The Natural Garden Coach

Monday, March 29, 2010

Digging Austin's Spring

Redbud blooms (Cercis (canadensis?))

Just when I think I'm okay with my new life and my not-so-new-anymore town, I go to Austin. Ah Austin, my old hometown. Austin likes to celebrate itself and nothing epitomizes that more than a beautiful weekend in the spring - everyone is smiling, the wildflowers and trees are blooming, the sun is shining, the air is at just the right temperature, and absolutely everyone is outdoors.

Spineless Prickly Pear

Between many visits with old friends I managed to find my way to Zilker Botanical Garden. It's an old garden that meanders through diverse habitats and it was a perfect way for me to enjoy some sun without spending money (at the nurseries, of course!).

Lorapetalum tree

Have you ever seen a lorapetalum in tree form? I found this one at the entrance to the garden. Amazing.

"Mother" tree (pittosporum) and waterfall

The Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden, built over 3 rugged acres in 1969 by Mr. Taniguchi when he was 70 years old, has ponds, a moonwalk, a waterfall, Japanese maples, and the remains of a Mother Tree, a pittosporum growing out of rock. There is also a teahouse, which used to have a lovely view of the Austin skyline but today can hardly be seen because of the bamboo.

Teahouse view

Zilker Botanical Garden Teahouse

What would Austin be like without the native Texas Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora? The fragrance, similar to grape soda, is poweful, and can be detected while sitting at a stoplight!

Texas Mountain Laurel

The garden center has some huge rainwater harvesting equipment.

Rainwater collectors

My tour of Zilker Gardens was short (there's alot more to see there) since I was actually on my way to another nursery. This being spring and all, I wanted to be sure I got my fill of all things in the garden. And what better way to cap off a garden filled weekend than to visit Pam Penick's own backyard?


Pam, owner of Penick Landscape Design and writer of the blog Digging, is an amazing garden designer and my photos really can't do her yard justice. She has a gardener's garden - it's perfect for strolling through, examining close up the many Texas natives as well as succulents, cacti, and other well adapted plants.

Santa Rita Opuntia (Pam, correct me if I'm wrong!)


Above you can see Pam's second patio overlooking the stock tank pond. The blue water of the pool is so cool and calming. This photo was taken on a natural pathway made of giant limestone boulders. I mean giant - they are there naturally and Pam has made the most of them.


I can't believe I didn't get a good photo of Pam's stock tank pond and the new rock spiraling around it. It's fabulous. I think we were just too busy talking for me to capture those good photo ops so you'll just have to visit her blog. Click on this link to see one of her latest posts that includes a photo of it.

Agave ovatifolia

I did manage to get a photo of her iconic Whale's Tongue agave. It's even more impressive in person and looks incredibly happy there. Thank you Pam, for taking time out of your day to show me around and gab about the gardening life. I only wish I had had more time and could have joined you and other Austin bloggers at Design-a-go-go.


I leave you with a typical Texas spring scene of wildflowers and blue sky. I'll see more of this on my next trip, this time to Houston (and yes, more garden related adventures are on tap!).

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2009. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Awakening



Awakening - what does that mean? My online dictionary says the noun means "the act of awaking from sleep". Or "a recognition, realization, or coming into awareness of something". Both definitions are appropriate for this month's Picture This contest at Gardening Gone Wild. Awakening for me means the earth has broken its winter slumber and suddenly there are little harbingers of spring to be seen.

In my past life (pre-Louisiana) I could hardly wait to see the bluebonnets. Every trip up the freeway to work was a scouting trip for the first bluebonnet. Today, spring harbingers for me are the daffodils that line the roads, marking old farmsteads and homes. There's a great variety of them: Sweeties, Campernelles, Butter and Eggs, many more. This unknown variety pictured above shows up in my yard just after the Sweeties start blooming. This is now how I awake to spring.

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2009. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Foliage Follow-Up March 2010

'Firesticks', Euphorbia tirucalli v. rosea

The day after Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is Foliage Follow-Up, hosted by Pam at Digging. I've got a few things going on foliage-wise, mostly with my succulents. I'm sure they're very thankful to be out in the sunlight again!

"Flapjack"

Some of my succulents, finally released to the outdoors again

My succulent shelf includes a couple of very special guests - some chickadees building a nest in the bluebird box (the one that never got set up). Although it's not really about foliage, I just have to show the evidence:


Here's a few other plants beyond the succulents.

Meyer lemon

New growth on 'Janet' rose

Lichens on cut oak log

Moss, rocks, leaves, and pinestraw

I hope you enjoyed my Foliage Follow-Up and to enjoy more of them, be sure to visit Pam's post. Happy Spring!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2009. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day


It looks like this is a big month for daffodils for me on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Above you can see a number of Jetfire daffs as well as some gangly King Alfreds (fyi, I've heard that most King Alfreds sold here are not really King Alfreds, hmm). I think I'm going to move the King Alfreds farther away from the Jetfires since I think the Jetfires are so pretty on their own.

Jetfire narcissus close up


The daffodils above came with our yard so I don't know what kind they are. They all did extremely well this year. I hear that's because we had such cold weather in winter!


Among the unknown variety of daffodils is one frilly one. I don't know whether this is a mutant or a "real" variety. Here's a few more daffs from around the yard.

