Convolvulus ‘Blue Daze’, Melochia tomentosa (Pyramid Bush).

Check out May Dreams Gardens for more Garden Bloggers Bloom Days.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Macro Monday

Monarch butterfly

I’m so happy to see the butterflies coming through town. This has been such as harsh year for them and for us gardeners. This monarch is feasting on Gregg’s Mistflower, you can even see pollen all over its wings.

Check out Lisa’s Chaos for more Macro Monday pictures.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Update from my garden

Thankfully, we finally have a break from the 100 degree days. I’m not sure how much longer our plants could have taken that. Still no rain in my neck of the woods. It has been hit or miss all summer. My parents, on the northeast side of town, have gotten about twice as much as we have on the southwest, although that’s not saying much since I’ve only gotten about 3” this year.

Over the last couple of weekends I have given all of my backyard beds a boost with a mixture of diluted liquid seaweed, molasses, and fish emulsion. The seaweed is supposed to help them with the drought. There’s a long list of benefits of using these organic supplements in the garden and this is the year our plants need all the help they can get.

IMG_3980I’ve noticed two of my citrus trees, the ones in full sun, have yellowing leaves and some of the fruit has yellow on the side that is exposed to the sun. I think they are getting sunburned (but if you have another theory, please let me know). I’ve read that when the fruit gets sunburned it will eventually ruin the fruit. My mandarin is still on the small side, so I went ahead and picked the burned ones. That will let the tree put more energy into its root system anyway, which is not a bad thing.

The summer heat has been unreal, even for those of us who have lived here most of our lives. My husband and I decided we couldn’t take it anymore, so we looked at a high temperature map and found the coolest places in the country we could escape to, our choices were Seattle, Portland, OR and Portland, ME. We lucked into a good deal on plane tickets to Portland, OR and off we went. We were there while Irene was striking the east coast. We were worried for friends and family there, but we were grateful that we chose the west coast instead of the east coast for our vacation.


Portland is called the City of Roses and is home to the International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden in a 40 acre city park called Washington Park as well as the Portland Chinese Garden in Chinatown. I had a jacket on most of the time we were there, it was awesome. To see more pictures from my trip go to my online photo album.

The local plant sales will be getting into full swing later this month and will continue into October. The Houston Garden Club’s Bulb & Plant Mart, master gardeners plant sales, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plant sale to name a few. Check out my event calendar for more details.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Garden Art of Seattle

I absolutely love garden art. I have little things tucked in here and there all around my garden and I‘m always on the look-out for more.

Throughout the Seattle Fling there was an abundance of garden art, but there were a few stand-outs when I look back over my pictures: Michelle & Christopher Epping’s,  Lorene Edwards Forkner’s, and Dragonfly Farms.

The Epping’s garden took 3rd place in the 2007 Pacific Northwest Gardens Competition, and it is easy to see why. Besides a well laid out garden, there are nooks and crannies to explore highlighted with interesting pieces of garden art.

The colors of the flowers echo the colors of the lanterns, or is it the other way around?

Concrete statuaries can be found in abundance in their garden.


Lorene Edwards Forkner’s garden is also her test bed for her writing. She has written a new book entitled Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More.  Many of the items featured in the book are created and tested right here in her backyard.

These boxes are a great idea to add more interest to an otherwise boring fence.
Remember nail punch!? We used to do nail punch projects in Girl Scouts.
Sometimes seemingly unrelated objects can be combined to create an attractive vignette.
This terrarium is a light fixture from an old warehouse.

Now for the finale of Lorene’s garden. The travel trailer. I have never seen anything like this in a garden, I love it! I had to take pictures so that one day when I decide to get a travel trailer for my garden I have pictures to prove to my husband that it can be done.




Now, on to Dragonfly Farms.

Aren’t these fun!? I should have taken a picture of the back of these metal heads so that we could see how they are elevated above the pie plates. IMG_3904

Here’s a great idea for a new use of an old bench at Dragonfly Farms

Someone finally thought of something to do with all those
random dishes you can buy at resale shops.

These gardeners have given me a few ideas for new projects in my garden, hopefully they have given you a few too. We are almost to the end of my Seattle Fling highlights. Only one more place to go, Bloedel Reserve.