Sharing Nature’s Garden

Marvelous Magnolia is a design destination…

I’m behind in my blogging right now (although I always feel like I’m behind!) because it’s been a very busy spring in the landscaping business.  I’m grateful for the nice weather and my fabulous clients and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Today I need a little pick me up, so I’m going to share with you my thoughts and photos from a recent day trip a few Austin garden bloggers took to visit Magnolia in Waco, Texas.

If you’ve been living under a cable tv rock, Magnolia is the brand-brain child of Chip and Joanna Gaines, whose wildly-popular television show, Fixer Upper, has taken the design world by storm.  They help people buy homes in need of updating and then transform them into gorgeous properties.

Following the Martha Stewart business model, they now have a retail outlet, online store, bakery, and food trailer court located at a property that previously only held old, dilapidated grain silos.  They now boast branded wallpaper, paint, you-name-it products for any kind of design imaginable.  They even have a small garden shop and garden at the Silos.

We put on our comfortable shoes and headed out for an early morning road trip on a beautiful day.

The silos themselves are under construction right now, and will be home to more retail space at some time in the near future.

I think modern farmhouse best describes Joanna’s most well-known style, but you could also call it romantic,

quaint,

curated,

massed,

and ecclectic.  I was smitten with all the collections of quaint items, and loved the use of repetition in the design of the store.  Just as in our gardens, repeating patterns, colors, items and forms adds interest to the design.

Let me tell you, this place is POPULAR.  Tour companies bus people in every day.  It is a zoo.  But it was a zoo we all had to see for ourselves.  The line to check out was 3 x the width of the large store.  But we chatted with others, picked up more items along the way as the line moved and just settled in.  It moved pretty fast and I have to give them credit for a very efficient check-out system with multiple helpers at each station that kept things moving smoothly.

After we conquered the store, we went outside to grab a table and peruse the food trucks for some tasty lunch.  My travel partners for the day, left to right  –

Rebecca of Rebecca’s Retreat http://rebeccasretreat.blogspot.com/   Wendy of The Rabid Gardener  http://rabidgardener.blogspot.com/   Robin of Getting Grounded http://getgrounded.wordpress.com

The hand-washing station and dog water bowl.

We didn’t stand in line at the bakery, having had enough of standing in the store and at the food trucks, but it looked adorable and had a lovely seating area.

The center of the outside area sported an artificial turf play and lounge area, bordered by slouchy-bean-bag-style chairs.  Toys were available to use and families relaxed here and let their kids enjoy the open space after being forced to keep their hands to themselves inside the crowded store.

No design opportunity wasted, this industrial steel framework now serves as a series of giant planter boxes and holds a large array of hanging baskets to soften and brighten the area.

In front of the entrance to the garden and garden shop, vegetables and colorful plants welcome visitors.

The garden shop is quite small, so we were only let inside in small numbers, but as expected, the wares included quaint succulents, pottery, seeds and garden art.  

The vegetable garden looked neat and lovingly tended.

I’d shopped at the online store before we went on our excellent shopping adventure, so I already owned some sweet Magnolia paraphernalia.  Here are just a few of the things I bought on our trip.

We had a delightful time, did some serious shopping and even stopped at a north Austin nursery on our way back into town.  Here’s what we learned about planning our next trip:  Tuesday afternoon is apparently the best time to visit.  Weekends and Mondays are always busy, and mornings bring in busloads of people.  So, if you’re planning to check it out, Tuesday mid-day may be your best bet.  Pack the patience, wear comfortable shoes and a hat and sunscreen, and enjoy!

Easter fun in the garden

Over the last few weeks we’ve caught glimpses of a sweet cottontail rabbit in our garden.  I was fortunate enough to have my camera and my new telephoto lens close at hand when the dogs alerted me to the bunny’s arrival a few days ago.  Barking furiously, they acted as though we were under attack!

When i looked outside the front door – there he was — Peter Cottontail — taking a peek at my garden.

I snuck out the garage to get a better shot without the front door glass.

He stood still for a while, and then decided that he’s better high tail it out of there!

He was in the back yard two nights ago, nibbling on grass, when I took Max out back on the leash.  He’s still healing from a cut on his leg, so he isn’t supposed to be sprinting across the yard.  It’s a darn good thing for that bunny, because he would have taken off after him like a shot!  As it was, he let us stand and watch him for a few minutes and then turned tail and slipped through the fence.  I’m crossing my fingers that he doesn’t find the vegetable garden!

I took a social media break and enjoyed a lovely day with my family yesterday, so here’s wishing you had a Happy Easter.

