Hummingbird Haven, Weeds, Courtyard Design

Do you feel like the “other shoe is about to drop?” That’s how I feel right now as rock and roll temps have us stymied about when to prune. Normally, my ‘Grapes’ gomphrena (G. decumbens) would be recumbent by now. Instead, it’s just flopping over in little balls of brightness.
'Grapes' gomphrena flower Central Texas Gardener
I’ve already cut back many of the turk’s caps, but I can’t bear to touch this one. . . yet!
turk's cap in winter Central Texas Gardener
As dry as it is, “weeds” are growing like weeds! Edible chickweed really covers the ground quite nicely.
chickweed Central Texas Gardener
Cleavers (Galium aparine) are very clever about ingratiating themselves—here with self-sown larkspurs in my frogfruit strip.
cleavers Central Texas Gardener
Certified Herbalist Ellen Zimmermann joins Trisha to explain how so-called “weeds” can be good for us. Ellen tells us how cleavers clean out the blood in the lymph system.
beneficial weeds Trisha Shirey and Ellen Zimmermann Central Texas Gardener
Many of us get confused about sow thistle (on the left) and dandelion. Dandelion leaves are beneficial—even great in smoothies!
sow thistle dandelion compare Central Texas Gardener
I never pull dandelions, since their deep taproot brings nutrients to the surface. Most important in my household: indoor bunnies Harvey & Bun do binkies for dandelion leaves! Bees and other pollinators do their version of “binky” on the flowers.
bee on dandelion flower Central Texas Gardener
Over centuries, milk thistle has been valued for its medicinal properties. I treasure mine for its variegated foliage and late spring’s puffball flowers that nurture pollinators.
milk thistle Central Texas Gardener
Find out more right now!
milk thistle flower Central Texas Gardener
And, be sure to check out Ellen’s Austin School of Herbal Studies to learn about medicinal and health-heightening plants.
EZ Herbs Central Texas Gardener

Meet Ellen and other renowned herbalists at the 1st Annual Heart of Texas Herb Symposium on April 23 in Wimberley.

Now, what do you do when your new house comes with a chinaberry tree? That’s what happened to Robyn Squyres. Sure, birds love the yellow fruits, but Robyn knows that it’s an invasive species that threatens diverse habitats. Already, she’s pulled up seedlings. Also, this tree is very toxic to dogs.
chinaberry to cut down Central Texas Gardener
So, should she cut it down now and sacrifice shade or plant a replacement tree underneath to get established first? Daphne responds: Cut it down now! Here’s why.

Get the list of Texas invasive plants.

When felling a tree means lots of new sunlight, native perennial coralbean (Erythrina herbacea) is your ticket to hummingbird haven.
coralbean Central Texas Gardener
Evergreen in warm winters, its flame-like flower torches emerge in spring and last for months. If extended freezes brown it, simply cut to the ground, as you do any dormant perennial. Find out more about Daphne’s Plant of the Week.
coralbean in perennial garden Central Texas Gardener
This week, create a hummingbird flight path to your garden with Mark Klym, coordinator of the Texas Wildscapes program at Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Hummingbird Roundup.
Mark Klym Central Texas Gardener
In Hummingbirds of Texas, see how to create a habitat, including preferred flowers, colors, and nesting trees. Find out why your visitors stage hummingbird wars! And to identify these fleet-of-wing birds, pictures, drawings, and migration patterns make it much easier.
Hummingbirds of Texas Central Texas Gardener
Viewer Picture goes to Jackie Baltrun for her outstanding shot of a bumble bee on mealy blue sage. Hummingbirds love this plant, too! But deer avoid it, which makes it a great plant for Jackie in her deerly beloved neighborhood!
bee on mealy blue sage Central Texas Gardener
On tour, when designer Amy Voorhes and husband Selwyn Notelovitz traded Boston for Austin, she swapped months of snow for drought.
Amy Voorhes Central Texas Gardener
To update the courtyard of their 1950s home, she banished overgrown and rather forlorn invasives for raised beds filled with fragrant and flowering plants.
courtyard garden house view Central Texas Gardener
Betsy Clemmons from Dig Austin handled the installation, including concrete underneath to support the weight. Decomposed granite flooring packs down for easy mobility to savor and tend the water thrifty plants that abound after just one year.
courtyard raised beds Central Texas Gardener
Bidding farewell to former plant loves, she adopted water thrifty plants for wildlife, most of them evergreen. The courtyard’s become a favorite living room to entertain.
wildlife plants raised beds courtyard garden Central Texas Gardener
To elegantly promote the vertical plane, she planted steel trellises with star jasmine and crossvine, leaving room between them and the wall for easy maintenance and to catch runoff.
courtyard garden Amy Voorhes Central Texas Gardener
Even from indoors, she and Selwyn watch the wildlife that call on them.
courtyard view from inside Central Texas Gardener
Amy tucked an inexpensive recirculating fountain into a wall niche.
wall waterfall and lighted sconce Central Texas Gardener
“I designed it for, not just how it would look, you know, that’s what people think of first with a garden, is bloom, but also for fragrance and for sound. There’s always something that is going to touch your senses when you’re walking through this space,” she told us.

She designed a scrim to pick up the edgy, mid-century lines of the house, and bring the geometry of the house right out into this central courtyard space.
courtyard gates Central Texas Gardener
“This is our primary entrance, we’re walking by this garden multiple times a day, and you want it to be beautiful,” she says.
courtyard garden gates walkway to house Central Texas Gardener
courtyard garden gates Central Texas Gardener
See the whole story now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week.