Tuesday, May 15, 2018


The Divas of the Dirt rewrote the lyrics of an old song to “It’s a long, long time from June to November” – yes, that’s how long it had been since the last time we gardened together. Travel plans, work schedules and health issues had the Divas scrambling to find doable dates.
Sugar could not come and Sophia was coughing and confined to bed so Annie, Karla, Buffy, Mindy and Glinda wielded their tools at Mattie’s house on a fine, warm fall day.

There was no specific project but general pruning, tidying and getting ready for what we in Austin call “Winter”. We spent some time just looking around the garden, seeing what was in bloom and deciding where to start. The front rose bed needed clean-up but that didn’t stop Mattie and Mindy from admiring the roses.

We tried to identify tree saplings planted by birds, wind and squirrels. This tree was growing quite nicely but what kind is it? My guess was some kind of ash - maybe an Arizona ash if they were still being planted when Mattie’s subdivision was built. What do you think?

Mattie had a problem with this variegated pittosporum. It seemed to have grown an awful lot since our last visit. Aha! See those solid green leaves at upper left? The variegated boughs of the pittosporum were relatively well-behaved but some solid-leaved trunks were growing from the rootstock. They’re not well-behaved and were crowding the part Mattie wants.

We Divas own some serious loppers and we know how to use them – once the rogues were cut out, the rest of the shrub looked darned good.

Buffy tackled the big boxwood with hedge clippers but I didn’t catch a photo, darn it.

Lantana is a great, drought tolerant, colorful plant – but it’s also a thug! Divas Annie and Mattie placed this bed next in line for taming.

This rosemary was out-of-bounds, smothering everything else in the bed. Although it looks green in the photo, the green needles were only a shell on the outside. The interior was all brown stems and needles. Unfortunately it was no longer worth keeping.

The adorable Fredric enjoyed visiting canine friends Barbie and Jeffy but he didn’t like being in the house away from the humans. It was very hard to resist that little face but it is safer to keep the pets inside unless we’re working behind the fence.

We’d already done a lot by that point – time to drop the tools and take a break.

Coming into the dining room we admired the absolutely smashing flower arrangement that graced Mattie’s table.

The first course was an elegant Butternut squash and shrimp soup with toppings of coconut, lime and cilantro. Everyone relaxed and we began to talk about every subject under the sun.

The counter was covered with an expansive array of goodies. Take a closer look.

Salsa, chips, guacamole, pretzel rolls and a big green salad.

Chicken salad, olives, herbed cheese, pickles, Gouda-pimento (!!) cheese and crackers.

Then a super-good apple cobbler with ice cream and welcome cups of coffee.

We’d had a few odd encounters with Nature during the day, including what may have been Palmetto bug nymphs jumping out and running around on the Divas who attacked the rosemary. For the Divas working on the pittosporum there were nicely hidden piles of poop donated by the neighbors’ cat. We made it through these minor irritants and decided we’d left Mattie’s house looking good.
The next day Mattie took a photo and sent it to us – yes, looking good! 

This post, 2017 – NOVEMBER  MATTIE’S GARDEN DAY, was written by Annie in Austin/Diva Glinda for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

2017 - September Sugar's Turn

Sugar was not ready for a work-in-the-yard kind of garden meeting, but she sure did want to see her friends. She decided that a brunch kind of meeting was the way to go and after a lot of back and forth emails, the day, time and place were chosen – an Austin, Texas classic place to meet – Magnolia CafĂ© on Lake Austin Boulevard. Diva Annie thought it was an appropriate place – she remembered that Magnolia was the restaurant where a newly formed garden group had their first meeting breakfast years ago – before they came up with the name Divas of the Dirt.

The Divas of the Dirt were not all able to make it, but the Divas who showed up had a great time!

This post, 2017 – September  Sugar’s Turn, was written by Annie in Austin/Diva Glinda for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2017 – MAY and JUNE, SOPHIA and GLINDA

This post, 2017 – May and June, Sophia and Glinda, was written by Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

2017 was fixing to be a very unpredictable year. 

May was another rain-out. Sophia thought 80% chances were so high that she cancelled her planned day. We were not happy – partly because we really wanted to help Sophia with her garden and partly because she serves such wonderful lunches and desserts!
The rain did materialize and boy, did we need it.

