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My daylilies are putting on a show just for me, but to see over-the-moon lovelies and get tips (and divisions) from local gardeners, head to the Austin Daylily Show & Sale on May 26 at Zilker Botanical Garden!

From our viewers: “What’s stripping leaves off my hot peppers at night?” Well, recently while taping at La Flaca Urban Gardens, Alejandra Rodriguez Bougton had the answer: roof rats!

Roof rats simply love hot peppers (even minus the margaritas!) so Alejandra protects young plants under a repurposed screen door hideout. “I usually wait for them to flower once in 4″ pots, prune back the tops with the flowers to encourage strong stems, and once they flower again I plant them out in the field,” she says.

Oh, have you seen this in your yard?

This winter, Lindsey Heron cut down an old hackberry tree and now she’s got a bumper crop of seedlings. Daphne tells us: they could be root suckers. Find out what to do about them.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my best new friend is an inexpensive tool, Lawn Jaws, which can tug out my hackberry and pecan roots even a foot long when soil is moist. Watch Trisha’s demonstration.

And this week, Trisha’s got tips for naturally dealing with pesky slugs and snails (that also chomp peppers and whatever else in their little tracks).

Wildlife we do want in our gardens love ponds, streams, and fountains as much as we do.

Steve Kainer, founder of Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery, recognized our dream long ago and set about making it come true.

This week, Steve joins Tom to pump up pond and bog plant design with intricate spillers like mint and dramatic flair, including surprising options like Texas Star hibiscus and ‘First Knight’ fountain grass.

A surprising number of plants work in bog conditions—that marginal area where water meets soil.

Mount containers on bricks, cinder blocks, or rocks to keep soil moist—toes wet—without submerging roots.

You don’t even need a full-blown pond. “Anywhere where you could keep the soil of the pot wet and damp at all times, you can grow a bog plant,” Steve tells us.

One of the gorgeous container arrangements he brought along (designed by daughter Emily) splashes color and texture with blue rush, equisetum, creeping jenny, sweet potato vine, and Colocasias ‘Elena’ and ‘Imperial Gigante’. Watch now!

On tour, bog plants keep things clean in Jeannie Ferrier and Steven Monfrini’s two tree-embraced ponds.

Now members of the Austin Pond Society, they’ve expanded their knowledge (and ponds) since Jeannie built her first experiment. Oh, Carmel’s an honorary member and never goes fishing.

When they decided to go big, they hired out to excavate a shape that worked around boulders. Jeannie and Steven scavenged yards and yards of old carpet and laid it over a thick liner.

They made the center deep enough for koi to hide. They left shallow edges for their dogs to lap a drink.

Their young grandchildren love to swim in the clean water, since the bog’s plant roots are incredible filters.

When they found an old “cowboy bathtub,” Jeannie latched onto it fast. Here, they grow plants to pass along to fellow APS members. Mosquito fish keep little suckers at bay.

Son Cory and Steven built a family-and-friends-sized deck where Jeannie even “ponds” in a small galvanized stock tank. Steven skirted the deck with ashe juniper slats from his prunings. He set them a few feet out to make a deck-side raised garden where Jeannie grows flowers and food.

With layers of evergreens, flowering perennials and colorful art, they transition the shady garden to a small pond framing a sunny swimming pool and patio.

They lined the walkway between the two with rummaged bed frames on one side and more of Steven’s tree-thinning ashe junipers on the other.

He twined together (and reinforced) more “cedar” limbs from the property into a vine-supporting pergola.

Jeannie and Steven built the small multi-layered pond and waterfalls themselves.

Bog plants (on the upper level) include mint to clip for refreshing drinks.

Although Jeannie pops color with bottle trees in both gardens, the pool area’s where she goes for the most colorful vibes.

In this playful spot, Margaritaville serves up cheer regardless of the weather.

Artist and good friend Vivian Stewart painted the door with birds that Steven’s noted in their trees and at the ponds.

Jeannie loves to refurbish rather than discard. Steven crafted a bench out of their old footboard and her parents’ old granite bar.

They never bypass free garden art, like an ancient, scarred window screen that totally changes the dynamics of this little vignette.

Recently, they’ve added fish rescue to their busy schedules. When a couple could no longer care for their large koi, Jeannie and Steven quarantined them in a special holding tank. So, a first for CTG—we documented their transfer to their forever home. One take wonder this is!

Take it from Dooney: there’s a whole lot more!

Watch now!

