Thursday, July 29, 2010

Three For Thursday

I've been gathering images of original artwork in Crestview Neighborhood for an on-going blog posting series and decided to jump in on Cindy's of My Corner of Katy's 3 for Thursday idea.

Scarecrows of Crestview:
The Robot
The King

The Garden Head

I need a Scarecrow, well...actually I need a Scarestinkbug...something I'd like to figure out.

Have a great day,

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Beautifying Crestview...Firestation #16

8am Saturday and we're all up and ready to work on the Fire station! This is the best of possible ripple effect scenarios. Emily Wilson, my friend and neighbor, was my first client, ever. She lives on Cullen street and she wanted a "cottage garden like my grandma's." How fun is that? I drew it, she built it, it's in and she loves it but she didn't stop there.
That was just the start. Last year she coupled with another client, Hedrich Michaelsen to form FOBP, Friends of Brentwood Park, our neighborhood park. She pulled me in to help with the design, and I volunteer of course, but she and Hedrich do the grant writing, organization, newsletter writing and volunteer round-up.
She didn't stop there.

She lives a few houses down from Crestview Fire Station #16...our neighborhood Fire Station.

I've wanted to do something with the Fire Station since I moved here...but simply never got around to it. When she called a few months ago and asked if I would do the design, it wasn't even a whole second before I said, or rather shouted into the phone YES!

She's a fabulous organizer, I'm not and I get to do what I We're going to turn it into a Wild Life Habitat, but also install several beds for the guys to do square foot gardening!

We had a few meetings about the logistics, she did all the phone and foot work, and today was the day!

Volunteers from both Crestview and Brentwood neighborhoods showed up along with a few Habitat Stewards and CAMN members...around 15 folks in all!

We covered the hell strips with cardboard and layered about 4-5 inches of free mulch from Asplundh. The city dumped around 2 cubic yards of dillo dirt, and that was spread over the lawn and around the base of the existing trees, after we pulled up the grass.

I'd say we got about 1/2 of the hell strip done before we ran out of material but we still had an extra 20 minutes of our original 3 hour time slot.

Here are a few volunteers taking a break beneath one of the huge Pecan trees.

That's Emily on the rope there, when it was finished several folks took a turn climbing the rope for, two, three!

Go Mark!

This isn't the whole bunch 'cause a few folks had to cut out a little early but most of us stayed through 'til the end! I'm never sure what or why anyone gets a spark and runs with it, but image a world full of people who want to make it a better place....hmmmm.
If you would like to donate time, money or supplies to either FOBP or the Crestview Fire Station #16 Wild Life Habitat project you can e-mail me at or Emily Wilson at
There will be several workdays before we plant in the fall and we'd love to have you come help!
Happy Gardening!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

North Austin Funk...Crestwood/Brentview (numero uno)

Since I moved to Crestview 13 years ago next month, I've been told by dozens of people that "you belong in South Austin." I didn't know what that meant, but by the nature and timing of the comment, I took it as a compliment. Last year, when my North Austin property was put on the "Inside Austin Gardens Tour" hosted by the Travis County Master Gardeners, that idea got tossed around ever more and I was told by many a folk in my yard that day that the word had gotten out that my house was the "funky yard" destination and when Central Texas Gardener reviewed the tour, my house was again mistaken for "South Austin Charm" by the host.
(All photos taken in Crestview and Brentwood Neighborhood.)

I'm not from Austin, I'm a transplant who means to stay. I've never called anyplace on this blue ball "home" but here. Here's where I've lived the longest, reared my daughters, taught school, worked as a professional gardener on both sides of the river, learned to brew beer, where my first big public artwork is, started blogging, found the love of my life, married him barefoot in the backyard and's just plain easy to stay where folks are just down to earth, environmentally conscious, liberal-minded, free and kind as all get up...most of 'em.
But South Austin, really doesn't have anything up on my hood. We've got trailer-food, Alamo Drafthouse, Threadgill's, Lala's Little Nugget, Poodle Dog, Shoal Creek Nursery, Toy Joy, Ruby's, Mann's, Mayfield Park, The Triangle, Brentwood Pool...which is still free, my favorite little Mexican restaurant La Casita, The upcoming BlackStar Coop, The Homebrew Store, and appropriately named Crestview Station, the center of "the Line." I'm sure if you're a North Austiner your mind is tallying up all I've left out, ohhh, Genuine Joe's, Spider House, all that cool stuff off North Loop and of course Sunshine Gardens, Patchwork the list goes on...
A few years back, local artist Jean Graham applied for a KAB grant and her main point was that our neighborhood "78" didn't have a public work of art. Since then artists, musicians, story tellers, gardeners etc. have been crawling out of the woodwork en masse...a few of us in the hood are biting our nails waiting to see if this years KAB grant will shine on us...again.

Well, my idea is for a neighborhood sign art project and we'll see if we get the dollars to do it, if'll happen some other way. But, until it does, I'm still walking the hood with my best gal, Dorothy can see her sweet squished face in the lower right hand corner of the shot above...checking out what we think is just plain "cool."

You gotta love the Barbi-car. So, I'll be puttin' up shots from my walk occasionally, because we've just got some real funky treasures here in the hood, and I'm all about sharing. Take a drive through our hood sometime...stop by the Minimax for a 6 pack of micro-brew and grab a pie at the Little Deli...this is home.
Happy Gardening, and keep it cool folks!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's a Cool, Cool Summer! GBBD

It's been awhile since I posted and it's not because I've been busy working in my garden. No, I haven't been doing much outside at all. This most amazing Texas summer (so far...knock on wood) has been taking care of my yard for me. Regular rain along with cloudy, breezy days makes me feel like I'm on vacation. The barometer bush, seen below seems to have been in constant purplidge (I think I just made that up.)

