suburb city country

Howdy, friends. It’s been a very long while… Since I last posted we’ve been transplanted – twice! Once from our suburban Texas garden to the bustling city of Washington, DC for a year sabbatical; and then back to Texas, but this time to a new place in the country. Of course I’m wishing now that I had kept a running log of all the things that happened in that time frame here on the blog, but regrettably I didn’t. Instead, I used Instagram, the “micro-blogging” platform to post about #allthethings (okay, maybe just some of the things) going on in the garden of my life. Feel free to peruse my feed @grwhryrpltd if you’d like to see what I’ve been up to lately. I hope to write more about our next chapter in life once we get a bit more rooted into our new digs.

Our former suburban home and garden 2008-2016
Our former entry garden. Sadly the awesome Opuntia is no longer there… 
…nor is Mz. Audrey (I refused to remove her as the realtor implied, but I’m pretty sure the new homeowners eventually did). She would’ve been eight years old.
Our tiny Capitol Hill East garden in DC… all I planted there were the two African Blue Basil plants along the sidewalk and a small herb bed in back. The bees and butterflies loved them. We didn’t really love residing in 700 SF, but relocating to our nation’s capitol was an overall enjoyable, if not eye-opening, experience in living for a year (2016-2017).
Grayson and Dude share a tiny spec of potted earth on our back urban patio. Learning to walk with leashes was so much fun and most entertaining for passersby.
Lots of space to set roots in our homestead in the country. Welcome to #fieldtripfarm



Pomarius Nursery welcomes the Garden Bloggers Fling

Mt. Hood as seen from our airplane approach into PDX
Mt. Hood as seen from our airplane approach into PDX

Can I just start out by saying how much I enjoy attending the Garden Blogger Flings…? Even if I cringe a bit, sorry, at the term “Fling.” While I have yet to post about Asheville (2012) and San Francisco (2013) – and don’t get me wrong, they too were amazing – I had a such a great time in Portland, Oregon (PDX) for this year’s round of garden touring and plant oogling with 80 or so fellow gardenerds. While it’s a bit intense and somewhat exhausting for the introverted amongst us to try and play catch up with everyone, let alone meet & greet the newcomers, it’s also incredibly invigorating and inspiring to hang out with them while touring so many wonderful spaces in three jam-packed days. Kind of how reading the previous sentence tires you out 😉

The PDX Fling crew (Scott, Loree, Jane, Heather & Ann, along with their spouses, friends, and fuzzy four-legged creatures) did an outstanding job! We toured all over Portland to see specialized nurseries, private and public gardens, and the headquarters of Timber Press. The weather even surprised us with blue skies, hot temps in the mid-90’s, and just a bit of thunder and rain on the last day to ensure we experienced the “Portlandia” effect.

Pomarius Nursery
Pomarius Nursery

Our first event was a “pre-fling” cocktail party at Pomarius Nursery. Proprietor Peter Lynn welcomed us to his artfully arranged space full of interesting foliage plants and architectural accoutrement. First to distract us from plant shopping was the Tamale Boy food truck, beckoning us with giant tamales wrapped in steamy banana leaves. Libations were ready, on ice, under one of the shade structures. Nice!

I love white lights strung under a tented canopy… especially when pretty shadows are cast from above. Makes for a nice atmosphere.

We wandered the many plant rooms of Pomarius…

full of “plants with character!” (Pomarius’ motto)

We stopped to sit and chat with old friends and new…

listening to the gurgle of water fountains

And we dined under the light of the setting sun.

gathered around tables, nestled amongst the greenery

Portlandians Ann (Amateur Bot-ann-ist) and Kate (formerly of the blog Plantwise – now Plant Chronicles and Fancies) co-conspired the wearing of beautiful, locally-grown floral arrangements for the hair. It made many of us want to get married again. Or at least participate in the #flowersonyourhead movement. Next year I hope to come more prepared… recall how some donned fascinators in Seattle (#gbfling11), perhaps it’s becoming tradition.

Ann and her woodland+meadow inspired creation

Wandering the grounds made me wistful for a specialized nursery of my own…

follow the light

If only my fair city had such an offering…

a bridge beyond the glass

I was immediately drawn to this cast of characters… cause really, these are my people, can’t you tell…?!

