Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More, tell me more (updated)

Update: To make more sense for those who might visit here from out of our "viewing area", here is a video clip featuring one of Austin's mover/shaker garden bloggers/organizers, Pam of Digging, as her garden was featured on Central Texas Gardener, the show I mention later in the body of this post. Enjoy!

Besides doing trimming to provide better sight lines around the bottle tree, I finally got all the corks together I'd been saving for "something someday" and decided they constituted "enough" to mulch the area right in front of the doing its best to imitate a still growing hackberry bottle tree.

Kids, don't try this at home. Safely accumulating corkage of this quantity requires the efforts of seasoned swillers.On my way over to the bottle tree I noticed an amusing moth settled in on my pre-munched collard plants.I cannot say what this moth is rightfully called, but if there is any sort of justice in the moth naming world, it would have to be called something along the lines of the elephant-snout-nosed-lays-eggs-that-hatch-into-larvae-that-eat-your-collards-moth. "Snouty" for short.

While wrestling with my own definition of whimsy lately (whimsy is like pornography perhaps - hard to define but you know it when you see it) I did spot an idea that was so genius I had to steal it to use in my own surrounds.Cheryl of Conscious Gardening's bottlecap snakes (that's her photo above) were the long sought after answer to a question I've been previously unsuccessfully fielding from my family for a couple of years now, that question being with regards to my own stash of caps "but what are you going to DO with them?!?". My answer prior to recently being "I don't know - something!".

Seeing as thiswas the slightly less than grand extent of what could be considered seasonal decor at our entry way I thought to press the upcoming candyfest into double duty as a raison d'snaktre, and et voila!

Cheryl - you are my hero(ine) and yes I totally have stolen this idea directly from the photos of your garden but I promise to always give you credit for coming up with this first. Pinky swear. Your garden is wonderful and I would clone it if I could.Oh - and while I'm on the topic of "Stealing Ideas from Cheryl" yes, reading about her garden is what got me thinking "now WHERE did I put those two buckets filled with corks?!" to anchor my bottle tree with cork mulch.

Fair is fair - I already had my bottle tree and had idly thought previously that putting the corks in around there as mulch might be cool but truth be told....I did not find the motivation to pour the corks out there until somebody else led the way.

And yes I guess I am that person Mom. If everybody else threw their corks off the edge of a cliff I suppose I might do it too.

Anyway, besides it not being pouring rain today (Yay! and a bigger hooray that we've had enough rain that I am not moved to grateful tears just at the sight of precipitation promised in our forecast) I was dragging my camera around because I love morning light here.Which led me to thinking about ESP's upcoming stint on Central Texas Gardener and while I'm in the booth, padre, I have another confession to make.

At times, especially when I have my camera in my hands and the morning light is just so, I totally fantasize about having my spaces featured on CTG.

I walk around,framing shots,cropping them to keep the weedy and nongorgeous parts hidden,while in my head I hear the calmly seductive voice of producer Linda Lehmusvirta saying things like "the seemingly impossible task of managing to keep a sense of humor while dealing with Central Texas weather makes leaping tall buildings in a single bound pale by comparison, but this West Austin gardener manages to do just that and take whatever Mother Nature dishes out in stride.."while Smash Mouth's "Walking on the Sun" blares out in the background.What's that you say? CTG doesn't play music with lyrics while touring a garden? Well, all right Mr. Fantasy Crusher - there will be something very much LIKE SmashMouth's song only a lot quieter and without lyrics then. Jeepers. Keep your garden gloves on.

So yeah, the camera is panning around and Linda is murmuring, "Preserving a place for wildlife to peacefully coexist is one of the main goals in this suburban backyard where native plants are in abundant evidence to provide food and....SCRRTCH! Sound of needle scraping across record as the tell tale evidence of my lifelong romance with the (dun dun dunnnnhhhh) totally invasive, every gardener worth her trowel has torn these all out already,nandinas in the back yard.

Linda's voice suddenly takes on an uncharacteristically stern and scolding tone "Here and there are signs there is work yet to be done in this evolving paradisiacal space". The camera cuts abruptly to me as I begin to squirm in my chair and whine about how charmed I have always been with the lore that if you plant a Nandina at the entrance of your garden and whisper to it all your worries and cares, your life and your garden will be trouble free.