Serene Pond Gardens & Funky Outdoor Living |Jeannie & Steven |Central Texas Gardener - YouTube

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

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“Xeriscape” does not mean “zero-scape!” Simply, it’s designing with water-thrifty plants and water-conserving techniques, whatever your style. And, yes, you can have lawn, too: just mow high and don’t pamper with lots of fertilizer and water.

Call responsible gardening whatever you like (including Earth Kind), but one important aspect is nurturing our diminishing bird and pollinator populations and all the companion creatures like toads and lizards.

On rocky areas, perennial pollinator-beloved copper canyon daisy beautifully companions against silvery agaves and cascading nolinas.

Not only do we love native wildflowers in all seasons, pollinators do, too! Grasses structure up our designs while providing habitat. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center demonstrates big picture ideas to adapt at home.

Directing and containing rainwater is part of the equation, too, from rain gardens to dry creek beds.

Rainwater collection turns precious drops into a welcome asset rather than a flooding concern.

This week, Dick Peterson, rainwater harvesting consultant and member of the Garden Club of Austin, hits the basic tips to grow green.

I’ve known Dick (and he’s been part of CTG) since he was president of the former Xeriscape Club of Austin. After that, he headed the first Xeriscape program for the City of Austin. Now, it’s called Grow Green, where online you can get resources from plant lists to garden problem solvers.

At Zilker Botanical Garden, visit the Grow Green gardens to get ideas for shade and sun.

And heads up on The Garden Club of Austin’s 61st annual Plant Show & Sale on June 1 at Zilker Botanical! Not only can you pick up great plants, you can pick up advice from hands-on gardeners to get you growing wisely!

And maybe you can snag their featured plant, ‘Red Robin’ tomato, an energetic performer that stays small!

Globe amaranth is a drought-tough heat-loving annual that’s sure to bring you lots of butterflies.

There are many varieties, from size to color, so snag the nursery transplants or seeds you like.

Globe amaranths make great cut flowers and to dry for wreaths and arrangements. Or, just save the seeds for next year when the globes dry up. Get Daphne’s tip to grow globe amaranths.

Fragrant foliage is just as wonderful as perfumed flowers. Gather some scented geraniums (Pelargonium) nearby to rub a soft leaf for a whiff of chocolate mint, lemon, rose, and over 200 scents. Peppy Herb n’ Cowgirl Ann McCormick explains how to grow scented geraniums and why they’re not a mosquito repellent!

For drought-tough gardens that definitely are not “zero-scape,” check out her collaborative blog,
Southwest Gardening: Fun with Plants in a Dry Climate.

So, have you ever tried growing an orange tree from seed? That’s what Regina DosReis did when a friend gave her some seeds a few years ago.

But, the container tree has never bloomed or flowered. What should she do? We reached out to AgriLife Extension fruit specialist Monte Nesbitt for his analysis. Get Daphne’s answer.

Wow, listen up! I was scared to pieces but so honored when designer Leah Churner invited me to chat on her new Hothouse podcast. We really had a blast talking about myths & misconceptions and my trials and tribulations figuring things out to help you!

Read all about it and listen here!

Oh, and check out Leah’s cute balcony garden on CTG, plant rehab when things get out of hand, and her design work in a revitalized habitat of art and wildlife.

On tour, at the Williamson County Master Gardeners’ demonstration gardens, there’s no “zero” here!

See how they control flooding water to grow food, herbs, and native plants that withstand rigorous conditions with Earth Kind techniques.

Watch now for their techniques!

Earth Kind flowers and food |Williamson County Master Gardeners - YouTube

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

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Aren’t these huggable? My Yucca pallida flowers are edible, too, as I learned recently. I chomped into one and yes, it was yummy! Maybe I’m a deer?

I love these silvery-leaved yuccas because they don’t whine about my Blackland Prairie soil and don’t mind shade to high light swings.

In deer country, we caught spring in action in this sun-to-shade front yard abloom with bluebonnets, Mexican feather grass, salvias, and Mexican stonecrop (Sedum mexicanum).

They replaced lawn with Berkley sedge—punctuated with rain lilies and Salvia lyrata. This is psycho lighting in earnest, where it swung from shade to sun and back to shade in just a few hours.

I didn’t have the best luck with Salvia lyrata, the native evergreen replacement for ajuga, until it seeded itself into decomposed granite cracks where it gets shade and a few hours of hard core sun. Its spiky spring blooms attract lots of pollinators.

