Tuesday, October 30, 2012


When digging a hole in your yard, you really should call 1-800-Dig-Tess (aka 811 or via their online form) in order to find out where the buried lines are on your property.  If you'll be digging deeper than 12", you are required, by law, to call before you dig. I'm always super anal and put in a request whenever I'm digging deeper than a 4" (especially in areas where I know the lines should be located).

Within a few days, the markers will come out to your property and mark gas, cable/phone lines and electric.  ('Red and Yellow, kill a fellow!' also works here)

Anyway, since I had the yard marked when I planted the tree last year, and I decided to have the yard marked for my knowledge when planting some possumhaw this year, I now have pictures showing the markings in the backyard.  The thing that concerns me, however, is the difference in the markings -

Marking from my request this year

Marking from my request last year

Does anyone else see my reason for concern?  Somehow the orange line (cable) has moved by about 3.5 feet over the year.  Yep.  And this is the reason why, even when things are marked, you should still dig carefully.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Best of Inside Austin Garden Tour (2 of 2)

Photo highlights from the 2012 Inside Austin Garden Tour which was held on October 20. For my birthday present - I asked my mother-in-law to go with me (since I knew my husband would make his birthday request 'not go on the garden tour' - his birthday is 2 days before mine).

Travis County Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden
Ally taking a photo of me taking a photo of her.

My mother in law, Elsie, standing next to a chile pequin plant

Compost bins

Daphne and Augie Doggie

Elsie learning about the wicking bed - which is essentially a grow box on a large scale.

Eat my sidewalk - Renee Studebaker

Golf Course Home - Mary Kastl and Bruce Jones

Elsie trying some stevia leaves that Mary let us try.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Best of Inside Austin Garden Tour (1 of 2)

Photo highlights from the 2012 Inside Austin Garden Tour which was held on October 20. For my birthday present - I asked my mother-in-law to go with me (since I knew my husband would make his birthday request 'not go on the garden tour' - his birthday is 2 days before mine).

Hill Country Heritage Garden - Carolyn and Michael Williams

Vicki Blachman giving a presentation on making your own herbal vinegars

Hill Country Rural Home - Dave and Jennifer Phillips

Neighboring Gardens of Donnis Doyle / Ann & Robin Matthews

Squirrel-proof bird feeder made of PVC pipe and an old satellite dish

Monday, October 22, 2012

Support Your Independent Nursery: The Natural Gardener

The Natural Gardener is located in southwest Austin on Old Bee Caves Road close to SH71.  As the name indicates, the Natural Gardener is the home of all your natural and organic gardening needs.  The sign above welcomes you as you drive into the parking area.

As we start at the front of the property, there is a large selection of 'hot and dry' plants with a selection of vines closer to the street.

They had multiple varieties of passionvine including this red variety.  I do believe I'll have to go back and peruse this section more indepth.

Coming back up toward the shop, you'll pass through the herb and veggie section.

The NG was stocking up on those plants that you should plant now, rather than when the box stores tell you you should plant them - Strawberries!

After walking by the shade plants section, and glancing at the sun perennials, you pass by the back of the store - a location where they have upcycled projects - most made from oil drums by Haitians.

Heading away from the shop, and passing through the sun plants section, you'll come to the demo veggie gardens.  A few years ago, NG did multiple test plots of square foot gardening in order to develop a soil that provides the best results.

Further on, you'll come to the herb wheel - this is actually a section that I had no idea existed since I'm always "PLANTS!!!" whenever I'm at a garden center and had never wandered this far away from the goods.

Heading back to the store, you'll go through the trees section - and here is the reason why I came to the center - Possumhaw.  I've called for 4 plants in my back yard garden plan, and thustofore I have not been able to find any plants for a reasonable price - the cheapest I had found was $75 a plant for 5-gallon plants.  I even went to the Wildflower sale on the Member's Only sale solely to get possumhaws, of which, they were sold out of by the time I got there 2 hours after opening.  Based on the recommendation of a coworker who said that she got hers at NG, I headed over there after hitting the Wildflower sale.  And lo, the Natural Gardener did indeed have possumhaws - a bunch of them.  AND! Even better! I was able to get 3 for $75.  I only got 3 because that's all I could fit in my car, so I'll have to go back sometime to get the last one.  It is also at this point that you learn how helpful the workers can be - I went to 3 independent nurseries on the north side, was obviously looking at trees and not one of them asked if I needed anything.  Here, I was asked if I wanted help at every turn (of course for most of my trip I was just wandering around).  When I was asked the second time whilst looking at the trees, I asked how they know whether they have female or male trees.  I was informed that they only propagate the female trees because there are always male trees around and once you start getting seedlings, some of them will be male trees thus furthering the process.

After picking up my trees, I wheeled over to the pots and ceramics section - everything is organized by color and it is one of the bigger selection of pots I've seen at garden centers.

Finally, I headed into the shop to pay for my wares - the NG has a decent supply of stuff for birds, seeds, tools and other wares either for your garden or for those who garden (honestly I just noticed the Ollallas in the upper left corner).

I recommend you go enter Pam at Digging's Independent Nursery give away - this week it's a gift card to the Great Outdoors on South Congress.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Because I know I'll forget, I wrote down which iris plants are which.

