Garden Zero Waste + Summer Fave Winners

This summer, we asked our experts (YOU!) to tell us their summer favorite plants. Pride of Barbados won hands-down with votes from Shirley Fox, Linda Goodale, Robin Mayfield, Matt Boring, Tracy Simons and Stephanie Skarren.
pride of barbados over aquaduct Central Texas Gardener
We got so many good drought-tough, pollinator-friendly plants that we’ll present the rest next week! For this segment, plumbago was #2 with votes from Linda Goodale, Ovaltene Jones, Velia Sanchez-Ruiz and Robin Mayfield.
blue and white plumbago Central Texas Gardener
Orange-flaunting Mexican honeysuckle got a ringing endorsement from Bob Beyer and Pamela King Malone, who also likes annual purple hyacinth bean for late summer color. Bonus points for Mexican honeysuckle: it favors dappled shade, as I can attest in my own garden.
mexican honeysuckle Central Texas Gardener
Morgan Goldberg and Lori Garven Horton went for lantana, as do the butterflies. Lori especially likes a mix of white and purple flowering varieties.
Gulf Fritillary butterfly on lantana Central Texas Gardener
Lisa Louden Rhoden picked sweet Texas bluebells.
Native bluebells Central Texas Gardener
Chet Gresham went for Maximilian sunflower, and Yael Abraham is keen on tropical milkweed.
tropical milkweed Central Texas Gardener
Sherry Cordry likes succulents, including cold-hardy squid agave, great for those shady spots or in containers.
Squid agave (Agave bracteosa) Central Texas Gardener
Also in part shade, go for Ceci Burklow’s understory shrub/small tree: native American beautyberry.

Trees made the list with a surprising twist. Cindy McClimans chose native, multi-trunked, feathery retama. Its flowers are such a draw for pollinators!
retama in bloom Central Texas Gardener
Eva Van Dyke chose native Texas torchwood, a small, shrubby tree (more about it on an upcoming segment with Mary Irish).
Texas torchwood Central Texas Gardener
Plus, Eva won the draw in our online contest to spend a day at CTG! Here with guest Mary Irish.
CTG crew with Mary Irish Central Texas Gardener
You might run into her at Barton Springs Nursery, where she works part-time.
Trisha Shirey and Eva Van Dyke Central Texas GardenerDaphne Richards Eva Van Dyke Central Texas Gardener
Check out all our Plants of the Week!

At last, it looks like “fall” is finally here, which means that “winter” is around the corner, usually overnight, don’t you know! Daphne explains how to cover plants and why to avoid plastic draped directly over plants. Plastic is fine for a greenhouse, patio, or other structure.
rowcover over winter vegetables Central Texas Gardener
Last week, we taped an innovative wicking bed garden where Jay Carpenter curves cattle panel over limestone beds. In summer, it supports climbers. In winter, he covers with plastic to harvest tomatoes, squash, Swiss chard and broccoli at Christmas!
cattle panel over limestone raised beds Central Texas Gardener
Gardeners are all about clever use of resources. And Austin, like many cities, is going for zero waste. Susanne Harm from Austin Resource Recovery joins Tom with simple tips for gardeners.
Tom Spencer and Susanne Harm Central Texas Gardener
What about gardeners in small spaces? No yard? She’s got ideas for that, too.
kitchen composting austin resource recovery Central Texas Gardener
composter for small gardens Central Texas Gardener
Wherever you live, get more tips for composting here.

Red wigglers are a small-space gardener’s best friend to “magically” turn your kitchen scraps into free fertilizer. This week, we taped Ben McConnell’s new vermiculture house that he found on Etsy. Already his worms are happily working overtime.
worm composter Central Texas Gardener
red wigglers in worm composter Central Texas Gardener
And here’s our segment with Jessica Robertson from Backbone Valley Nursery for tips on starting your worm composter.

So, what all can you throw into your compost pile? Trisha lists common household scraps, including paper towel tubes. Plus, get her tips on how to speed things up.
screening finished compost

To keep it at the right moisture level, she tells us: “I like to use a five gallon bucket with tiny weep holes drilled in the bottom to drench the pile slowly, or spray layers of your compost pile as you turn it with a pitchfork, if it’s really dry.”

Our Viewer Picture comes with a romantic story! Gail Standley’s husband Mike built a beautiful pond for her this year as a wedding gift. Soon after they added water and fragrant water lilies, more gifts arrived: tadpoles and now happy frogs celebrating their wedding all year long!
water lily pond gail and mike standley ctg
On tour, when Lori Daul bought her first house as a new Texas gardener, she dumped the pristine lawn for an adventure with drought-tough plants, art, flood issues and hardscape she could fit into her small car.
yucca roses bamboo muhly front yard garden Central Texas Gardener
She recycled bricks from an eyesore structure in the backyard into simple terraces that control rainwater runoff.
recycled bricks for rainwater terraces Central Texas Gardener
When she found this charming shell-like basin, she crafted a recirculating fountain, much adored by birds and other wildlife.
shell planter fountain Central Texas Gardener
With a little paint and creativity, Lori catches the light and our attention.
mirror frames and light catchers shady garden Central Texas Gardener
Now a Travis County Master Gardener and garden designer, she’s changed a lot in her garden since we taped. But her clever, on-a-budget ideas are all right here! Sadly, I lost most of my pictures in a regrettable “incident,” so here’s our video!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week for Summer Faves 2 and drought-tough native trees with Mary Irish. Linda