amistad salvia

Winter is planning season in the garden

We’ve had such a mild winter here in Central Texas – we haven’t even had an official freeze yet at our house.  A few plants have been affected by close-to-freezing temps.  (Though some other gardnerers in cooler spots around the city have had one or two brief dips to or just below 32.)

It even hit 88 degrees last weekend, and I welcomed it complete with shorts, sunscreen, big hat and a few much-needed breaks inside to avoid what truly felt like heat stroke.  It was January, for goodness sake!

I’d been sketching out a few ideas for changing beds — vowing to treat my own garden with the same care that I give to design clients.  Than means  I need to tame some overgrown plants, move some others to better locations and add in some more evergreen color to create a cohesive design.

The bed in front of the garage did well last year, but I’d neglected to prune back the pale pavonia right in front of the window.  Last fall I moved the purple-blooming salvia ‘Amistad’ in front of the pavonia – they were small and leggy in their previous spot.  Well, they REALLY liked this bed – so much that they grew even bigger than the pavonias behind them.  Gorgeous, but unruly and completely out of scale.  Pavonias: chop.  Salvia ‘Amistad:’ move.  Dianella: add.

They looked beautiful against the Senorita Rosalita cleome I planted in front of them, but they soon grew OVER the cleomes and the yarrow and tried to accost guest walking down the sidewalk!  They will now look beautiful in the bed at the corner of the house now — I hope!


After a trip to the candy store — well, really, Vivero Growers — I found some beautiful new plants to complete my design.  I added in a third variegated dianella and put in several Loropetalum ‘cabernet’  to provide more evergreen color in the bed.  I left one ‘Amistad’ in between the pavonias and I promise I will keep it pruned down just a bit.

A stunning Japanese maple, Acer palatum var. dissectum ‘Tamukeyama,’ went in toward the house, where an ‘Edward Goucher’ abelia came out.  To echo the burgundy colors, I added a few more Ajuga ‘black scallop’ around the dianella.  The maple has deep red bark and delicate weeping branches.  The leaves are very fine.  I can’t wait to see it bud out.  It will only get early morning sun in this spot and will be protected by the house.


The deciduous tree in front of the new maple came out – it’s a Caesalpinia gillesii, or often called by one of its common names, Yellow Bird of Paradise.  It needed a drier bed – so I relocated it across the driveway to a sunnier spot with tougher conditions.

And here you see my favorite shovel — I bought it at Red Barn and it has a nice foothold for pushing down on and the handle makes it easier to get some oomph into your motion!

I haven’t re-mulched after adding in some Geo Growers thunder dirt to the bed — I’m still debating whether or not I want to plant some seeds in here in a few carefully selected spots.

Because I’m a plant collector, I don’t always follow my own design rules (or even loose guidelines) if I’ve found some wonderful new plant that HAS to get squeezed in somewhere.  I also suffer from the guilt of getting rid of plants that aren’t working.  Thank goodness I know so many other gardeners and garden bloggers who might have the perfect spot for things.  BTW – Austin garden bloggers, I still have that nice 5 gallon-sized rock rose that came out of this been and needs a home – it’s about 2-1/2 – feet tall, but the deer keep eating it outside of the fence and I don’t have a place for it inside of the fence…first comment, first come and get it!

What are you sketching for your spring garden?

El Nino is quenching the garden’s thirst…

Our devastating drought has altered the state of our gardens here in Central Texas and it’s changed our mindset, too.

We’re not used to rain.  Not a little rain, not a lot of rain. We’ve had so much rain here this month that we don’t know what to do with it. 

There’s so much green in my garden that I have to wear shades to walk through it.  My plants would now like a little sun to shine as well, but they’ve never been quite so lush.

 A ribbon of catmint, Mexican feather grass and lamb’s ears lines the front of this Southwest cottage-style bed.

 The lamb’s ears make a dramatic statement when they are all standing at attention in full bloom.

 The black and blue salvia and lingering bluebonnets echo the blue in the large ceramic pot in the front bed.

Soft and spiky plants share this bed, providing sculptural interest and contrasting textures.  Soon the color of Mexican limelight salvia and orange tecoma stans will add to this palette.

