Monday, April 14, 2014

SFA Plant Sale

Any Texan can tell you, SFA stands for Stephen F. Austin State University.  It is located in Nacogdoches, Texas.  Most people outside of Texas don't know how to pronounce Nacogdoches, but it is pronounced pretty much the same way it's spelled.

Yellow and white irises

Anyway, SFA holds a plant sale twice a year.  I had never been to one before, but my friend Joyce wanted to go, so we packed a picnic lunch, set the GPS and drove down.  I didn't know what to expect.  Now I do.  Here's some pointers if you ever want to go:

1.  A plant list will be available before the date.  Go online and print it out.  This spring's plant list was 27 pages long.  The plants are listed alphabetically by latin name, gives some basic information, and a comment about each plant listed.

2.  Circle, star, or highlight the plants you would like to acquire.  Then decide which plant you want most of all.

Dutch irises

3.  Get there early.

4.  Bring a little red wagon.  They will have some available, but don't count on getting one!  And trust me, you'll need one!

5.  Parking is free, but you will have to walk to get to the plant sale.  Follow the crowd.  Get in line.  Getting in line is harder than you think!  The plants are placed in rows alphabetically by latin name, and the "lines" are just people crowded in front of the row they want to go down first.  I got in the row close to the "R"s, as I wanted some Rosas.  When people start moving, GO!


6.  There was no shoving, and people were polite, but the plants are picked up fast!  It's amazing how many plants can disappear in just a few seconds.  I did get the roses I wanted:
     Satin Cream - a pale yellow thornless old garden tea rose that supposedly only gets to 5 ft high
     Big Momma's Blush - a peachy-pink old garden tea rose that also supposedly only gets to 5 ft high
then I moved on to the other plants on my list.  In an hour, we had our cart and our arms full of plants.

(By the way, neither of the roses have bloomed yet, and neither are listed on HMF.)  Oh, and I picked up a Mrs. B.R. Cant on impulse.  This is a big rose, and really shouldn't be picked up on impulse!  And no, I'm not sure where I'll put her yet.  Anyway, back to the plant sale:

7.  Check out is a little different.  You first find a volunteer to write down how many plants you have of each price range.  Prices were mostly $1, $2, $5 or $10, with some big trees being more expensive.  What did I pay for each plant?  I have no idea!  There was a colored plant tag in each pot.  The color of the plant tag indicated the price.  Did I have time to look at the color, look up the price, and then decide if I wanted it?  No.  All the plants would have been gone by then!  I just grabbed and moved on.  Anyway, after the volunteer writes down the number of each color of plant tags, you then proceed to the check out line.


8.  After checking out, we decided to go around again, and filled up our cart a second time!  The kind people at the check out watched our plants that we had already paid for.

9.  Afterward, there are volunteers driving "mules" (the mechanical kind, not the animal kind) that will take you and your plants to your car.   I was so thankful for this!


Would I go again?  You bet!  Not only did I get some roses, but I also got some unusual plants that I haven't seen anywhere else, such as habranthus tubispathus texensis, penstemon tenuis,  and sarcandra glabra, to name just a few.  Of course, there were a few plants that I wasn't fast enough to get.  Maybe next time!

The photos are plants that are blooming in my garden now, not anything having to do with the SFA plant sale.  But I'll be sure to post pics when Satin Cream and Big Momma's Blush roses start blooming.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's Here!

Spring is finally here!  What a tease it has been this year.  But now, new, young leaves have begun to show on the shrubs, 

creeping phlox is blooming,

tulips are blooming, and are well worth the price to have a few in the garden.

I planted the beginnings of an iris walk, and I can't wait to see if my efforts pay off.

The grass needs mowing (ugh), but the asparagus is fresh and super yummy.  This is the first year I've been able to harvest them, and they are better than I ever expected!

The late cold snap damaged a lot of my roses.  Most are recovering, but I'm quite worried about a few of my old garden teas.  We'll just have to wait and see how they fare.  But as always, the garden is full of sweet surprises.

I think my peonies are going to bloom this year!  Peony blooms in Texas!  How exciting!  