This week, passionate plant woman Liz Morphis from Barton Springs Nursery takes on psycho light with “Sedges, Salvias, and Sedums!”

She dazzles the darker side that gets slammed with sunlight spurts. ‘Sparkler Sedge’ is a tolerant evergreen that she assures is more readily available these days.

I have a few, including one in a container to sparkle up a dim light spot with a bit of height. When leaves get leggy or brown, clip at the base. New spurts emerge fast.

Liz pairs ‘Sparkler Sedge’ with ‘Amistad’ salvia in a large container. In the ground, ‘Amistad’ is quite robust, growing at least 4’ x 4’.

Those large leaves welcome a bit of shade, for sure, but need some sun for the best blooms to attract hordes of bees and butterflies. A little extra water in summer’s heat doesn’t hurt.

Cherokee sedge is one I’m adding to my list! It’s a Blackland Prairie native that grows from Canada to Coahuila as a substitute for evergreen liriope.

When I visited Liz at BSN to finalize our list, earnestly she told me, “You’ve got to get Salvia greggii ‘Lemon Light.” How can you resist that? I couldn’t.

Here’s why: Liz tells us that ‘Lemon Light’ blooms constantly and is the most drought-tolerant greggii in her garden. What really sold me are the soft yellow flowers, here paired with sedeveria, an echeveria and sedum hybrid.

She brought along many cute as heck sedums, but here’s one: Chinese sedum (Sedum tetractinum) that blooms in waves of yellow for months.

SO much more, so watch now!

We keep up the passion with fun and funny Herb n’ Cowgirl Ann McCormick who’s got the secret for a container food forest: the three “P’s”—Pot, Plant & Place. Watch now!

Now, here’s a first for CTG, thanks to Jason Wisser! What are these reddish blobs on his oak tree?

We consulted AgriLife Extension entomologist Wizzie Brown who concludes that these are the result of gall midge larvae. Get Daphne’s complete answer about this early stage of gall formation and why they’re not a problem.

On tour: Growing up in Beirut, Sheila and Tim Smith learned that hospitality starts in a garden.

Now in Waco, guests dine on meals fresh from the picking and settle back to converse and stroll among the flowers busy with bees and butterflies.

She and husband Tim crafted their haven together, making modifications when Sheila was diagnosed with lupus. It’s become her healing place that energizes and strengthens.

Shelia tells us, “I love the idea of someone taking a walk through your back yard. So my pathways are designed to almost feel like a brook going around or a little riverbed.”

Over years, they gradually added flagstone paths to easily navigate flower beds where Sheila layers successive bloomers for wildlife food all year.

Since a garden shed is so prominent, Sheila and Tim made it cute, tucking in a secret garden behind.

She grows all kinds of herbs—especially for homemade tabbouleh—but uses quinoa now instead of bulgur in her mandatory gluten-free diet.

In raised stone beds, Sheila cultivates seasonal vegetables. Note the baskets of dried flowers she’s collected to re-seed the garden per season and to pass along to friends.

She protects seedlings with leftover chicken wire until they’re large enough to fend off critter scratching.

Her secret to success: homemade compost. Tim drilled holes into large trash barrels to allow rainfall and air. Now and then, Sheila rolls them around to speed up the process, which doesn’t take long.

Chicken poop (and fresh eggs) prompted their cute chicken coop that Tim crafted from recycled materials. Their hens were very young on our visit, so the roosting boxes were closed off.

In this cottage style habitat, their hospitality extends to pollinators, too. Butterflies and bees darted everywhere, like on annual cosmos that Sheila plants from last year’s seeds.

A Bordered Patch butterfly wanted to sign on as KLRU grip to assist audio guy Steve Maedl!

Watch the whole fun story now!

Charming Cottage Design |Sheila & Tim Smith |Central Texas Gardener - YouTube

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

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So, I never got around to moving my Jerusalem sage that’s blocking a path. If I had, I would have missed this.

Winecups recently popped in beautiful burgundy, the perfect touch against velvety yellow and silver leaves.

Strappy magenta-hued Byzantine gladiolus completed the textural collage.

In deer country, Jerusalem sage, ‘Furman’s Red’ Salvia greggi, shrubby skullcap, ‘Jethro Tull’ coreopsis, ‘Mystic Spires’ salvia, silvery Walker’s Low Catmint and Anacacho orchid (small tree) delight our senses and the pollinators in this design by Friendly Natives in Fredericksburg.

