Photo Tips with Janet Riley

Last weekend, Sunshine Community Gardens was quite the lively place! Gardeners zoomed in, even on bikes, to tend and harvest bountiful beds.
Sunshine Community Gardens  Central Texas Gardener
Energetic birds, including parental chimney swifts, swooped high and low in this urban bird sanctuary, just seconds from busy streets and sterile buildings.
chimney swift sunflowers Central Texas Gardener
Purple martins cleaned up caterpillars for their young. Clusters of sunflowers, along with plant saucers full of water (and bird baths), help keep various bird friends from tasting the tomatoes (more or less).
sunflowers purple martins Central Texas Gardener
Thanks to digital and phone cameras, it’s easy to document every moment we encounter. But I can sure take a lot of really bad pictures, really fast!

On Facebook, I’m continually enchanted with the magic that Janet Albert Riley creates (also on Facebook at Photos by Janet Albert Riley).
Echo trumpet vine Janet Riley photograph Central Texas Gardener
This week, Janet focuses on a few tips to snag those memorable shots.
Tom Spencer and Janet Riley Central Texas Gardener
From what I’ve seen of her photos, I’ll also add: observation, quick-on-feet, patience, and tenacity! Pure luck is what’s usually on my side.
bee on calendula Central Texas Gardener
I’m usually not at home to get the perfect light in some of my beds. Janet runs into the same thing and explains how she takes advantage of a spotlight in harsh lighting. That’s what I did with this Rose of Sharon, also called althea (Hibiscus syriacus), an old-fashioned drought tough summer fave.
Rose of Sharon, althea Central Texas Gardener
And, from everyone at CTG, Janet gets our “admiration award,” since she drove through torrential rain from Fort Worth (including a 90-minute detour around flooded roads) and arrived cool as cucumber. This woman fearlessly jumps into anything, including her new website, so check it out!

Daphne’s Plant of the Week, Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii), is certainly photogenic.
golden barrel cactus and pups Central Texas Gardener
It’s also very picky. Daphne tells us, “This cactus simply will not tolerate soggy soil, so unless your landscape is well-drained, even rocky, you’ll need to install special beds or build berms, backfilling them with very porous soil materials such as sand and decomposed granite.”
golden barrel cactus agaves succulent garden design Central Texas Gardener
If you’re on clay soil, like me, and not on a rocky site, containers are the answer. Find out more.
golden barrel cactus orange trolley blue pots Central Texas Gardener
Citrus can be picky, too, especially about cold as we stretch our boundaries. Linda Brooks sent us a picture of her grapefruit tree (started from seed) that suffered freeze damage last year, killing half the tree. What should she do?
troubled grapefruit tree Central Texas Gardener
We consulted Texas A&M AgriLife Extension fruit specialist Jim Kamas for his strategy to save the tree. Get Daphne’s complete answer.

Whew, just in time, Trisha comes to the rescue with tasty, refreshing water beverages infused with fruit, herbs, and vegetables. I’m now a super fan of cucumber-flavored water!
Cucumber flavored water Central Texas Gardener
Lemons, mint, and pineapple sage boost you on these icky, sticky days! Get her recipes right here.
mint pineapple sage flavored water Central Texas Gardener
Viewer pics this week come from Kim Simmons, of her Easter barrel cactus.
Easter barrel cactus Central Texas Gardener
And from Nichole Staehling, of a wasp visiting her Knock Out rose!
wasp on Knock Out rose Central Texas Gardener
On tour, Julie Patton and Eric Pedley from East Side Succulents turned blah into beautiful on a budget.
garden Julie Patton and Eric Pedley
In back, they stuccoed a cinder block wall, added extensions for small succulents, and splashed it with vibrant paint. I love how they finished it off with contrasting decorative tiles.
cinder block stucco wall containers Central Texas Gardener
Graptosedum ‘Blaze’ tucks in nicely into into its cinder block niche.
Graptosedum Blaze stucco cinder block design Central Texas Gardener
Since Eric gets nursery pallets by the truckload, Julie put them back to work as lively outdoor furniture. She styled up scavenged folding stands and stained the concrete pad for patio panache.
pallet chair table patio furniture Central Texas Gardener
pallet patio furniture Central Texas Gardener
In front, Eric keeps pulling out lawn as he widens his richly dimensional succulent sanctuary.
front yard succulent design Eric Pedley Central Texas Gardener
In the narrow bed against the sidewalk, Eric edged with recycled stones to enclose agaves and golden barrel cactus.
agaves, golden barrel cactus front bed Central Texas Gardener
A recycled file cabinet, fancied up, fit perfectly here as a standout container for plants that like deep drainage.
recycled file cabinet succulent container Central Texas Gardener
Watch their story now!

Hope you’ll join me on Instagram as @ctglinda and Central Texas Gardener on Facebook! Thanks for stopping by, and see you next week for “Staying Alive in Summer.” Linda