  • All the Cemetery irises that don't have "$" next to them are the ones that Bob at Central Texas Gardening was generous enough to gift me.  
  • The ones with "$" by them are the ones I bought at the Sun City Plant Sale at the end of September.  
  • The ones called "Smith Unknown" are from a coworker - he said I could have whichever ones I dug up since he's trying to get rid of them, but is too lazy to pull them out.
  • The other "Unknown" came from my yard - this plant is one that had been behind the utility box where it hardly got any sunlight, so I moved it to a location that I thought would get more sun. The Mexican Petunia almost choked it out. This is the reason why my garden plan called for "iris" as in singular, something I completely forgot while I was at the Sun City Plant Sale.  I only had just the one because I was going to move it to a location that actually gets 6 hours of sunlight so it might actually do well and bloom.
The colors, as far as I know them:
  • Cemetery = white
  • William A Setchell = purple
  • Jesse's Song = white with purple edges
  • Smith Unknown = purplish-blue from what he remembers (3 years since bloom)
  • Unknown = will be a complete surprise (likely purple since that's what the neighbor has)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Garden Design Implementation: Phase 1 of eleven - billionty

Last weekend (as in the 7th), I got some grand idea that I would start on my garden re-design. It was mostly because one of the irises I had bought was starting to turn entirely brown and so I wanted to get it in the ground.  Of course, in order to get it into the ground, I needed to have a place to put it so out to the yard to rip up a bunch of grass, horse herb and weeds I went.

First, I planned - using my plan, a measuring tape, some bike spokes and a tie down nylon, I laid out the areas where the plants were supposed to go.
It Begins...
After laying down the nylon, I started digging up grass (which also included digging up some stepping stones that I had forgotten where there).


Of course, ideally, I would have put the rain barrel on cinder blocks as per my resolutions list (which is actually part of the reason for delaying doing this part of the implementation), but I found out the downspout is riveted so that means we have to break the rivet before doing anything.  I may end up having to hire this out since I don't want it to look like crap when we're done with it.  As I got to the artemisia plants by the rain barrel, I just planted them in their new location.


I re-laid the nylon, dug up some of the Mexican Petunia to plant in the back and then cut it back by about a third or so (though one of the plants I should have cut it back even more - the reason behind doing this is so that the plant has the resources to put into root development without having to support all the greenery and flowers).  Since I didn't want to dig up more artemisia, there's an empty corner which I ended up planting some tulip bulbs - don't know if they'll sprout since they're really, really, really old.

A different angle

I predict right now that the biggest problem is going to be controlling the artemisia and petunia enough to let the irises get established since both will take over if allowed.  I may end up using some rocks from the rock area that I'm getting rid of to line the area because as of right now, I still have the nylon and bike spokes out there delineating the edge of the bed.

After finishing this, I went and tackled the mess that is the spotted spurge I started at the deck and started working toward the garden.  I got to about the tree before I had to take a break to eat something.  And that was when I realized I had spent 6 hours straight doing yard stuff.  Talk about going down the rabbit hole.

Now then, all I have to do is finish the rest of the yard...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Support Your Independent Nursery: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Sales

Okay, Okay, I get it - the Wildflower Center isn't really a nursery per se, but they do propagate their own plants which they then sell at the biannual plant sales; ipso facto, "Independent Nursery (for at least 6 days during the year)."  Lucky you - this weekend just happens to be one of those sales - the fall one to be exact (you know, because it's fall)

Hours: Saturday and Sunday 9am - 5pm; $9 entry fee, free for members

The sale isn't necessarily cheap, but they will have native plants that are usually difficult to find (like Cherokee Sedge...I don't know why it's so difficult to find now).  I'm going to start with photos from the Wildflower Center proper with sale photos at the end of the post.  Feel free to scroll down and look at those first if you want - I won't mind.

Under normal circumstances, you would go into the gift shop to pay for your entry ticket, but during the plant sale, there will be cashiers out front to meet with you before entering the facility.

The "spring" in the entry courtyard.  The gift shop is in the corner behind the spring.

Moving further into the Wildflower Center, one comes across a stunning display being put on by the gulf muhly.
There's a bench with fall aster in full bloom (this is behind me in the Gulf Muhly picture).  On the other side of the bench is the little cafe where you can grab a bite to eat.

Walking further into the center, you'll pass through the "Hill Country Garden" area before getting into the meat of the demo gardens.

A bench on the shady side of the wall with a window into the demo garden area.

Entry to the small demo garden area

To the right, a stock tank planter garden

Behind the stock tank planters there's the propagation yard - this area is off limits to visitors.

To the left of the entry way is a demo garden that contains a large planting of Gregg's Mistflower

One of the "upper level" demo gardens (this is behind the mist flower in the picture above).  This garden shows the Habiturf grass that the Wildflower center helped develop which is for sale in their gift shop.

While walking through the center, plants are identified by plastic markers - the only problem I have is that sometimes you have to go in search of all the plants of the same type in order to find out what the plant is since the markers aren't necessarily placed by EVERY stand of plants.
When at the center, you have to watch where you step since there are snakes and lizards about.
This garden is tucked away on the far left of the demo garden plots - I don't remember what they used to have here, but this garden is one that I know they changed in March or so of this year and I have to say that I LOVE the new plantings.
Now then, on to the sale!

There are vendors other than the garden center selling their wares - prices for plants are set by the Wildflower Center so you'll pay $3 per 4" pot regardless of who you purchase it from, but you do have to the pay the vendors at their tents instead of paying at the main check out location.

Plants are organized by scientific name so either come prepared, have a smart phone handy or just wander up and down the aisles looking at all the plants until you find the one you're looking for (I'm most partial to this method)

The shade plants are housed under a tent so they don't get all sun-burnt.

The tree and shrub section - because there aren't usually 25 of each type, each row will have multiple varieties of tree so be sure you traverse the entire row looking for the plants you want.

A long view of the sale - there are carts, but the place can get busy, so if you have your own cart/wagon/husband, you may want to bring it.

I'm not all fancy and cool like Pam at Digging, so I don't have a give away, BUT she's having a Support Your Independent Nursery weekly give-away during the month of October.  For more details, be sure to check her blog (for the give away ending 10/13, you'll have to click on "Previous" at the bottom of the first page - next week's give away starts on Monday).