February 25, 2016
Olive trees, garden stretches, no-lawn makeover
In 24 hours, my Mexican plum burst into song. Bees, as heady over the fragrance as I, went into feeding frenzy, along with more Red Admiral butterflies than I’ve ever seen.
It’s not unusual for my tree to bloom in February, but what about bearded irises in December? I spotted this one on my way to work before Christmas and it’s still going!
And what’s the deal with daylilies blooming in February? Mine have been in bud for weeks, opening last weekend. The earliest for me has been mid- March, but it’s usually May.
Light, as we all well know, determines what we can grow. How does photosynthesis factor into our locations? My billbergias retain more of their deep red when not hit by too much sun; just enough here for winter narcissus.
Daphne illuminates us this week: Shade-loving plants are usually darker green than full-sun plants. Shade plants, like farfugium (ligularia), that grow as understory specimens, need quite a bit more chlorophyll to produce a sufficient amount of sugars to feed themselves and grow.
She explains why shade plants, like evergreen potato vine (Solanum laxum), generally have smaller flowers. I love mine since it blooms in winter.
And, variegation is more common in shade plants like dianella: those white-striped areas on variegated leaves lack chlorophyll. Find out more.
Never have I met a gardener without aches and pains, especially after “warrior weekends.” We forget that gardening is akin to any sport where we can damage ourselves with repetitive actions. Hard clay or rocky sites make it even worse! So, we headed to Lake Austin Spa, where Trisha and Amanda Alvarez join Fitness Professional Paul Smith for easy stretches before, during, and after garden dates. Note: these stretches great after too many hours on computers!
Watch and stretch right now!
As we flock to nurseries this spring, another thing to keep in mind is mature size of plants. Sabal mexicana (Texas palmetto) starts out quite small. Here, it’s the young palm on the far left.
In time, it’ll look like the ones at historic Mayfield Park, once home to avid gardeners.
Daphne explains how to grow this Rio Grande Valley native palm.
Viewer video goes to Diana Saunders for this amazing catch last fall of a Zebra Longwing butterfly laying eggs on passion vine!
Silvery fruiting olive trees really glisten in the garden, even if we don’t get enough olives to press. This week, we were thrilled to meet again with Monte Nesbitt, Pecan/Fruit/Nut Program Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Before you plant, get his advice on varieties and cultivation.
On a past CTG, here’s his list of the cold hardiest citrus and why to fertilize with high nitrogen (starting now).
Kid, dog, and wildlife friendly: that’s what Stephanie and Tom Sloss wanted when they updated their garden for water conservation and control in deer country.
On tour this week, landscape designer Robert Leeper turned anxious footing into surround-around family outdoor living and stylish reduced-lawn native plant diversity.
In front, he changed the tempo from static lawn to energetic plants for wildlife.
But first, Robert tackled the speed of runoff on the slope with French drains and levels of poured-in-place concrete blocks that also make navigation easier. Gravel disperses rainwater to nourish, rather than flood, xeric plants.
Robert says, “The interior of the home has concrete floors, very contemporary style, so we wanted there to be an indoor outdoor transition.”
Every viewpoint generates a sensation, from ground huggers to sky walkers. At the sunbaked curb, where grass withered, a Mexican sycamore presides over content perennials.
Sotols diversify with evergreen intensity. Their summer-to-fall blooms don’t end their lives. Robert’s given each new plant lots of room to fill in.
In back, precarious slopes limited the young family’s access. Robert designed patios for outdoor entertainment. On the shady slope, he added native and adapted plants to slow down water and erosion.
French drains, concrete stepping stones, and gravel also keep water in check.
Raised limestone beds, this one filled with native frogfruit, bank the slope.
Robert softened the steep grade with walkways that wrap around the property, seasoned with native evergreens and flowering perennials.
A sunken spots hosts the only turf grass. Here, their energetic young boys and family dog race around or swing across for a birds-eye view on their zipline.
There’s much more, so watch right now!
Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda #ctglinda