Fall in the air has oxblood lilies popping up


Finally! An honest-to-goodness cool front has pushed the awful heat out, and we’re enjoying some rain and 70-something temperatures here in Austin. In response, the oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida), which were tentatively pushing up last week, have burst joyously into bloom. I like their rich red trumpets with golden stamens against yellow-striped ‘Bright Edge’ yucca (Yucca filamentosa ‘Bright Edge’).


I’ve moved my Austin sign several times over the years, most recently in front of the blue stucco wall by the pool, where it’s a perfect fit. My metalworking friend Bob Pool at Gardening at Draco made a stand for it, with legs that press into the ground, so I didn’t have to put holes in the stucco to hang it.


Other changes include the sad decline of my treasured Queen Victoria agave (Agave victoriae-reginae), which I had even longer than Moby, my recently expired whale’s tongue agave. After all the rain last year, her lower leaves succumbed to rot, and moving her to a pot with extra-sharp drainage couldn’t save her.


So I pulled her out and repotted the green pot with a ‘Monterrey Frost’ squid agave (A. bracteosa ‘Monterrey Frost’), which had outgrown its old pot. Isn’t it gorgeous here? The variegated squid agave, which is much less common than the regular (but also lovely) squid agave, gets a lot of admiration whenever I have gardening friends over. It occasionally produces pups, which I’ve shared, keeping just one for myself as insurance. If you’re in lust yourself, I believe I purchased it from Plant Delights, although it’s currently out of stock. Other online retailers may have it, though, so search around.


In the side yard on the opposite side of the house from the one I wrote about yesterday, fall has worked its magic. Native inland sea oats grass (Chasmanthium latifolium) is bent under the weight of toasty-brown oats, contrasting with billowy (spring-blooming) bamboo muhly grass (Muhlenbergia dumosa) on the right. Sparkling in the distance are the hibiscus-like flowers of Brazilian beauty pale pavonia (Pavonia hastata).


Walking up the path is now a meadowy experience, with an abundance of grasses and pavonia arching over. Low-growing native Gregg’s mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) is starting to bloom too, so I expect clouds of butterflies when the sun comes out again. I need to move that burgundy glazed orb — a cracked freebie from The Great Outdoors several years ago — next to the pale pavonia.


The color exactly matches that wine-colored eye!

Has fall begun transforming your garden?

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Austinites and native-plant shoppers, I’ll be at the member’s day Fall Plant Sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 14, and I hope to see you there! I’ll be signing books between 1 and 3 pm in the Wild Ideas gift shop. If you’re not a member, of course you can still come on out and see the gardens and stop in at Wild Ideas. Hope to see you there!

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets are on sale at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Out and about in Austin nurseries and parks


Lately I’m taking as many garden photos with my phone as with my “real” camera, and these often get posted to my Instagram. But not all of them, and sometimes I like to share them on my blog too. So here’s some cool stuff I spotted last week at my favorite local nurseries, Lady Bird Lake, and — why not? — even a medical center’s parking lot.

Pictured above, from said medical center’s parking lot, is one of my favorite scenes from the week: a silver-green agave with striking banding and leaf imprints, rising star-shaped from a mat of silver ponyfoot. Simple and beautiful.


At the same center (this is somewhere off Hwy. 620), island beds of Knock Out roses and Mexican feathergrass are anchored by pruned-up, spiky-headed Yucca rostrata.


Now let’s visit some of Austin’s best nurseries, starting with Barton Springs Nursery. Every year I love to catch their enormous American beautyberry in full berry, with cobalt-blue pots adding a harmonizing hue.


This plant is probably 10 feet across. Here’s a look at the other side. If you’re not growing American beautyberry, why not?


Inside BSN’s gift shop, I spotted these fun saguaro vases and ring holders. I resisted the camp on my first visit, but I came back a couple days later, with my daughter in tow, and when she went gaga for them too I snagged the powder-blue saguaro on the left.


A herd of dinosaurs — colorfully painted plastic toys with cut-out holes planted with succulents — roved near the registers. My sister-in-law got me a dino planter for Christmas last year — the blue brachiosaurus — and it brightens my home-office windowsill.


Maybe I need a set.


Up in Cedar Park, I stopped in at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery for a few things and paused to admire this new water feature with tough-as-nails blackfoot daisy and some type of succulent (a cold-tender euphorbia, maybe?) planted alongside it.


Back down to South Austin for a morning visit to The Natural Gardener, where I spotted this furled flower almost ready to open.


