Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just Another Monday Morning

I know how this looks. But really, I don't generally let my wine bottles go for a swim and goof off. (At least, I spared you the photo of them getting rowdy and naked.) Sometimes they have to work.

Here they are working, just starting to form the edging* for my new full sun bed. While I know many winos wine lovers, I need about 140 more bottles. So if you feel like drinking for a cause and are in the Austin area, wine up and drop me a note. I'll pick up your empties. For those of you outside of Austin, drink up and post the pictures.

I could have cropped this picture but then you would have missed the huge pile of tree limbs. As I mentioned before, I realized after digging the bed that my neighbor's hackberries were providing too much shade for a full sun bed so my husband cut one of the trees down.

Then I went and bought two roses, which needed even more sun, so more trees and limbs needed to come down. I've already filled about 10 bags with cuttings. My husband even broke the chain on his new saw. I hope to have the rest of the big limbs cut up soon.

We made the 6' by 15' trellis from a cattle panel and t-bars. I hope to get something to front and hide the t-bars, maybe cedar posts like I've seen at Pam's house and at Zilker Garden. I wanted to do it all at once but I was already behind on getting the new plants in the ground.

I hope the plants on the trellis will eventually screen a bit of my neighbor's shed but not her adorable pig.

I bought most of these plants at the master gardener sale at Zilkerfest; a few others are passalongs. I bought the plants at two different times so I didn't quite keep track of what I had already bought and ended up three butterfly bushes. I also think I don't quite have enough textural variety, but overall I am happy with what I've got:

one purple, one white, and one yellow butterfly bush
two Mexican bush sage (salvia leucantha)--one bought at the plant sale, one rescued from Lady Bird Lake when we dug the vegetable bed
three Mexican milkweeds

two Husker red penstemon (penstemon digitalis)--a new one to me; I like its dark, reddish foliage
two passionvines--one has a bud already!
three or four moon flower seedlings--I started these from seed and had a horrible germination rate but hope that the survivors will grow and flourish
Duchesse de Brabant rose
Cramoisi Superieur rose
three purple coneflower--I bought some seed but they didn't germinate well so I added a few plants I bought at Link's garden during the garden tour
three variegated sedums--also bought at Link's

one Mexican mint marigold--a passalong from the MG plant swap
one Pride of Barbados--currently hidden behind the butterfly bushes; I wish I could have gotten a gallon-size but only a four inch pot was available. It's a bit lost now but should eventually go taller than the butterfly bushes
one rock rose--see below

(Annie, I'm confident you could get a 12 days of gardening song out of this list).

When I picked the spot for the bed, I tried to put it in an area that the dog hadn't already claimed as her own. I probably erred in letting her help me dig the area. She now feels some ownership over it. And I definitely should not have encouraged this behavior:

but she just looked so comfortable and demure, note the crossed paws, that I didn't shoo her out.

I definitely should have stopped her when she buried in the bed the mini-waffle my nieces gave her. Unlike me, when my pup is given something to eat when she isn't hungry, she doesn't eat it. She buries it and saves it for later. When she buried the waffle, she carefully avoided any of the plants.

When she went to retrieve it hours later, however, she wasn't as careful. I came home to find something missing from the bed--the rock rose. I replanted it but I don't how long it was just lying on the grass. It may be the first casualty of the bed.

But as luck would have it, I didn't quite heat up my compost pile hot enough to kill all the seeds and have ended up with two volunteer plants. My guess is that they are cucumbers, possibly a melon, and just maybe a squash. Time will tell.

*I totally borrowed this idea from fellow Hyde Parker Jill Nokes. I probably walk by her yard and admire her fence and edging at least once a week. I also considered using tequila bottles to edge the bed, a la Lucinda Hutson, but I decided that drinking that much tequila just meant too much trouble.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Inside Austin Tour: Bannockburn Church

Bannockburn Church was the only public space on the Inside Austin tour so if you missed it, you can still stop by. It's a huge space, nine acres in all. In fact, I wandered around for about 20 minutes taking pictures and admiring the roses before I ever found the other half of the property, including the iris garden.

I felt like I was back at the Antique Rose Emporium, both in the abundance of roses and the lack of signage on the roses growing in the space. (The signs might have been there on the day of the actual tour but not on the pre-tour .) So, alas, I can't provide names for most of these beautiful roses, but you can still enjoy them.

These roses look a little spent, but you might be too if you were growing on the side of a busy road. I walked around the front of the church to get this picture. I also got a few honks, but nothing is too much for the right photo.

The garden is really the brainchild of Jack Campbell, a retired farmer, who started working on the grounds with his men's Bible study group.

The story I love about this garden is the Angel Neighbor. One day Jack was working in the garden, and a woman stopped and gave him a check for $1,000 for the garden's care. She lived down the street, enjoyed seeing the garden every day, and wanted to help. As she wanted, she has remained anonymous.

The space has also been certified as a National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat.

I do recognize these Belinda Dream roses.

I think this is a bald cypress. This area is just one of the many outdoor rooms on the church grounds.

I finally stumbled upon the iris test garden, which was a site for the International Iris Show. Some of the irises didn't even have official names yet, because they were still being tested.

I wish I had gotten this shot from a different angle, without the port-a-potties, but I was running late after getting lost in the roses.

This iris is named Seven Thunders.

I missed the name of this one.

This bearded iris is Passion and Purity.

I don't know how the irises look now but if you are in the area, I would recommend checking it out from time to time. With so many plants, I am sure something will be blooming there.

