Wednesday, April 22, 2015


This post, "2014 - May KARLA'S GARDEN DAY" was written by Glinda/AnnieinAustin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

Spring 2014 had been dry, but Karla had an unexpected gift a few days before her planned project day... rain! Real, ground-softening, life-giving rain. Weeding, digging and planting is so much easier a few days after a rain.

One of the Divas of the Dirt had to arrive late and one had to leave early, but for most of the day all eight of us were at Karla's - sharing meals, news and many a garden task.

What a cool decoration on Karla's serving table - a gardening bag with plants tucked in... and the food was delicious: Strawberries, blueberries and red raspberries on a glass server, crispy skin chicken sausages and an egg casserole with a base of small rolls.

The centerpiece on the dining room table was made of pots of herbs in a basket - it was enormous and the herbs smelled wonderful.

Outside, we had a pleasant surprise - the Asiatic jasmine had been dug up - it was gone! This imported groundcover can work well in a space confined by concrete walks and beds made of cemented stone blocks, but it can be an invasive thug where borders meet lawn.

Karla's idea was that in the long border that was now cleared, we should move, divide and transplant the existing crowded ferns and Heuchera. And look how pretty the bench looks, repainted in a happy new color.

While some Divas worked on the long bed, others might clear out the weeds from the border near the gate - there should be perennials buried under those live oak leaves.

Karla had asked Mindy to bring the tiller - the area to be planted was large enough to need our electric digging assistant.

Waiting in the crepe myrtle bed was a flat of lipstick red Impatiens - that will add pop to the border! And a little pruning of crossed branches on the crepe myrtle can get some filtered sunlight down to ground level.

As long as we're near the patio, let's take another look at the Dish Flowers made by Karla at last September's meeting.

Karla had started the annual oak sprout removal near the patio so it took less time than usual... Oak Sprout team - first to be done.

Some work was being done on the front beds and progress was made in the back - Barbie came with Mattie to help supervise.

The long bed was coming along - those impatiens will look good.

A break for lunch came just at the right time - we were glad to sit on chairs at a table for a while.

On the serving table were bowls of Chicken-Rice salad, a Crunchy Broccoli salad and Rosemary-Raisin muffins, along with Watermelon slices made into 'Sandwiches' - slices of watermelon with Feta cheese and basil leaves inside, dressed with balsamic vinegar. 

This combination made a very pretty plate, indeed!

And dessert was spelled Desserts - the pie had a graham cracker crust and a creamy filling blending pineapple, mango and toasted coconut.

In addition, Karla presented a Heavenly Delight cake topped with kiwi fruit, blueberries and strawberries.

By the time we finished mulching everything and packed up our tools, the left side of the long back bed looked good.

The patio was cleaned and tidied, ready for relaxing.

The right side of the long back bed looked good, too.

Up in front, the borders were renewed and mulched and ready for summer.

Photoshopping Karla's finished garden into a poster was amusing!

While we were working, Mattie drew our attention to a dangerous-looking tree in the next yard. It was actually leaning heavily on one of Karla's live oaks and if it fell, it could land on Karla's house. After our garden day, Karla found out her neighbor planned to have the tree removed in a few months.
But Mother Nature speeded up the timetable! Just a few weeks after we spiffed up Karla's garden, the tree split in a storm, with pieces coming to rest in both yards. The neighbor called Davey Tree service, warning them that they'd be working in the garden of a Diva of the Dirt so Watch out for that Garden! Guess that warning worked because there was minimal damage from the cleanup.

Since the stump was in the neighbor's yard, Karla had no need to buy bags of soil to fill another hole in the ground. Instead, the tree's departure left a hole in the canopy of overlapping tree limbs and leaves. Some sky was now visible and sunbeams reached down to Karla's garden.

This post, "2014 - May KARLA'S GARDEN DAY" was written by Glinda/AnnieinAustin for the Divas of the Dirt blog

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2014 - May 3 Inside Austin Garden Tour

This post, "2014 - May 3 Inside Austin Garden Tour" was written by Glinda/Annieinaustin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

Something special happens in Austin, about every 18 months... it's the Inside Austin Gardens Tour, presented by Travis County Master Gardeners Association and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. In 2015 the tour will take place in October, but in 2014 the tour was in May. Three of the Divas of the Dirt were there and we'd like to share a few photos.

DivaAnnie and Oz were impressed by this huge agave at Lori's garden.

One of the gardens belonged to a member of the Howard family - a while back, Howard's Nursery on Koenig was a go-to place for many gardeners. This garden featured beautiful vignettes tucked into the borders.

And the assembled glass garden art reminded us of our own dish art project in September.

Another of the gardens featured an almost full-sized Longhorn steer.
Mindy says Hook 'em!
And a whimsical tree with a face called for a group photo. Mindy, DivaAnnie and Glinda hope you also get to have fun with your friends on a garden tour!

