Tour of Austin Gardens

Last weekend we traveled to Austin for the Texas Book Festival and for the Inside Austin Gardens tour.  This post will focus on the gardens or more specifically, plants in those gardens.

Originally, I had planned to get sweeping views of the gardens.  Most of the yards were fairly small, but the crowd of people in them made it almost impossible to get the kind of pictures I wanted.  So I focused on plants that I like or would like to know more about.

The tour was billed as “gardens by gardeners”.  To me, this means that the design and work was done by the garden owner.  But of the six gardens, half were professionally landscaped.  All of the pictures in this post are from one garden.  This gardener designed her own garden but also designs for other people.

austingardensPhilippine Violet (Barleria cristata) is obviously a tropical bush.  Austin is a warmer cold tolerance zone than we are.  So this would have to be a pot plant here.  That’s true of so many of the plants that I coveted.

austingardens4Beautiful plant.

austingardens1American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Mexican Beautyberry (Callicarpa acuminata) is a understory shrub that doesn’t tolerate freezes.  But I sure do like it.

austingardens2The Inside Austin Gardeners put labels in all the yards but not beside all the plants.  These labels were very helpful.

austingardens3Yellow Yucca (Hesperaloe Parviflora Yellow) is a slow growing succulent that like the Red Yucca should not be overwatered.  It seems to have fuller blooms when the plant is smaller than even a mature Red Yucca.

austingardens5Mexican Honeysuckle or Coral Honeysuckle (Justicia Spicigera) should be able to survive here.

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austingardens7Cute garden art.  Foxtail Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) is behind the snake.  That’s a container plant here.

austingardens9Don’t know the names of these plants except for Gopher Plant (Euphorbia biglandulosa).  It’s the small succulent in the pot to the side of the main plant.  That’s actually Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense).

The larger plant is Paleleaf Yucca (Yucca pallida).

austingardensbThese pots, that are made from galvanized metal culvert pipes, are sold in at least one Austin nursery.

austingardenscThis home owner loves what I call prickly plants.  She has some really large ones that I didn’t get a picture of.

austingardenseThis ground cover was used in a large area instead of grass.  In fact, there was no grass in this whole yard.

austingardensfI think this is a salvia.  This is Amistad Salvia.

austingardensgAlso, don’t know the name of this ornamental grass.  It’s ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum.

A special thanks to the home owner Pam Penick who read this post and was kind enough to provide the correct information for some of the plants I misidentified or didn’t know the name of.

austingardensiSilver Ironweed (Vernonia lindheimeri v. leucophylla) is a Texas native, but I don’t know if it will grow in our 7b zone.

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austingardensmThere are lots of different muhly grasses in Texas.  Most have showy plumes.  This should have pale purplish-gray ones in autumn, but maybe it’s been too hot.

Pam, the home owner, has a popular blog.  A beautiful garden all around the house – probably my favorite one on the tour.

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” – Brian Gerald O’Driscoll

Early Blooms in February

This post is an interruption of my series on our trip to Costa Rica.  Although not spectacular, I wanted to show what is happening in the yard here during the waning days of winter.

unknown3I have racked my brain trying to remember when I planted these bulbs, where I got them, and what they are.  Once again, my garden record keeping or lack of is embarrassing.

unknown2These bloomed the middle of February.

unknownAnyone know what they are?

earlybloomsThen, the last of February two inches of ice fell.

earlyblooms1Eastern Meadowlarks have been pecking around in the dried grass.  They are skittish and dart around making them difficult to photograph.

earlyblooms2Ice melted and daffodils are looking good.  The bush in the back with small orange red blooms is Texas Scarlett Quince.

earlyblooms7Individual blooms of Quince aren’t anything to write home about, but their bold color makes them pop in the landscape.  Plus, the buds begin to open late in February.

earlyblooms3Just got curious about the difference between daffodils and jonquils.  They are both in the narcissus genus.  Jonquils refer to a specific type of daffodil known as Narcissus jonquila.

Some characteristics to compare them:

Daffodils:  One bloom to a stem, long slender stems, not very fragrant, corolla (flower) comes in many different colors

Jonquils:  More than one bloom to a stem, rounded stems, extremely fragrant, only yellow corolla

earlyblooms4All seem to have heads bowed.

earlyblooms5Gopher plant (Euphorbia biglandulosa) is in euphorbia family, which is the largest genus of flowering plants.  This family includes over 2,000 species from small weeds to towering cactus like plants.

Gopher plants grow up to 3 feet tall and have this unusual flower.  Flowers die away to form seed pods, smallish in size yet huge in power.  When ripe, the pods open explosively; flinging the seed about 50 feet  all around the mother plant.

earlyblooms6Last fall I dug up a few Gopher plants because I wasn’t sure they would survive freezing temperatures.   The ones in the pot stored  in the shed have long, leggy stems and more spread out flowers.

Euphorbia plants all have one thing in common: the sap of the plant is highly poisonous.  Sap flows from the roots through the plant stems, making every part of the foliage toxic to animals who may attempt to snack from it.  The name of the plant may come from the fact that gophers, whose favorite food is roots, eat them and succumb to the poison.

Spring is on the way.  Yippee!

“Do you ever get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and think ‘That can’t be right!'”  Ged Backland