Friday, September 15, 2017

GBBD: End of Summer Garden

While northern climate gardeners are watching their gardens slow down and prepare for winter we are watching our gardens wake up and head into a second season of blooms.  I'm linking up with Garden Blogger's Bloom Day to share photos from walks around the garden the last few weeks.

In the tank garden Henry (blue) and Augusta (white) Deulberg Salvia farinacea work great together.  Both went dormant during summer heat and are now back in full bloom.  Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) on the right backed by orange Zexmenia (Wedelia texana) along with magenta Gomphrena 'Fireworks'.

It's like an 8' diameter bouquet.

The little pink gomphrena are 'Pinball Snow Tip' and they go perfectly with 'Fireworks' and blue and white salvia.

Evening view of Gomphrena 'Fireworks' from the backside.  The entire circle becomes a 30' walk-through floral arrangement.

Zexmenia and Gomphrena 'Strawberry Fields' line the circle garden,  Zexmenia grows naturally on undeveloped land behind us and has been easy to transplant.  It's a prolific reseeder so one or two plants have turned into many.   I bought one Gomphrena 'Strawberry Fields' plant years ago and it has faithfully reseeded every year.

Brazilian Rock Rose (Pavonia hastata) is a wild spreader filling the late summer/early fall garden with its pale pink flowers.

"Monarchs this way."  Just in case butterflies need a sign to find freshly planted Tropical Milkweed.

Morning blooms on tall purple Ruellia make the fence less boring.

Pink Ruellia on the other side of the garden.  Just a few Ruellia plants are all you need to fill in a garden.

Fluorescent orange aloe adds fall color near the side gate.

Mexican Olive topped with tissue paper blooms.

Moy Grande Hibiscus, looks tropical but is hardy to zone 5!  I planted it in a protected spot just in case.

Red Lantern hibiscus is not so hardy and spends winter in the garage.  Worth it for lacy blooms.

Native Passiflora foetida grows wild along the creek behind our back fence and has naturally found its way into the garden.

As found "in the wild" just steps outside our back fence rambling over Dewberry vines near the arroyo which feeds our creek.

Snapdragon vine grows wild in the same field with the above Passion Vine and now twines the fence.

Texas native Damianita was purchased from a nursery but now looks natural in the gravel garden.

Texas Twist-rib cactus was shared by a friend.

Red Barrel Cactus blooms don't fully open.

Crinum Native Hymenocallis have been nonstop for weeks.

Double yellow Datura from my friend Cliff Bingham.  See my visit to his garden here.

Red Salvia microphylla rarely stops blooming.

Ending our tour with Grandma's Yellow Roses appropriately paired with a Texas flag we painted on metal roofing,

Hosted by Carol Michel on the 15th of each month, GBBD gives bloggers a meme to share what's blooming in their gardens.  For more garden blooms see Carol's Garden Blogger's Bloomday post at May Dreams Gardens.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday September 2017

It is a busy time for wildlife in the garden: harvesting berries, raising babies, and trying to eat my plants.  It all makes for quite a Wildlife Wednesday show.  Wildlife Wednesday is hosted by Tina at "My gardener says...." on the first Wednesday of each month.

Male House Finch feasting on American Beautyberry (Calicarpa Americana).

Its bright magenta berries ripen in stages from the trunk.  Mockingbirds and Cardinals are the usual visitors and often wait patiently in nearby trees during the day to snatch each individual berry as it ripens.

Beautyberries are edible and apparently make a nice jelly but that will have to wait since all berries are now gone.  Fortunately this graceful native shrub roots easily where branches touch the ground, otherwise it wouldn't be easy to make new ones from seeds alone.

Black Carpenter Bees at work on Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) after recent rains.

If you've been noticing brown branch tips like this on trees in San Antonio....

.....those noisy Cicadas are the likely culprit.

While we don't get the crazy 17-year Cicada emergence cycles common on the East Coast and in the Mid-West, there was a large population of Cicadas this summer in my neighborhood.   Female Cicadas lay eggs in the branch tips by sawing an opening which leads to this effect.  Here's an explanation from State of the Planet by Columbia University's Earth Institute:

"Each brown branch tip you see is a spot where a female cicada sawed through a small twig with an appendage on her abdomen and laid a group of eggs.   When those eggs hatch – six to ten weeks after being laid – the newborn nymphs will drop to the ground, burrow down into the soil, and begin feeding on tree roots."

