Landscape & Gardening

What’s on the Menu?


Summer annuals for the front shade garden. Most of what’s on my list are now available at the local nurseries, and I wasted no time in snapping them up. Waiting for absolutely every thing to be available before buying is a big mistake in my opinion. The longer plants sit around the nursery crammed in their original shipping flats, the more scraggy and picked over they become. For the most part I buy complete flats, because there’s usually a discount once you exceed a minimum quantity. And I don’t search out the cheapest deal in order to save a few dollars. Those deals may or may not exist in nurseries that take considerable time and gas to get to. That’s crazy and just not worth it. So most of my annuals are found at Nicholson-Hardie, and a few are found at Jackson Home & Garden. I prefer to buy from nurseries who stock plants produced by local growers. When a plant has been cultivated in your hometown’s soil and climate, there’s a better chance of success.

Landscape & Gardening

Hardscape Plan

Click on the above image for a larger version.
Click on the above image for a larger version.

For my backyard. My landscape architect, Michael Parkey, has recently finalized the demolition and hardscape plans. The next step is to draw up the construction documents and send them out to bid. The plant choices will be the next phase and may take a year of seasons to purchase and place. The goal is to have seasonal interest in the color and texture of the perennial varieties.

Originally I had wanted a pond, but having two frenchies that aren’t equipped with water wings, squelched that dream. As of now the focal point replacement will be a unique birdhouse. However that could change once we start siting all the decorative features. What looks good on paper may not look so wonderful once installed. All gardens are a work in progress.

Landscape & Gardening

Spring Bolters

The pansies look like they're screaming for help.
The pansies look like they’re screaming for help.

The Peacock Kale and Giant Red Mustard plants have exploded up and out. If you want to, refer to this previous post to see how they looked when newly planted. Since these photos were taken, the kale has started to fall over, and the pansies have been suffocated to death. With the steadily increasing temperatures, there is nothing to do but to relegate them to the compost heap or maybe eat them. This will leave me with a pockmarked garden until the summer annuals arrive at our local nurseries. That should be a month away, and in the mean time, I refuse to fill in the voids with short term spring color. For me, that’s a waste of my money and my time.

Landscape & Gardening

Stripped Naked


Stripped naked to its bare essentials. Last year I posted about the fig ivy growing on the walls of my home and how each spring I would cut it back down a third of the way and considerably thin it out creating a lacy look. This spring, drastic repair was required after our brutal winter had frozen and burned most of the foliage. Plus the ivy’s main stems had become too thick. It was time to start over. Well, sort of.

note about above photo: Once the camellia bush finishes blooming, I will wedge the ladder in to remove the dead stems on the left portion of the stone gable, but I’m too much of a fraidy cat to climb higher up the chimney stack. At fourteen feet, I call it quits.

Landscape & Gardening

Flowering Quince


This photo was taken March 11, but I’ve been unable to share it with you until now. In fact, there are a lot more spring garden photos waiting to be presented in chronological order. And yes… there’s a really good excuse for this delay. The old family homestead has been sold, and the new owner has kindly leased it back to us for two weeks, giving us time to set up an estate sale. Working a fiendish schedule culling, cleaning, sorting, pricing, and staging for this monster sale has left me little time for blogging. If you’re in Dallas and into collecting other peoples’ stuff, go here and here for pertinent details and photos.

Landscape & Gardening

Another Narcissistic Moment


Whether they are Narcissus or Daffodils or Jonquils, I have several varieties popping up in my parkway. The above shot was taken exactly a week ago, and more have emerged since then. If I can get a more recent shot without the now tired flower heads, I will be posting it. As I have mentioned before, all my perennial bulbs were purchased from The Southern Bulb Company. If you didn’t know already, spring bulbs are planted in the late fall, and the narcissus varieties will return year after year.

Landscape & Gardening

Edible Green Hair


I don’t know the name of this mustard green in the face pot, but after having been planted in the fall of 2009, it has survived our searing summer and this past winter’s icy freezes. Now look at it! And no, I’m not going to make a salad from it.

Landscape & Gardening

The First Spring Bulbs Emerge


Blue French Roman Hyacinth. Let me introduce you to the subtle beauty of this hyacinth. It’s not as showy as its cousin, the Dutch hybrid, but it has many more advantages. It will send out more than one flower stalk from a single bulb. Plus the bulbs will naturalize, bloom annually, and multiply over the years. In other words, unlike their overdressed Dutch cousins, they are definitely NOT high maintenance.

I purchased my bulbs through The Southern Bulb Company. In fact, all my perennial bulbs have come from there. My spring bulbs are scattered throughout the parkway between the sidewalk and the street. If you’re wondering about the dead oak leaves, I purposely left them there after they fell to protect the English ivy from our winter’s hard freezes. In the next couple of weeks, I will be hand culling them out along with my other numerous annual spring pruning chores.

Landscape & Gardening

The Lenten Rose


Otherwise known as hellebore. Even after enduring this last winter’s extreme weeks of constant freezing ice cover, they survived unscathed and bloomed two weeks ago. Unfortunately, my computer upgrades have kept me from photoshopping these images until now.

Lenten roses are the first to flower in my garden, alerting me that Lent and spring are just around the corner. During the summer, they are usually hidden from view by the surrounding foliage. But once these deciduous neighbors shed their leaves, the hellebore is ready to perform, providing a bleak winter garden with color.