Worms, Wonder, Oak Leaf Fungus, Bougainvillea

It’s crinum time in the city! My passalong ‘Ellen Bousanquet’ jumped right in with the crowds.
Crinum Ellen Bousanquet Central Texas Gardener
Perhaps all that rain prompted shy bloomers out there, since many gardeners report flowering at last. My mystery crinum took a few years to bloom after planting—typical after crinums are divided.
pink crinum lily in bud central texas gardener
Fungal diseases sure liked that rain, too. Rows of cloudy days and humid, cool weather set up perfect breeding conditions. Daphne’s gotten lots of questions about brown splotches on oak leaves.
Oak leaf blister Central Texas Gardener
Don’t worry, she tells us. This is oak leaf blister. “The spores of this fungus overwinter on the tree, but only become infectious if conditions are right for their development. It only affects the first flush of growth in the spring, so leaves that develop later in the season won’t be affected at all,” she says.

Even if the leaves fall off, there’s no long-term damage, and the trees will grow new leaves. Find out more about oak leaf blister.

Undaunted by rain, Texas Superstar ‘Flare’ Hibiscus cheered on soldiers, their families and the Gardening Volunteers of South Texas on our recent visit to San Antonio’s Fort Sam Houston Warrior and Family Support gardens. That powerful segment’s slated to air in November.
Flare hibiscus Central Texas Gardener
Flare hibiscus Central Texas Gardener
This week, Daphne celebrates another Texas Superstar: Moy Grande hibiscus with flowers as big as Texas—well, Texas-size dinner plates!
Moy Grande hibiscus Central Texas Gardener
Developed by the late Dr. Moy at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, this one’s hardy to USDA Zone 5. For us in Central Texas, it will lose its leaves in winter, but being root hardy, will bound back up to 5-6’ in spring.

Thank you to Dr. Jerry Parsons, (Retired) Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service—San Antonio for the great pictures! Find out more about Moy Grande hibiscus.

Flaming bougainvillea revels in summer’s heat, but what’s the trick to keep them blooming?
Gulf Fritillary butterfly on bougainvillea
John Dromgoole’s got the tips, including watering, soil, and pruning. Since they bloom on new wood, John shows where to prune to promote flowers between resting cycles.
bougainvillea along fence Central Texas Gardener
Iron mixed with seaweed (you’re going for high nitrogen on those bracts) helps. Since they like a more acidic pH, John adds soil sulfur every 3 months or so.

Many of my neighbors plant them in the ground. Even though some got hit hard this past winter, they’re rebounding! Find out more about bougainvilleas.
bougainvillea front yard Central Texas Gardener
Healthy, pretty plants start with nutrient-rich soil. Jessica Robertson from Backbone Valley Nursery in Marble Falls goes INSIDE the box with tips for worm composting.
Tom Spencer and Jessica Robertson Backbone Valley Nursery
Red wigglers are the eager beaver composters you want.
worm composting Jessica Robertson Backbone Valley Nursery
Worms don’t care how cute you make their houses.
Worm composting boxes  Backbone Valley Nursery
But if you want snazzy up their homes, what a great family project! Plus, worm composting is an ideal way to spare the landfill if you don’t have room for a compost bin or live in an apartment or condo.
Worm composting hotel Central Texas Gardener
You can even use a large plastic container, with holes drilled in the bottom and sides.

But, like us, red wigglers are picky about comfort. It’s important to keep them cool in summer—out of the sun—and comfortably warm in winter. Indoors is ideal, since it doesn’t smell. Give them comfy nesting material like coconut coir fiber or shredded newspaper.
worm composting Backbone Valley Nursery
Quickly, they’ll turn your kitchen scraps into luscious worm castings to nourish containers and garden beds. As Jessica says, these are like hungry teenagers: a pound of worms will eat two pounds of food daily.

Check out Backbone Valley Nursery’s website for upcoming classes on worm composting, fairy gardens and much more! And do sign up for Jessica’s really helpful e-newsletter.
worm composting class Backbone Valley Nursery
Drop in for their great plants, orchid shade house, organic products, containers, fountains, and knowledgeable, enthusiastic guidance.
Backbone Valley Nursery
Unearth more about earthworms (they all have different jobs!) in Amy Stewart’s informative, fun read, The Earth Moved.
The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart
Viewer Picture goes to Charles Vaughn of his travels to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. See more of his pictures to entice you to visit if traveling this summer!
Longwood Gardens lake Central Texas Gardener
On tour, let’s cool off in Claire Golden’s soothing Mission-style courtyard in San Antonio.
Mission style courtyard garden Central Texas Gardener
When Claire bought this 1920s Mediterranean bungalow after her husband J.Y. passed away, she saw the potential of its courtyard, then a sloping half-dead lawn. Architect Don B. McDonald restored its true mission as a courtyard to enjoy from indoors as well as outside.
Inset patio fountain Mission style courtyard Central Texas Gardener
Inset patio fountain Mission style courtyard Central Texas Gardener
Don terraced the long, narrow slope into a series of rooms, bisected by a miniature aqueduct.
miniature aqueduct patio courtyard garden
miniature aqueduct patio courtyard garden
miniature aqueduct patio courtyard garden
miniature aqueduct patio courtyard garden
A pergola, entwined with many vines that flower across the year, offers a ceiling of shade in one corner room.
grape vine pergola shady courtyard patio garden room
Even in this narrow space, Claire and her friends have their pick of intimate spaces to relax and converse.
shady courtyard patio garden room
hands chairs garden patio room Central Texas Gardener
Patterns with scavenged limestone and bricks unite the spaces with no-maintenance footing.
brick and limestone pathway garden room Central Texas Gardener
brick and limestone pathway garden room Central Texas Gardener
When Claire found a sconce in a thrift store, she asked Donald to craft similar ones to gently light the courtyard at night.
Patio sconce Central Texas Gardener
With accents, she says, “Overdoing is not something that helps either dressing or gardening in my estimation.”
Patio accent table niche Central Texas Gardener
She didn’t overlook a tiny “garden hallway” that leads to the driveway. Instead, she made it an inviting foyer, complete with Mission-style doors.
In front, terraced lawns host many parties under graceful old oak trees.
1920s classic mediterranean home San Antonio Central Texas Gardener
Walkways lead to patios, framed in leafy softness.
Brick pathway frontyard garden Central Texas Gardener
Brick pathway front yard garden with faux bois furniture Central Texas Gardener
Shady front garden with faux bois furniture Central Texas Gardener
Carlos Cortez designed the faux bois furniture.
Carlos Cortez faux bois furniture Central Texas Gardener
A faux bois bridge covers the stream at the front of the property.
Faux bois bridge Central Texas Gardener
Once an ugly drainage ditch, Claire’s first project was to turn it into a stream. Not only does it soften the street sounds, it invites a lot of wildlife to join her outdoor parties.
Front yard stream Central Texas Gardener
Claire is one of the most charming, down-to-earth inspirational people I’ve ever known. So,meet her right now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda