December GBBD

Garden Bloggers bloom day is sponsored by Carol at May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of every month.

It’s easy to see how Christmas got its definitive red and green signature colors from this Nandina, or Heavenly Bamboo. It’s the last one in my yard – I’ve removed over 5 of them. Once my new plants have gained some height, this aggressive, non-native plant will be removed as well.


My Ivy Geranium still has a couple of purple blooms, surprisingly. It’s fun to see this time of year.


This Purple Heart has one bloom left.


The dwarf Pomegranite has a few small blooms left.


My favorite Bottlebrush seems to love this weather, even though it is a semi-tropical plant!


This cute little Shrimp plant was a new addition in the fall, and though the blooms are faded, it still provides a bit of color.

Again, another semi-tropical plant that hasn’t tucked tail and run in our unusually cold and windy December.


This bleeding heart vine is another fall addition to my yard. It has a few sweet purple blooms left. It appears that my yard is all purple and red!


And though it isn’t really a bloom, the Pyracanthea is still lush with berries. More green and red for the holidays!


The Plumbago, another semi-tropical that flourishes in Austin from spring to fall, has just one small bloom left.


What’s blooming in your garden in these snowy times?


Johnson City Light Festival

pyracanthea20081If you have never travelled the Texas Hill Country Christmas Lighting Trail, then you must put it on your list of “Things to Do in Austin during the holidays”. The hill country towns of Boerne, Burnet, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Goldthwaite, Johnson City, Llano, Marble Falls, New Braunfels, Round Mountain, and Wimberley all put on an amazing display of artistic, innovative, and just darn dramatic light shows. The day after Thanksgiving, my family and I traveled to Fredericksburg for the flea market and street shopping. My only request of the day was that we stay there until dark so we could see the lights there and in Johnson City on the way home. Johnson City (home to LBJ and LadyBird) has always amazed me; I cannot imagine how long it took, nor the energy consumed, to create the lighting display at the Power Company Building. My picture (taken with a cell phone) doesn’t do it justice, as this is but one tiny part of the entire display.

The picture is a little green, yes – because the grass is green this time of year in most parts of the hill country. And this photo didn’t even use a flash, you will be amazed at how well lit the grounds are underneath; it feels a bit like a fairy land.


While I set aside that part of my brain that is shocked at the usage of electrical resources, my artful brain that appreciates what they have done for all of us to enjoy. The courthouse is also lit with thousands (millions?) of lights, though to me, not on equal ground to the Power Company.

I played with this image a little to give it an old-fashioned feel; it shows the number of people that were out that night, enjoying the wonderful weather and seasonal display.


I am still impressed with how they traced each and every branch on these old oak trees, even the small ones, with strings of lights. The manpower it must take!

Be prepared on weekends for bumper to bumper traffic in the little towns, though it can be charming even with that. People sell hot cider, hot chocolate and other street foods, and the quaint small-town feel is comfortable and inviting.

Be sure to let me know if you post images on your blog of the other towns on the trail! I want to see them. Leave me a comment and link to your post if you will.

Merry Christmas!



As most of the Austin Garden Bloggers are excitedly talking about last night and this morning, we had a very out of character December snowfall! My favorite weatherman, Jim Spencer, told me that the hill country might see a little sleet, and that the city would get in the upper 30’s, but he really did NOT expect the city to get much of anything beyond a .10″ smattering of rain. I began hearing sleet about 8:30, and it went on long enough to make my deck sound crunchy when I stepped outside. Then about 11:00, the fat snowflakes began! There’s about 1/2″ on the hood of my car.

Fortunately, here’s what I was doing earlier in the day. In the 81 degree heat of the day (a new record high that preceded the snowfall by just a few hours), I loaded up my new baby greenhouse! I just needed something for my pots of succulents, as I have no room indoors near a light source for them. I found this on Amazon:

20081207greenhouse-boxIt is covered with plastic that has a zipper in the front to open on the days when the weather is once again sunny and warm. I opened the box and dumped it out – yikes! –

20081207greenhouse-partsAs I had read the reviews on Amazon, I knew that putting it together should be simple. I also learned that I should glue it together, rather than just pushing the rods into the holes, so I could move it without it falling apart, as the reviewers complained of. So I got started….


Okay, that seems pretty straightforward, I think I can do this.


I’m getting the hang of it now. Only about 20 minutes has passed at this point. I can live with that.

