October 30, 2014
Plants that Multitask
We know it’s not good to multitask, though plants do it all the time without winding up in a straitjacket. This firebush, (Hamelia patens) gladly screens a patio, feeds all kinds of bees—including carpenter bees—and sustains hummingbirds, too.
Everybody’s thrilled that white mistflower (Ageratina havanensis) is finally blooming. This winter-dormant perennial multitasks as a part-shade shrub for us, a fall nectar source for butterflies and bees, and a larval host for Rawsons Metalmark butterfly.
Garlic chives, Daphne’s Plant of the Week, provides strappy green texture all year to flavor our recipes. Drought & freeze tough in some sun to part shade.
In October, its edible flowers (great to dry for flower arrangements or wreaths) are equally nutritious for pollinators. Find out more.
Summer annual pentas get raves from us who want non-stop color and lots of butterfly and bee activity. Viewer Picture goes to Brien Parker who spotted these pentas at a mobile home park!
Forced amaryllis bulbs charm our holiday interiors. Trisha shows how to do it and then replant outside.
And about those fall-blooming bulbs, like Oxblood lily. A viewer asked how soon she could move them since neighbors were trampling them on a common strip.
Daphne explains why it’s best to wait until the foliage has yellowed (same deal with spring bulbs) and why they may not bloom the next year.
If you must move them now, here’s the word from Chris Wiesinger, The Bulb Hunter at The Southern Bulb Company: “If you’re quick enough, you can move bulbs just about any time of the year, but I mean QUICK. Oxblood lilies have set out their roots for the growing season, and this is the absolute worst time to move them. If you must move them, prepare the site to which they are going so you can quickly get them planted back in the ground. Don’t dig too much. Start in smaller chunks until you eventually have the clump moved.”
Now, did you know that some of our favorite plants can help what ails us? Tom meets with Gayle Engels from The American Botanical Council to pick a few.
Since 1988, Mark Blumenthal has directed the American Botanical Council in east Austin to report research and educate us about responsible use of plants and their benefits.
ABC is open to the public Monday – Friday or you can schedule a special tour. Demonstration gardens group plants by purpose and/or origin with creative designs to try at home.
Human systems garden.
You’ll pick up lots of creative ideas, too.
On CTG, Gayle explains how lemon verbena assists digestion.
‘Kapoor’ holy basil multitasks: analgesic, anti-anxiety, and tea for colds and flu. In their experience, this is the best holy basil for us to grow.
Hibiscus sabdariffa is a natural refrigerant to cool us down, even though this perennial likes the sun!
It’s the calyces that make hibiscus tea which helps hypertension–like if you’re overloaded on multitasking.
Bacopa from India, a trailing plant covered with flowers in summer, assists cognition and memory. Find out more.
They’re always looking for volunteers, a great way to learn so much. And you won’t want to miss their fabulous May plant sale and educational tour!
On tour, we visit Vicki Blachman, Master Gardener, culinary expert, blogger at Playin’ Outside, and writer for Texas Gardener magazine.
When she married Steven and moved to the grassy grounds of suburbia, she whittled the lawn a few feet of house brick edging every year. When she’s happy with the placement, she digs them in so you don’t see the holes. A great technique, since she keeps on moving them out more!
To dress up their fence and the new strip bed, artisan Bob Pool designed a trellis, here with yellow flowering cestrum.
They’ve kept some grass for their fun loving dog. Lots went away, though, for herbal beds and the patio pond, which she and Steven, confirmed DIYs, dug into really hard soil.
The soil was so bad that they joked: “Forget a liner. Just glaze that stuff!”
At first, she simply added compost when she added plants, like the Peggy Martin rose. Quickly, she discovered her error. Why would roots want to leave that comfy spot? Gradually, she turned in compost everywhere.
Below it is her 4-star insect hotel for Mason and leaf cutter bees installed into an old soda bottle holder. Fellow Master Gardener Sheryl Williams and husband Ed Kimball helped drill holes to the right sizes.
As Vicki created a haven for her family, she realized that more beneficial wildlife was joining them.
Now a Certified Backyard Habitat, Pollinator Habitat and Monarch Waystation, she devised a bubbler fountain attached to a rain barrel to refresh small insects and creatures. (They have a 1660 gallon DIY install on the other side of the house).
Throughout the garden, Vicki’s installed Mason bee (solitary bees) houses that you can buy.
A confirmed recycler, though, she repurposed this tub into even more housing.
Vicki’s a great chef, so she’s always cooking up places to add food in the garden, even on the patio. An allium peeks up against a potted passalong kumquat.
She kept grass in the side yards to slow down runoff from the street. In this sunny spot, she harvests annual and perennial herbs and vegetables.
Bob Pool improved that entrance with a gate and trellis where Lady Banks rose invites another reason to hang out there in spring when it’s showered with tiny yellow flowers.
In front, just this year Vicki took the plunge to remove all the grass. It’s still growing in, but already she’s created another habitat under shady conditions. Plus, she’s given the front so much more dimension and fascination with plants that require less maintenance than mowing.
And don’t you agree that Bob’s address sign is a lot better than those curb spray-painted versions?
Garden beneficial predators green lacewings like it so much that they laid their delicate eggs on it.
So, take a look for yourself!
Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda