Monday, July 18, 2011

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Inside Austin Gardens Tour Preview - Holt/Doolin

Several of us had a chance to preview four of the homes that will be on the Master Gardeners Tour this weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed them. These are my kind of gardens. Not that the Wildflower Center sponsored tour isn't beautiful, but I like to see gardens that were created by the homeowner, gardens that I can aspire to create. If the homeowner did the heavy lifting themselves, then it's all the better. The tour will be this Saturday. More information can be found here.

Each of the gardens we visited were amazing in their own ways. They were so very different and I was able to get so many ideas from each of them.

Rebecca Matthews Garden - 3712 Holt Drive

This garden was so whimsical and fun. One thing about this garden that I didn't notice right away is the lack of grass. Often in a garden with no grass something feels a little off, but this one feels very welcoming. Rebecca said that when she moved in the back was covered with a bed of mostly-dead Bermuda. What a transformation, it gives the rest of us a little hope.

One thing that makes this garden so inviting is all of the archways. Here is the view as you first step into the backyard.

The one here leads you into a cozy little seating area framed out with a cool chandelier.

A lovely wrought iron bridge adds interest to another pathway. The free tumbled glass from the city makes up the river bed.

Here's a few pictures of some fun garden art, placed throughout the garden. My favorite of which is this pond/fountain which uses the watering can for recirculation.

I loved the use of gates throughout the garden. Rather than just having them against a back fence they took center stage. I just bought a small gate this weekend when we were roaming around, and I'm about to go move it to center stage.

The entire garden was very bird-friendly, with cute little houses and feeders everywhere. The garden also had bee, bat, and owl houses.

What a cute little guy.

I loved the idea of making the bird bath into a little bed. It is so unexpected.

Wendy Brennan's Garden - 3303 Doolin Drive

You can find this garden and and an interview with Link, the neighbor and creator on Central Texas Gardener.

This garden is formed around this modern-style path. Link used a concrete saw to separate the plain old concrete path into these blocks and then created this geometric pattern. He did inform us that it was quite a bit of work, and not as easy as they make it out to be on the home and garden shows. Still, it was clearly worth the effort.

The back seating area is framed out by these homemade screens. He used air-conditioner screens that he found on clearance at Target, with chain-link fence posts. Although they aren't, they look extremely expensive, something you'd find in a high-end garden.

This old piece of ranch equipment provides a window into the river bed. The bed is framed out with a lovely assortment of well placed grasses and salvias. There are also a few small trees. Link said that Wendy really likes a sparse garden, which in this case provides a nice zen feel.

These rusted water heaters are such a cool idea. They really fit the space and could easily have ended up in a landfill somewhere.

We had a chance to view Link's garden next door, which has some of the funkiest yard art I've ever seen. He seems to be a master and sifting through items on bulk collection day and coming out with treasures.

When I first saw these small machinery pieces, I thought they were some sort of succulent.

My first time seeing a lawn mower on a pole. It is definitely an attention getter. I love it.

This rust-colored dragon fly looks like yard art.

I'll be posting on the other two gardens very soon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Front Beds - Now Ready for Inspiration

Here is the before picture. This bed was here when we moved in and although it defines the space, I don't really care for it. I really want to front yard to have a natural look. This weekend I took the stone down to the first layer and was able to make two additional beds.

Now that I have the beds in place I need some inspiration. I know I want drought tolerant plants that will receive quite a bit of sun. I am excited for the Garden Tour coming up this weekend. It is focused on water-wise gardening, so it should be a perfect fit.

I plan on putting in some dwarf fruit trees in the bed on the left. I hope to be able to squeeze in three, 1 peach, 1 apple, and the third is still up for debate.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Recipe: Zucchini Cole Slaw, Bubbles and Squeak

What to do with all of that extra zucchini?

We aren't too far into squash season yet, but at some point the family doesn't want to see another zucchini, even if you do hide it into a delicious loaf of bread. Last night I mixed it up with a zucchini cole slaw. My husband, who is not a huge zucchini fan, went in for seconds.

Fresh Veggies
2 zucchini, 1 red pepper, 1 red onion, 2 carrots

Thinly slice all veggies
- I used the peeler for the carrots to make them softer, depends on how much crunch you're going for.

For the sauce

Mix mayo and apple cider vinegar. Do this to taste, I believe my portion was either a 4 or 5 to 1 (mayo:vinegar). Add salt, pepper to taste and a dash of celery seed. I also added a dash of cumin to go with the smoky flavor of the BBQ chicken pizza we had with it.

Bubbles and Squeak

This is a great way to use a mix of your late spring veggies.

Veggies used: potatoes, onion, carrots, brussel sprouts

Boil potatoes and brussel sprout halves in water or chicken broth.
Finely dice onions and carrots and cook in olive oil until soft. Season with salt and pepper while cooking.

Once potatoes are soft and brussel sprouts have lost their leaves, drain. (You can reserve the chicken broth if you used it).

Add whole potatoes to onions and carrots and mash right in, along with butter, salt, pepper to taste.

Add brussel sprout leaves. I left out the centers this time, but feel free to add them.

Stir and serve.

I served mine with a side of turkey smoked sausage. Yum!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cucs and Tomatoes Variety Review - 1 month in

Suyo Long
Not sure if you can tell from this picture, but this baby cucumber is really long. The tag says they get to be 15"! It's amazing how much of a difference I can already see between this variety and the others.

Sweet Slice
I have two of these plants. (You can kind of see the other in the background). These have really done nothing. I'm hoping they take off at some point, but right now they are just wasting valuable real estate. The one has at least grabbed hold of the trellis, but barely. I'm interested to see if I get any production out of them.

Suyo Long
This one has taken off vertically and seems to be doing pretty well. It has produced a few baby cucs so far and is flowering well.

National Pickling
Seems to like horizontal more than vertical and ignores any efforts at training it to go in a specific direction. It does have a few baby cucs and is flowering though, so I can't complain too much.

General Lee
This one is growing off very well and has taken to the trellis. You can see it also seems to prefer the horizontal direction. I have three plants all heading for the exact same corner, must be something about the morning sun.

Doing well and seems to be a vertical climber, which I am very happy about.

All six of these have fruit.

La Roma
Neither of the two have fruit, but one has some pretty good flowers. I didn't think there would be much of a difference between Roma and La Roma, but apparently there is.

Black Cherry
These and the Sun Golds have maturing fruit, good plant growth and lots of flowers.

Yellow Pear Cherry
I have two of these and one just got it's first fruit today. I've had luck with these in the past, so I'm not too stressed about their late start.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tomatillo Production

Last year was my first year growing tomatillos. I love the flavor and couldn't wait to make all kinds of salsas and sauces, but much to my disappointment the plants would not set fruit. They finally produced about 10 total near the tail end of the summer, but that was hardly a good crop.

I had read that you need at least two plants, since they will not self-pollinate and proceeded to plant the minimum number. This year I decided to double them and have a total of 4 in the same bed. Already I have at least 15 full size husks. I am excited to see how the summer plays out with this kind of production so early.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Garden Firsts

With the move and having to wait on the deer fence, my garden got in a few weeks later than I would have liked. It can be a little discouraging to see others' plants doing so well, where mine seem to be stagnant, especially my heirloom tomatoes. At least I've had a few firsts this week though, including my first ripe cherry tomato (Sun Gold).

First Cucumber Siting, General Lee

First full size pepper, Hungarian Hot