Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You absolutely must go to the Antique Rose Emporium

The first weekend in April is the renowned Antique Weekend in Round Top and the surrounding towns. My mom and I ventured out there as a last minute weekend getaway. IMG_2523My big find was this old piece of fence. It serves two purposes in the garden, decoration and a barrier to my dogs running through this bed chasing after squirrels.

On our way back to Houston, I thought we could swing by the Antique Rose Emporium since it was on our way home, well more or less on our way home.  I’ve heard about the Antique Rose Emporium for years, but I had no idea what was in store when we headed down the country roads to get there after days of shopping in Round Top and Warrenton.

The GPS took us on the scenic route, which was ok with us since we weren’t in a hurry and it was bluebonnet season after all.

IMG_2251Upon arriving at the Emporium, it was obvious that it is more than a nursery. It is a destination. Even if you have no intentions of gardening in your lifetime, this is a beautiful place to take a leisurely stroll along the garden paths.

We spent the first hour or so of our visit just wandering around the gardens.

We were also lucky enough to be there during their first Fragrance Festival which I will talk about more in a future post.


The rose is Queen of Bourbon
Dianthus with an unknown purple flower
The poppies were planted in abundance in many of the front gardens.
I LOVE this bottle tree!
The final resting place



Now, you know I did not go home empty handed. My mom gave me the great idea of starting a rose garden and I knew just the place for it. I had my list of fragrant roses that I liked from the Fragrance Festival so we started rose shopping. The staff at the Emporium are extremely knowledgeable, turns out that many of the ones on my list smelled great, but did not have the growth habit I was looking for.

Below are the 4 roses I purchased. The photos are all from the Antique Rose Emporium.

Cecile Brunner


Le Vesuve

And the popular Earthkind rose, Belinda’s Dream.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April Garden Bloggers Bloom…Day

Life reached the height of busyness this month. Fun travel, work travel, allergies, and gardening have been all consuming. Now, back to a little blogging. Here is what was blooming in my garden on the official Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (the 15th of every month).
volunteer petunias from last year's grocery store hanging basket
meyer lemon
Australian Violet
Tradescantia ‘Osprey’, Spiderwort
dwarf Bulbine latifolia
Magnolia 'Little Jane'
ice plant
Other flowers blooming include the knockouts, amaryllis, bottlebrush, hot lips salvia, lipstick salvia, salvia coccinea, TX rock rose, blue queen salvia, diamond frost euphorbia, and yellow cestrum,.

Visit May Dreams Gardens for more Garden Blogger Bloom Days.
This month marks the one year anniversary of Houston Garden Girl. Check out my first Garden Blogger Bloom Day post.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Amaryllis Trail

Amaryllis are great bulbs for the Houston area. We can plant them outdoors and leave them in the ground year-round. Even the ones you buy around Christmas can be planted outdoors in the spring. Plant them in full sun with their necks above ground.

started blooming on March 16
from the clearance table at Wal-Mart Jan 2010
started blooming on March 28

a gift from my mother-in-law, 2007
started blooming on March 30
2008 Plant & Bulb Mart
started blooming on April 1st
2008 Plant and Bulb Mart
started blooming on April 4th IMG_2308
from the clearance table at Wal-Mart Jan 2010
last ones to bloom-April 10
pass-alongs from my Mom

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Everything’s Bigger in Texas including Tomato Cages

You really should have planted your tomatoes over a month ago if you live in the Houston area. But if you didn’t, then buy the biggest tomato plants you can find.

Did you know that you can plant a tomato deeper than it is in its original pot? Take the lower leaves off of the tomato and plant it deep. The main stem will grow roots and will create a stronger plant.

Everyone has their own prescription for growing good tomatoes. I grow tomatoes in a raised bed and amend my soil every year with Black Cow Cow Manure and Natures Way Compost (or my own if I have enough). That’s about all I do and I have more than enough tomato production. Last year I added some cottonseed meal about halfway through the summer and it was the first time I had plants make it to the fall and produce (could have been a fluke, but it was fun).

