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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My new Dramm Watering Wand

I’m not sure that I have ever done a product review on this blog as a result of being sent a product to try. However, I do often recommend products and local gardening centers that I like. I’m actually thinking about doing a series of posts about products that I use on a regular basis. So, I guess this is my first one.

When I was in San Francisco for the annual Garden Bloggers fling, we had a demonstration by Jessica Reinhardt from Dramm’s Public Relations. I am naturally a very skeptical person, and was dreading the sales presentation. To my surprise, I was intrigued by the Touch N Flow Rain Wand that she demonstrated.

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Backstory: I have to buy a new rain wand every year.

Seriously…every year.

The ones from the big box stores usually start leaking before the end of summer. The other thing that interested me about Dramm products was their lifetime guarantee.

I was at Wabash recently and noticed that they were selling the Dramm Touch N Flow 16” rain wands. A little on the expensive side, but I thought I would take a chance on it.

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OMG! I love this thing! Seriously, I’m not lying! I have been really excited to water my plants with this new wand.

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I do not like to spend my time hand watering plants. I think my favorite part about using this is that it delivers a lot of water, gently, and in a short amount of time. Watering my potted plants is much faster than it used to be. My opinion on this watering wand, is that it is worth the price even if it only lasts me one summer. That’s because it is saving me time. But, my bet is that it will last longer than just one summer, but only time will tell.

My strategies for watering include quick connects on all my hoses, sprinklers, and hand watering tools. I also have timers on every spigot. I also have to replace all of these things every year or two it seems.

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For a while I was going through timers at least once a year. I do have one good timer though. Guess what, it’s a Dramm! I didn’t even realize it until recently when I was looking at the Dramm product catalog. I bought this timer at least 3 years ago from Southwest Fertilizer. I’ve always thought it was by far my best timer.

So, since I like these two products so much, I thought I would ask Dramm to send me a few more things to try.

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So, let the testing begin! They sent me another Touch N Flow, a yellow revolver, and a set of Quick Disconnects to use. I will report back next year to let you know how durable all of these products have been in my garden.

In the meantime, if you are looking for the timer or the Touch N Flow, you can find them locally at Southwest Fertilizer, Buchanan’s, and Wabash (if you are making a special trip, you should call ahead to confirm product availability) or order them online from Amazon.

    

(Just so you know, I don’t get any discounts or freebies at our local garden centers. However, I do get a little from Amazon if you order from the above links.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Special Garden Gnomes

As you may be able to tell from my homepage, I really like garden gnomes. My banner picture is of gnomes I saw in Heidelberg, Germany while on a hike on the other side of the river.

A couple of years ago I was visiting my grandparents in Kansas and showing my grandma pictures of my garden. I had several gnomes scattered around the flower beds. She was feeling in the mood to clean out a few things and told me she had something for me.

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She brought me a box of 4”-5” tall gnomes that she had painted. My great-grandma, her mother had owned a ceramics studio for many years (before painting ceramics and drinking wine became popular). This is where she had painted the gnomes, probably 30 years ago or more. The poor gnomes have been wrapped in tissue paper for, I guess, this whole time.

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I’ve always been afraid they would get broken if I put them in the yard. At my previous house I had a lawn care service, but now, the dogs and I are pretty much the only people in the yard.

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I’ve decided to let the gnomes free to do as they please.

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I love my new little garden gnomes!

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bromeliads, Succulents, and Flora Grubb…oh my

Here’s a few more inspirations from the 2013 Garden Bloggers Fling in San Francisco.

This first one has it roots in my 2005 neighborhood garden tour. These homeowners fashioned their own wire baskets filled with various plants and hung to trees around their pool.

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I was so excited when I saw the wire baskets being sold at Flora Grubb, they seemed perfect to re-create this idea that I had seen so many years earlier. Below is my basket planted with a bromeliad and hanging on a palm next to my pool.

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Below is a close-up of the basket. I was so excited to get it planted, I didn’t take any pictures of it while it was empty.

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My other purchase from Flora Grubb was a couple of these planters.

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I think they are made from palm tree trunks, but I’m not positive about that. Here are my two in their new home.

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And, since I am on a succulent kick. I bought this old metal bowl at Another Place in Time and filled it with some succulents that I bought at Filoli.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Growing Tillandsias in Palms

Recently I travelled to San Francisco for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling. We visited about 15 different public and private gardens. There were many opportunities for inspiration.

At the Nichols garden in Oakland, I was taken by their use of tillandsias and bromeliads in the Canary Date palm in their front yard.

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I have about 15 palm trees at my new house. I think they were planted at least 15 years ago. Mostly they are 30 ft tall fan and queen palms with relatively smooth trunks. They don’t lend themselves to this kind of planting. However, I do have a few where I think this should work well.

Here’s my test case, with two tillandsias that I bought at Ikea of all places (obviously an impulse buy Smile). Locally, I think Another Place in Time should have a good selection. This tree already has some weeds growing in it, so it will be nice to have something attractive there as well. And one of these days I might get around to pulling the weeds out.

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If this works, I think I’ll start adding some more tillandsias and maybe try a few bromeliads as well.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

I was so excited yesterday when I realized I was going to actually post a bloom day post on the 15th, the actual bloom day. Then, I realized that yesterday was the 16th, so I just went to bed. Lol

There’s not a lot blooming in my garden right now. Most things are just trying to get established in their new homes.