Beautiful blooms are vying for my attention in the cutting garden – ready to come join me in the house!

Ditch lilies, Klondike cosmos, larkspur, shasta daisies, purple coneflowers and clematis are all showing off in the cutting bed.

This morning, I picked this bouquet for my mom and dad, who are celebrating their wedding anniversary today.  But tornado warnings and unrelenting thunderstorms kept me home this afternoon and they had to enjoy them via a photo.  So, now we can all enjoy them.

New spring plantings are growing and the caladiums are shooting up out of the ground as fast as I can count them.

I’m smitten with the Mexican bird of paradise, Caesalpinia Mexicana, and its exotic and wispy blooms.

The brilliant purple flags of these Amistad salvia provide a backdrop for senorita Rosalita cleome, dianthus and yarrow.
It’s delightful to walk through the garden with the grass squishing under your clogs, appreciating the much-needed rain.

Bloom Day showcases late summer blooms in the garden…

Even though the thermometer hit 97 today, summer is beginning to wane here in Central Texas for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  Carol of May Dreams Gardens invites us to share what’s blooming in our gardens on the 15th of each month, so here’s a stroll through my landscape.

Some of the heat-loving perennials are on their second set of blooms this summer.  Plants like lantana, salvia, sage, are putting on a dog days show while the sun is still high in the sky.

I recently made a return trip to the Arbor Gate Nursery in Tomball to collect some of their wonderful garden art.  I came home with two ceramic fish and two blue/green glass ribbons to add to the one I bought on my original visit. Now I need to plant just the right things to create an appropriate vignette for them to “swim” around in.  But I had to put them in the garden somewhere until then, so here they are.

I also ordered some clever pieces online — these three faucet flowers are guaranteed to be ever-blooming varieties!

 The seem to feel right at home with the blooming Turk’s cap.

These monstrous salvias that are dwarfing the fully mature bright edge yucca are Amistad salvias that I transplanted last fall after they were under performing in another spot with too much sun. Here they get morning sun and evening sun and they seem to be thrilled with the switch.  Had I known they would get THAT happy, I’d have found them a spot further back in the bed!

One little surviving bat-faced cuphea.  I planted them amongst many other things that are deer resistant, hoping to hide them.  But alas, the deer are smarter than I am, and I almost never get to see an actual bloom before it becomes a snack.

This curve around the bend of the front bed is lined with society garlic – something the deer never eat!

These Salvia leucantha, or Mexican bush sage, love the hot, dry sun of late summer here in Central Texas.

 The society garlic border confetti lantana and one of my bird baths.

A few new additions to the front walkway bed this year, the foxtail ferns and zinnias have done well.  But the rock rose in the upper left corner has been rudely stripped of its pretty pink blooms by you-know-who.

The front bed, or the Hideous Bed, as we call it, is definitely not hideous.  These plants thrive in hot, dry conditions so they can take it here.  But last weekend’s rain did help them with an extra boost. Here you see thryallis, santolina, a variegated yucca and homestead verbena.

And a different angle that also includes damianita and a salvia greggii.

To the right of these photos is a swath of blackfoot daisies — they’re natives that grow in rocky outcroppings of the Hill Country.

Across the drive is another dry bed that enjoys a little shade.  Here is new gold lantana, salvia greggii, a sago palm, and in the pot — a variegated false agave.

Stunning liatris is a riot of lavender color. 

Large pots in the back by the pool have orange narrow-leaf zinnias and potato vine.

 …And homestead verbena.

The Duranta erecta (lavender color) is full of blooms – below – and fruit — above.  Though all parts of the plant are poisonous, so don’t be tempted to eat the fruit.

 I have 3 different colors of Duranta – this one, the deep purple ‘sapphire showers’ and a white one.

This pitcher sage came from a 4′ pot I bought at the semi-annual Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center sale.

Another shot of the Amistad salvias on steroids.

 One of my Turk’s caps — ‘Pam’s pink.’

 Some pots on the back patio that I rolled out into the rain for a drink.

Even though they are delicate and hard to see, I love adding Euphorbia ‘diamond frost’ into pots for filler.

And again, a supremely hardy lantana – cherry bandana — perky all the time.

Happy garden bloggers bloom day.  What’s blooming in your garden?