This week, Matt Kolodzie from Friendly Natives pleases the pollinators with plants that antlered nibblers resist.

If your childhood memories include the fuzzy pink fragrant mimosa flowers of the short-lived Asian tree, Matt’s got the native one for you on rocky soil: Fragrant mimosa (Mimosa borealis).

In the ground or in porch containers, edible and fragrant ‘First Love’ dianthus promises a long-lasting love affair. Recently, I saw butterflies all over dianthus!

Salvias are always sure bets to beat the deer, including the meadow sages, like ‘May Night’. In a garden we taped last week, Salvia greggi and ‘May Night’ attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Lindheimer muhly grass offers sprawling, tendril-like contrast and towering fall seedheads.

I positively adore gray shrub sage (Salvia chamaedryoides) but in my Blackland Prairie garden, I haven’t found the absolutely perfect spot for it. In total sun, dry, well-drained or rocky soil, you’ve got a winner.

Spanish lavender is one of the easiest to grow for all of us lavender-lovers, but it wants good drainage and sun, too. Butterflies, including Buckeye, are as delightful as the flowers.

In this Friendly Natives design, Matt paired it with gray santolina, salvias, wall germander and more.

Well, there is SO much more, so just watch now!

Deer bypass native perennial skeleton-leaf goldeneye, too, while pollinators head over to its sporadic spring-to-fall daisy-like golden-yellow buttons.

From afar, this very drought-tough perennial looks almost “ferny” with its thread-like leaves.

I trimmed mine quite a bit in March (not to the ground) to freshen it up and fluff it out. Mine gets a little morning sun with blasts in the afternoon, though it can take full sun. Flower buds should be open any day now! Get Daphne’s tips on growing skeleton-leaf goldeneye!

Dyckias, terrestrial bromeliads from South America, intrigue with spiky leaves in countless colors.

They produce pups or offsets, like agaves, at the base of the plant. They also divide in the center into two plants.

See how Jeff Pavlat from the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society plucks offsets and carves the plant right down the middle to multiply his (and your) collection!

On tour at Redeemer Lutheran School, students go wild about science lessons outdoors in a wildlife habitat, vegetable gardens and a mini-farmyard.

It all started about 15 years ago when science teacher Danna Keyburn started a Junior Master Gardener program.

She developed a curriculum to connect classroom lessons to real-life ones outside, like watching transpiration in action. (Our video shows how you can do this, too!)

Then, she connected with the National Wildlife Federation’s school habitat program and went after grants. Every day, students observe seasonal cycles from caterpillar to butterfly and how plants and creatures interact.

Long-time former principal Norm Stuemke enthusiastically embraced the outdoor classroom—the garden rainbow rooms—that students consider one of their favorite playgrounds.

Students also learn what plants work together to provide nectar, pollen and seeds for wildlife.

A Redeemer Girl Scout developed QR codes so that students can identify, photograph and write stories about the garden’s plants.

Students plant flowers for pollinators, like warm weather zinnias and Mexican sunflower (Tithonia), and food they can eat, too. A three sisters garden of corn, beans and squash was in full swing on our visit.

Watering can be a chore for us after work, but for children, this is fun, especially if you pump it yourself! Science and nurturing join hands at the water pump station.

Grinding corn cobs is the ultimate connection to how food turns into another kind of food!

Our wonderful intern Kristen Balderas couldn’t resist giving this a try, and I wanted to join her!

To add the irresistible element for any kid (or adult), Redeemer volunteers built a “barnyard” for chickens, quails, and even turkeys. I’ve never seen..

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Just because flowers don’t look that great to us, they’re still tasty spots for pollinators to grab a bite, like this Gray Hairstreak butterfly on tattered coneflower.

I left a thistle in this bed since bees found something to eat in the morning. In the afternoon, a ladybug showed up to dine on aphids.

Byzantine gladiolus never fails to enchant April, joined by ‘Henry Duelberg’ salvia in the background.

Lofty spuria irises only frame garden sections seven or so months a year from their emergence in fall to yellowing stalks in June. I cut them to the ground then. They’ll poke back up in November.

April’s golden flowers top things off with lots of bee and wasp action, including a visit from a carpenter bee.

My Yucca pallidas are aiming for glory, though they won’t die after flowering! I can’t get you a great picture because in evening, it’s high-octane sunlight, and when I’m home weekend mornings, it’s a shady sort of photo “blah” to the camera.

