From the producer: September 19, 2008

Wow and wow is what Tom and I say about this year’s Austin Open Days Garden Conservancy tour.

Mark your calendars for October 4, but tune into CTG this weekend for a preview of these outstanding gardens. Find out more at

Last spring, we took our cameras to one of them, designed by Patrick Kirwin. He’s peppered it with spring and fall bulbs, in a structure that invites continual surprise with strong textures and perennial color.

You’ll also want to check out his ferns on cliff banks and intimate beds near the house. Like all the gardens, you’ll meet new plants or discover new ideas for their arrangement.

In my garden, an update from last week: Jukka reports that the plant we call snowdrops is snowbell (Lumikello) in Finland: (lumi=snow and kello=bell). Its botanical genus, Galanthus, clears up confusion on common names.

On names, in case you noted narcissus Giant Star last week, it’s actually Gigantic Star. In any case, I’ve ordered more. I’m also trying Arum italicum and more spring star flowers, Ipheion uniflorum, and the Crocus sativus. Locally, I plan to nab more variegated society garlic.

In the meantime, the Lycoris that came with the house (and that I’ve divided many times) started popping up everywhere this week.

The leader of the pack arrived in the front window bed, next to this year’s Yucca pallida and a passalong butterfly iris (Dietes) from Pat and Tom Ellison.

The autumn sedum I planted long ago showed up again, now that there’s more sun in the crepe bed. These are coming out (its color to enrich in a day or so) next to the Dicliptera suberecta, my greatest find of spring 2008!

Here’s a shot showing more of its leaves.

On chores, I inventoried my seeds, and vow to label them better next year. Once I’ve planted the saved poppies in two weeks, I can return my plastic “food saver” tubs to the shelf! Last spring I dumped them into the tubs to dry off, planning to put them in baggies later, but that never happened.

This weekend I’m making my list of wildflower seeds. My Monarda transplants didn’t make it, to my surprise, but I’m going to try again from seed. I’m making the final list for the lettuce garden (to include cilantro, parsley, dill, arugula, and sorrel). Generally, I buy a few transplants just to get things going, but sow seeds every few weeks. Tango is definitely on my list after its great performance last year from seed and transplants, along with Freckles, and Speckles (if I can find it) some butter lettuce, Black-seeded Simpson, and Parris Cos. I just don’t have luck with spinach, so I’m saving space to try a few new things that catch my fancy.

I moved the Satsuma orange from its pot to the ground in former photinia-ville. I think this will be an excellent spot: south sun, and protected next to the house in a warm corridor between the neighbors and us. If it works, by next year or two, it will shade the gas meter and the air conditioner without hiding the windows. This started when we realized that its roots had broken the pot’s bottom. To get it out, Greg took a hammer to the clay pot and we lifted it into a wheelbarrow for me to move to its new location.

Another CTG update: A few months ago, we featured Jeannie Ralston and her book The Lavender Queen. Now, with Amazon, she’s set up a fund called The Seed Campaign to fund worthy causes. If you purchase the book from her site, Amazon will give 4-8% of the proceeds to The Seed Campaign, AND this applies to any Amazon purchase you make when you go there through Jeannie’s site.

Until next week, Linda