>Can’t get enough…

>I know we’re not even at the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling yet, which promises to be a wonderful day of gardening with people I have never met but seem to know all to well. But another event is coming up that I especially want to let the Austin bloggers know about.

Inside Austin Gardens is the Travis County Master Gardener Association sponsored tour. The tour takes place Saturday April 19, one day only, from 9-4. The tour this year is devoted to the principals of sustainable gardening. It’s a great tour of some radically different gardens and includes tons of education demonstrations and plant sales (and who of us can resist that?)

This pretty well sums it up on the event homepage:

Much has been written about sustainable gardening, and many different organizations are using the term. However, the planners of this year’s tour made the decision to present gardens that amply demonstrate the elements of integrated, sustainable gardening. The gardens selected represent life long projects by our gardeners, represent a way of living, and have all incorporated features that are earth friendly, bio diverse, and incorporate vegetable, fruit or nut production in conjunction with just beautiful flowers. There is no grass in these unique back yards; rather paths and walk ways, the incorporation of major raised beds, composting on site, judicial use of water systems, and plants with a sense of place and time. … There will be talks on becoming a Green Garden designated site, rain water collection systems, drip irrigation, composting, beneficial insects, backyard vegetable production, bulb selection, butterfly promotion, and alternatives to grass.

For more information, please see Inside Austin Gardens

>Babies and gardening

>I’m spending the day with my baby today as she was having a cranky morning and just seemed not ready to spend the day in daycare. And I was thinking about how that nurturing feeling of gardening is so much like having a baby, except you have lots of babies all over your garden. And there’s no poop. And no projectile vomiting. And no all-night feedings. OK, OK, but back to my point of them being so alike. That feeling of joy when you see your first little green shoot pop up from the ground. The care you put into training the growth of a plant or cutting it back to encourage better growth.

In fact, I found that when I was pregnant, I had an overwhelming urge to get in the garden and dig in the dirt. And no, I am not talking about the urge to EAT dirt (yes, it happens, it’s called pica, no I didn’t do it). I just wanted to be out there among all of the life in the ground and helping my plants to get their strongest. In fact, I had quite a few gardening milestones while I was pregnant. I tilled and planted my wildflower garden (aka septic field) at 6 months pregnant. I completed my Master Gardeners class at about 8 months pregnant. I planted my first rose garden at 9 months pregnant. And my newborn daughter accompanied to the Master Gardener phone desk for volunteer hours for the first few months of her life. In fact, that was the only time of the day when she slept soundly. Maybe some of my love for gardening has been passed on to her.

And I leave you with the most redneck-y photo I have ever taken.

This is me at 6 months pregnant with my new gas-powered tiller, preparing the soil for my wildflowers. Hey, at least I’m wearing the safety eye glasses and ear protection.

Right after this, my husband banned me from using all power tools for the rest of my pregnancy. Oh shucks, a video of me, my belly and a chainsaw might have won me some money on America’s Funniest Home Videos! Or a visit from CPS.

>It’s a buggy world

>And thank god I have a new blog to watch for tips on dealing with bugs. Wizzie Brown, the Travis County Extension Pet Expert, has just started a blog dispensing her wonderful advice. This week- Fire Ants. For those non-Texans, probably not something you want to hear about. But for those of us who deal with these buggers all the time and have had the misfortune of being stung, check out Wizzie’s advice. Who knew fire ant bait could go bad!

>Myster Vine ID

>OK, all my gardening friends-
here are some more pictures of my mystery vine from bloom day that I was too lightheaded from plant shopping to remember to write down the name of. It is now blooming and has gorgeous pinkish buds that open to white, intensely-sweet flowers. I don’t think the flowers look much like honeysuckle. The leaves are not as dark green, waxy and thick as confederate (star) jasmine, but the flowers are similar.

Perhaps a pink jasmine?


>Garden Bloggers March Bloom Day

>I’ve been eagerly awaiting this Bloom Day post to link to Carol at May Dreams Gardens since I finally feel I have a critical mass of blooms to show off. This last month has really kicked my garden in the butt to get growing and it has responded. But there is so much to be done for getting these plants strong before the stress of summer.

Here we go.

The crabapple in the back has burst out with it’s beautiful burgundy and green leaves. This tree has done so very well since we planted it 2 years ago. I look forward to many years of joy from it.