Passionate horticulturist Tim Kiphart from wholesale nursery and grower Far South Nursery has just the ticket for structural plants that work in those shade-to-sun swings.

For screening, he brought along a couple of clumping bamboos, including ‘Golden Goddess’ that grows 8-12’ tall in part sun or bright woodland shade.

Tim details a few nolinas, too, including broad-leafed Nolina hibernica ‘La Siberica’ that eventually trunks to 6-20’. “Eventually” is the key word for this slow-grower.

Viburnum-leaf boneset (Ageratina viburnoides), formerly Eupatorium and often found under that name, is a 3×3’ evergreen shrub in sun to part shade.

Tim’s got lots of choices for you, including a hardy sedum for part sun. Watch now!

I’ve seen this countless times and I bet you have, too. Same yard, yet one tree one is troubled while the other thrives, like these live oaks that John Thomas keeps watered and maintained.

The root of the problem is complicated. Daphne explains how to test for soil compaction but ultimately, valued trees need consultation from a certified arborist. Get Daphne’s answer and Lea Joy’s tips for growing pollinator-beloved summertime morning glories.

Agaves can take a hit from cold or other trauma. My Agave celsii is chugging away on new growth, but this weekend, I’m donning long rose gloves to pretty it up.

Jeff Pavlat from the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society doesn’t bother with gloves! He demonstrates two techniques to clean up agaves damaged by cold or lack of water (yes!) and explains why it’s okay to leave damaged bottom leaves alone.

On Tour
In 2003, when Briana Miriani and Mark Biechler settled into an elderly east Austin bungalow, they put their backs and sustainability creativity into its restoration.

First, they gave their small front yard visual scope with geometry diversity.

To echo the lines of the fence and house, they laid straightforward flagstone pathways.

Mark offset the rectangular yard and chain link fence with curving beds and narrow strips of Palisades Zoysia.

Rather than hedge out the neighbors, curving fence beds alternate screening plants with breezy views.

Their raised bed design brings together both contours. Graduated levels of old bricks, given a paint brush facelift, frame shapes of all kinds.

They tucked foundling trinkets and rusty-hued small boulders among agaves, rotund golden barrel cactus, and flowering perennials. Even edibles get a spot in repurposed galvanized buckets.

Since they’re both into animal rescue, they made the shady backyard pet-friendly.

Between shade and two energetic dogs, grass didn’t have a chance. Instead, they laid a few inches of spongy mulch.

Since the fence is naturally dog-patrol ground, plants get safe quarters in a row of galvanized stock tanks.

The house is small, so Brie and Mark built a guest house for family visitors and Airbnb (and a cute shed for themselves).

A metal-framed, cattle-panel fence and gate separates the playground from the guest house patio.

Tejas black gravel is easy to maintain. And, they discovered a bonus at dog bath time! When Jack and Piper joyfully roll around post-rinse, they don’t wind up as “mulched mutts.”

Their most recent project is a catio to give their rescued feral cats access to the outdoors while keeping them (and birds) safe.

When Brie and Mark moved in, the neighborhood had a large feral cat population. Brie and teams of others have utilized the Austin Humane Society’s free neuter/spay program. They’ve found homes for many of them, including the four that moved in with them.

In recent years, across the country, the Audubon Society has conducted catio tours. I haven’t found info yet for a 2018 Austin tour, but I’ll keep you posted!

They designed their metal-framed catio to match the fence and gate. Inside, they experimented to achieve the perfect shelf levels for jumping and resting, including a shady hideout underneath.

Brie advises researching cat doors for long-term durability and a heavy-duty flap to keep conditioned air in the house.

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The bulb parade continues with Johnson’s amaryllis (Hippeastrum x johnsonii), a reliable comeback in sun to part shade, even on my Blackland Prairie soil. This one gets bright shade most of the day until late afternoon when sun blasts it.

Around town, I bet you’ve seen this a lot: cycads (sago palm) with striped brown leaves.

San Antonio gardener Rebecca Savage’s cycad looks about the same. This is freeze damage. Simply cut off the bad leaves to the trunk. New ones will emerge. Long rose gloves make the chore less painful!

But Rebecca’s spineless prickly pear is in big trouble. Daphne explains what to do about it and how to protect sago palms during extended below freezing days.

In my experience, native Texas sage/cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) can be really ugly or very handsome, like this one.

Although the flowers don’t guarantee rain—just high humidity—they do promise lots of bees and other pollinators. Daphne explains what you need for a beautiful, drought tough cenizo.