At least there was a new rescue kitten at Sophia’s house to console her for the lost meeting.

Mindy scored some rescue plants that had been torn out for new landscaping. This beauty is a RickRack orchid.

Back in January the Divas set mid-June as the date for Glinda’s day. Luckily for Glinda the weather was warm but dry. The back garden inside the fence looked pretty good.

The beds were tended and it was full of birds and flowers...

..but the front yard really needed help. There aren’t any Before photos of the project because Glinda didn’t like working up there. The trees were okay and the lawn was mown but the beds were a mess! The mutabilis rose had frozen back hard but Glinda wanted to clean it up and give it a chance. The hummingbird acanthus and salvia in the parkway were good for the birds but the weeds made it an eyesore for humans. The woodland area had flowers but you could hardly see them.

DivaAnnie arrived first, then Sophia, Karla and Mattie (with tail-wagging Barbie) and Buffy a little later. The Divas of the Dirt set to work and made everything better – the lawn bags were filling up!

Buffy set to work with the hedge clippers, taming the boxwoods.

The aging Arizona Ash provided dappled shade for the workers. No one knew this would be the tree’s last summer. A couple of months later Hurricane Harvey cracked off many limbs, revealing rot. The tree had became too dangerous to keep.

The front bed looked a lot better – what was left of the rose would have to decide whether to live or die. Mulching would come later.

The woodland area was pretty once more, with dead sticks and sapling trees gone and Malvaviscus/Wax mallow blooming for the hummingbirds.
Time for lunch! Glinda used her meeting as a chance to try out La Fleur flower shop where she found gorgeous Hydrangeas. But Glinda’s menu had nothing fancy – it was an indoor picnic. Chips and Guacamole, Cranberry Chicken salad, cheeses and Black Forest ham on crossants and Gluten-free bread, Sweet Kale salad with lemon poppyseed dressing, tomatoes, Hibiscus-Mint tea and coffee.
For dessert there were raspberry/chocolate cookies and blueberry shortcake on gluten-free sponge cake with whipped cream.

The mulched front border looked good and so did the parkway.

the Boxwood hedge looked not only good – it looked respectable.

Just one pair of left-behind garden shoes gave a clue who had worked the magic.

The next day Karla sent a photo of her butterfly border – Happy Summer! 

This post, 2017 – May and June, Sophia and Glinda, was written by Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


This post, 2017- March and April, Karla and Mindy was written by Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

Rain spoiled Karla’s plans for an early March meeting – she changed the date to later in the month. On the original day Glinda snapped a photo of her drenched Rosa mutabilis.

In early March the bluebonnets began blooming at Mindy’s house

A few days later the St Joseph lilies were in flower at Mattie’s house

In mid-March the fragrant peach iris had started to bloom at Mindy’s.

A week later the peach iris was blooming at Glinda’s house.

The following weekend Karla had better luck with the weather. She needed spring cleaning help and also promised a “murder mystery”

Tulips graced Karla’s pretty table.

Her native Bauhinia lunarioides/Anacacho Orchid tree – memorial to a loved one - was in bloom.

Karla’s clump of the passalong fragrant peach iris were now in bloom, along with Blue-eyed grass.

The Divas got beds weeded, plants reset and mulched.

And the murder mystery?  Crepe Murder! Well, not exactly murder but maybe ABH, Assault to Boughs with Harm? When a tree goes bad there is often no easy answer… digging an old crepe myrtle up and planting a “right-sized” new one may be prohibitively expensive while a severe chop might give the tree another chance.

For her meeting in April, Mindy had dry weather but a very small crew… an avalanche of external events kept Mattie, Glinda, Sugar and Sophia from coming. On the other hand, Mindy, Karla, Annie and Buffy got a lot done and had fun doing it. They weeded and planted and got the beds in order and declared the lunch delicious. 

After the Divas left, Mindy and Warren worked to clear unwanted cedar that was smothering wanted trees like this Eve’s Necklace.

That pile of prunings is quite impressive!

Previously shredded trees had turned into mulch for the renewed borders – looking good Mindy & Warren!

This post, 2017- March and April, Karla and Mindy was written by Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.