Ann, Peter (the smiling photo bomber), John Greenlee (yes, THAT meadow man) and Kate (wearing specialty floral pieces by none other than Francoise Weeks )

The nursery had its own army of honey mavens, swarming a somewhat Swiss (? Belgian? Welch?) inspired hive design.

all that buzzes makes gold

Adjacent to the nursery was a trio of modern buildings housing an architectural firm appropriately suited to the nursery’s aesthetic.

Judy of Botanical Interests and Floradora Kelly talking shop

A tower above balances a sunken garden below…

Might a modern day Rapunzel live near?

I could envision a live+work situation here

the garden carts await

Such a well-hewn gate with hearty detail…

A delectable palette

As we boarded the bus to return to the hotel nursery owner Peter grabbed his own photo of the garden paparazzi lucky to spend an evening on his grounds. I hear he made several time lapse videos of the event as well… thankfully we were all on our best behavior.

The parting shot

If I do say, this was the best start to a garden bloggers fling yet. The setting, the refreshments, the leisurely time to wander around with others amongst plants. We all left with smiles on our faces. Whatever may the next days hold?


PDX here we come

No, we’re not up and moving again, though I may wish that to be the case by the end of the weekend. Time to head to Portland, Oregon for the 2014 Garden Bloggers’ Fling

GDN BLGR_PDX_badgeYes, it’s been ages since I’ve last blogged… Yes, I’ve had lots of intentions to update this space with goings on in the garden for oh, what seems like two years now (could it be…? yikes, sorry guys) I never got around to posting anything about the Asheville Fling or even last year’s San Fransico Fling (that I helped coordinate from afar), let alone the garden events that occurred in between or since then. My bad… I blame it on Instagram making it too darn easy to upload a photo with a simple caption, have a “conversation” with friends and complete strangers (much like I did here), and move on to the next thing. At least you could’ve been following along with my Instagram and Twitter feeds located in the sidebars here on the blog. Oh well, in my mind’s eye, I tried.

I’ve often thought of re-designing the format here, I just haven’t found one that I like. I’ve even thought of completely overhauling it into a website. I guess in not taking the time to read other blogs consistently, I haven’t dedicated the time to updating or learning how to customize mine. I’ll get around to it. One of these days…?

I took a look at who’s coming to the Portland Fling, and while I’m only half-way through the list I’m impressed with the content I’ve seen so far. Others are obviously finding the time to blog, so maybe I should too. If nothing else, I look forward to sharing time with fellow gardenerds visiting public and private gardens, nurseries, independent garden centers and the like. I’m sure there will be lots of conversation about the state of the garden blog, and what’s coming at us next along the garden path.

See you in PDX!

pursuing the path

I’ve been thinking and dreaming about paths a lot lately…

a new path leads through the garden

So I pulled up a few quotes on the subject, and like how the following flow together:

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.
-Henry David Thoreau

March on, and fear not the thorns or sharp stones in life’s path.
-Khalil Gibran

If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.
-Anatole France

We ourselves must walk the path.

I’m not sure where the path I’ve chosen to take is ultimately leading me, but I’m grateful for all the places, people and experiences it has brought me. Here’s looking ahead to the Garden Bloggers Fling just around the corner in San Francisco later this week.

won’t you count along with me?

the great backyard bird count is coming up – not this weekend, but the following weekend, so get ready! i’ve participated every year since moving to texas, and it’s amazing to see who all flies through the area and stops for a while in our garden. the cedar waxwings are one of my favorite species to watch and listen for.

image and text from the GBBC e-newsletter

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is for everyone, from beginner birdwatchers to experts, and for the first time ever, anyone can participate from anywhere in the world. Counting birds provides scientists and researchers with a real-time snapshot of winter bird populations. Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Please join us for the GBBC, Friday, February 15th through Monday, February 18th, and together we can make our local birds count! (source, GBBC)

head on over to the GBBC website to learn how to participate. it’s fun & easy to do! plus, your efforts aid scientists in mapping bird migration patterns. admit it, you always wanted to be a scientist. here’s your chance…

from darkness to light

hello dear friends.