Rain drenches, especially in heavier soil, can take out our silvery plants quickly. I lost a Salvia ‘Newe Ya’ar’ (a hybrid of S. officinalis and S. fruticosa) to a rain bomb last year. Just 17’ away at the end of the bed, this one didn’t even wilt, or suffer during our extended 20° days this winter.

Lack of sun, space or good soil is easily remedied by growing in containers. There are countless new hybrids of miniature/dwarf vegetables that work fine in a container in a sunny spot (even along a driveway). John demonstrates a few options for small spaces, including tomatoes in bags!

As “super foods” enter our dietary vocabulary and recipes, we’re curious how to actually grow them. David K. Sargert from It’s About Thyme explains how to grow plants with powerful benefits.

A LEED semi-retired architect, David wanted to learn more about gardening organically and to find solace in growing plants. He joined the IAT team and began exploring healthful plants, many with origins in India.

Discover how to grow gotu kola, snake gourd, bitter melon, amaranth, neem tree and curry tree. His dried curry tree leaves were a hit at KLRU and flavoring many recipes right now!

Tender tropical moringa’s one of the most super of the super foods and quite easy to grow here. This one’s in Ratna and Venkappa Gani’s garden.

David brought along tender tropical henna, popular for homemade tattoos and coloring hair. Watch now for the scoop on super plants!

Check out David’s remarkable plant photos on Facebook! This one’s the flower of Viper snake gourd, one that he includes on CTG.

In case you missed it, see how Ratna and Venkappa grow many of these plants, including curry tree.

On tour in San Antonio, Christine Cunningham Alcorta and Richard Alcorta found a solution for growing on rocky soil: cinder blocks.

Richard loves to cook and they both wanted the fresh tastes of pick-to-kitchen choices (like super hot peppers) that aren’t readily available in grocery stores.

To protect their many varieties of tomatoes and other critter-beloved crops, Richard built a cedar frame to anchor plastic Poultry Hex garden fence netting.

Rather than caging his tomatoes, he strings them up. Makes harvesting easier, too!

The netting also works for climbers like squash and summer Malabar spinach.

Compost-enriched cinder blocks confine ambitious herbs like mint.

The deeper middle beds support crops like potatoes. There’s always something in season for Richard’s 5-star recipes.

Asian dragon fruit, a genus of cactus, is the only plant they protect from freeze, aside from their citrus.

Its glorious flowers produce sweet, richly colored fruit in summer.

Table and wine grapes work well in their rocky soil and even shield the patio, where plucking is easy.

Since they welcome beneficial wildlife to their flowers, Richard devised a wine bottle waterfall where birds and small creatures hit the bottle!

See how Richard and Christine fry up stuffed squash flower blossoms!

Watch their wonderful story right now!

Cinder Block Vegetable Garden | Christine and Richard Alcorta |Central Texas Gardener - YouTube

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

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Things move fast in spring! This skipper butterfly hurried over to get the last meals from the golden groundsel.

Perhaps small birds will snag a few seeds before tufts of fluff catch the next breeze.

The first coneflowers are flirting.

Retamas (Parkinsonia aculeata), also called paloverde and Palo verde, will soon captive pollinators on the wing.

But John in Southern California discovered this precise “carving” on his ‘Desert Museum’ palo verde. What’s going on?

I hit up David Cristiani, a landscape architect in New Mexico, who told us this appears to be rabbit damage. During drought, rabbits (and squirrels, among other animals) gnaw bark to get the moisture.

David sent along a picture of an Opuntia macrocentra that had been chomped by jackrabbits or cottontails, or maybe pack rats. He says that usually the pack rats eat cacti from burrowing under the roots and getting their moisture and roughage that way, in order to avoid the spines.

Get Daphne’s complete answer, how to plant blackfoot daisy, and our viewer picture.

On garden munchers: I was thrilled to find two instars of Eastern black swallowtail caterpillars devouring my bronze fennel, which is exactly why I planted it! The black one, an early instar, took on its “white stage” after this picture.

Despite drought and drenches, I can always count on my native Texas blue grass (Poa arachnifera) for evergreen texture and frothy spring flowers in part shade.

This week, John Hart Asher, environmental designer at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, explains why to plant grasses in spring.

Across the country, he’s working to develop urban prairies that matter to our long term ecology. Typically, we’ve thought of prairies as rural spaces. Now, he’s concentrating on urban projects, like the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas on the SMU campus.