This post, "2014 - May 3 Inside Austin Garden Tour" was written by Glinda/Annieinaustin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

Friday, April 17, 2015


This post, 2014 - April MINDY'S GARDEN DAY, was written by Glinda/AnnieinAustin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

Back in March of 2009, Mindy had a nifty little chunk of "spineless" cactus planted near her new rainbarrel - a second, medium-size chunk looked Texas-Cool in the center of the long bed across the front of the house, while a third piece toward the garage end balanced the scene.

Five years later that cactus had filled most of the long bed, smothering other plants, tumbling across the entire front of Mindy's house from corner to corner. Mindy sent a photo of two of her labs enjoying the bluebonnets with the cactus lurking in the background... "Help!"

The first thing we noticed when we arrived at Mindy's ranchette were the bluebonnets... the second thing was the enormous stretch of cactus, barricading the front. In some places the cactus had cut off access to the entrance via the walk.

As we approached the door we could see the path and front bed with its scattered decorative stones would need some spring cleanup, too.

Inside, the dining room looked welcoming and we chatted in the kitchen while breakfast was cooking.

I decided to slip out and snap a few photos of the wildflowers around Mindy's house.

As we drove to Mindy's house there were some native Antelope Horns milkweed showing along the roadside. Now I had a closeup view of some plants near her fence. These milkweed plants were making flower heads just in time for the Monarch butterfly migration - sure hope the Monarchs found them!

A purple spiderwort had seeded near the driveway - it's some kind of wild Tradescantia, but I couldn't begin to guess what kind... as the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center says, "Tradescantia species will hybridize in just about any combination." Whatever its parentage, it's a pretty plant.

I'm pretty sure this little flower is Wild Garlic/ Allium drummondii.

Back inside, the table was set and ready for breakfast.

On the buffet were Apple-nut Muffins, a huge strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, Kiwi fruit salad, and another muffin named "Dirt Bombs" - sort of appropriate for a group that calls themselves the Divas of the Dirt, right?

Mindy merged two recipes to make these Dirt Bombs: Here and Here

Let's take a closer look at that gardening Bunny!

Out in the kitchen, Mindy and her helpers had Chicken-Apple sausages and Scrambled Eggs with Red Onions ready to dish up. It was a lovely breakfast, with funny stories and news and friendly banter.

Once outside, we again realized the scope of what we were attempting. From the end of the bed looking along the side, the cactus looked like a wall.

Remember that first photo of the Rainbarrel in 2009? By April 2014 the rainbarrel was not only invisible, there was no way to get near it to use it.

Out came every tool we had - from shovels and forks to pruning saws and sharp-edged digging tools. Compared to the usual cactus -  obviously armed with spines - the spineless cactus was not so well-equipped to fight back. Instead, that so-called spineless cactus was Sneaky - having small, almost invisible spines that went through gloves and clothing like needles.

Diva Mattie took this photo to show how large the trunks of the cactus were. And dotted around those cactus trunks and the walk were some very impressive fireant hills.

It was a long battle but eventually the Divas of the Dirt were victorious. (Mattie also took this photo of Sugar & Buffy.)

Cactus-wrangling may have been the main task but a lot more was done that day.  Some Divas worked on the two gardens down by the road, one on each side of the gate. (I'm quite annoyed at myself for forgetting to walk down to take after photos!)
Others worked on the side entrance garden and path, cutting back the winter-killed Barbados Cherries and Shrimp plant, weeding and cultivating. Sugar was the good sport who tackled the oak sprouts - an annual PITA!
We sifted the decorative pathway stones out of winter's debris and set them aside for Mindy. And as always, mulch was liberally applied to every bed and border.

Since this is the Country - not the 1/4 acre lots owned by most of us - there was room in an out-of-the-way place for Mindy to pile up the cactus and let it sit to dry. At first we used our trugs and totes, and pulled and pushed barrowloads of chopped and pried-up chunks over to the pile, but then Mindy decided to use a cart that attaches to a vehicle - much easier! Here's just one cartful.

On one return trip, Karla decided the empty cart reminded her of a parade float and Mattie caught her taking a royal ride!

Mindy found innovative, delicious recipes for her lunch menu. Here is Absurdly Addictive Asparagus with pancetta and pinenuts.

The Beets and Red Grapefruit Salad recipe from Whole Foods sounded weird but tasted fine.

And Killer Quinoa Salad was irresistible - dried cranberries, dried apricots, avocados and almonds in a perfect blend.

I'm not sure how the carrot cupcakes arrived for dessert... it would be fun to think those gardening bunnies brought them, but Costco or Central Market or Whole Foods are more likely.

When we left, the view from the end of the bed had a lot of blank space.

The Side Entrance bed looked very different post-Divas of the Dirt.

The path no longer has a design in flat stones, but it looks good, and the design can be redone.

And thanks to Mattie - there is one more photo of the finale to our great Cactus Adventure.

This post, 2014 - April MINDY'S GARDEN DAY, was written by Glinda/AnnieinAustin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.