Now, on to the discussion about tomato cages. I have found that my vegetable gardens produce better, the older they are. The first couple of years did not produce as many tomatoes or as tall of plants as later years. So, if your beds are like mine, you can get away with the largest of the cheap cages at the big box stores in the beginning. But, as your beds get more fertile over time, you will need a Texas-size tomato cage.

First, let’s look at what tomato cages are not.

tomato cageThese are the small conical shape cages. In my opinion these are not good for much. I have a few that I picked up along the street before heavy trash day that I use as a barrier to my dogs stepping on newly planted flowers.









tomato cageThese are the small-medium sized ones. Still not big enough, not to mention the insane color. I have used a size a little bit bigger than these for pepper plants. They work pretty good even though my plants tend to get tall and start to droop down the outside and all over their neighbors.







tomato cage

These are labeled as a “tomato trellis”. I bought some of these several years ago, again for peppers, they work ok, but I like the larger conical ones better. Most of mine have fallen apart by now.







Now, on to what a tomato cage is…Sturdy and Tall

tomato cageI really like these cages that I bought from gardeners.com. (This is not a paid endorsement). I have both the Tomato Towers and the regular Tomato Cages. I prefer the regular tomato cages because they are taller when you stack them on top of each other (about 64” vs. 56” for the shorter ones). I have mine attached to each other with twist ties. Another advantage of these cages is that they are collapsible (if that is important to you)

This picture was taken about 3 years ago. I am 5’ 7” to give you a sense of scale. The middle tomato plant is a sweet million and is probably a foot taller than the tomato cage.

IMG_2339I was at a local garden supply store and found this interesting cage. I thought it was similar to the “Texas Tomato Cage” I had read about, so I thought I would give it a try. Since then, I have realized that it is not similar and not that great. It is collapsible, but is really hard to balance all the rings and get it in the ground by yourself. I only use it as a last resort now. I don’t have any experience with the true Texas Tomato Cage, but they have good reviews online.




IMG_2337My newest cages are courtesy of the local community garden. They bought several 100’ rolls of galvanized 5’ tall fence material with 6”x6” openings and were kind enough to let me purchase 24’ of it. I do wish it was a little bit taller, but that is just me being greedy. You will need bolt cutters for this project. Each of these cages are 6’ of fencing. Fold the cage material into a cylinder and bend the cut ends over the other side. Then cut off the bottom ring to create the stakes to hold it in the ground. IMG_2338

Another option is to use fencing material from the big box store. My Dad did this, his cages are 10 years old and have withstood hurricane force winds. They do rust, just consider it a little extra iron for your soil.

Besides the two online stores I mentioned, I have seen nice tomato cages at Wabash as well. I think I may have also spotted some when I was picking up my compost at Nature’s Way Resources last month. Make sure you give either place a call before you make the trip to be sure they have some in stock.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Open Days on Knollwood and South Boulevard

This is my last post of the Houston Open Days tour. I hope this warms some of you northern gardeners up a bit.

The Knollwood Street gardens were quite impressive with large sweeps of lush green lawn surrounded by layered plantings and a large number of container grown citrus trees.IMG_2139
hornbeamsThey referred to this shaded area as a “bosque of hornbeams”. The garden is patterned after one the owners saw in France, but I wonder why they referred to it this way. I know that bosque is Spanish for forest, but there must be more to it than that. I googled it, and I did find a hornbeam bosque in London. Hmm, does anyone know if there is more to this reference than a simple translation?

Parties at this house must be fantastic.IMG_2140
The view from the back porch, I bet in the summer it’s enough to trick you into believing it is a cool day outside.
The final garden of the day was South Boulevard. These gardens had a more formal feel about them than some of the others. The grounds had four separate buildings with gardens intertwined between them.IMG_2166

I love the purple and white combo in this group of containers.container planting

The path leads to a building for entertaining. It has a big dining table and couches around a big screen tv. That’s a Chinese Fringe tree near the building.

mock orange
Mock Orange growing on a fence
The requisite azaleas
That’s all for my recap of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Garden Tour in Houston. Stay tuned for future Houston Garden Tours. The Quail Valley Tour is April 30th and the Westbury (my neighborhood) and Sugarland Garden Tour are on May 7th.