At home or in public spaces, grasses help control floodwater since their deep, fibrous roots let rainwater slowly infiltrate the soil. Watch now!

Add perennial and annual native flowers to build a holistic wildlife habitat.

Watch our visit to his home micro-prairie with Bonnie Evridge and their son Adler. New baby son Fen wasn’t around yet, but got here as fast as he could on March 13 to help plant (eventually)!

Get native plants and grasses of your own at the Wildflower Center spring plant sale, April 13 (members only—but you can join on site) and April 14.

John shows how to grow food and flowers—even native plants—in containers.

Suspend your garden with an orchid pot hanger to literally grow up!

On tour, what exactly is a living wall and how can it change our future? The University of Texas School of Architecture and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center collaborated to explore techniques in harsh conditions.

Danelle Briscoe, School of Architecture Associate Professor, designed and fabricated the 148 honeycombed plant cells on a 10 x 25-foot structure.

Michelle Bright, Environmental Designer at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, selected plants from diverse Texas regions.

Wildflower Center volunteers planted the cells with a soil media, long under development, that allows air to move through easily but still holds onto water.

Planted in June 2016, the living wall has faced every test, from drenching rains a few weeks later to extreme heat, drought, and freezes. Grasses, nolina, and red yucca, among others, passed just fine.

They’re constantly monitoring soil moisture, pH, thermal heat gain, salinity, temperature and light. Little bluestem just keeps on growing.

To create habitat, they’ve installed four wildlife destinations, and monitor motion to see who comes.

A specially designed wren house hunkers behind sideoats grama, the state grass of Texas.

Watch the whole story now!

Living Wall: UTSOA and Wildflower Center |Central Texas Gardener - YouTube

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

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Trees are turning over a new leaf in the season of rebirth.

BUT: be on alert for genista caterpillars chomping their way through succulent new mountain laurel leaves.

If you can spot them, squish as fast as you can. It’s best to spray the entire tree, including bottoms of leaves, with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) before they defoliate your tree. They’ll even eat the tiny flower stalks that will soon emerge. You may need to do this a couple of times as eggs hatch.

Live oak trees look a bit yellowish-green as new growth emerges. They’ll darken up soon.

If you’re sniffling a lot, blame it on oak pollen from the male catkins, now collecting all over your yard, car, sidewalks, and pets.

My yaupon hollies still sport berries even as miniscule flowers assure next year’s crop.

This fruit-producing female is pollinated by bees and other tiny insects that have visited male holly flowers somewhere in the neighborhood.

Keeping pollinators fed is the best part of progressively flowering trees and shrubs. My garden’s been busy since early February with Mexican plum followed by viburnum, redbud, and mountain laurel.

AND, CTG is springing into an exciting new season! On April 7, discover how urban prairie restoration impacts drought and flood plains and why to plant grasses now. On tour, visit a living wall that studies best practices for hectic Texas weather.

April 14
Find out how to grow super foods like moringa, curry tree, snake gourd, henna and more. In San Antonio, a charming couple designed cinder block vegetable beds on their rocky soil to serve up 5-star meals.

April 21
We’ve got you covered with pet-safe plants to screen a view. On tour, a small front yard goes geometric to shape up a plain rectangle. In back, they designed for rescued dogs and cats, including a catio to keep formerly ferals (and birds) safe.

April 28
Check out native plants for your water-thrifty habitat garden. On tour at Redeemer Lutheran School, students learn about the birds, bees, and butterflies (and chickens and quail) in their wildlife habitat “farmyard” gardens.

AND ON APRIL 7 at the Mayfield Park Gardening Symposium: meet Daphne & Augie (bring your questions!), learn how propagate plants like a pro, and how to keep your trees in leafy good health! Find out more.

In case you missed it, this week check out houseplant designs with Tillery Street Plant Company and how Maverick Fisher banished invasive plants around his old house for wildlife diversity and future sustainability.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

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Go out on a ledge for your bees!

Our Christmas present one year was a birdbath designed by Zach Zamora of Variance Design. We wanted it tall enough to be somewhat safe against stray cats. Zach’s renowned for his sustainable, living ecosystems in museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums, along with with unique garden art. He understood how to create progressive levels for insects and birds small and large.

The outermost ledge is a bee beach where they can sip without drowning (bees can’t light on water). At nightfall, I fill it back up for morning’s splashing birds, leaving that ledge clear. By late afternoon, so many birds have swooped out enough water that the bee beach is even wider.

