the show

Terrariums and Fairy Gardens

encore date: June 2, 2016

original air date: June 4, 2016

Take a new look at terrariums!  Keri Anderson from Slavonk and Hortus Terraria styles up big with tiny enchantments for easy care indoor gardens. Daphne’s Plant of the Week, Gomphrena cultivar ‘Grapes’, packs a punch with miniature magenta globes.  Plus, she explains why some plants bloom late in cloudy spring weather. John excites our imagination with truly downsized designs in charming fairy gardens. On tour, Laura and Travis McGarraugh dumped the lawn for new family fun with ponds and an outdoor living room which their young daughter accents with small container creations.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Family Pond Garden and Outdoor Living

When their kids outgrew the lawn’s playscape, Laura and Travis McGarraugh revamped their backyard into new family fun with ponds, wildlife and an outdoor living room. Their young daughter accents the gardens with succulent containers she designs.


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Question of the Week

Why early bloomers and late bloomers in cloudy, cool spring?

You don’t have to be a weather nerd to have noticed that 2015/16 was the year without a winter. Many gardening friends reported to me that they had recorded zero freeze events in their landscapes. Myself, I noted only two. And while that led to most plants’ emergence from hibernation much earlier than usual, some even in the middle of January, for others, the lack of cold made for a “wasted” year.

Specifically, certain plants use the hours of daylight as a seasonal yardstick. Only once the days are longer than a certain number of hours will they flower or have a growth spurt. Well, more accurately, it’s when nights are shorter than a certain length.

But perhaps more notably in your garden, certain fruit trees were late onto the scene. For temperate zone plants, the number of chill hours is critical for the mechanisms that control flowering and fruit production. And since flower bud emergence occurs before leaf buds begin to break, their whole biochemical systems were thrown out of whack.

As of May 5th, my ‘Bruce’plum tree had one flower and two leaves on it. With fruit trees, it’s critical that you select cultivars that are matched to the number of chill hours typical for your area. And my plum tree happens to need a more “normal” amount of winter temperatures than we received this year.

Late emergence for my plum tree has been the trend for the five years it’s been in my garden, but as I planted this particular cultivar in memory of my mother (it was her favorite plum, and plums were very important to her), I haven’t wanted to give up and replace it with a more appropriate one. Sadly, I think this might be the year that I do so. I think she would understand.


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Plant of the Week

‘Grapes’ Gomphrena

‘Grapes’ Gomphrena

Our plant this week is the ‘Grapes’ cultivar of Gomphrena, which is sold under several other cultivar names, including ‘Itsy Bitsy’, ‘Teensy Weensy’, and ‘Little Grapes’. Although ‘Grapes’ is the most common name here in Central Texas, the other three seem a lot more appropriate, since the reference is to the flowers, which are bright purple, but certainly much smaller than any grape I’ve ever seen. But what they lack in size they more than make up for in number and vibrancy. Mostly referred to as a perennial and listed as hardy to zone 8, in colder areas, and in unseasonably cold winters, this mounding plant with lanky floral stems is treated as an annual. In our demonstration garden at the Travis County Extension office in south east Austin, it has been reliably evergreen since we planted it four years ago. Plant in full sun and water moderately for best performance. Beds with a little extra organic matter are best, with seasonal applications of small aggregate, or even compost, mulch, which will break down and work its way into the soil more quickly, would help this plant thrive. Gomphrena ‘Grapes’ flowers almost all year long, but the most intense display will occur in the fall. The long-stemmed flowers attract butterflies, dry easily, and make look great in floral arrangements. If you don’t have room in your garden, Gomprena ‘Grapes’ also performs quite well in containers.   Our viewer pick This week goes to Victoria Dawson in Lakeway for her gorgeous native giant spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea). Last year, she took the excellent Go Native U Native Plant Gardening courses at the Wildflower Center. Since then, she’s converted her “suburban yard” into a native plant showcase for honey bees, birds, butterflies and people to enjoy. She tells us: “Over the past year I have removed much of the typical lawn and planted more natives trees, grasses and flowers. This spring I was pleased to see so many plants recovered and in full bloom after taking a beating in last April's severe hailstorm. Here's one of my new resilient favorites: native giant spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea) giant gleaming in the afternoon sun in my yard.”