Yellow fever on a cold day


February is our squirreliest month, springlike one minute, cold and gray the next. We Texas gardeners are longing for spring but feeling a sense of urgency to get the garden prepped before summer’s heat returns. Despite a long stretch of dreary cold, which has put on hold several painting and hardscaping projects I need to get done, I really can’t complain when my streetside garden is blazing yellow and gold. Yup, the gophers are blooming!


As winter turns to spring, gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida), paired with green-and-gold ‘Color Guard’ yucca, warms even the coldest heart, firing up acid-yellow blooms skirted with chartreuse bracts.


Follow the yellow brick bloom road, they cry. Spring is on the way.

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

Plant romance at Redenta’s Garden and other Dallas shops


I made a Dallas dash — a day trip from Austin to Dallas (3 hours each way) — last Saturday to visit my son at college. My mom and daughter joined me, and we hit a few unique Big D shops just before and after lunch, knowing that College Boy wouldn’t emerge from his man cave until later. I love road trips. Do you?


We started at Big Mango Trading Company, an Indonesian import shop specializing in garden sculpture and furniture. I’d heard about it from the owners of the fabulous Blue Lotus Garden (pictured here), and it was fun to explore and imagine creating a tropical paradise of our own. The helpful guy working there sent us around the corner to a couple of funky home/design shops afterward, including the weirdly fascinating Scout.


Next we hit Wisteria, a global home-decor store better known outside of Dallas for its catalog. I went verdigris crazy and bought two glazed vases and a bronze deer, all discounted, for my dining room console, under the agave prints by Carolyn Schmitz. The three green-glazed seedpods to the left of the deer…


…came from Redenta’s Garden, a favorite Dallas garden shop with a modern edge, native plants, and a good succulent and agave selection. The succulent heart pictured at top is from Redenta’s, as are these cool tillandsias and stem-like holders for displaying them.


Redenta’s has two locations: a more suburban nursery in Arlington and this urban boutique nursery in Dallas, whose rusty steel planters filled with agaves, yuccas, and native wildflowers along busy Skillman Street will have you fighting for a parking space. Pictured here, along with my shadow-puppet hands, are a big, beautiful ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia) and cheery four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa).


After all that nursery and home-decor goodness, we headed over to UT Dallas, where Mom got the campus tour and a peek into a suspiciously surprisingly neat dorm suite occupied by three young men. Dinner at Chuy’s (College Boy was homesick for his favorite Tex-Mex) and then a round of putt-putt golf, at a course adorned with a safari’s worth of African beasties, made for a perfect end to the day. Of course the return drive still awaited, but what a fun Dallas dash it was.

How about you? Have you made any fun day trips lately?

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

If I’d gnome you were coming: February Foliage Follow-Up


Can it already be mid-February and time for Foliage Follow-Up? Here in Austin, winter may yet drop in for a surprise visit, but spring has already stepped inside and hung up her coat and hat. She’ll be putting her feet up on the ottoman soon. I saw a Mexican plum in full bloom today, as well as a row of yellow daffodils. Primrose jasmine is flowering too.

But Bloom Day was yesterday. Today we’re giving foliage special recognition. As is so often the case in my garden, succulents are stealing the show. The little gnome is surrounded by ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense), Sedum acre ‘Elegans’, and coppertone stonecrop (Sedum nussbaumerianum). All three make it through our winters with only a sheet for protection. In the red pot is a Yucca desmetiana ‘Blue Boy’, which I got at Annie’s Annuals a couple years ago. In winter it regains the purple coloring I bought it for (it turns green during our hot summers).


In the cinderblock wall planter, the succulents have held on through winter very well — so far. After last year’s deep freeze, I had to replace many of them, but in mild winters most survive. One is even blooming.

Every time I show the cinderblock wall, people email to ask how the soil stays in the pockets, so here’s my wall-making tutorial. All mystery is revealed there!


‘Blue Elf’ aloe’s blue-green, spear-like leaves are always attractive. As a bonus, at this time of year it sends up asparagus-like bloom stalks, whose tubular orange flowers are just beginning to open. This aloe benefits from a heat-holding wall in winter, and I throw a sheet over it when a hard freeze is expected. Sometimes its flowers are killed by a late freeze, but most years it gives a good show.


So what sort of foliage is making you happy in your February 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!

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