Leucophyllum frutescens, Texas Sage, Texas Ranger, Silver Leaf, Barometer Bush, Purple Sage, Silverado, Cenzio has more common names than 2222.

Two of my Cenzio's do this, the others just bloom a light lavender color, sometime after the rains. According to what I've read the trigger is either humidity level or soil moisture...and it seems to be true either way.

The mound is becoming less visible as the ground covers continue to spread. I've got purslane, fernleaf verbena and Santolina along with various grasses and the Ocotillo, which is shy this year...lots of leaves, no blooms.

Thryallis, Golden Shower

Mexican Petunia, ruellia gets a bad rap for being invasive, and it is...but knowing that nothing can kill it makes it a favorite around here. This 'pink island' will be waist high by October...guaranteed.

Canna Lily

Tobasco pepper, Capsicum frutescens

Gregg's Mistflower, Conoclinium greggi

Birdii dorkus
So, this is what has become of my homestead TV. Common sense drove me indoors, away from the mosquitoes and air thick enough to swim in. We were blessed to have my brother take my girls for a month and we happened upon a wonderful carpenter so years of planning took shape. The window seat I'm sitting on was one of 3 built-in projects that gobbled up the better part of June. The former "studio" which has been re-named "The Bird Blind Bar" has become our favorite roost.

And here is the West Wall, the actual 'bar.' 7 years ago my beloved husband built the studio out of the existing screened in porch...the window bar, favoring the little coffee bar in Amsterdam where we decided to marry was planned that long ago. The window seat was an obvious need.
Check out my carpenter Bryan Thomas' new blog:

And here she is, Ursala, our little Black Chinned Hummingbird that has stolen our heart!

Last Sunday we spent 6 hours drinking Peach Margarita's and documenting her comings and goings. My teen aged daughters were mortified, proclaimed us 'the biggest dorks EVER.' I've been called worse. She goes from the back feeder, over the house to the front and I believe she's built a nest in the American Elm...though until winter, when the foliage is gone, I won't be sure.

Turks Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus is one of Ursula's favorites

To date, I've yet to put out the sprinkler. After the loss of our Sycamore, I decided to let the grass's St. Augustine, shade grass. It's mid-calf now and due to the rain and clouds shows no signs of stress, if not for the chiggers I'd be rolling in it.
And the Green Goddess has decided to don a lovely dress rather than give up! It looks like a crazy Carnival Tango get-up!

There seems to be a lot going on here, but what I'm showing is the height of the bronze fennel, nearly 5 ft tall!

My neighbor feeds the doves sunflower seeds, spreading the joy throughout the hood!

Red Yucca, another hummingbird favorite!

The most profuse tomato in my garden is Early Girl, she's got a dozen or so green ones holding on. The first to stop putting on fruit were the heirlooms, Purple Cherokee and Oaxacan Stripe. But this one, Green Stripe is still going. It's very flavorful and the skin pulls off at the slightest tug, but she's suffering seam splits along her color changes. All of them have this brown scarring.

Great year for eggplant!

Tickseed, Coreopsis Lanceolata found her way into my yard via neighbors.

I'm going to guess that this is a Julia Heliconian caterpillar, let me know if I'm wrong! It's near the Passionflower Vine, its host. This is one of the shy Silverado bushes that waits for wet feet to bloom. The Crape Myrtle's are still going strong!

Butterfly Weed, Tropical Milkweed Asclepias curassavica

We took a drive out to Fredericksburg this past Saturday and stopped in at Wildseed Farms
to pick up a hummingbird/butterfly mix and upon reading the label realized that there were just a few plants I was missing...according to them. So, I bought the mix and will put them out come October...we'll see how that goes. If you haven't been there, put it on your list. The hummingbirds were busy and butterflies amazing. They have a butterfly house, but we didn't drop the change to see what it was all about because the air was thick with them anyway.

I put in 3 bronze fennel plants last fall, this spring I ended up with 11. This one plant is the view outside my computer desk! I've been watching the swallowtails for nearly 2 months!

Passionflower Vine, host plant to the Gulf Fritillary finally bloomed. Randy gave me 3 babies last summer and I didn't think they'd make it. They not only made it, but they are popping up all over! The 'pillars have made skeletons out of several of the vines, but a few have survived into bloomage!

That's the update...there are lots more blooming things though:



all of the Sage and Fennel

Indian Blanket




Second round of blooms on the Pride of Barbados

Rock Rose

Lambs Ear

Katrina Rose

Knock Out Rose

Belinda's Dream


Oregano, and Mexican Oregano


Society Garlic

Trailing Lantana

Chaste Tree
OOPS...forgot these:
Patrick's Abutilon
Cuphea (not the bat faced, but the "David" one...?)
Almond Verbena
New Golden Lantana

Next months Bloom Day will find me in the Davis Mountains counting hummingbirds with a group of Naturalists! I'm finding that my gardening interests are leaning farther toward sustenance and ecology and away from 'pretty plant' mindedness. I looove a gorgeous bloom but it's ever more precious when I learn how she fits into the greater web and I'm more impressed with strength and flexibility than ever.

Thank you Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting bloggers around the world! Check out her sight to see what's blooming anyplace on earth! And always,

Happy Gardening!