I mumble guiltily about how I've always admired Nandina for doing something interesting year 'round, producing colorful leaves or white flowers or gorgeous berries... I glance around furtively, failing to make eye contact with the camera as I mutter about how forgiving Nandinas are to being trimmed to display stems or to being cut back, how they accept any soil, any amount of water, care, or total abuse and yet continue to put their best face forward, no matter what.The camera begins to do a Brian DePalma like swirl, quickly taking in whatever else redemptive there might be to look atas the segue music swells up, playing at 5 times regular speed.

Cut back to a startled and slightly frowning Tom Spencerwho is actually atypically flapped and speechless for a moment having not prescreened my segment prior to airtime. Now caught totally unawares that this featured garden served as an invasive plant training camp of sorts for the really terrible, if I don't tear them all out by the roots soon then the terrorists will already have won Nandinas, he struggles valiantly to find some positive way to end the segment.

"And that wraps up our tour of the good, the bad, and the ugly as we are reminded once again there is always something more to do in a typical Texas Garden".

And, cut to Trisha Shireywho will be demonstrating how, with a little plant based dye turned spray paint, you too can use elements from your compost pile as economical Christmas decorations in these, our troubled economic times.


Good luck ESP with your segment and especially with your stated goal to set Linda to giggling live on camera. You carry on your shoulders the hopes and aspirations of so many of us for whom being featured on CTG will remain only a dream......

I do have plans on getting all the Nandinas pulled out by their roots one of these days. Really, I do.


  1. Thank you, good heavens I'm blushing...hardly a whimsical genius here! Your blog is lovely, and your writing entertaining. I'm adding you to my blogroll! Have a great gardening day!

  2. You are too funny, TexasDeb. I'm going to make sure Linda sees this. Yes, I am!

    I'm another guilty gardener who hasn't pulled out her nandina yet. In my defense, I only moved in a year ago (good grief, where has the time gone?), and it was already here. And I have whacked it to the ground a time or two, being too busy (ahem, lazy) to have made time for actually digging it out. But as we know, whacking back nandina only encourages it. Sigh. One more thing on the to-do list.

  3. Awww now I am blushing! Thanks Cheryl, I'm glad you didn't overly mind my cheekily employing some of your many amazing garden chops. I'd hoped that old saw about imitation and flattery would apply but mostly assumed by the looks of your garden you have a generous heart and a wonderful sense of humor, so boldly begged, borrowed and mostly stole from you with abandon. (And attribution).

    Though I will part company with you on one point - you do have a genius for the whimsy so please don't argue that point further. The proof is everywhere in your spaces. Have a lovely week!

  4. Pam, I have been here years (and YEARS!!!) already and in my defense will say only that Nandina was not considered invasive when I first moved back to the Austin area. I was allowed to express my love for Nandina publicly with no shame for long enough I find it difficult to make the switch emotionally. I know I need to dig mine out. I KNOW I do. I just can't make myself DO it. Yet. I am a bad person perhaps - and yeah, some polar bear is out there treading water because I won't dig those bushes out. Sigh!

  5. Fabulous! And hey, you've done all the work for me. We'll definitely come out and frolic with you and I'm sure we can work out a deal about those nandinas. . . Thanks for the fun!!

  6. "Frolic" she says. Linda, with all due respect, you know I am a huge fan (why is this suddenly sounding like a set-up for a S. King novel?) but I am in NO way wangling an invite on the show. Just wanted to be real about what everybody thinks but won't say - that THEIR space should SO be on your show. (and in my case? NOT!)

    And if I'm wrong about that and the rest of you are not out there with that CTG theme music on a repeat loop in your head while you pull weeds, then please don't tell me. I'm not a strong woman, OK?

    Glad you had fun LL - knew you had a good sense of humor due to your rabbit keeping. Seriously, after a childhood of B Potter I get it! Only thing edgier for you to keep would be pet armadillos.

    On a more serious note, thanks for a great series . Each week I record the show and save it as a way to reward myself for bravely doing something noxious. Like weeding... CTG is the best!

  7. Hi TD.

    Just finished my morning cup of tea reading your post..(I am English after all). Enjoyed you post, was a nice way to wake up. Yes a late start for me this morning, I think it may have to do with the six yards of granite I have shifted over the last two days...ouch!

