The yucca fields of Barton Springs Nursery Wholesale

Do you ever wonder where your nursery plants are grown? In the case of Barton Springs Nursery, beloved by local gardeners for their selection of native plants in smaller, less-expensive pot sizes, they grow some of their own stock at “El Rancho,” their 20-acre wholesale farm in East Austin. Growing their own is, of course, how they’re able to keep their retail prices lower than some of their competitors, but the wholesale location also caters to designers and landscapers who need bigger, field-grown plants for their clientele.

BSN Wholesale isn’t open for retail sales, but as a designer and friend of BSN I was recently given the OK to visit. I stopped by one afternoon to look at their selection of beaked yucca (Y. rostrata) and was impressed to see large fields of both beaked and Spanish bayonet yuccas in all stages of growth.

Rows of rows of baby Yucca rostrata are grown high on mounded soil, for drainage.

Larger specimens are backed by tall, trunking Spanish bayonet in full bloom.

I hopped in a rugged, golf-cart-sized vehicle driven by manager Max Hanes, and he took me into the fields for a closer look. Aside from the yuccas, there were also some large agaves and lots of palms (not pictured).

The yuccas are sold by the foot, and since these are slow-growing plants, each foot adds quite a lot to the price. Max cruised up and down the rows of Yucca rostrata, letting me look them over.

At last I spotted a pretty, blue-green one at the size I could afford. Max hopped out to tag it for me and said it would be dug up in a few days, the root ball wrapped in burlap, and be ready for my landscaper to pick up on Monday. Here he is posing with my yucca. Thanks for all your help, Max!

After paying and pausing to pet the ranch dogs, I headed out the long drive, past bristly cholla and fiery globemallow in full bloom.

And here’s my prize all planted up in its new home! Literally a prize, as I spent my winnings from the Better Homes and Gardens Blogger Awards on this baby — ha! You knew that money was going straight to a nursery, right?

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Foliage Follow-Up: Colorful new pots and plants for spring

Yesterday was one of those perfect days for working in the garden all day long. And that’s exactly what I did, including potting up this beautiful new purple pot with the twistiest paleleaf yucca (Y. pallida) I’ve ever seen. The leaves look like ribbons curled with scissors, don’t they? A ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense), which picks up the purple, will eventually spread and spill over the edge, or so I hope. The heart stones were given to me many years ago by my husband’s sweet grandmother.

An old concrete pedestal gives the pot a lift and a little more oomph in the lower garden. I chose the purple pot to complement the dusky purple leaves of an existing ‘Sizzling Pink’ Chinese fringeflower (Loropetalum chinense). That’s a ‘Cream de Mint’ pittosporum on the left, a cute little shrub for shade.

A wider view shows the newly replanted culvert-pipe planter too. The pipe planter used to hold a ‘Margaritaville’ yucca, but the yucca was looking ratty after a rough move during my stucco wall construction.

Its replacement is one of my favorite agaves for shade: squid agave (A. bracteosa), with wavy, green leaves like tentacles. I underplanted it with ghost plant too.

It’s pretty from every direction, especially with the loropetalum’s fading pink blooms visible in the background.

And now for something different! I recently spray-painted my metal phormium (?) silver because, why not? When it was green it often passed for real, at least in photos. But real isn’t really the point. It’s plant art, and I thought it would be fun to make a focal point out of it. Now it’s what you see as you walk down the steps into the lower garden, and I’ve placed it in a semicircle of ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon hollies, which I hope will eventually form a curved green wall around it, like ta-da!

Meanwhile, Moby the ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia) and its escorts are looking particularly fine, luxuriating in the spring sunshine.

And it’s finally warmed up enough for me to put my new Pilocereus azureus outdoors. You may remember that Reuben of Rancho Reubidoux recently shared this cutting with me. That big nail is an improvised plant stake, keeping it from leaning over until it grows a root system. A golden barrel cactus keeps it company for now.

So what sort of foliage is making you happy in your March garden? Please join me for Foliage Follow-Up, giving foliage plants their due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I really appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves!

I’d love to have your vote in the Better Homes and Gardens 2015 Blogger Awards. Skip through to the Gardening category, select Digging, and then skip to the last page for your vote to be counted. You can vote as much as you like. Thanks for your support!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Evergreens, color, and hardscape carry garden through winter into spring

A recent conversation on Linda Lehmusvirta‘s Facebook page got a few Austin gardeners talking about winter interest. Tracie, a local gardener, wrote that her mostly native garden looks great spring through fall but is “asleep” in winter, and she wanted ideas. Lori at The Gardener of Good and Evil responded by posting year-round views of her Blue Border, showing how evergreens sustain her garden.