And in the gift shop, my books — one of each — were on the bookshelf. I know it’s not easy for nurseries to stock books in this era of Amazon and in conditions where books might get soiled (i.e., unsellable), so I really appreciate those like The Natural Gardener that make the effort. After all, not every local gardener knows the best books for Texas gardening, and nurseries can help by showcasing regionally appropriate titles, or even by keeping a suggested reading list on their website. A website reading list need not be purely regional, of course; it can be staff favorites for all kinds of popular gardening topics! By the way, here’s my own suggested reading list.


Over to Lady Bird Lake’s hike-and-bike trail, where I admired a copper-colored dragonfly hanging out near the water.


I looked at him, and he looked at me with those big bug eyes.


I also saw lots of bald cypress and native palmettos along the lakeshore.


Swans, ducks, and turtles too. They all thought I might have some food and swam right over. Sorry, guys!


And off they went into the setting sun.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Austinites and native-plant shoppers, I’ll be at the member’s day Fall Plant Sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 14, and I hope to see you there! I’ll be signing books between 1 and 3 pm in the Wild Ideas gift shop. If you’re not a member, of course you can still come on out and see the gardens and stop in at Wild Ideas. Hope to see you there!

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets are on sale at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Zinging through the end of summer


Although I was gone for half of it, which no doubt helped, August was one of the most pleasant Augusts I’ve experienced since moving to Austin 22 years ago. It just hasn’t been all that hot (in the low to mid-90s F, and even some days in the upper 80s), with clouds that keep the Death Star at bay and a good deal of rain to boot.

What gives?? I don’t know, but I like it! Austin is lush and green right now. Take this evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata), for example.


It’s a beauty in late summer. I spotted this one outside a restaurant in South Austin, but I was first introduced to the vine at Philip’s East Side Patch. It’s not really a wisteria, nor is it invasive like Chinese wisteria, although, according to Philip, it can be a jungly beast. I wish I had a sunny fence in need of a little color.


At home in my own garden, I’m so glad I didn’t miss the short-lived flowering of the pond crinum while I was away on vacation.


The burgundy-chocolatey leaves are wonderful enough. Add raspberry-colored flowers and you have perfection. Well, almost. I did have to stake them to keep them from face-planting in the pond. Local readers, if you’re curious, I found this plant at Hill Country Water Gardens in Cedar Park. It must be protected from our occasional hard freezes, which I do by dropping it temporarily to the bottom of the pond.


Indoors, I’m loving ‘Moonshine’ snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’), a freebie from the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling. One of the sponsors, Costa Farms, gave away these and other “Plants of Steel.” It’s perfect for my Rick Van Dyke snake pot, which I bought at Austin’s Cactus & Succulent Society Show one year.

Speaking of which, the Cactus & Succulent Show is happening this weekend, and you’ll find Rick Van Dyke selling his pots, among other vendors, plus lots of cool succulents and cacti.


I seem to have a thing for pots that look like they’re alive. Here’s one of my new tentacle pots — I tend to call them squid pots — with a squiddy tillandsia popped in it for summer.


A rusty wall planter holds ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense), another succulent (can’t remember the name), and Coahuila lace cactus (Echinocereus pectinatus var. coahuila). And a tiny chair from Potted.


A mass planting of paleleaf yucca (Y. pallida) is looking mighty fine under the live oaks. I was inspired to plant a grid of these after seeing something similar in designer Tait Moring’s garden. Native groundcover woolly stemodia (Stemodia lanata) fills in around the yuccas.


In the same bed, mullein’s fuzzy leaves are so pettable.


In the streetside bed, autumn-herald garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) is blooming. Its white flower clusters stand out against deep-purple ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum, a trial plant Proven Winners sent me last year. The lavender blossoms of Mexican oregano (Poliomintha longiflora) are a paler echo of the ‘Vertigo’ grass.


Garlic chives and ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum


And a closeup of the garlic chives, which bees adore. I haven’t seen many bees lately, though, and I hope it’s not because neighbors have been spraying for mosquitoes (a known bee killer).


In Moby news, my whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia) that finished flowering months ago has started producing bulbils — baby clones of the mother plant — at the top of the bloom spike. How cool is that! I’ll wait a little longer to make sure they’re viable before cutting down the bloom stalk, which is as big as a sapling tree and has started to lean. No doubt Moby will give up the ghost soon, after this final burst of reproductive energy.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Austin Cactus & Succulent Society’s Fall Show & Sale is this weekend at Zilker Botanical Garden, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go early for best selection or later for better deals!

South Texans, come see me at the 2nd annual Planta Nativa festival in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday, October 22. I’ll be delivering the keynote talk, “Local Heroes: Designing with Native Plants for Water-Saving Gardens,” that evening. Tickets go on sale soon at Quinta Mazatlan. I hope to see you there!

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Follow