    You post was funny, especially the bit describing Tom Spencer's reaction, I could just "see" his expression in my minds eye! - very funny! Then the compost pile decorations by Trisha!

    Enjoyed the read Deb.
    Now I know what to do with my four sack-fulls of corks accumulated over the last rather indulged decade!


    PS...Three blogs? Wow!

  8. Brilliantly entertaining, as usual, Deb! (I have one old small nandina that I don't feel at all guilty about keeping. There, I said it.)

  9. ESP: Six yards! Ouch indeedy. And if by "Now I know what to do with my 4 sack-fulls of corks" you mean "gift them to TexasDeb to finish off her bottle tree area" I'd say we are thinking along similar great lines.

    Really looking forward to your segment on CTG and holding a good thought that your potential need for a back brace won't make you look too "heavy" on camera.

  10. Iris: Ha! Now, don't you feel better for having written that out loud? I really, truly LIKE the way Nandinas look unfortunately. That plus my thrifty disregard for the idea of taking a THRIVING WELL ADAPTED plant out of my landscaping thereby requiring me to buy or move other plants around to fill the gap? "Nandina removal" continues to slide to the bottom of my to-do list. (while they continue to multiply so yeah, I GET it....sheesh)

  11. I personally think the whole Nandina thing is one big nursery conspiricy. But then I am a conspiricy kind a guy and still think the Cubans and Russians worked together to kill you know who. Condiscending, whiney voice here--Oh, Nandinas, they're so bad, if you have them you're bad. You must dig it up. Oh but now there is a big blank place in your garden. You will have to buy something from a NURSERY to fill the spot. Something in a five gallon bucket should fit just right.

    I feel your pain, I've got vinca. Bob

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  13. I knew as soon as you started writing about CTG coming over that as of that moment it was no longer a dream. You asked for it and are you ready for it? Don't even worry about the Nandina thing because preparation for this will cause you to spend many extra hours in the garden worrying about whether this or that will still be in flower. Will it rain, will it be windy, will the critters come through the night before and eat everything. In the end it will be a perfect sunny day and every flower will be in bloom and Linda and the crew will come in and film and leave and you will wait for the day that it airs on TV- hoping that it is not on a pledge drive because you have told all your friends that it is on at 12 and when they feature 5 gardens you will wonder if yours will ever come up and is everyone still watching. And then it will happen and you will be so happy because Linda and the crew do the best job of any garden program I have ever seen ( including the Chelsea Flower Show) You will then congratulate yourself on having made a fine garden. Phew- I remember it well.

  14. Welcome, Bob! First off I have to admit you've created in me major raintank envy. M.A.J.O.R. Now that's out of the way let's take a look at your theory.

    Because I have Nandina, yes AND Vinca too - loads of it. And I bought BOTH at a NURSERY.

    Hmmmm - I believe I feel another blog post coming on.

  15. LRose: You are nearly correct. That would be all true if I'd decided to accept LL's near instant and extremely kind invitation to have my spaces featured on CTG. Truth is - what we have going on here is still too much a work in progress. I have promised myself I won't wait for "perfection" (no such thing on this side of the earthly coil says I) but I do have one or two major projects in mind to complete before I start looking at the calendar to schedule a camera crew invasion.

    Thanks for sharing your recollections of the process though. Duly noted/warned! : )

  16. I can't wait until Pam is ready for us to tape her new garden, and yours, of course. . .

    And if you figure out perfection in a garden, you'll be rich, rich, rich! And if you do, please let me know because mine sure needs a dose of it.

  17. Guilty as charged! I laughed out loud at the way you have all the CTG crew pegged! Loved the blog and will visit again.

    Now if you take some ball moss, mountain laurel seed pods, basil seed, and some spray paint...

  18. Ha! Welcome Trisha - glad you dropped in. I was counting on the evident good natures of your cast and crew with this post which wasn't much of a stretch. ANYbody who gardens in Central Texas MUST have a good sense of humor!

  19. I have to second everything that Lancashire Rose said about Linda. Linda brings out the best in everything and everyone.

    As for nandina...the big issue is that it is invasive. If you are worried about that, clip off the berries now before they ripen and the birds eat them (and then poop-plant them). Then you can feel guilt-free.

  20. Thanks MSS - cutting the berries off is something I try to do (although while I am being aboveboard those berries are part of what I love about the look of the plant).


About Me

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.