Campernelle daffodil

Texas Star daffodil

Louisiana Sweetie jonquils

And just to make sure I get all the bulbs in one place, here's a Snowflake (Leucojum) for your viewing pleasure.

Snowflake (Leucojum)

And just a couple more photos to go.

Pearl Maxwell camellia

Broadleaf Creeping Phlox, Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’

I'm very excited to see my creeping phlox blooming. I bought one plant last year as an experiment for my woodland garden. It grew a little bit but didn't really do too much. Lo and behold it's got a number of very pretty blooms now. I hope to buy some more for the area.

Also in bloom in my garden are the rosemary plants, white irises (just starting), and the beginnings of blooms on the viburnums. Hopefully I'll have the viburnums to show next month as well as a good display of rose blooms (they're taking their sweet time after this hard winter). Stay tuned tomorrow for Foliage Follow-up hosted by Pam at Digging. I hope to post on that as well. That is, if I'm not outside all day (cheers for spring weather!). Be sure to visit Carol's website for more GBBD posts from around the world.

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2009. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Jonquil Jubilee!


This past weekend was the Jonquil Jubilee, a festival to celebrate the beautiful jonquils (daffodils) that grow in the area of Gibsland, LA. Gibsland is a very small town in north Louisiana made famous by the fact that it was where Bonnie and Clyde met their end. I prefer to think of the lovely daffodils instead.

A couple of friends and I went specifically to purchase some plants from Willis Farm, a native and heirloom plant nursery that was selling there. I snagged an anthracnose and powdery mildew resistant dogwood, Cornus florida 'Appalachian Spring'. It's a tiny thing but I have big hopes for it. We also purchased tickets for the self guided driving tour of historical places, many with thousands of daffodils surrounding them. So take a drive with me, won't you?


The area has rolling hills, pine trees, and hardwoods. Logging used to be one of the major industries there. You can get a sense of the trees in this pretty stop on the tour.


Above are some very special young pine trees we found at this stop - Longleaf Pines (Pinus palustris). These pines once covered vast areas of the southeast before European settlement and they have a very interesting ecosystem, supporting the Red Cockaded Woodpecker, Gopher tortoises, wire grass, etc. I read a fascinating memoir that enlightened me to all of that: Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray. It's great reading and I highly recommend it.


This wasn't really a stop on the tour but we all thought it was very interesting. An old house set in the middle of some old pecan trees with thousands of blooming daffodils in front (you may have to click on the photo to see them).


After a quick stop at a blacksmith demonstration, we moseyed on into the town of Mount Lebanon. Here you can see one of the largest and fanciest dogtrot houses I've ever seen. A dogtrot house has a breezeway running through the middle of the house with rooms opening to the breezeway. This one was built in the 19th century and is occupied today (very cool).


This house was also built in the mid 19th century but originally it was an inn on the stagecoach route. It was very impressive but most impressive were the massive crapemyrtles in front of it, seen below.


Have you ever seen crapemyrtles so huge? I certainly haven't. Mary Louise couldn't even get her arms all the way around it. It was so interesting to see how they twist as they get old.

All in all the jubilee was fun and the weather couldn't be beat. And yours truly won a raffle prize but you'll have to wait until October to find out what it is - it will make a gardener's heart skip a beat!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2009. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Friday, March 5, 2010

For Brenda



For Brenda, on her birthday. Brenda was a loving and generous friend to many and we miss her.

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2009. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Early Spring Heirloom Daffodils

'Sweetie', Narcissus jonquilla

I was lucky enough to be invited to visit a private bulb farm yesterday. The day before had been quite cold and rainy but it was our chosen day - sunny but with a nippy wind from the north. The earliest of the spring daffodils were blooming and it was beautiful. These are all heirloom daffodils, meaning the varieties have been grown for many generations. On top of the privilege of seeing such beautiful flowers we were allowed to dig up a few for ourselves. I came home with Twin Sisters (also called April Beauty, a late bloomer, N. x medioluteus), Hoop Petticoats (N. bulbocodium bulbocodium), and Texas Star (N.x intermedius). I hope these photos bring you a little smile and assure you that spring will indeed makes its appearance!


I'm not sure which variety this is


Narcissus 'Fortune'

Narcissus 'Grand Sol D'Or', a tiny bloomer

Field of Campernelles, N. x odorus

Narcissus 'February Gold'

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2009. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Two More Good Reasons not to Top your Crapemyrtles



Outside my office window I have a crapemyrtle that's just a little too close to the house. But I'm having a hard time letting go of it because of the multitude of birds it brings to my window. It gets even more exciting this time of year. I hope you can see the American Goldfinch eating the seeds from the old blooms in this photo (sorry for the reflections, the window, and the screen in the way!). I've also seen other birds eating the seeds - cardinals, chickadees, titmice.


Today I spotted several Blue Jays grabbing the little twigs that the seed heads are on and carrying them off. Nest building time?? I certainly hope so. They've given me a ray of hope that spring is on the way (despite the non-stop cold rain of today).

So please, please, please, save your crapemyrtles from the loppers and offer them to wildlife instead. (See here for one of my rants on this topic if you're interested.)

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2009. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.