i know, it’s been a long time since i’ve posted, but life’s been busy. mostly with things that so quickly fill idle days that they spill over into restless nights. thankfully, as a dear friend once said, tomorrow’s another day.

speaking of, it was an unseasonal 80 degrees in central texas today(!), yet the snow is once again falling here at grow where you’re planted. if nothing else, the animated pixels help to remind me that no, it isn’t the time for donning halloween costumes but to trim trees, plug in the sparkly lights and bask in the warm glow of an oven filled with sweet and savory treats.

in a few days the winter solstice will be upon us and the hours of daylight will balance those of darkness. it brings to mind a song and animated short i’ve twice now seasonally featured, the winter song, sung by sara bareilles and ingrid michaelson. (pardon the short ad)

i’ve appreciated the story it tells, that spring will once again triumph over winter. this time however, listening to the lyrics immediately brought to mind the recent tragedy in connecticut… i couldn’t help but let the tears well up in my eyes and fall on my face, particularly to these lyrics

this is my winter song / december never felt so wrong / because you’re not where you belong / inside my arms

i watched the animation, and again, the tears fell during those lyrics. but watching the little girls play in the woods, looking for any signs of life and finding a heart emerging from the snowmelt made me wonder as if there might be hope afterall… hope for more nurturing… for more care and compassion… for more time discovering and celebrating the tiny miracles that constantly surround us… amid so much darkness, fear and pain.

this is my winter song to you / the storm is coming soon / it rolls in from the sea / my love a beacon in the night / my words will be your light / to carry you to me / is love alive

this past weekend we heard eliza gilkyson sing & play with her band at the austin armadillo christmas bazaar. while looking up her albums afterward i coincidentally stumbled upon a song she wrote in response to the 2004 indian ocean tsunami, requiem. i recall connecting to it when i first heard the duet she performed with her daughter. since then it’s been performed by various groups in response to several challenging moments we’ve since experienced… for katrina… and japan… perhaps it’s already been shared for newtown. i don’t think she played this song at the bazaar – if she had, there wouldn’t have been a dry eye in the room. it’s a song that allows one to grieve and lament, but to also be embraced and consoled. i find comfort in these particular lyrics

mother mary, full of grace, awaken

mary, fill the glass to overflowing / illuminate the path where we are going / have mercy on us all

oh mother mary find us where we’ve fallen out of grace / lead us to a higher place

in the dark night of our soul / our broken hearts you can make whole

oh mother mary come and carry us in your embrace / let us see your gentle face, mary

here’s a link to an npr story where eliza talks about writing requiem – and where you can listen the original arrangement sung with her daughter – and another link by craig hella johnson who collaborated with eliza on a choral arrangement for conspirare.

may these songs bring us all a little comfort as we transition from darkness into light.

i’ve been a bad garden blogger

if it weren’t for my insistent friend ms. slotharium, i’d probably never get this post up. i know, i’ve been a really bad garden blogger lately, but i just haven’t been able to spend  (i.e. distract myself) for a minute longer at the computer as this is the time of year to be outside in texas! surely you understand, so i won’t waste anymore time giving excuses. besides, it’s the bloom day before the garden bloggers meetup in asheville, so i really need to post something or else the powers that be might not let me participate.

here’s the prettiest blooming thing in the garden, bespeckled with the day’s constant drizzle. it sure makes me smile.

Hemerocallis ‘Big Smile’ (daylily)

no time to post photos of each individual blooming plant right now, so here’s the larger view what the front yarden is looking like. a little wild, yes, but over the past couple of months it’s been host to dozens of metamorphosing butterflies, color shifting anoles and even a few molting snakes seeking refuge.

driveway garden view
garden view to left of driveway
right side garden view
view from the top of the driveway

moving along towards the back yarden, here’s a little project mr. grwhryrpltd put together to support our enthusiastic grapevine.

new grape trellis over the garden gate. concrete footers and enlarging the gravel threshold are all that’s left to do (until i overhaul the gate itself ).
one bountiful cluster of Vitis labrusca ‘Black Spanish’ (grape). this is its first year of fruit production.

speaking of bounty, we’ve been harvesting plums the past few mornings from the front garden. they’re so tasty. i’m going to attempt to make plum jam this evening.

