Color Up Winter with Flowers and Food

Wow, what a difference a week makes! Rain and shorter daylight hours prompted laggard asters and chrysanthemums to board the blooming bus. Bees and other tiny insects went out for Sunday brunch in my garden.
bee going for fall aster Central Texas Gardener
Country Girl chrysanthemums Central Texas Gardener
Butterpat chrysanthemum Central Texas Gardener
Any second now, those leaves are coming down. Gardeners often ask us, “Can I rake them into my garden beds to improve the soil or do they tie up nitrogen?”
leaves as mulch Central Texas Gardener
Daphne explains, “Absolutely, put them in the garden! As microbes break down plant material and incorporate it into the soil, they also use nitrogen, effectively taking it away from your plants. But in most home gardens, this would never happen to the extent of causing problems for your plants.” Find out more.

Now that temps are finally falling, Marcus Young from Bloomers Garden Center warms up icy days with colorful flowers and food. From herbs, colorful kales, and red-veined sorrel, he puts a winter spin on summer containers or to fill in those soon-to-be dormant perennials.
Tom Spencer and Marcus Young Central Texas Gardener
Even in a container, mix up edibles for you and for the wildlife. Combine lettuce, pansies (flowers edible and attract butterflies), Swiss chard and snapdragons.
lettuce swiss chard, snapdragons, pansies Central Texas Gardener
Kale, both ornamental and edible, works great in containers for leafy contrast against snapdragons and pansies.
snapdragons ornamental kale swiss chard Central Texas Gardener
Sprinkle little viola or pansy flowers onto your salads, add alyssum for fragrance and the bees, and pop it up with adorable double petunias. Watch now for great ideas!
violas petunias Central Texas Gardener
Viewer Picture goes to Katherine Carrington for her ornamental cabbage nestled with pansies, guaranteed to knock your winter cuddly socks off!
ornamental cabbage Central Texas Gardener
One of our top questions is what to plant in shady spots, especially under trees. Daphne’s got the answer with easy-care Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa).
berkeley sedge Central Texas Gardener
As a turf grass replacement, its clumps of evergreen floppy leaves pump up lawn personality in bright shade in just about any soil type.
Berkeley sedge and ligularia shade garden Central Texas Gardener
Shaggy, yet tidy, it’s perfect to edge borders and walkways and as foils to other textural forms—here with dianella, palm grass and Ming fern.
berkeley sedge dianella palm grass edging Central Texas Gardener
I love this comment on Central Texas Gardener’s Facebook page: “Seems like a baby liriope, only less mercenary…”
berkeley sedge shady patio groundcover Central Texas Gardener
Berkeley sedge handles temps below freezing, but does need supplemental water in our hottest, driest months. Like any plant, it takes a few years to hit its stride, though you’ll only have to mow if it gets a little ragged.
berkeley sedge pavers Central Texas Gardener
Daphne tells us: “If you have an area of Berkeley sedge growing under deciduous trees, it’s perfectly fine to use your mulching mower to collect the leaves and give the sedge lawn a little haircut at the same time: just be sure to set your mower on the tallest mowing height.” Find out more.

Like me, I bet you’re finalizing gift lists—either to give or receive (hey, spare your spouse some anxiety). Trisha wraps it up for you with outdoor décor, essential tools, and homemade gifts like bay leaves tied with a pretty bow.
bay leaves for gifts Central Texas Gardener
For a tasteful tea-time basket, dry lemon verbena, mint, or other herbs and add a cute mug and tea brewing insert.
mug and lemon verbena gift idea Central Texas Gardener
AND, for new gardeners or frustrated veterans, Trisha’s all-you-need-to-know book puts you on track for healthy harvests!
vegetable gardening in the southwest
On tour: When writers Helen Thompson and Charles Lohrmann refurbished their old home, they faced flooding issues along with soldierly foundation plants and lack of privacy. Designer Patrick Kirwin updated with contemporary, low-water style while moving floodwater away from the house.

Watch their story now!

Thank you for stopping by! See you next week, Linda