However, there is one star of the show. The potted Brunfelsia americana that I moved from the old house. Here it is in its glory.

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Other plants blooming, but not looking as good are pentas, Laura Bush petunia, chenille plant, Flamenco Samba cuphea, and Yellow buttercup Turnera alternifolia.

Thanks for visiting, check out May Dreams Gardens for other bloom day posts.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Perfect Timing

I moved into my new house in February this year. As soon as I was unpacked, I started working on the gardens.

I had the pond removed, an irrigation system installed, the side sidewalk removed, and a new front sidewalk installed. I brought in about 100 pieces of concrete edging, new sod where the old side sidewalk was, and countless bags of topsoil, rose soil, and mulch. By the way, I swear by Living Earth Rose Soil and Houston Mulch, in case you were wondering.

The front yard

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I enlarged the tiny front flowerbed.

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My house was built in 1885, so I went with antique brick for the new sidewalk.

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The Old Pond

First the pond had to be removed. There is also a small pool in the back yard, and two water features were overwhelming to take care of. The pond is gone and the fish have been given a new home.

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The act of removing the pond was a fiasco. The people that I paid to do it only made it look like it was removed. After a good rain I found out that I still had a pond. My Dad spent many back breaking hours busting up the concrete that was at the bottom of the pond so that I could have a regular garden instead of a water garden.

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The Side Yard

This sidewalk was in an odd and never used place, so it had to go!

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I planted a Brown Turkey fig in the small garden by the fence, I am planning to espalier it.

Looking at the side yard from the opposite perspective

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The Vegetable Bed

The yard was sodded in November 2012, but wasn’t really cared for so the grass hadn’t rooted well by the time I built this cinder block bed in April. Usually I use the newspaper method to build my beds (laying down newspaper, wetting it, then covering it with dirt, which will kill the grass), but it was pretty easy to pull the grass up inside this new bed. I filled it with about 8 bags of Black Cow cow manure and garden soil mix from the dirt yard.

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I guess that was a great combination, as you can probably tell from the picture below. My tomato plants are outgrowing their cages and I’m harvesting tomatoes every day right now.

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All of the gardens (including the vegetable garden) are watered with drip irrigation and the grass is watered with pop-up sprinklers. So, why perfect timing, you ask?

Well, because it’s time for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling (in San Francisco this year) and it’s reaching 100 degrees here in Houston these days. With the plants, most of them started from my old garden, in the ground and my upcoming travels, I won’t have to worry so much about watering. I have to say, that if you have the opportunity to put in an irrigation system before planting your beds, that’s the way to go. I did the opposite at my previous house, only after years of moving around a sprinkler on Saturday mornings.

I’m very excited to have this much accomplished in my first 5 months of living here. My next project is one of the “hell strips” in front of the house. Can’t wait…

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Well, let’s see what’s blooming in my yard this month…

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The smell of the jasmine is heavenly.
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The desert rose is the only one that's staying in its pot.
The yellow on the left is butterfly weed.

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mmm, the plumeria smell great too!
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Maybe, I'll get some pomegranates this year.
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This shrimp plant is called Lemon Sorbet.
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Coreopsis Mercury Rising


I think I'll finally be able to start planting in a couple of weeks. I've spent the last few months building beds, and lining up people to install a new sidewalk and sprinkler system. I'm a few weeks behind schedule, but that has been ok since we have had an extended spring this year. However, summer has finally hit Houston, I think the high today is 93.

Thanks for stopping by to see what's blooming in my garden. For more Garden Blogger's Bloom Day posts, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Shangri La Macro Monday

These are some of the photos I took at Shangri La Botanic Gardens in Orange, TX last weekend.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Visit to Shangri La

East of Houston, in a town called Orange, lies Shangri La. It was created by H.J. Lutcher Stark in 1937. Shangri La was H.J.’s vision turned reality. While he was overseeing Shangri La, he would open it to the public during the spring blooming season. There were countless spring days when the garden received thousands of visitors.
After a devastating ice storm in 1958, the gardens were abandoned. Nearly 50 years later, they were rejuvenated by the Stark foundation and re-opened to the public, but this time year-round.
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Two of the water gardens were packed with perennials.
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This is the entrance to the children's garden.
Definitely not just for kids.
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Unusual to see this many different columbines growing in these parts.
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I'm always on the lookout for bottle trees.

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They had some great vegetable beds and bird mansions.
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Getting closer to the bird blind.
 
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Thousands of Great Egrets were visiting.

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The Stark family made their fortune in the lumber business and grew it with the oil and financial industries. The home of H.J. Lutcher Stark’s parents is still standing and is in pristine condition with all of the original furnishings (as things went out of style his mom would send them to a warehouse for storage, luckily she was a bit of a pack rat.) The only family to ever live in the house is the Starks. However, the house was not saved by H.J. Lutcher, but instead his wife Nelda. He was ambivalent towards its preservation, thank goodness Nelda had the foresight to save it.


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The interior of the house was a sight to behold. Literally, I could have spent an hour in each room of the 14,000 square foot house. It was gorgeous. But, you’ll have to go there to see it for yourself. Unfortunately they do not allow photography.

The gardens were beautiful this time of year, but I bet they would also be stunning in the spring when the 41 varieties of azaleas are blooming.