Saturday, March 15, 2014


I was at Tractor Supply yesterday.  They had a beautiful display of spring plants, seeds and bulbs.  Their garden gear was beautifully and prominently set alongside the display.  It was enough for anyone to imagine that if you picked up a pair of gloves and a few plants, you, too, could have a lovely garden.

I picked up a couple of forsythia.

No, no, I wasn't influenced by the display.  Although, I have to admit, I did linger in the gardening section for far too long.  I was influenced into buying forsythia by my daughter.  I have been looking for forsythia, and Tractor Supply was the first place I've found it.  You see, last year my daughter and I were at a Home Show together and she remarked how much she loved forsythia.  Forsythia!  I have always heard other gardeners remark how forsythia was just a green blob when not in bloom.  Influenced by their disgust, I never imagined it in my garden.  

But suddenly, it was her remark - no, it was the tone of pure joy in her voice at seeing a forsythia - that began to influence me.  I imagined two forsythias close by the catenary (which I am still working on, and is not ready for a reveal yet), with yellow daffodils in the grass across the way, and yellow carolina jessamine blooms on the vegetable garden fence nearby.  And when it's not in bloom, the unassuming forsythia will let the autumn grasses that are planted there, shine.  

It's interesting, but my entire spring garden plan was influenced by her three little words "I love forsythia".

We gardeners are easily influenced.  And it seems, we also love to influence others.   Take my favorite spring bloom so far this year, the checkered lily, fritillaria meleagris.  I had long admired this bloom in photos, but never dreamed of having them in my Texas garden.  That is, until Alistair of Aberdeen Gardening convinced me that they just might live in my garden, and that they were certainly worth a try.  And so, try is what I did. 

Last year, I purchased and planted several bulbs, and put them in two different areas.  One area stays moist, while the other area is a bit drier.  And lo and behold, they are both coming up.  They are the bloom that I am most excited about this year.  Will they return next year?  Not sure, but it will be fun finding out!

My great-grandmother's daffodils have influenced me, too.  I decided I wanted daffodils growing in the grass just as they still do at her house, 30+ years after her death.

I started planting them last year.  They are such a cheerful display, and I think of her whenever I see them.  But it is the photo of the daffodils blooming in debsgarden that has given me resolve to continue adding to my little display.  Maybe one day my daffodils will be give such a lush showing.

Sweet little species tulips are another bloom that I have been delighted to see.  Tulips don't return here, and I'm much too lazy to dig them up and replant every year.  While I was ordering bulbs last autumn, I read about species tulips.  I read that they might, just might, return every year in hot-weather gardens.  That small possibility is all it took to influence me to add them to my garden.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

Who has influenced the blooms in your garden lately?

I'm joining May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, where there is a lot of influencing going on!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What Are the Odds?

"You should come inside.  They're looking for an escapee."

Now it made sense.  I had heard dogs barking.  And guns shooting.  It was odd, but I was busy.  Much too busy to stop because of some strange commotion.

You see, I was outside pruning the roses.  It's a Seasonal Celebration that I look forward to each and every early spring.  To a non-gardener, or even to a non-rose-loving gardener, pruning roses seems like a chore.  And I have to admit, it takes me several days of concentrated effort to prune all the roses in my garden.  And even with long sleeves and rose gauntlets on, I always end up scratched and bloodied.  But I still get excited every year about pruning the roses.  To me, it means that blooms will soon be on the way.

This year I was trying hard to prune all my roses within a few days.  I wanted all my roses to come into their peak all around the same time, and I thought the odds of that happening would be much greater if I pruned all my roses within a short time frame.  Visions of my garden in full bloom filled my mind.  That's why a chore - pruning - is a celebration I look forward to all winter.

But this particular escapee had come from Georgia.  They had caught his accomplice.  He was desperate.  And he had been seen in the area, with a gun.  People around here don't lock their vehicles.  Sometimes, people around here don't even lock their doors at night.  We are not used to crime.  It is still something shocking when it happens.  And someone had left their vehicle unlocked, with a gun inside.  The escapee had stolen the gun.

I went inside.

All night long, helicopters flew overhead.  He was close.  He was very close.  But they just couldn't catch him.  The next morning, we drove to the post office.  There was law enforcement everywhere.  And no sign of the escapee.

What to do?  I needed to garden!  I couldn't waste a beautiful day!  I weighed the odds.  The odds of an encounter with an escapee seemed pretty unlikely, even if he was in the area.  And I would be armed with pruners!  Maybe not much of a weapon against a gun, but I was guessing he didn't want to be seen.  And I knew that spring was coming.  The odds of spring coming was much higher than the sighting of an escapee.

And so, my husband armed me with pepper spray and a walkie talkie.  And I went outside to prune.  I decided to prune in the back.  If law enforcement saw me, they might mistake me for the escapee, and I didn't want to get shot by accident.

I was on high alert.  I listened for the rustling of leaves.  Vigilantly, I listened to the birds for any sign of danger - complete silence or agitated twittering.  I watched for sudden flight.  And my eyes scanned the woods for movement.  Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of pruning done.

Finally, my husband came outside.  "He's gone."

The escapee had stolen an unlocked vehicle in the middle of the night not five miles from my house.

They spotted him again about a week later in Alabama.  Again, he evaded capture.  From Georgia to Texas back to Alabama?  I hope he's on his way back to Georgia to turn himself in.

My roses responded to the pruning gloriously.  New little leaves popped out on my roses bushes.  I was optimistic about my roses bursting into glorious blooms all at the same time.

But Mother Nature (or maybe it was Old Man Winter) had other thoughts.  The escapee is not the only one that has gone back and forth.  The temperatures have too - from sun-burning 78 to a very chilly 17 degrees.  All those sweet new little rose leaves are now black and shriveled.  My dreams of a glorious display have withered and died, too.  The roses will eventually bloom, but it won't be the same.  I had done the work, but will not see the results I had hoped for.

I am disappointed.  Extremely disappointed.  But not too surprised.  That's the Lesson Learned that all gardeners learn eventually.  Like a desperate escapee, the weather is never predictable.  You have to keep alert to it.  Odds are, it will come into the garden some time during the year, wreaking havoc.  It can be record cold, an extreme drought, or scorching summer temperatures.  Some years, it's all three.  And the weather is something we will never capture.  We gardeners just have to keep gardening.  We can't waste a beautiful day.  Because most of all, we have to keep hoping for that glorious year of our dreams.

I'm joining Donna at Gardens Eye View for Seasonal Celebrations, and Beth at Plant Postings for Lessons Learned.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Squeal

I had walked by there at least - at least! - three times.  And I never saw it.  It had completely escaped my eyes, and it is a wonder that I ever saw it.

I had been weeding for several hours.  I was ready to come inside.  But, one last walk around convinced me that I needed to bend down and weed where some spring bulbs were beginning to emerge.  It was a good thing that I was so close to the ground, or I would never have seen this wonder.

This particular area is shaping up to be my spring garden.  I'm planning on planting spring blooming forsythia and carolina jessamine here.  Last autumn, I planted a lot of spring blooming bulbs.  Daffodils are planted here.   Tulips, too, even though they may never return.  A lot of irises, of all different types.  A few crocus.  Muscari.  Paperwhites.  And a few of those free gifts you get when you purchase a set amount.

Bent down, giving a half-hearted attempt to scrape away the weeds that had sprung up in the moist soil, my eyes looked away from my task for a moment.  And that's when I saw it.

I let out a little squeal.

A squill was blooming!

What an adorable, tiny bloom!  Such a gorgeous shade of blue.  Such sweet little leaves.  Just sitting there, basking in the sun, blooming as if it were already spring.  I didn't know exactly what it was, only that it was tiny, a beautiful shade of blue, and some sort of squill.

I googled 'blue squill' and I got a lot of links for Siberian squill, scilla siberica.  Oh, yes, now I remember planting them!  (I went a little crazy planting last autumn!)  According to Dave's Garden, Siberian squill is a bulb with a medium blue, late winter/early spring bloom under 6 inches tall.  To date, there are no reports of it growing in Texas, so I wonder how well it will grow here.  There are some reports of invasiveness, but I doubt it could ever become invasive here, as it "requires consistently moist soil".  Not something easily found in Texas, at least not in July or August!

If it returns again next year, I'll buy more.  But for now, I'll just enjoy this fun find.  And wonder what will bloom next in my spring garden.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Magic Needed

The tour ended, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  I was a magician!  Through a slight of hand, well, actually by pointing out different plants along the walk in order to take the focus away from where I didn't want her to look, we completed the tour without my friend ever seeing my vegetable bed.  Even though it is very hard to overlook, I had managed to steer her away from the most embarrassing part of my garden.

