Annuals offer flower power

Even though the weather is turning cold, you can still enjoy some flower power in the Titan Garden. Many people add color to their garden beds by planting annuals along with their perennials. Annuals are plants that last for one season, then die, typically with a change in season. There are warm and cool season annuals. Perennials are plants that lives for many years and is either evergreen or may die back to the ground but reemerge from roots in the next season.

There are some great cool season annuals that can be added to your garden bed; here are a few:

Alyssum: Low spreading plant. Many small fragrant white flowers fall-early summer. Sun/part shade. 6” high, 10” wide. Low maintenance.

Cyclamen:Low mound. Plant in fall for fall color. Shooting star like flowers in red, magenta, lavender, red-orange, pink or white, often with a red eye, in fall. Foliage frequently mottled. Light shade. 6-12” high, 9-12” apart. Take inside in winter; loses leaves in summer.

Dianthus: Perennial used as an annual. Single red, magenta, pink, or white flowers, some with dark circle around eye, in fall and again in spring. Sun/part shade.12-18” high, 12-16” wide.

Snapdragon: Upright plants. Tubular flowers in red, pink, lavender, salmon, apricot, yellow and white in fall and again in spring. Sun/part shade. 6-36” high, 6-10” wide.

Fall is also a great time to plant herbs, either from seed or plants. So consider planting herbs like cilantro and dill.

>Waiting for the big costume change…

>Over the past few weeks, there have been plenty of swallowtail caterpillars on our parsley at the elementary school garden. You can see at least 6 in this photo I took this morning. So a few days ago, the 2 year olds picked a few and brought them inside to live inside their butterfly house and watch them change into butterflies.

The kids have been picking them fresh parsley every day and have put two sticks inside for when they are ready to turn into a chrysalis.

And yesterday was the big day. The first caterpillar spun its cocoon…and the kids went wild. Alex was so excited about it, she could barely tell me what happened.

Here is a picture of the chrysalis hanging off of the stick. You can see the silk string which anchors it to the stick.

The kids have been taking close looks all day and today the smaller two year olds in the next class down went and got their caterpillars.

I am so glad to see them all so connected to the garden. The older kids (5 yo) always have because they go out to water and pick vegetables. But it is wonderful to see that even the littlest ones get excited by going out there, and can remember everything their teacher tells them about how caterpillars turn into butterflies.

You’re never too young to garden!

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>A garden tour not to be missed!

>FYI to all gardeners or those who need to be inspired to whip yours into shape. This weekend is the Inside Austin Gardens tour presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners, a wonderful tour showcasing 6 Austin gardens.

The theme this year is sustainable gardening for urban wildlife. All the gardens are National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitats attracting animals, hummingbirds and butterflies for the whole neighborhood to see and enjoy. The spaces are designed using native plants and sustainable gardening practices. There are 6 gardens on the tour, all maintained by the homeowners themselves. The event includes garden tours and educational seminars at each location, including: Gardening to Attract Birds; Plant Magnets for Butterflies and Hummingbirds; and Adapted & Native Plants in Your Landscape.

Tickets are $10 for all 6 gardens (or $5 per garden if you visit just 1) and can be purchased at any home on the tour. You can visit this website to view the brochure and see a map of where the gardens are located.

>October Bloom Day

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My apologies to folks who saw my post before I had any text…or maybe it was more pleasant just perusing the pictures and not having to read my garden drivel. Anywho, I’m here now and ready to write!

Apparently all of the rain dancers, rants, raves and prayers of us Central Texans in the drought have been heard because we have been having some absolutely fantastic rains down here. Whatever type you may want. Torrential. Slow and steady. Misty. They have all visited us at some time or another in the past few weeks. And so the gardens have come back to life. Hot and cold temps (this week we have everything from the 60s to the 90s). But the plants love it. My morning glory and clematis on the trellises have returned and are showing off their variety of purple colors. Pink zinnias have been popping back up all over and moxing with the orange bulbine. The abutilon, with its delicate chinese-lantern type flowers is just starting to give some blooms, the first since I planted it. I am hoping for many more from this beautiful addition.


The native garden has really been filling in and some of the plants are even encroaching on the walkway. All the plants here are deer-resistant, an extremely important trait in my heighborhood. if you don’t have a fence around parts of your garden. Here you see the white allium going to seed in the front, with artemesia, bamboo muhley and salvias in the back.


Oh, my bat-faced cuphea. How I love you. Just had to take a shot of all the little bats staring out at me from the garden today. Aren’t they amazing? There must be 200 blooms on the plant right now.


An ornamental Pennisetum grass called “Fireworks” sets off the esperanza. I will be curious to see if the grass survives the winter as purple fountain grasses are questionable in their hardiness here.


Gulf muhley and Mexican bush sage set off the silver ponyfoot around my pig corral (with my little Buddha keeping his back turned to the pigs).


Gulf muhley, just gorgeous with moisture drops hanging off of it.
And finally, a parting shot of my little buddha, casting his blessing over the garden.

Let the gardening begin!

With the construction of the beds and delivery of the soil completed, the new Titan Gardens were ready for planting. To create a sample garden of native and adapted plants for Central Texas, the River Place Elementary PTA teamed up with the River Place Garden Club to plant two of the beds.

The gardening team chose a selection of herbs, perennials and annuals which have strong deer resistance, since we know how our local wildlife love to sample our garden beds like a buffet! Some of the plants they chose included miscanthus ornamental grass, society garlic, lamb’s ear, alyssum, mexican oregano, lion’s tail, and santolina among others. The goal was to show the variety of textues, colors and heights of plants that are available for planting in this area.

Thanks to all of the parents and volunteers who helped with the planting and we look forward to the kids and teachers seeing these two lovely beds as inspiration when they begin planting their beds. Please feel free to take a moment if you are up at the school to go out and see these beautiful plantings. With all of our recent rains, the plants should be settling in quite nicely!

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Your Outdoor Classroom

Titan Garden

The PTA is happy to announce the opening of the River Place Elementary gardens located on the SE corner of the campus, between the car drop off and main parking lots. With the support of Leander ISD and River Place Elementary administration, PTA volunteers have constructed 9 raised beds for use by the River Place students and teachers, in hopes of creating an additional learning opportunity, an outdoor classroom.

The PTA created these gardens to give teachers and students an opportunity to work together to enhance their curriculum, and to give students more opportunities to see how their academic learning applies to real life. Each grade level has the opportunity to plant and care for one raised bed.

Happy gardening!