The effect is quite recognizable once you know what to look for.

Browned tips are noticeable all over my neighborhood this year.

Not the prettiest spot in the garden, but the toad likes it just fine.

Time to check in on the resident deer.

A fawn quickly losing its spots.  This one is probably about three or four months old and likely not the same newborn I featured in last month's post.

Mom is still watchful and will continue to nurse for another month or so.

An eight-point buck has taken up residence by the gate where we put garden trimmings out to compost.  He's probably eyeing that Evergreen Sumac (Rhus virens) in the foreground which wouldn't stand a chance without the fence.  I am that close to him.  No way would I be able to get that close a few months from now.  He'll soon be looking for plants to polish those antlers ahead of mating season.  The "antlering" of plants is the most destructive thing they do in the garden.

If they would just stay in the woods and away from the garden.

Visit "My gardener says..." for more garden wildlife posts.   This month Tina has excellent information on how you can help hummingbirds with their migration since their favorite stop in Rockport, Texas is out of commission as result as Hurricane Harvey damage.

Friday, September 1, 2017

34 minutes at CTG

It took just 34 minutes from the time I parked the car.

My trip to KLRU in Austin to appear on Central Texas Gardener and promote our upcoming San Antonio Open Days Tour for the Garden Conservancy went so quickly.  My first time in a TV studio so I was more than a bit unsure.   Meeting Tom Spencer and working with producer Linda Lehmusvirta was awesome and the crew was great to work with.

Put on the mic, a few other prep items were checked and then Tom and I talked about the six gardens featured on the October 14th tour.  The amazing thing is that when we were wrapping up and Linda reappeared to say the interview went well, I thought "wait, those cameras were on!?"

They are that good at what they do.

I truly appreciated the opportunity to promote the tour, to get the word out and help raise money for the Garden Conservancy and for Gardening Volunteers of South Texas to continue our work.

Special thanks to my friend Linda Peterson for her notes of encouragement which made me smile this week.  Linda's garden will be on the tour and I can't wait for everyone to see it.

Thanks to my friends at Central Texas Gardener for an experience I will never forget.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

After the rain

I've learned to count on these sage blooms.  We had just over 5" of rain from August 8-9 and ten days on the nose later, they burst into bloom.  It happens every time we get rain in late summer.  We don't get a lot of rain events so it's easy to predict these blooms.  Known as Cenizo or Texas Ranger Sage its botanical name is Leucophyllum frutescans.

It's a stunner running the 100' length of our driveway.

During their full bloom, which lasts just a day or two, I spend a lot of time outside enjoying their mild fragrance and cool deep lavender blooms.

The warm pink autumn sage (Salvia greggii) is also blooming which may not be the best combination, but...

I planted white Salvia greggii to compensate.

See, that helps along with pink muhly grass which is not in bloom but adds another color pink to the mix.  When all three pinks are in bloom at once it's quite a cacophony of color.

Then again, just about any color looks good with them like this bright orange and yellow Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) below.

Another after the rain bloomer are Hill Country Rain Lilies (Cooperia pendunculata)When I first saw these huge bright white and fresh lily blooms I thought I must have planted summer bulbs but they are native to my area and simply popped up in several places around the front and back yard.  The seeds are large and easily transplanted for more and more plants.

Some insist these sage blooms predict rain because they are also commonly called "barometer bush".  So do we have rain in the forecast?  Yes, there's a tropical storm headed our way eventually.  When these blooms first popped out over the weekend we had a 20% chance of rain today (Tuesday).  Then the rain was moved to Wednesday with a 40% chance.  Now that chance has evaporated.  No rain today and little chance of rain Wednesday with possible rain later in the week.  I've heard it said the plant does predict rain as long as you don't specify when, exactly, that rain will arrive.  Come to think of it, that does sound like our local TV weather forecast.

Ah, everything looks better after a rain.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Garden Conservancy Open Days San Antonio Preview

The Garden Conservancy Open Days tour returns to San Antonio on October 14th.  Held annually in cities around the country, most cities hold Open Days every other year.  The Garden Conservancy raises funds to preserve special private gardens such as Peckerwood Garden in Hempstead, Texas.  In San Antonio we have missed a few years and it was time to bring Open Days back.