I’m joining in by sharing current pictures of my garden, in all its patchy, cut-back, late-winter-on-the-cusp-of-spring glory. While winter is not high season in mine or any garden, I find that three elements keep a garden interesting post-freeze: evergreen plants; color on pots, furnishings, and structures; and defined hardscaping like paths, patios, and walls.

All three are put to use in the pond garden pictured above. ‘Winter Gem’ boxwoods, ‘Color Guard’ yuccas, squid agaves (A. bracteosa), evergreen sumac (Rhus virens), and Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) keep the garden in green (and gold) all winter. Blue paint on the shed door, a blue pot fountain, and strongly defined hardscaping continue to attract and lead the eye when flowers have faded away.

At the other end of the garden, which slopes dramatically, retaining walls give structure and line, and a cold-hardy agave and yucca collection is evergreen (and gold and blue-gray) all year. ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia) anchors the grouping. A bottle tree and blue pots add more color to brighten dreary days.

‘Blue Elf’ aloe is not only evergreen but blooms in late winter/early spring.

In the narrow raised bed behind the house, which I’ve begun to think of as my golden garden, several variegated evergreens keep it “awake” in winter: ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo, ‘Bright Edge’ yucca, and ‘Color Guard’ yucca (in the blue pot). In the stock tank, Artemisia ‘Oriental Limelight’ adds to the show in winter and spring, before dying back in our hot, humid summer. In summer, Duranta ‘Sapphire Showers’ will return.

More evergreens hold the winter garden together in the east side path from the front garden to the back: Arizona cypress ‘Blue Ice’ (blue-green tree at left), bamboo muhly grass (at left), gopher plant (in bloom on both sides of the path), ‘Bright Edge’ yucca, ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon holly (columnar tree at right), ‘Green Goblet’ agave, Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Skies’, and ‘Winter Gem’ boxwood.

Moving into the front garden, Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) offers lush winter greenery. The Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) lawn behind it gets a little yellow but mostly remains green. Low retaining walls add a strong line of hardscape.

Wide-leaf giant hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera ssp. chiangii), evergreen with interesting white filaments along the leaf margins, tolerates part shade with ease. I need more groundcovers here though. I tried Jewels of Opar one spring, but the deer ate it. The dormant (maybe dead) plant at right is ‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia, which I’ll replant if it doesn’t come back. It’s only borderline hardy here but blooms beautifully spring through fall in dappled shade, and deer ignore it.

Another shot of the Berkeley sedge lawn, which is studded with evergreen ‘Margaritaville’ yuccas. A broad decomposed-granite path through the front garden leads to the back gate. Its curving line directs the eye and defines the surrounding beds. I’ve decided to stain the lattice fence a dark gray-green, which will, I hope, make the plants in front of it pop a little more.

Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) and paleleaf yucca (Y. pallida), both evergreen, take over on the sunnier side of the garden.

‘Green Goblet’ agave, a curved line of ‘Teresa’ autumn sage (Salvia greggii), and groundcovering wooly stemodia (Stemodia lanata) keep things green all winter in the raised bed near the driveway. The stemodia can get a little ratty by winter’s end, but it greens up quickly in spring.

How about the streetside view? This is actually my neighbor’s garden, which I planted for her. A ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave will be the centerpiece of this bed as it grows. Cut-back autumn sage is still green, though not showy yet, and Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa), red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), and Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) offer year-round color and texture.

Panning right, my own streetside garden is at its quietest, recently shorn of last season’s growth and awaiting spring. Possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua) — caged against deer — is our native deciduous holly. It makes up for losing its leaves with brilliant red berries, which the birds have mostly devoured. In front are autumn sage, catmint, Mexican feathergrass, ‘Pink Flamingos’ muhly grass, and softleaf yucca (Y. recurvifolia) — a mix of evergreens, flowering perennials and sub-shrubs, and grasses selected for deer resistance.

Panning right some more, softleaf yucca, ‘Margaritaville’ yuccas, sedge lawn, and foxtail ferns (Asparagus meyeri) in pots add plenty of winter greenery. The dead grass in the foreground is purple fountain grass, which I replace every spring for its rich, purple foliage.

On the west side of the circular driveway is a more colorful scene thanks to a sprinkling of ‘Color Guard’ yuccas. Gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida), currently in full bloom, echoes their golden stripes. Other evergreens like rosemary, spineless prickly pear (Opuntia), and softleaf yucca keep things green until flowering vitex, copper canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii), and majestic sage (Salvia guaranitica) return in spring.

So how do you achieve winter interest in your garden? Or is that something you are working toward?

I’d love to have your vote in the Better Homes and Gardens 2015 Blogger Awards. Skip through to the Gardening category, select Digging, and then skip to the last page for your vote to be counted. You can vote as much as you like. Thanks for your support!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.