Friday, April 25, 2008

More High-Rises on the Austin Skyline

After two summers of struggling to keep my tomatoes supported with free, second-hand, big box, too small tomato cages, I built six-foot, heavy duty Tomato Towers (cue echo sound).

At first, I wasn't too happy with the rust color of the concrete reinforcement mesh, but it really seems to blend in better with the garden than silver would.

It actually took me a while to get photos where the cages were visible. Of course, the main reason for building these condos is to keep the tomatoes happy and contained. And to prevent last summer's tomato massacre. After one of last year's summers heaviest storms, I asked my husband to check on the garden. He said it looked fine from the kitchen window. When I got up, I saw all the five and six feet tall plants--and their cages--lying toppled on the ground!

I yelled inquired nicely of the husband what was he thinking; obviously, my tomatoes weren't fine. He then admitted that he wasn't wearing his glasses when he looked.

So far the new condo inhabitants seem happy with their new digs. I've already eaten two of the yellow currant tomatoes.

I'd like to think this of this photo as the view from the penthouse apartment, but I'm afraid it might become the squirrel's eye view.

Now if I could just stop singing, "Movin' on up . . . to the DEE-luxe apartment in the SKY-Y-Y, We're movin' on Up!" I'd be a happy gardener.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Inside Austin Tour: Link Davidson's Garden

Link Davidson's garden is definitely keeping Austin weird. It's an amazing array of found objects repurposed into garden art. I can't believe how much stuff he has crammed into a tiny space. I also can't believe how many different scenes and vignettes he's created. The photos below maybe represent half of his garden.

I loved, loved, loved his garden. It was so fun and unexpected; an expression of true joy. I know Link was nervous about how his garden would be received. I think for some people it's too out there. But for Link it's a great match. When I saw him on Friday, he was practically vibrating he was so excited and exhausted.

In this garden, pictures are really better than words so here are just a few of my favorite shots

I loved the inventive use of tin cans, the blue longhorn, the idol with the real bone, and the wind turbines. As MSS noted, you could use these turbines in place of barrel cactus. I immediately considered using them as a cheaper version of this fish hook barrel cactus I saw at a colleague's house:

After a couple of double takes, I realized it was a sculpture and not a plant and quickly whipped out my cell phone to take a picture. Sara got it at a street fair in Colorado, but if you want to order one, you can find them here. Unfortunately, that one is a little out of my budget right now. (It's $580.)

A little more in my price range is the free tumbled glass mulch that Link had in his front yard. As promised, here is the contact information to get your own: TCEQ.

Sorry, Austin only!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Have I Killed It Already?

I'm feeling a bit like Icarus. I've successfully grown a few ornamentals. Then my hubris led me to believe I can handle growing roses. Instead, I've flown too close to the sun and now it's my plant that's melting.

I haven't even had a chance to document my new sun bed and already I may have one less occupant: the Cramoisi Superieur.

I've been looking online to try to figure out the problem. Of course, yellowing leaves can indicate a lot of problems: too little nitrogen, too little water, etc. I just don't know what this problem is. I planted this rose in the same conditions--double dug bed, lots of compost--as the Duchesse de Brabant at the other end of the bed. She is doing great--bright, green healthy leaves--and is blooming already. Both have been watered on the same schedule.

The Cramoisi may be getting slightly less than sun but it's not a huge difference between the two plants. The Antique Rose Emporium said not to add fertilizer at this point so I'm a little stumped. I plan on pruning out the dead leaves, and the buds that I think aren't opening. (Some may have been on there when I bought it.)

Any other suggestions other than go back to growing vegetables?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: The IRS Extension Version

Yes, I am a blogging fool. My sister and my four and five year old nieces were in town last week so I didn't have much of a chance to blog or even read blogs.

But I (and my sister, who had lens envy) did take these pictures on the 15th. I guess technically I should have filed an extension with Carol at May Dreams Garden and perhaps paid my estimated taxes in advance so she wouldn't penalize me for posting late. Maybe she'll let it slide this time!

The pink primrose in the free plant zone is going crazy. It's even snuck through the fence into the backyard. I may end up with a wildflower meadow after all.

Last year I threw some seeds from the Wildflower Center back there and ended up with a lot of these tall red flowers. I have no idea what they are. Only one has shown back up this year. I was hoping that when it opened fully I could get a better shot of it, and someone could identify it. But the storm Thursday night annihilated it, and I can't even find its remains. I guess that's why I call that my tough love area. The plants have got to make it on their own, or NOT make it on their own.

In the frontyard a few of the yellow columbines stuck around long enough to be in bloom with the Gulf Coast penstemon, a color combination I actually planned!

I hate to say that I have a favorite flower. It seems so insensitive to all the other ones who really are trying their best. But I have to admit I do. This salvia coccinea, snow white nymph, is the first plant I have grown successfully in the frontyard. I love that it reseeds itself, blooms repeatedly, and brightens the shady frontyard. Several other salvias in shades of blue and purple are in bloom around the yard, but I don't have photos of them.

I bought two four-inch lion's tails at Barton Springs Nursery on sale at the end of the season last year. I think they cost one dollar, maybe even fifty cents. My husband is a huge UT fan, and I bought them for him because these blooms are pretty darn close to burnt orange.

I have saved the best bloom for last. I call this one P in bloom. You can try, but you won't find it in any nursery.

I think we have the first attendee of the 20th anniversary Garden Bloggers Spring Fling.