Super Spring To-Do Tips + Romantic Garden in Sun & Shade

Winter. I love it. For one thing, it brings on the cool bulbs that perennialize, even after humid hot Texas summers. One early bird I count on: sweetly fragrant Narcissus ‘Erlicheer,’ here with a cheery smile!

Narcissus Erlicheer Central Texas Gardener

And ‘Gigantic Star’ narcissus. It’s been trumpeting big beautiful yellow for years in my garden, filling the spot where plumbago is now cut to the ground.

Gigantic Star narcissus Central Texas Gardener

And yes, we’re all on the pruning bandwagon! This week, get on-target tips with Robbi Will from the Antique Rose Emporium.

Tom Spencer and Robbi Will Antique Rose Emporium

She explains why we wait to prune evergreens until bud break (later this month and into March). And why to leave cenizo (Texas sage) and blackfoot daisy alone until warmer weather.

cenizo convent sage pruning Central Texas Gardener blackfoot daisy pruning Central Texas Gardener

On blackfoot daisy: with its thin root system, pruning now can harm it if we get cold, gray and rainy days. She recommends cutting back no more than half the foliage at one time. Plus, it’s better to prune often rather than too much at one time.

If your pink skullcap (Scutellaria suffrutescens) is getting too woody (like mine is), whack it way back since new growth comes from the crown. Like Salvia greggiis (which we can prune back hard now), it blooms on new growth, too.

pink skullcap pruning Central Texas Gardener

Robbi’s got tips for fertilizing, too. Though she relies more on compost than products, one combination that does a great job for her is half Superthrive and half liquid seaweed in water. I’m so going to try it! Watch now.

fertiliziing with Superthrive and liquid seaweed Central Texas Gardener

Of course, we can prune roses right now. This week, Daphne’s got tech talk to answer Master Naturalist Marc Opperman’s question about this weird growth on his American Beauty rose.

Apical growth dysfunction rose photo by Marc Opperman

Short answer: an apical dominance anomaly. Find out more, and how and why your plants set buds where they do. Great info for pruning!

Now, even the hardiest roses and other generally trouble free plants can run into fungal problems like black spot and powdery mildew in our cool, humid springs. John Dromgoole’s got some easy homemade fungal fixes with aspirin, garlic, hydrogen peroxide and milk! Find out more.

homemade black spot control John Dromgoole Central Texas Gardener

If you’re looking for an evergreen shrub in part shade, Daphne’s got a great one: Pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana).

pineapple guava central texas gardener

Since I’m a nut about silver—so hard to do in part-shade—it’s a winner for me, even though it confines that coloration to its oblong leaf undersides.  Bees and butterflies go nuts on spring blooming flowers.

pineapple guava central texas gardener

According to some viewer taste testers, its fall-ripened fruits are best when they literally fall off! So far, mine hasn’t produced fruit, but it’s a perfect, low-maintenance frame for me between a patio and a shady fence strip.

pineapple guava in shady Austin garden Central Texas Gardener

On tour, step into Chandler Ford’s backyard voyage of serenity. Pineapple guava anchors the end of a narrow textural bed.

Shady romantic patio Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener Shady romantic patio Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

In May, indigofera blooms right along with the pineapple guava, while ligularia beyond counterpoints with big shiny leaves.

indigofera and ligularia Shady romantic patio Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

Chandler mirrors the garden for another viewpoint from indoors.

romantic patio mirror Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

Pineapple guavas in large containers flank this charming setting–all done with recycled finds.

romantic patio mirror Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

Tiny accents like this succulent container once again vary textures and our viewpoint.

tiny succulent planter romantic patio Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

Chandler understands how to frame a view, like with this trio. Since her beloved oak tree is suffering, she positioned her “insurance tree,” a bigtooth maple, beyond its spreading limbs. An understory weeping redbud rules this spot in winter with waterfall limbs sprinkled with little flowers.

oak framing bigtooth maple and weeping redbud Central Texas Gardener

Japanese maples and a possumhaw holly gently separate the patio from a grassy cove on the other side of the walkway.

romantic shady garden Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener Japanese maples romantic shady garden Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

Trex walkways diverge around the oak to a larger conversation patio. Trex, made from wood chips and plastic grocery bags, is durable and not slippery.

Japanese maples romantic shady garden Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener Japanese maples romantic shady garden Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

For structural attention and privacy along one side fence, she planted clumping ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo. She painted the fence black to show off its golden culms. At night, the fence disappears totally, letting the culms glisten gently with subtle backyard lighting.

Alfonse Karr bamboo black fence romantic shady garden Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

In this garden of two personalities, the front’s a festive fragrant parade. Framing her 1937 cottage and sidewalk, it stops neighbors in their tracks to savor her ongoing festival of flowers and food.

fragrant front yard garden Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

In spring, sweet peas sweetly tower over hardy roses and poppies.

sweetpea trellis romantic front yard Chandler Ford Central Texas Gardener

Chandler collects sweet pea and poppy seeds for next year, marking her favorite double poppies with Dixon pins. Great idea! I always plan to mark irises and poppies but hate to clunk up the garden too much.

dixon pins Central Texas Gardener

Like many of us, she has shady spots beyond the sun. A step away from intense color, discover equally sensual colors and texture with Ligularia, Aztec grass, dwarf pittosporum, purple oxalis and persicaria.

shady garden oxalis persicaria pittosporum Central Texas Gardener

Persicaria is one of her favorites in part shade, as it is mine. Somehow, I messed up mine a few years back, and it’s hard to find in nurseries. But I’ll keep looking!

persicaria shade plant Central Texas Gardener

Chandler is just as charming as her garden, so watch the whole story now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda