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Briar vine (“Saw greenbriar”)

I’m adding this to my plant list because I battle it often and don’t want to forget the name. If you live in Austin, you probably know this vine, the one that grows unasked in the shade and tangling up your trees; one day you decide to pull it out and in response it attacks you with a sharp cut from one of its very rose-like sharp thorns. Read more

Attack of the Chinaberries (and other tree-planting adventures)

Last month I finally planted my first tree, a Mexican plum. I didn’t expect the tiny thing to bloom for me this spring, but a couple of weeks ago past it rewarded me with a few small fragrant flowers. (We also have a five-year-old Mexican plum in our front yard, planted by the realtor right before we bought the house, and it never bloomed until this year.)

I’ve not yet been so daring up till this past year to plant a tree. in fact, most of my tree adventures have been about eradicating the junk trees I do have. Once we started to get rid of nuisance trees, I wanted to know about the good trees. I started noticing trees in our neighborhood. Once I read about Mexican plum, I suddenly started seeing it everywhere. Read more

Daffodil Day

Today is daffodil day. In my garden, it's a moment when the very early tazettas are just past their peak and the early bloomers are in full bloom. In the fall of 2007, I went a little crazy with daffodil bulbs; I didn't understand the differences so I ordered a bunch that were recommended by Scott Ogden's Garden Bulbs for the South, and then threw in a few non-returning daffodils just for the fun of it. Pink daffodils! I had to try them! At the time, I didn't have anywhere permanent to put most of them; our property was very shaded from buildings and fences and such and the little garden bed space I had I wanted for more permanent things. So I used planters, and a lot of them, wheeling daffodils around to show off when they came in bloom and wheeling them away when they became a mess of leaves.

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In the Beginning

Better late than never, I've been wanting to get around to writing about our adventures in garden design this past year. Last summer was a long and infamously hot drought-filled summer, so much so that by the time we finished our backyard hardscaping, I was too tired (and too hot) to write. Thankfully, armed with my new SLR camera, my husband and I took hundreds of pictures.

When we first moved into our house, it was the backyard that sold me. Nothing special to some people but for this neighborhood it has a long yard, which is nearly twice the size of our house. Most of the original platted properties in this neighborhood have been divided into two lots in the last 20 years.

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Drummond’s Phlox

This lovely little annual phlox has bloomed in my garden from November until April. It is not as showy as the big garden phlox like Phlox paniculata, but I love how little I need to take care of it and how it blooms when not much else is. I’ve often seen it for sale in nurseries in the fall along with other annuals like snapdragons and alyssum, but it’s just as easy to grow from seed and will bloom in fall if you start early enough. (The seed germinates in about 3-5 days if you keep it moist, and often flowers about 7 weeks after sowing.) Read more

Souvenir de la Malmaison

This is usually the first rose to bloom in my garden, sending out multiple buds in February, and when they are open on the cool spring mornings, the fragrance is unbelievable. Soft and powdery at first, yet rich with complex spicy notes. Some roses just give away their beauty at first glance, but in every sense this rose has layers of beauty and sensuality.

I spent the late afternoon with my nose stuck in in one of its thick blooms. Like all intoxicating fragrances, it brings up memories. The first is my grandmother’s hand lotion. This is the scent that I think of when I think of rose fragrance. Read more

Purple Hairstreak

I was busy taking adoring photos of my sweet peas last week (and I am embarrassed to say just how many) when I noticed the flicker of a jewel color on one of them. Sometimes even flies have iridescence, and so I ignored it until the flicker kept moving. Thankfully, this beautiful little creature had patience on me, as I crept closer. I’d never seen this butterfly before, the male Purple Hairstreak, but thanks to butterfly siting galleries i was able to identify him and his nearby friend who was also resting very contentedly on a sweet pea flower.

And I don’t blame them at all; I could snooze for years next to this fragrance. This year, I tried a new sweet pea from a seller in England, a mix of colors called Winter Sunshine. They are just slightly more fragrant than Winter Elegance or Royal sweet peas, and like all early-blooming sweet peas, they started blooming in early February. Read more

White Aster

February 2009. I was greeted by this flower last fall, nearly five years after living in our house. I had never noticed it before, but this year was full of surprises, in the middle of a drought no less.

A whole ribbon of these appeared on a very shady fenceline near our dog run. Not the prettiest place in the world, but where better to surprise me with Texas wildflowers? I absolutely adore daisies, and so one can imagine I was delighted to have some effortless ones suddenly appear. Read more

mysterious heirloom tazetta

February 2009. Well, this winter has brought me two new tazettas, surely as old as our house, but blocked from light for years. I don’t know if they got rain at the right time or what, but this year I discovered I have both “Double Roman” tazettas and this mysterious bulb. For hte last five years it has just shot up leaves, so I assumed it was ‘Grand Primo’, which I have so much of around my property, but it finally decided to bloom this year and here it is, with its lovely pale yellow petals and bright orange cups.

Double Roman tazetta

January 2009. I just discovered a lone flower stalk of this bulb blooming in a shady part of our garden along the driveway, at the foot of a pecan tree. This year, I’ve discovered two new naturalized bulbs along the driveway, which is the most neglected part of our garden, and was home to a huge 1930s-ish planting of Oxblood Lilys, Grand Primo tazettas, irises and crinums. I moved the crinums and irises to sunnier part of the garden, but I am still surprised by what blooms here. In five years I never saw this flower, but I guess conditions were ripe. Read more