 This year Gardening Volunteers of South Texas partnered with the Garden Conservancy to present six outstanding San Antonio gardens.  A full year of planning behind us, the countdown begins for real with just two months to go.  You can read detailed information about each garden on the website so I'll present this preview with some of my own observations.

First, the Peterson's self-designed garden in Colonies North was a huge hit on the Watersaver Landscape Tour three years ago and a clear choice by the committee.  Elegant, relaxing and inviting it's always a pleasure to visit this garden.  Also featured on Central Texas Gardener and on SAWS website GardenstyleSA.  Even if you toured this garden before, you'll want to see it again to view the updates, and for those who missed it the first time, here's your chance.

The Gilliam's Terrell Hills home looks as if it has been here for decades even though it was just completed in 2016.  With architecture based on the Spanish Colonial style of our historic San Antonio Missions it's a beautiful setting for formal gardens surrounding the house.  The Gilliams have lived and traveled in many parts of the world so they looked to their travels and relied on a design by John Troy, ASLA, to pull their collection of garden objects and ideas together on a triangular shaped lot.

Even though the garden is newly planted, we thought the house and garden special enough to include on the tour.  The spectacular front door surround was inspired by historic buildings in downtown San Antonio and faces a formal courtyard.

A brick labyrinth is just one special feature of the front garden.

The back garden, with stone walls inspired by at the Alamo, is all about family with a fun ivy-covered troll and Cinderella mosaic to delight grandchildren.  Below the garden wall sports a fountain inside a half-round opening.

Also in Terrell Hills is the Fisher's garden designed by Austin based garden designer and writer Scott Ogden.  Texas native plants, especially grasses, take front and center in this small garden.  The sunny front slope contrasts with a shady back garden which features a large flagstone patio.  

Next up is the Ware's estate garden in Hill Country Village.  The Wares have also lived and traveled extensively abroad and their garden reflects their experiences.  You'll enter through gorgeous custom gates passing a wildflower meadow on your left and olive grove with table for al fresco dining on the right.  Below is the European-style parterre featuring a beautiful faux bois table set.

On the pool terrace you'll find "Cow Tex" from the cow parade some years ago grounding this garden firmly in the Texas Hill Country.

When Bob Coopman built his house in the popular suburban neighborhood of Deerfield just over 30 years ago he spent an extra $300 to have the developer site the house to save as many trees as possible.  That extra effort paid off many times over the years with these Texas Live Oaks surrounding the house.  Low groundcover ensures those oaks stand out in the landscape.  We loved the wrap-around stone wall and flagstone steps on the corner lot.  Designed by Brian Hough, flagstone pathways guide us through those magnificent oaks both front and back.

Pristinely maintained with almost no lawn, beautiful specimen plants including a mature Japanese Maple (nearly impossible to grow in San Antonio) and a variety of seating areas to enjoy it all had us wanting to move right in.  It's not all green so you'll find colorful perennials accenting the green throughout and especially along the driveway.

The Tupper Beinhorn home in historic Monte Vista features an artistic garden.  Holly Tupper is on the board at Artpace (a contemporary arts foundation) and her wonderful style shows throughout the gardens surrounding their 1929 home built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.  Originally from New York, Holly wanted to enjoy every bit of outdoor space surrounding their home.  The sunken seating area shown below is in the front garden and they found a way to bring privacy with hedges along the street while still conforming to the historic restrictions of their neighborhood.

In the back garden vines surround original hand painted tile work.  The wall was concrete block which they had stuccoed and wattle fencing added to the top of the wall for privacy.

This resort style pool surrounded by lush tropical plantings is so inviting.  Don't miss the cut-brick "rug" around the pool which is based on one Holly and husband Will Beinhorn, a native San Antonian, saw at a hotel when they lived in Singapore.

The tour is set for October 14th from 10am-4pm, tickets are $36 for six gardens or $7 each and may be purchased at each home on tour day.  You may also purchase advance tickets and find all the addresses online at The Garden Conservancy Open Days San Antonio.

San Antonio Water System (SAWS) has also signed on to sponsor specific gardens with watersaving features so if you're in the bonus point program you'll get points for visiting those gardens.

See you there!