Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can someone please hybridize a white Tecoma Stans?

Lovely border with Yellow Bells, not my own.
Pam's post over at Digging about the pink variety of the standard flame-red Turk's Cap, reminded me that what I would dearly love is a cultivar of Tecoma Stans that is snowy white. I can't find any such thing on the internet and have not seen one in the nurseries. But I can dream and if you are a plant developer, please hear my plea.
Yellow Bells are blooming PROFUSELY in this 100+ degree heat all over town. But I can't get behind that color no matter how I try. I'd even settle for pale yellow or cream.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Goodbye Dolly!

One half inch of rain in the gauge when I came home today. It ain't great, but it ain't bad.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Green Fees

There’s been a lot of press in Austin lately about the fate of Muny, a golf course located adjacent to Lady Bird Lake on land owned by the UT but leased to the city. Muny is an old course with short distances (hence walkable, vs. requiring a golf cart) and much favored by beginners and low-key golfers who enjoy its ramshackle charm. Its proximity to water and downtown have caught the attention of developers who want to put the course on steroids and create a different kind of course: private, longer holes, water features, etc. A battle is ensuing between the two camps.

No one has suggested another possibility—that the land become a park for all Austinites. As pleasant as Muny is, do we really need a golf course at all? The number of people who play golf is in steep decline and it’s easy to see why. Golf is a sport that requires a lot of time—leisure time. Its popularity was fueled my father’s generation, a cohort of men who retired with time and money at 65 and played golf every day. This generation is dying off and with it, legions of golfers. Baby boomers don’t have that much time. They notoriously work 24/7 and on weekends, are more involved with childcare and family than my father and his contemporaries were. Boomers aren’t likely to retire at 65, and will have less income to spend on green fees when they do. Most of the remaining golfers are the leisured wealthy. So why not consider making Muny a park?

Grassy swards are also the subject of an article in this week’s New Yorker (the one that got all the attention for its Obama cover). Elizabeth Kolbert provides a concise history of our American obsession with front lawns. She states that the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that a THIRD of all residential water use in the U.S. on landscaping.

Guilty as charged. That would me, watering my dead lawn.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Daughter Rachel and I traveled west this past weekend eating chicken-fried steak in small towns for a work-related assignment and stayed at a little place on Cypress Creek in Comfort. We drank a couple of Sharkfins at the Hen House where a Toby Keith wannabe was playing and then staggered back to our place and swam in the moonlight while two different kinds of frogs were singing (and sounding a lot better than the country wannabe).

These canna are screening an a/c. They don't seem to be bothered by the vented hot air. I'm not sure what happens in winter; maybe there's a temporary planting. But it's a nice way to cover up The Box. Rachel and I were taken by the cellar door and its "Auntie Em! Auntie Em" evocation.

The gardens here had the usual hardy perennials, mixed with tomatoes. By the way, the transient tomatoes someone dumped on me are still alive but are in complete blossom-drop mode. Which leaves unbroken my lifetime record of utter-and-complete tomato crop failure.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Helter Swelter

I won't be posting a bloom day this month; there's really nothing worth remarking upon. At this point in the summer, foliage is the name of the game and finding respite in the deep meditative greens of the shadelovers, liriopes, aspidistra and English ivy.
One other joy is seeing my two tree-trained loquats finally getting their game on, five years after being transplanted as foot-tall babies into pots.

Another upcoming thrill is the first-time bloom of my brugmansia. In a dither over whether or not to put this plant in the ground (I've seen a big one on Scenic Drive), I googled brug care without much luck. Although there is some pretty bizarre brugmania going on at Dave's Garden, having to do with wintering-over techniques and complex machinations involving 50-gallon tubs and rubber tubing.

In more plant torture news, I fell in love with the tree-trained bougainvilleas at Shoal Creek Nursery(for $200 one can be yours) and came home and stripped my boug and bound it to a stake. In about five years, it should be fabulous.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Midsummer Meltdown

Normal Austin rainfall by end of June: 17 inches

Last year's rainfall by end of June: 27 inches

This year: 7 inches


In combination with more than 20 days of 100+ temperatures since May, this kind of climactic extremity is a crucible, burning through everything from leaves to my enthusiasm for gardening.

Drought is a great teacher. Some things keel over, others do okay.

So bravo to you: Turk's Cap, hypericum, liriope, plumbago, yucca, confederate jasmine, Mexican oregano, verbena, Russian sage, silver bush germander, flame acanthus, lantana, dwarf palmetto.

And yea, for the pink indigo. It's still blooming.