By | April 17th, 2017|rabbits, Sharing Nature's Garden, wildlife|0 Comments

How to prune sago palms after damaging winter…

Were your sago palms damaged by the two 21-degree days this winter? Here is my pruning advice for regaining a beautiful plant.
Sago palms are not really palms at all, they are cycads and date back to prehistoric times.  Their striking sculptural form makes them a dramatic landscape addition.
This winter was just a little too cold for some sagos – damaging some leaves on many plants around town.  But don’t give up yet, unless the center crown turned to mush, you can just prune off all of the leaves because fresh new ones really will emerge again. If there are only a few remaining undamaged leaves – they’re not necessary — just cut them off and the new ones will lower and fill in beautifully!
By | April 3rd, 2017|pruning, Sago, Sharing Nature's Garden|3 Comments

The spring garden…pots, pots and more pots!

Spring is usually pretty warm here in Central Texas, and this year is no exception.  A few spring bloomers actually had a shorter lifespan because it got hot pretty quickly, but it’s been delightful to see Jerusalem sage, salvias and black foot daisies in bloom.

I’ve spent the last week or so working on clean-up chores and some planting.  We had company for dinner outside last night and so Friday and Saturday were spent planting the pots on the back patio and scrubbing the oak pollen and blowing leaves. (It’s all back this morning – with a vengeance – but it’s a rite of passage and I know it won’t last forever.)

I had a great idea as I was trying to be efficient in crafting combinations for the outside pots — take a picture of each pot so I could see what was missing or what was already in a pot nearby so I could coordinate colors, textures, forms, etc.  Wow.  What a smart idea.  And then I forgot to do it and  I still found myself at the nursery buying annuals trying to remember and guess and buy enough.  I always think of it like Thanksgiving dinner – you have to finish with that perfect combo of food on your last forkful, or you need more potatoes, or gravy…  I need another filler, or another spiller…  If you’re addicted to pots like I am, you get it.

And, yes, every year — EVERY year — I say …less pots, less pots…and then plants just jump into my nursery cart.

They’re all so pretty and bright.

I love all the hot, tropical color combinations.

Of course the dogs have to help!

It looks so inviting.  I wanted to sit down, I really did, but there was pollen to blow!

This is my favorite spot.  I’ll get to sit there soon — maybe tomorrow morning with a quick cup of tea before the week hits in full force.

Itching and inspiration in the garden…

It’s that time of year when I’m just itching to get into the garden.  Our yo-yo weather has vascillated from 90-degree days to drenching and seemingly endless rain.  My spring flowers are performing as predicted and I’m enjoying the bright blooms of Japanese Quince, daffodils, and bletilla.

Japanese Quince

The ornamental cabbages in the giant pots by the pool have never looked better, but I’m already eager to get started on starting the summer container plants in there.  I’m suffering from that in-between indecision about the timing of out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new.

Bletilla Striata – Ground Orchid

And the wisteria is starting to bloom on the back fence.

Wisteria

A few days in the 80s and even 90 and the variegated shell ginger and esperanza, Tecoma stans, are growing by leaps and bounds.  It won’t be long before they will form a beautiful wall along the pool and cabana walkway.

 Variegated shell ginger and esperanza

Daffodils dot the landscape like pinpoints of summer sunbeams.

Daffodil

Daffodil

I’ve also been planting on these gorgeous days.  I’m eager to see the structure that these new Mexican tree ferns will add to this mostly shady spot.

Mexican tree fern

The promise of spring and foreshadowing of summer energize me to dig in the dirt now, while the days are warm and welcoming.  So many projects…so little time!

Spring has sprung in the garden…

It feels like spring here in Central Texas, with sunny, 85-degree days dotting our early February weeks.  That might sound  more like summer to gardeners far north of here, but it’s heavenly spring for us.

The Japanese Quince has been blooming since the cooler, late-fall days, drawing butterflies to the sole flowers in the winter garden.  I’ve had a few white cemetery irises bloom and the peach irises opened up this week.  When I checked early this morning, I did detect the faintest sweet scent in the peach ones.

A few daffodils have opened.  A labeling failure two years ago is to blame for my not knowing each variety, since I do collect new ones each year.  But I recognize the Tete-a-Tetes and they’re starting to open in different parts of the garden.

Then yesterday, the Mountain Laurels burst forth.  I’d been eyeing the buds for several days, and trying to catch a whiff of the grape Kool-Aid aroma they dust on the breeze.

I banned myself from Facebook this morning because it’s been eating my mornings.  So, what do I do then?  I take the scissors outside and look for blooms to bring indoors!  I tried to put a peach iris with this little posie, but it was too big and didn’t work with these delicate little flowers, so I put it in its own vase.

Now, spring has sprung in my kitchen and it smells delicious — just like grape Kool-Aid!