Would she have understood?  Probably.  But I believed that I could magically transform it into a beautiful showcase by the time she returned for another walk around my garden.  

In contrast to my friend's tour, when my sister came to visit, she got to see the vegetable bed.  

She's family.  

But when she saw it, she cried out, "Oh, my!  I was going to tell you to put down landscaping fabric, but I see you did!  Wow!  How did all those weeds grow on the fabric like that?"

That was a good question.  My error was in putting a layer of mulch on top of the weed barrier.  The mulch composted down, and in doing so, seemingly every weed and grass seed germinated and grew in this fertile base.  But it wasn't totally the fault of the mulch, either.  Much of the grass speared its way through the weed barrier.  Bermuda is not easy to kill.

When I read that Janet of Plantalicious was showing "warts and all" in Helen of The Patient Gardener's monthly meme, End of Month View, I realized that if I joined in to show my vegetable bed every month, this just might be the motivation I needed to get - and keep - it in shape.  So, here it is.  My wart:

from north east corner looking south

from east corner looking west

from north west corner looking south

My plan is to get all the weeds/grass/mulch out/off of the landscape fabric.  Then put down another layer.  (And no mulch this time!)  I will try to keep up with any weeds that poke though.  Even though the weeds are in the pathways, not where I plant vegetables, I still want to use organic methods here, so I'll probably try using vinegar.

Can I magically transform this area?  And not let it get out of hand?  Not sure, but that's the plan! 

We'll see how much I've accomplished next month!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Another Lesson in Patience

I think winter pictures of snow covered gardens are so pretty.   However, it's a rare sight to see snow falling here, even the light dusting we got last week.

I laughed at the snowmen that were featured on the local news.  The snowmen were miniatures!  Each snowman was only 2 or 3 inches high!  The perfect size for a fairy garden.

With all the ups and downs in the temperatures, working in the garden has been on and off, too.  I have cut all the dead foliage off of the cannas, asters, and chrysanthemums.  I've also weeded, but I have a lot of weeding to do still.  I'll have to do a post on the persistence and resiliency of my weeds!

There is not much blooming in my garden right now.  A camellia bloom here and there.  And the rosemary is gorgeous.

But the most exciting bloom for me is the lone snowdrop that has finally decided to bloom.  It is blooming slowly.  I've been watching it for two weeks, and it is just now beginning to open its petals.  These would be perfect to pair with miniature snowmen!  I'm not sure this is snowdrop country, but I thought I'd give some a try.  There are a few more snowdrops that have emerged, but so far they are just pretty little leaves with no blooms.  I'll wait patiently for them.  Even in a snowdrop bloom, the garden teaches us a lesson in patience.

It's really hard to get a beauty shot of a snowdrop!  This was the best I could do.

And, so, with my garden in the middle of winter, I've been trying to remember that spring will come, and plants will bloom again, filling the garden with color.  It's becoming increasingly difficult for me to even imagine it.  Last May, I toured a friend's garden.  I didn't post the pictures then, and I'm glad I didn't.  I think now is the perfect time to post them.  It's a good reminder that spring will eventually come.

Look at the gorgeous foliage!  So many colors without a bloom in sight.

So green.  So refreshing.  So calming.

But, she had blooms, too!

Oh, yes, she had blooms.

Hers was a walking garden, with green pathways of grass and numerous flower beds.

I loved that she wasn't afraid to use a rainbow of colors.  Pink, red, orange, yellow - they were all here.

See what I mean?  Isn't it gorgeous?

I'd forgotten how colorful May can be!

To me, the piece de resistance was this rose covered arbor (Peggy Martin rose).  Just gorgeous!  Notice, too, the urns filed with sea shells.  This was a theme that was repeated in different areas of her garden.

Seashells surrounded by succulents.  And did you notice the small stakes of silver balls?  That, too, was a recurring theme.

These large stakes of silver balls looked almost like additional blooms.

And here they are again!  I just adored this unique, eye-catching, and beautiful idea.

Ah, yes, spring will come again.  Winter is just another lesson in patience.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...