It’s the bees’ watering hole between meals, like on fat and fluffy mountain laurel flowers.

Bees are seeing red (or pink) to feast on redbuds catching our eyeballs all around town. Horticulturist Greg Grant says that genetic diversity is why we see such a color range. The owner of this tree said that his started out dark pink/red and gradually faded.

Not to be outdone, Lady Banks rose is showering flowers, even on curbs where it’s resided for years without any babying.

This is one tough cookie, I’ll tell you.

Mine is hiding a chain link fence, out of reach of the water hose. I’ll shape it up after it blooms—this is one rose you don’t want to prune in February.

So, have you ever planted something that’s a mystery a few years later? This narcissus popped up on slender jonquil leaves between bearded irises.

Greg Grant told me that it could be ‘Pipit’. Hmm—did I ever get one? Not on my spreadsheet, but you know how that goes.

Anyway, it shows up every year, here with native golden groundsel (Packera obovata).

Here’s the most bizarre thing! A few years ago, a leafy thing showed up among my plumbago and shrimp plants. I thought it was a bird food plant, but I left it alone. Then one year it sprouted branches.

You never know what you’ll find during winter cleanup: maybe those Felcos you lost last summer! When I cut things back recently, I discovered that the mystery plant’s a tree, obviously a Prunus of some type.

Who knows where it came from or what it really is, but obviously, it’s a survivor that’s claimed its home.

The only mystery with native spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea) is what color it comes up with this year or where it lands. This one pleases the bees while Yucca gloriosa ‘Variegata’ maintains structure for its ephemeral companions.

I don’t have much luck with Euphorbia rigida, since it rots in heavy duty rains, but since it’s been so dry, this potted one did its spring thing against a muhly grass I’ve yet to primp.

So, you know how pets love a newly turned bed with its soft composted soil. This Waco gardener (her story on CTG this spring) solved the problem with leftover chicken wire from her cute coop to deter scratching cats.

She removes it once seedlings are mature and the cats leave it alone. Since snails find their way in, she crumbles eggshells around new plants to fend them off.

In case you missed it, this week we repeat our segment on choosing a rainwater collection system and visit an old garden made new again.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

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This time of year, if you blink, you’ll miss something new. In just a few hours on Sunday, baby blue eyes popped open under native golden groundsel (Packera obovata). Perennial companions are growing back in after their winter haircuts.

Some plants are taking their time to show up, but it looks like everybody made it through fine, even firecracker fern.

My abutilons fared well, too, in their warmth against the house.

So, be patient before digging up anything. Established roots fare much better in drought and freeze. Despite the warm temps, the soil is still cool in mid-March. Give your plants time to rally ‘round.

Agave celsii took a hit once again, but I’ll saw the damaged leaves off as I always do. I love this plant, but it does not like temps below 25°.

Jerusalem sage will be flaunting flowers any minute. But, this one’s taken over the path, so I’m going to see how grumpy it gets when I move it. And yes, I made the mistake of miscalculating mature size when I planted it!

Little Spring starflowers (Ipheion uniflorum) guard the pathway without claiming ownership.

Dutch iris sings the blues to Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’.

Every spring, I thank the people long ago who planted a bit of beauty that endures for generations, like early-blooming bearded irises often called “Grandma’s Flag.” Maybe these were planted by newlyweds who got divisions from their grandmothers.

I’m glad that later owners didn’t toss them, like Iris albicans, also called “white flag” and “cemetery iris.”

Why do irises change from purple to white? Here’s an answer from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

My Iris ‘Nada’ passalongs stay true to their frilly white flowers striped with golden orange.

This evergreen, a cross between I. wattii and I. japonica, is an iris that loves the shade. These are hunkered under a mountain laurel where they get a bit of morning and late afternoon sun.

I’ve watched this old house garden change over the years. These irises and little pink rose (possibly Caldwell Pink) have endured.

I’m just about finished with the winter clean sweep. When I shear the inland sea oats, I just leave the cuttings on the ground as mulch that will soon be covered.

If you’re worried about seedlings, it’s too late for that! You’d have to cut off those seed heads in fall.

These amber waves of grain are still beautiful at the Austin Public Library’s tiered gardens, where birds head for warm red Yaupon holly berries and bees to flowers opening on Salvia greggis.

This week, find out what heavy metals or toxic materials could be lurking in your garden. And visit a couple who grows over 100 species of food and flowers in a typical backyard. Watch now!

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