Bluebonnets already a-blue-m at the Wildflower Center

Well, this is a surprise! Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) ordinarily bloom in April, but a bonny patch was abloom yesterday in the family garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Don’t go running over for your photo op with the kids. Only about 3 plants are blooming this early. But I hope it’s a preview of a good wildflower season to come.

Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) was in full flower as well — not that unusual for our mild-winter climate. The one in my back garden is blooming too, although not as prolifically.

Mmmm, that sweet scent.

Possumhaw hollies (Ilex decidua) are at their reddest berry-liciousness right now too.

Throughout the gardens, the berries are a-blazing, and the birds are taking notice.

I enjoyed watching cedar waxwings, tufted titmice, mockingbirds, and more feasting on the berries yesterday and will share pictures soon.

I’d been meaning to get down to the Wildflower Center (all the way across town) all day but didn’t arrive until around 4 pm. Happily, the slanting sunlight of late afternoon made for better picture taking. See, Mom, procrastination does pay!

Yuccas and nolina amid limestone boulders — very Austin.

Back in the sunny family garden, big muhly grasses (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri) are looking very fine, with tawny upright seedheads.

The ghostly branches of Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana) seem to shine brightly in late winter, once the semi-evergreen leaves drop.

Texas persimmon and Lindheimer’s muhly, a drought-tolerant, sun-loving combo

The buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides) play lawn was getting some use yesterday. Bronze sculptures of native wildlife appear throughout the family garden, making a fun “safari” for children.


Upcoming Events and News

I’m on Central Texas Gardener on KLRU this Saturday at noon and 4 pm and again on Sunday at 9 am. Consult the schedule below to see if it’s airing in your city, or watch online (my segment starts at the 9-minute mark).

Look for me on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

Hold the Hose! Join me for my kick-off garden talk for my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, on February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have books available for purchase and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

Have you watched my zippy new book trailer?

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

Modern porch decor on Tribeza’s Interiors Tour

I’ve been on garden tours, and I’ve been on home architecture tours, but I’d never been on an interiors tour until last Saturday. My friend Cat of The Whimsical Gardener and I toured seven homes on Tribeza’s Interiors Tour, and I swooned over all the bold wallpaper, cozy black bedrooms, and modern lighting.

Being garden geeks, at each house we peeked out the windows at the back yards, hoping to see fabulous gardens to go with the beautiful interiors. While nicely landscaped, not one had a gardener’s garden — and yet there were some wonderful gardeny touches on designer Katie Kime‘s screened porch, like these pastel, geometric hanging pots filled with succulent sprigs.

They look like something Los Angeles garden designer Dustin Gimbel would create from cast concrete.

Kime’s porch also had this: a fabulous, oversized moss mosaic, framed under glass like a work of art. I saw it as a dried-plant alternative to trendy — and high-maintenance — vertical gardens.

A closer look. How would you make this? By gluing mosses and other dried plants to some sort of backer board? What would you use that wouldn’t warp outside or be too heavy?

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

Sunshine and succulents for January Foliage Follow-Up

I wait all summer for winter days like these. China-blue skies. Warm sunshine on my face, the Death Star tame and friendly. A garden as yet untouched by a freeze — which is unusual, actually. We would normally have had several overnight freezes by mid-January, but so far central Austin remains unscathed.

Which means that all kinds of foliage look pretty good. Of course, Moby, my whale’s tongue agave (Agave ovatifolia), looks handsome all year long.

So does ‘Quadricolor’ agave, the green-and-gold agave in the background, in front of Moby. Surprisingly, one of the soap aloes (Aloe maculata) threw up a bloom spike late in the fall and is nursing it along, despite cool days and several near-freezing nights.

Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) isn’t blooming, but it’s still green. Grassy variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’) is enjoying this warm winter.

I couldn’t resist snapping a few pics of Cosmo, sitting sphinx-like on the wall. That’s more flax lily and ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia behind him.


What a handsome boy!

I can’t believe forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis) is still blooming this late in the season. Its spade-shaped leaves have a raspy, cat’s tongue texture.

I’m enjoying this combo of potted succulents, ‘Cream de Mint’ pittosporum, and ‘Sizzling Pink’ loropetalum. Paleleaf yucca (Yucca pallida) shines in the purple pot, along with a sprig of cold-hardy ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense). In the culvert pipe, a shade-tolerant squid agave (Agave bracteosa) is still small but will one day sprawl nicely over the edges. More ghost plant crowds around the edges.

I’ve always liked this sun person ornament, partly because its sunburst-shaped head reminds me of an agave’s form. A purple-leaved ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave is partly visible in the foreground. A baby winecup (Callirhoe involucrata), ‘Bloodspot’ mangave, and ‘Frazzle Dazzle’ dyckia line up behind it.

Let’s finish the foliage tour with the cinderblock succulent wall (click for the how-to) on the upper patio.

Sans freeze, the succulents are all looking really good.

I think the cool weather suits them, so long as it doesn’t get too cold.

One last view, with Moby looming in the background.

This is my January post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I’d 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 © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.