Thursday, January 29, 2015

The New Southern Living Garden Book is a great resource that entices readers with beauty and information...

I'm a collector.  I'm a collector of plants, pottery, dishes, bird statuary and many other things.  Aside from plants, I derive the most enjoyment from my garden book collection.

I have books on perennials, vegetables, design, famous gardeners and gardens, drought-tolerant gardens, heat-tolerant gardens, children's gardens, succulent gardens, vertical gardening and gardening inside the home.  I love my books.  I never tire of pulling one out and perusing all the beautiful photos and unique stories, tips and guidelines.

While I have an assortment of comprehensive and encyclopedic books, I may have just found my new go-to bible.

It's not always easy to find resources that provide real-life, detailed information about gardening in the south -- specifically the southwest.  Redesigned and updated, The New Southern Living Garden Book is a beautiful compilation of plant and garden information dedicated to how WE garden in the South and here in Central Texas.

More than 8,000 plants and 2,000 stunning photos of plants fill this 768-page book.  The plant encyclopedia includes information about light and water needs, several climate zone designations and adaptability as well as toxicity.  The entries also outline many of the different varieties of each plant, highlighting all of their unique characteristics. 

Then, it does the work for you.  You can slice and dice the information in a whole host of ways in the pages that provide information and recommend plants for seasonal color, cutting flowers, colorful foliage, winter interest, fragrant flowers, showy border perennials and more.  When I'm searching for inspiration and ideas, this is how I want my information presented.  Next come the sections that highlight plants for coastal gardens, drough tolerant gardens, deer resistant gardens, hanging basket and window-box gardens, southern natives and plants that attract butterflies and birds.

And there's more - practical garden tips and advice about soil, fertilizing, watering and pruning.  It includes a detailed aseasonal garden checklist, and my personal favorite -- "Solving the Mystery of Botanical Plant Names."  Wow.  Did you know that 'angustifolia' refers to  a narrow leaf form in a plant?  Or that 'barccata' means berried or berrylike?  Or that riparia means 'of riverbanks?'  Ah, one I knew -- 'texana' means of Texas!

As I was soaking it all in, I turned the page and found a double-page spread showcasing the beauty of the fall garden with a gorgeous photo of the Gentling garden that I visited on the Garden Bloggers Fling in Asheville in 2012.  You can tour the garden with me here  here

Here's an excerpt from the book:  "Leaves Blazing -- Bathed in early November's late afternoon sun, trees catch fire around Peter and Jasmin Gentling's rustic home in Asheville, North Carolina.  Mountainous locations like this provide the South's most dependable fall color."

Just as the computer can entice me into rabbit holes for hours and hours on end, this book lured me in and I soon found myself lost in its glossy, plant-filled pages.  It's the perfect way to spend a winter evening, or two or three or four.

Note:  Southern Living sent me this book and I chose to read and then review it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and am sharing with you my personal opinion.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Some color in the winter garden...

The sun came out today and I took a tour around my garden, basking in the warmth.  As I passed each plant, mental notes began to form. 

Cut this one back in a month...this one fared really well in the last freeze...oh no, I should have covered that one...and, best of all...hey -- this one is blooming!

Against the backdrop of grey and brown, several bright spots dotted the landscape.

 If you were a bird, wouldn't you love spending the winter here?

 Although the roses have turned to hips, the tips of the branches remain alive with budding color.
 Apparently, the cold weather agrees with my viburnum.
 My absolute favorite spring bloomer, Japanese Quince, has begun showing off bright flowers against it's spiny, sculptural branches.
 And next to it, the primrose Jasmine is bursting into blooms and buds as well.
 The variegated ascot rainbow spurge has been transformed from the lime and yellow stripes it sported in summer to this rich, dark green and burgundy. 

And the sight of yaupon holly berries brings the woods to life with their shiny fruit.

While I'm certainly eager for the budding days of spring, it brings me a sense that all is right with the world as I watch the garden unfold across the seasons, as it is surely meant to do.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mellow and not so mellow yellow in my garden....

If you asked me about my favorite colors in the garden, I'd say: purple, lavender, blue, orange, yellow...and trail off about then.  I posted this a few months ago and forgot about it -- here are the names of all the yellow fellows in my garden:

Lantana Horrida
Lantana New Gold
Lantana confetti
Cuban buttercup
Candlestick tree
Jerusalem sage
St. John's wort
Bright edge yucca
Lemon Mallow
Gopher plant

I wouldn't even put yellow in my top 3.  And yet, as I look around my garden, it's yellow that I see everywhere.  It's a major element in many of my beds, but it's gotten there without serious thought to including it.

Let's face it, there are many plants with yellow blooms that love our hot sun and dry days.  So it's always easy to find something yellow to add to a vignette.

And as I count the yellow bloomers in my landscape, I smile.  Yellow makes me happy.  That must be why I am surrounded by it.  Subliminal intention.

As I was writing this post, I began typing the plant names, and then thought - why now make a contest out of it?  Let's see how many of these perky plants you can ID!  I'll edit the post when the guessing is done and post all the names.

Ready, set, go!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hill country garden charm in the heart of San Antonio...

The last stop on our visit to San Antonio gardens was another xeric garden, filled with drought-tolerant plants, both soft and sculptural. You can come along on the first two gardens of tour with me to see Melody's and Heather's gardens here.

Then we toured the garden of Shirley, who blogs at  Rock, Oak, Deer.  I 'd seen Shirley's garden through her camera lens many times, yet when we arrived, I was surprised to find that she wasn't gardening in the country, but in a suburban neighborhood.  Her style and plant choices created an oasis that made the rest of the world seem far away.
Well-placed plants serve to let the grasses and yuccas and perennials all shine.
Shirley uses repetition in her garden to create a dramatic effect.
Definition draws the eye through the space.
In the back yard, the focus is on perennials and grasses.  Her rustic shed with its cedar posts and porch make you feel like you've stepped back in time.  The arbor on the right is the entry for a deer-proof fence, protecting delicate plants and vegetables from the curious and hungry deer.
Leading to the shed, this circle garden is filled to the brim with flowing perennials and grasses.
Her unique rock garden design is home to a lovely collection of yuccas, cacti and agaves.
Rustic art and pots are scattered about to add interest throughout the garden.
The river rock path guides you around the plant-filled stock tank and circle garden to the shed.

Garden art on a rustic table is tucked away in the shade.
Whimsical elements make true garden art from a simple grapevine.
A collection of sweet somethings brighten up the front of the shed.
Because deer are frequent guests to the back yard, extra protection for new or special plants is a must. This rough cedar fence fits right into the landscape.
Up on the the large, shady deck, succulent planters adorn the windowsills.
All around the deck, pots and paraphernalia bring color to the shady spots.
Even the outdoor fireplace boasts a collection of perky little pots.
Since we've toured Austin gardens often with Shirley, it was a special treat to wander through her garden with her.  The entire garden was intentional and peaceful.  She's clearly mastered the art of gardening with the rocks, oaks and deer that she writes about.  Special thanks to Shirley and her husband for hosting us in your garden.