From the producer: November 21, 2008

First, thank you so much for your fabulous comments and valuable insight in our web survey!  We’ll be working on the web design in the next few months with you as consultants.  I am honored that you gave us your time and such thoughtful and helpful responses. I thank Libby Peterek, our web director, and especially, Brett Bowlin, KLRU intern extraordinaire, who put this all together.  Brett amazes me every week with his skill and sincere care in presenting and pulling together the web information.  He’s a talented guy, and after this, he could consider a career as a garden coach!

One thing that Brett can pick up as a coach is that every fall, I go crazy when I see folks gathering winter annuals too soon.  We get a little warning nip and off they go, forgetting that they’ll be back in shorts within hours.  We can rip off our clothes when heat and humidity assail us yet again, but for the plants, it usually means pill bugs and fungus and general despair.

But, I’m all for planting winter annuals if we wait until close to Thanksgiving.  Many of them, including pansies, violas, stock, and calendulas, offer nectar to overwintering butterflies that show up on those warm days, desperately seeking nutrition. This week I saw a butterfly on a snapdragon!  One of my favorite butterfly books, by the way, is Butterfly Gardening for the South by Geyata Ajilvsgi.

Butterfly Gardening for the South

For a wonderful story on butterflies, and how gardeners are making them welcome in diminishing habitats, check out this Docubloggers video from my friend and colleague, KLRU Docubloggers producer Domenique Bellavia.

Back to winter annuals, one idea is to fill a few gaps when the perennials get chomped by freeze, and you want to pretty things up before Grandma arrives. Mainly, it’s simply downright fun to frolic with color combinations that bloom all at the same time. Heck, if we don’t like our scheme, we don’t have to live with it forever. And if we do, on a cloudy cold day, it keeps our creative spirits on high at a time we can get bogged down in all the clean-up chores and lists of long-term projects. Especially, it’s charming when bulbs sneak out above carpets of gold and purple, hot pink, red, and baby blanket yellow. In fortunate years, they stick around to buddy up with spring perennials, wildflowers, and roses.  When that happens, I feel like I’ve stepped into one of my books on English gardens.

Anyway, that’s why I reserved annual winter color until this weekend’s CTG.  I lucked into a true find, Alexandra McBrearty, a real-life English gardener who now shovels soil in Texas.  She’s got guts, does Alex, and she’s got good ideas too, like pairing sweet ephemerals against yuccas and other stalwart Texans. In her evenings at home, she turns regular old pots into absolute works of art, in case you want some inspiration for those snowy nights by the fire. Well, okay, while you’re outside tending the grill with the white twinkle lights on.

While editing this week’s garden video, I couldn’t resist playing some of it over and over.  For one thing, the Clark family turned a plain old backyard into a garden of beauty that represents the contributions of four generations.  But I played back the footage, too, because it was the last rain in May before drought took over. Ed Fuentes, the artist behind the camera, couldn’t resist shooting a garden flecked by precious raindrops, with grip Joseph Brown protecting the camera with the family’s umbrellas.

The Clark’s friends, Earthscapes designers, Mike and Kay Lynch from Temple, launched the garden project with their introspective ideas.

I thank musician David Lutes, who took the trouble to provide CTG with his orchestration of Amazing Grace, a recording that Dawson Clark commissioned to support his work at The Children at Heart Foundation.

I’ve been so busy that I can’t say much about my garden, except that the recent nip didn’t do much harm. The only new thing to show you is my Albuca batteniana in bud. It’s in the crepe bed, and even though it hasn’t opened, it looks great against the white Salvia coccineas.

albuca batteniana

I did make a teepee of bamboo canes around the Satsuma orange.  As always, the wind was so fierce that it was a chore to get the rowcover attached to the stakes with clothespins (gotta get spring clamps). Later, when I checked it, I saw that it was all off.  Not due to wind.  Due to cat.  Sam Jr. had pulled it all down to make himself a little nest.  Back to the drawing board.

More next week, Linda