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Posts from the ‘journal’ category

Purple coneflower

This flower needs no introduction. During my first-ever gardening escapade, I sowed Texas wildflower seeds all over my bare back yard (in January!), and native Purple Coneflower was among them. They never came up but the next year I sowed the seeds in a prepared bed in fall. By spring it seemed like hundreds came up. I discarded many and potted many others, giving some away to friends that summer. Read more

growing bulbs in Texas

Since writing my discoveries about bulbs a year and a half ago, I’ve learned so much more about growing bulbs. In spring and fall of the last year, I’ve gone on massive bulb-buying sprees, trying a few that I know will succeed here and then a few that are experiments. Read more


There are different types of Oregano, of which the common names can be confusing. A couple different types are called Italian Oregano, or alternately Marjoram. By far, the kind you most often find in your spice jar and the species most often used in Mediterranean cooking is Origanum vulgare, also called Greek Oregano or Wild Marjoram.

Greek Oregano is said to be a little spicier than the kind I am growing, Origanum onites, which the tag called Italian Oregano and which is also commonly called Pot Marjoram. There is also the actual species Marjoram, Origanum majorana. And not to mention an herb known around here as Mexican Oregano, which is not really Oregano at all, but a similarly spiced herb from the verbena family. Read more

a this-doesn’t-go-anywhere-else garden space

I have so little room left for a vegetable garden at the moment but, after tearing up what was my herb bed, I’ve decided to use it as the “experiment bed”, to try various lettuces and herbs from seed. Things have grown decently in this little bed, one of the few in my garden that receives sun all day, but it has also drowned lavender plants and even purple coneflowers. The one plant doing well was an enormous oregano which had grown in two years from a 4-inch pot two years ago into a two foot wide by 2 foot high shrub.

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what a garden should look like – now

Today I was reading some blogs and articles online at Sunset. It’s my new favorite magazine to read about gardens and design. Although it’s meant for “living in the west” which mostly means California but there are occasionally articles on landscapes in the western states like Arizona or even New Mexico. It stops just short of Texas but then so do most gardening magazines!

I dig this magazine because the designs in California are just so darn free-thinking, creative, inspiring. Landscape design in Texas tends to me much more straightforward and practical and so (as I’ve learned) are its landscape contractors. Read more

life in the 100s

I’ve slowed down on keeping my garden journal, both on paper and here. What precious time I have to devote to my garden is unfortunately not in writing, but in keeping it alive.

I must sound redundant now, since my last 2 posts have been about heat and storms and heat. Since May 15, we have had record-breaking temperature and little to no rain. My poor garden looks on in desperation. It is at points like this that a gardener wants to throw in the towel. The tomatoes which I had so carefully nursed from seed, pushed them under lights 18 hours a day so that I could have tomatoes in early June, planted early and deep and protected them–did all that one can do to nurse gorgeous tomatoes–look absolutely pathetic, and several of the tomato bushes didn’t put out a single fruit. (I don’t blame the heat completely; I think they are missing some nutrients as well. I will have to redo my vegetable bed in July and add lots of compost.) Read more

as the heat climbs

This past week, I’ve been trying, in little bits and pieces, to get the garden ready for summer. Finish mulching, finish planting. I still have some potted annuals and even a few perennials lying about ready to be transplanted that I’m watering sometimes two times a day to keep them from completely drying out.

This is the time of year when I start wondering why I like plants in containers at all! I really adore beautiful ceramic containers and last year added some metal feeding troughs and painted a few cheap wood and ceramic containers I got at home depot. The containers themselves add color and architecture to my otherwise wild garden. In the summer, though, it’s all I can do to keep them watered and presents problems when we take some of our frequent, extended trips out of town (presumably to someplace cooler!). Read more

hail storms and heat

The summer started out with a bang, literally. Bangs and bangs of hail. We had 3 separate hail storms within three weeks of each other, each one with progressively larger hail. It was the third storm that did me in. Or my garden, I should say. I think it was a near tornado. Two weeks ago, we were out late at night looking at a house our friends are thinking of buying, and suddenly the sky was filled with heat lightning and a strange yellowish light that seasoned weather veterans know as tornado skies. Read more

le grande sweet pea experiment

After a beautiful week of temperatures in the 70s, the last few days have been shooting up and from the feel of it, summer is here. Usually at this point there is no turning back; the heat is on. (Why do I hear Glenn Frey in the background singing 80s style?)

The spring bloomers are all going to seed and I started collecting my first bluebonnet seeds today. Some of them even got ahead of me and started popping open and dropping their seeds. I love doing this, thinking that just a few bluebonnet plants gives me about 100 more next year, and some seeds to give away. Read more


I never thought I’d be a snapdragon fan. As a child I saw them every summer in my grandmother’s garden. They seemed too… familiar. When I first started gardening I was so obsessed with starting native plants that I usually ignored most of the ‘annuals’ table at every gardening center, but then, one autumn while I was looking for some color to fill in bare spots, I visited a gardening store I’d never been to before and they had rows and rows of snapdragons. And to my surprise, they were fragrant, so fruity and sweet. I had never remembered snapdragons as being scented before, and I’m sure some are more so than others.

So I bought a flat of really tall ones, in pretty pinks and deep rich magentas, and planted them informally amongst my roses. Around here snapdragons can bloom all the way through winter if cold doesn’t stick around for long. They dislike our summers, but six months of bloom (from October to March) is not bad at all! Read more