the show

Small Space Design

encore date: August 11, 2016

original air date: July 9, 2016

Hemmed in by “close encounters” homes? Or do you just have a small yard? Houston design/build team Laurin Lindsey and Shawn Schlachter of Ravenscourt Landscaping & Design put an artful stamp on postage stamp-sized spaces. On tour, Austin Delta Dawn designer Leah Churner styles apartment balconies and patios with clever ideas on a budget for privacy and indoor/outdoor connection. Daphne’s Plant of the Week, native Salvia coccinea, attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies in semi-shade, even in containers. Contained to containers or want to dress up a porch or patio? John Dromgoole’s got clever ideas to grow up with vertical dimension. With all the fungus among us right now, Daphne answers: is it fungal disease or herbicide damage that’s troubling a viewer’s chinkapin oak?

Question of the Week

Why are leaves browning on my Chinkapin oak?

Thanks to Craig Burnett for this great question! Several months ago the leaves started turning brown. The issue started a few months ago, and even though he’s had lots of rain, there’s not standing water and the area around the tree is flat, so the water runs off quickly.

Well, Craig, the good news is that the damage does not appear to be due to any insect or disease issue, although that can’t be completely ruled out. The damage patterns on the leaves are pretty uniform, which often indicates an environmental cause, such as too much or too little water.

Since we’ve been inundated with rain, it would seem that we could rule out too little water, but root problems, such as girdling roots, can inhibit the uptake of water, even when there’s plenty in the soil. But I don’t think that’s the case here.

It could be that water in the air, not the soil, is the issue. With spring arriving so early this year, bringing with it so much rain and high relative humidity when the new leaves were emerging, it’s possible that there was a fungal infection of some sort earlier in the year.

In this situation, as the leaves develop, the tissue surrounding the infection sites starts to die and turn brown, which is what we see in the later photos.

But another environmental possibility with Craig’s tree seems possible. The damage pattern could also indicate herbicide damage or over fertilization. If herbicides are applied later in the year, once the tree has leafed-out and the leaves are fully developed, there may be no damage at all, or it may not even be noticeable. But if applied in the early spring, when the tree is just getting growing again but the grass hasn’t quite yet picked up steam, more of the herbicide will be taken up by the tree than the grass.

In this situation, it’s best to spot treat weeds if you can, rather than treat the entire yard. In any event, I know the damage appears to be bad, but overall, the tree looks very healthy. But it will drop those damaged leaves this fall and most likely recover just fine.

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Plant of the Week

Salvia coccinea

Salvia coccinea

Salvia coccinea is lovely Southern native annual that does very well in Central Texas gardens, as long as you have the right soil. If you have heavy clay, Salvia coccinea will struggle, so consider building berms or slightly raised areas to improve drainage. Loose, or even rocky soil, would be better, but be sure to water regularly, especially in the heat of summer. In the right spot, Salvia coccinea will thrive with very little care or attention. In the south, where winters are warm and summers are off the chart, Salvia coccinea will be happiest if protected from the harsh rays of the afternoon sun, and will even look pretty good in light shade. The vibrant red tubular flowers will attract hummingbirds from summer through fall. There are also cultivars that have white or salmon colored flowers, and all are listed as hardy to zone 8. Getting to about 2 feet tall, but only 6 to 12 inches wide, these perennials look best when planted in clumps of three or more. An easy re-seeder, be sure to deadhead spent blooms if you don’t want this plant creeping into other areas of the garden, and cut back old growth in late winter, to encourage new growth in spring. Spring memories of wildflowers lives on, thanks to our viewer pictures. Luciano Velez snapped these gorgeous white bluebonnets. Jean and Stan Bettencourt sent in a picture of their cute dogs, Loki and his sister Layla, enjoying a glorious field of bluebonnets in Dripping Springs.  Loki nuzzled into these blue jewels and almost buried himself in them!  And in Kingsland, Chuck Johnson spotted lots of gorgeous wildflowers on his road trips this spring. Plus he spotted this darling gaggle of Canadian goslings resting on his seawall.