the show

Master Gardener Tour 2015

encore date: September 17, 2015

original air date: September 19, 2015

For Gardeners, By Gardeners is what it’s all about on the Travis County Master Gardeners Inside Austin tour. Wendy Buck waltzes us through what you’ll discover this year in sun, shade and deer land—in every style to inspire your vision! On CTG’s tour at Valerie and Kirk Walden’s hillside garden of artful perspectives and flood management, wildlife plants frame their Lake Austin overlook. In part shade, one of their top performers is perennial bear’s breeches, Daphne’s pick this week. And get our success story on how a troubled flameleaf sumac recovered from drought. Who doesn’t love onions? Even better when you grow your own, Trisha shows how to pick and plant the right bulb-type onions and evergreen bunching onions


Episode Segments

On Tour

Lake View Garden for Wildlife

When Travis County Master Gardener Kirk Walden and wife Valerie, an artist, bought their razed property overlooking Lake Austin, they gave it artful perspectives. Working with Botanical Concerns, they channeled the hillside’s flooding waters through dry creek beds. Terraced beds and berms partner texture, color, and wildlife habitat without obstructing the lake view.  In front, layers of low-water-use plants in sun to part shade resist browsing deer. Get Kirk’s plant list!


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Question of the Week

Can my flameleaf sumac be saved after drought damage?

Good news! Lynda Holm’s flameleaf sumac in Hutto has recovered from drought stress after our advice to her last year.

Her native shrub had thrived for a few years after planting it.

But quite suddenly, in July 2014, half the leaves turned brown and withered. Lynda contacted us, wondering if this was Fusarium wilt.

We were pretty sure that this was merely another drought victim, but to confirm, I checked with Dr. Kevin Ong, with the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab at Texas A&M.

Dr. Ong replied that he’d seen a lot of drought and freeze damage mistaken for pathogenic infections that year, and agreed with our conclusion that Lynda’s flameleaf sumac was not a victim of Fusarium wilt, but was most likely struggling to survive the extended heat and drought that we were in at the time.

So we encouraged Lynda to water her landscape deeply and thoroughly, on her weekly watering day, add some mulch around the root zone, and watch for signs of recovery, which she did.

And now, a year later, Lynda has gotten back in touch to let us know that she followed our advice, and… her flameleaf sumac has rebounded perfectly!

This is a good opportunity for me to point out that, in all struggling plant scenarios, the first suspect to explore should be water. Honestly, the majority of landscape problems that I get asked to diagnose are related to water. Plants that are stressed due to watering issues are more susceptible to secondary problems, such as insects and diseases. By the time you first notice that a plant is struggling, there are normally a whole host of problems already brewing. So pay special attention to plants during drought, and perhaps even hand-water those key trees and shrubs that serve as the foundation of your landscape. And while you’re standing there, hose in hand, take a few minutes to inspect the leaves and bark for any tell-tale signs of stress.


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Plant of the Week

Bear’s Breeches

Bear’s Breeches

Acanthus Mollis

Bear’s breeches is an herbaceous perennial listed as hardy to USDA Zone 7, so it should breeze right through even the coldest Central Texas winters.

As you might guess from its deep green color, it needs to be planted in a shady spot. But in order to flower and perform its best, it also needs sun.

A little niche with full morning sun and complete afternoon shade would be perfect. Most gardeners plant bear’s breeches for its glossy foliage, but the flower spikes are quite striking too. Be sure to plant bear’s breeches in an area with good soil drainage, and where you can give it a little extra hand-watering during the driest, hottest times of year. If the foliage turns a bit yellow in the heat, simply trim it back, but not all the way to the ground. As with other herbaceous perennials, prune Acanthus a little harder in early spring, to encourage new growth after winter dormancy. Our viewer picture this week comes from Angela Carver, of the lovely Krause Springs in Spicewood. Great gardens and cool spring water for swimming!