20081207greenhouse-finalTa-da!! The completed baby greenhouse. After the glue dried, I easily moved it to a spot against my house, protected from the north winds. And loaded it up with my plants, since Jim was predicting a cold night. Of course, I thought, this probably wouldn’t be enough protection for the succulents if we get ice or snow, but since Jim didn’t predict that, I’m sure it will be fine…

20081207greenhouse-snowHere it is, actually the morning after the snow once it warmed up enough for me to get outside and take a picture. I had placed towels around the bottom, as the plastic doesn’t reach to the ground. Given the condensation on the inside of the plastic, that’s a nice indicator that it is definitely warmer inside of there than it is outdoors. I’ll open it up to the air again once it stays above 40 degrees throughout the day (probably tomorrow).

20081207greenhouse-snow-closeupAs I peak through the plastic with my camera, everything appears to be well and happy. I hope so!

Silver Lining


I can’t remember ever seeing autumn color like we have had this year in Central Texas, especially in the city limits. This is a Sumac tree directly across the street from me, and I watched it change from a brilliant gold to this incredible combo display of orange and yellow. I suppose the drought and heat must have created this phenomenon, so I’m taking pictures of it because I really don’t want to go through what we went through ever again, even it means this kind of autumn colors. It has been a stunning display, though.


And I completely forgot to put this into my blog previously. I received an awesome birthday present from my SO in October! This is a gazebo I had my eye on all summer long at Breed and Co. Hardware, and was hoping for an end of season sale. At last, I was rewarded with a sale price (not a huge one), and a fabulous birthday gift. Its hexagonal shape fits my space perfectly, as does the diminutive size. I put a chandelier in the peak of the beautiful arch (which you can’t see in this picture) and we’ve had some lovely dinners out there, as well as a glass of wine as the sun set. It really made a big difference to have a shaded area to sit in, even if it is after dark. It creates a coziness that just wasn’t happening before.


I had this indoor chandelier that I immediately decided was really an outdoor chandelier, it just didn’t know it yet. It looks fabulous inside the little gazebo, and the low watt bulbs at night are just outrageously sweet. The tenting of the top of the gazebo glows, and underneath, a warm inviting dim light beckons. Once it warms up again, I’ll get a nighttime shot of my yard for you. With this chandelier on, and the lights on my waterfall and in the oak trees, it’s really pretty.


And lastly, look at this treasure! I asked my dad, before he came to town for Thanksgiving, if he had any old horse feeders or water troughs that he no longer needed on his farm. He thought he might, and when he and his wife arrived on Turkey Day, this was the primary thing in the back of the vehicle! Isn’t it gorgeous? He kept suggesting ways that I could paint it, or straighten it out and make it look new again, and I kept having to insist that I wanted it exactly as is. I don’t think he really understood that, but he was happy that I was happy.


Right now it is in a pretty shady spot; even though it looks good against the fence there (I’m adding a bed along that fence line and it would be inside the bed), I may need to move it so I can fill it with plants that like a little bit of sun. What can you envision in it?

By the way, I know Pam/Digging mentions Callahan Hardware for her troughs; I’ve also seen them at Zinger Hardware on Anderson Lane for a place a bit closer to drive to than Callahans.

My very first Brugmansia

I bought 3 Brugmansia at Barton Springs Nursery last spring; they had a great sale on their large plants for $6 each, and I eagerly purchased 2 pumpkin color, and 1 something else colored. I know at least one of them was the classic “Charles Grimaldi” brug, and I’m not sure if this is the one blooming or not. I babied them through the record-setting heat and drought of our hell summer of ’08, figuring if I could just keep them alive then perhaps they might bloom another year. While the stalks grew like a beanstalk, something kept eating the leaves as they came out, so I ended up with 5′ tall stalks with only leaves on the top like an umbrella. I’ve noticed other bloggers mentioning the same thing happening to their brugs this year, so I’m not sure what to make of it, but I know I’m not alone.

So a couple of weeks ago, one of the three began to bloom! This photo shows it with still a few buds to go, and they did all eventually open as you can see in the second picture. I didn’t get the evening-time fragrance that people talk about, but perhaps that will come next year. Hopefully, the other two will bloom then as well. I’ve now cut them back to the ground and mulched over them (I’ve read several places that’s the best way to prevent freezing the roots for these plants), and I look forward to watching them come out next year.


I planted these on the east side of the house, next to the fence. They only get morning sun, and are moderately protected. I decided to add the passalong Datura seeds to the same bed that I received from both Lori, Gardening of Good and Evil, as well as Diana, Sharing Nature’s Garden. I’m picturing an interesting mixed bed of trumpetĀ  plants – I hope I didn’t screw up by planting them together. It’s one of my many clueless experiments; some work, some don’t.


I also had Garden Fairy envy from reading others blogs, and had been watching for a fairy to add to my garden all season, to no avail. As I was walking through the yard the other day, I realized that I DO already have a fairy, I just didn’t recognize her. Here she is…


I have more things to blog about once I get the images prepped. I’ve been planting my first ever bulbs! What did you plant this season?