Prunus ‘Methley’ (plum)
beautiful and delicious!

oh right… we were heading to the back garden. here’s what it looks like with somewhat frequent rains (every 10 days or so).

a chair full of drying coriander, now probably lost to the rains it just sat through. oh well, i bet cilantro will be growing here come fall.
a nice place to sit with a glass of wine in the evening, particularly when the cushions are dry
while the vegetables haven’t been too productive this spring, the “native” sunflowers sure have shot up like a rocket. they’re everywhere, but i don’t mind too much. it gives the neighbors something to look at over the garden fence.

i’ve limbed up the sunflower’s leaves as they grow to support the tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers growing underneath them. the upper leaves should provide a bit of shade to get the veg through the heat of the day as well. the patch of sunflowers in front of the raised bed was a little experiment to see how big they’d get under competition from bermuda and st. augustine grass. they doubled in height after the last rain.

did i mention we’ve been visited by critters lately? here’s a few of the highlights.

a handsome anole on Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline’ and Fig
a non-venomous yellow bellied racer or yellow bellied water snake (i think? snake id is not my forte), unfortunately found dead in the garden. i buried him/her and s/he’s now growing a hearty patch of zinnias.

scare ya? ha! only a gardener would pull a (confirmed dead) snake out of sedges to see just how long it was – 10 wine bottle width’s worth. i wonder how many more might be sneaking around.

now, onto the critters for more gentle souls…

Danaus plexippus (monarch) caterpillars denuded this Asclepias (butterfly weed). it’s since recovered and ready for the next batch of larvae.
a freshly spun monarch chrysalis. you can still distinguish the caterpillar stripes on it.
another monarch chrysalis. safely located under the fence stringer for protection from weather, with lots of room for wing development available underneath.
a monarch chrysalis ready to break open…
she’s free!
even the kitties got to see the butterflies hatching. creaker johnny max (our +1 kitty) didn’t even bat a paw.
first year we’ve had Polygonia interrogationis (Question Mark) butterflies. guess it takes having a few Buddleia (butterfly bush) on hand, but somehow i don’t think these shrubs will survive the texas summer heat.
the Buddleia also attracted these Junonia coepia (common buckeye) butterflies. they may be “common,” but i find them stunning.

on the domestic critter front, the kitties have been, well, kitties. i’ve been playing nurse to puma for the past several weeks as she got into an altercation requiring surgery. while healing from that (with plastic cone collar on, of course) she went downhill fast due to another mysterious reason (stroke? aneurysm? tumor?), to the point we thought we were going to lose her. it’s a looong story, but she’s doing fine now and we’re so glad she’s still with us! dude and max did their best to avoid her, lest they catch what she had.

ms. pretty paws (puma) and mr. fence jumper (dude)

how’s that for an update? i could go on, but i’ve got some things to tend to before taking off for asheville. looking forward to catching up with the garden blogging community while there; and for those of you not going, oh how i wish you were! i probably won’t blog from there, but check out my twitter/instagram feed for pictorial updates enroute.


the prettiest poppies

i was delighted to see this raspberry pink poppy blooming for the first time in our garden a few mornings ago:

i’m glad i got a few shots of it then, because this evening’s deluge of rain has certainly stripped all the petals off by now. i’m not sure what variety it is as it was a passalong plant, either from my master gardener friends elmer or ginny. and i’m guessing if it was from ginny, then there’s a good chance it was from elmer! here’s to you dear friend… may your healing unfurl as effortlessly as the blooms after a spring rain. xox.

who’s got the best bluebonnets in town?

the brazos county master gardeners, of course! i just went out to check on the DIG (our demonstration idea garden) and this is who greeted me there:


just in time for our upcoming plant sale… not this weekend, but NEXT WEEKEND, saturday, march 24th. be there or be square. maybe more of the aggie bonnets will be in bloom by then. what’s an aggie bonnet you say…? don’t you know everything in this town is maroon…?