My climbing rose has really started in on spring blooming now, although I must admit that it never really stops, just slows down briefly. This one I inherited with the house and have been search for type of rose forever. While volunteering at the Master Gardener phone desk the other day, I was perusing rose books and I think I found it. “Golden Showers”. Yes, I agree, a little odd of a name. But perhaps not as odd when it was named back in 1956. One of the first successful yellow climbers and quite the award winner back in her day (AARS 1957, Portland Gold Medal 1957, Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit 1993 )

This bird found a wonderful perch amid my yaupon berries. I was working below the tree when I heard her beautiful call and used my cameras zoom to catch her (thus, the blurriness)

The bloom of the prickly pear cactus

and the “bloom” of an unknown cactus

Verbena just starting out again

Texas Mountain Laurel with it’s Grape Bubblegum smell permeating the air

One of our pears. This one has been fighting off deer and one deer must have actually run into it as we found the entire tree practically lying on its side and the bark scraped off all around the lower trunk. We’re since protected with a cage.

Bulbine going full-speed ahead. One of my favorite plants. Tough as nails and a gorgeous green and orange combination. Also available in yellow.

Bloggers, help me. This is a new vine I planted this winter and forgot to write down in my notebook. Anyone know what it is? Honeysuckle? Ugh, I hate when this happens. I’m sure when the bloom opens I’ll know in a minute.

My dwarf pomegranate, giving me an “almost bloom”

The camellia, still showing me the love after 2 months of blooms.

Cross vine growing on the trellis

And the Chinese fringe plant, lovely because it makes me think of a Mexican Fiesta with it’s flowers popping out

In the vegetable garden:

My peas climbing up their trellis

My chard growing

Strawberries returning from runners put out by last years plants. Jack is anxiously awaiting this crop.

And to end my parade

a ladybug hiding as I try to get her picture

>The scent of spring

>It just permeates the air this time of year. Spring! It is everywhere I look and my green thumb is getting itchy. I can’t look around as I walk in the grocery store these days as they have displays of plants for sale outside. Impulse buying of plants is one of my seven deadly sins!

But I revel in walking around my yard, peeking under mulch to see if that plant that has looked long dead through the winter has sprung a sprout. That’s really a huge part of it- I feel, like I am playing the lottery and I’m waiting to see if my little number ball shoots up through the tube into the holder. Is that plant alive…could that be a hint of a bud on it’s branch…Yes! The Number 5 ball!

Sometimes you win…like with a transplanted salvia

Sometimes you lose…like with the salvia right next to it

My iris have just started emerging, making me wait so long I swore I had killed them with my divisions this summer…but no, they waited just long enough to make me sweat and then, surprise, we’re here…where’s the party?

The pink skullcap transplanted from my front bed into the new bed in back was dubious. The stuff looked so spindly all through the winter but, peekaboo, there it was one day.

Rock rose, chewed to near-death by the deer in the driveway bed, I thought for sure was a goner. I mean, how can you survive being the main course for 6 months? But there it was, finding life despite the gobs of deer saliva probably caked on it

Bachelors buttons, sprung from seed I threw in a little trough in the winter. This brings up one of my least favorite gardening activities…thinning. Just to utter it makes me feel like the god-like creature choosing who lives and who dies. Here you see the aftermath- the sad “thinned” and the “survivors” who may go on to win big money if they don’t get kicked off the island

You know, it makes it clear I should never be on one of those shows where it might come down to me choosing who has to get kicked off. I would be the loser who would say “I can’t do it. Just kick me off instead!” Like that guy on Project Runway…oh, stop it…you know you watch that show.

Oh, here’s one of my favorite “Life” photos. My Texas Star hibiscus. Has always been in a pot and just gets huge every year so I finally transplanted it into the ground to give it all the room in the world. Again, thoughts run through my head, “Did I kill it? Dang, I killed it…should have left it in the pot.” But hello honey, here you come!

And the even more dramatic close-up, which looks like big trees coming out of the ground

OK, other shots. Typical spring shot of trees budding

I know, yawn. But how many of you have the cactus budding shots?
Prickly pear

and a cactus I have not specifically identified but I love the new red growth it gets in the spring.

So take deep breaths and get all that springtime air into your lungs. If it’s not already surprising you above ground, your new growth is lurking below, ready for its debut.