July 9, 2015
Worms, Wonder, Oak Leaf Fungus, Bougainvillea
It’s crinum time in the city! My passalong ‘Ellen Bousanquet’ jumped right in with the crowds.
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.
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.
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.
This week, Daphne celebrates another Texas Superstar: Moy Grande hibiscus with flowers as big as Texas—well, Texas-size dinner plates!
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?
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.
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.
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.
Red wigglers are the eager beaver composters you want.
Worms don’t care how cute you make their houses.
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.
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.
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.
Drop in for their great plants, orchid shade house, organic products, containers, fountains, and knowledgeable, enthusiastic guidance.
Unearth more about earthworms (they all have different jobs!) in Amy Stewart’s informative, fun read, The Earth Moved.
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!
On tour, let’s cool off in Claire Golden’s soothing Mission-style courtyard in San Antonio.
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.
Don terraced the long, narrow slope into a series of rooms, bisected by a miniature aqueduct.
A pergola, entwined with many vines that flower across the year, offers a ceiling of shade in one corner room.
Even in this narrow space, Claire and her friends have their pick of intimate spaces to relax and converse.
Patterns with scavenged limestone and bricks unite the spaces with no-maintenance footing.
When Claire found a sconce in a thrift store, she asked Donald to craft similar ones to gently light the courtyard at night.
With accents, she says, “Overdoing is not something that helps either dressing or gardening in my estimation.”
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.
Walkways lead to patios, framed in leafy softness.
Carlos Cortez designed the faux bois furniture.
A faux bois bridge covers the stream at the front of the property.
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.
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
- Backbone Valley Nursery
- bougainvillea bloom
- Central Texas
- Central Texas Gardener
- courtyard gardens
- Daphne Richards
- faux bois furniture
- garden aqueduct
- Garden Art
- Garden Design
- garden pathways
- garden room
- grape vine pergola
- inset fountains
- Jessica Robertson
- Mission-style courtyard gardens
- moy grande hibiscus
- oak leaf blister
- oak leaf problems
- red wigglers
- San Antonio garden
- Texas Superstar Plants
- tree fungal disease
- worm composting