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.



refreshed by the PNW

view from gas works park across lake union

i’ve returned from the garden blogger’s annual meetup in seattle, refreshed from the cooler temperatures, views of tall coniferous trees and vast expanses of deep, dark water. it was a wonderful trip of garden touring and catching up with friends both old and new. over four days we visited an array of private and public gardens, retail plant nurseries, a sculpture park and a farmers’ market. knowing how long it can take me to go through all the photos (1028 on the camera, plus several on the phone – but that doesn’t even come close to those who shot over 2000 photos…), i thought i’d post a few to pique your interest until i can spend more time on a post for each tour stop.

pre-seattlefling day 0:

gas works park

apld & gwa regional meetup, that graciously invited garden bloggers to attend:

barbara lycett's garden, host of the apld & gwa regional meetup

seattlefling day 1:

a comfortable respite in the garden of suzette & jim birrell
summer's view from the garden of shelagh tucker
lunch time gathering at the historic dunn gardens (designed by the olmsted brothers)
soest garden at the university of washington's center for urban horticulture
entrance to elizabeth c. miller library at the center for urban horticulture

seattlefling day 2:

lower view of the epping home & garden
filtered-light entry to the lane home & garden
waterwise vegetable & compost garden at the bellevue botanic garden
richard serra "wake" sculpture at SAM olympic sculpture park

seattlefling day 3:

west seattle farmers' market
home & garden of lorene edwards forkner, one of our fabulous seattlefling organizers and timber press author of the forthcoming book, handmade garden projects
garden shed of plantswoman and designer kate farley
interior canopy view of Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant sequoia) at south seattle community college's arboretum and coenosium rock garden

gloriously rain kissed seattlefling day 4 on bainbridge island:

bloedel reserve
a mossy gradation
the etheral reflection pool at bloedel reserve
raindrops falling on the pond near bloedel's japanese garden
west meadow path toward bloedel's storage barns
plant shopping at dragonfly farms & nursery
danielle ernest of proven winners hosted the "punch drunk in love with the PNW" cocktail party for our final soiree. lorene is enjoying a well-deserved beverage.

i hope that gives you a taste of what we saw during the seattlefling! more images and descriptions of my favorite stops to follow. thanks again to EVERYONE who organized, sponsored and participated this year! it was great to get to know you and spend some quality time together, enjoying the things we love.

andrea fox @grwhryrpltd (thanks for the photo kelly @floradoragal!)


i have a few friends that have recently jumped onto the blogging bandwagon, and i’d like to introduce you.

slotharium banner

my dear friend maggie, one of my risd landscape architecture grad school co-horts, is finally (hallelujah!) blogging about her californian botanical and public design forays at slotharium. what’s a slotharium? what is a sloth but one of the cutest animals ever! what is an Agave stricta (mexican hedgehog agave) but one of the coolest cacti ever? with a penchant for romantic languages (botanical latin counts in our book) and all things well designed, you’ll be entertained and most likely come away with a fascinating tidbit to boot. head over to her west coast parterre and tell her i sent you.

JPOP studio blog banner

my wonderfully talented friend jenny is blogging too! she is a printer, of the color-reduction wood type, and is a full-time, self-employed artist at JPOP studio. we are lucky enough to own two of her marvelous works about ecological migrations and disasters. she is a visual story teller that has a lot to say about the environment and how Homo sapiens think they’re helping things along… in a way that is both humorous and disturbing but always compelling. go visit her imaginative backyard in the finger lakes, and tell her i sent you.

hey spelty! banner

ms. laura, another dear risd landscape architecture grad school friend, is venturing into the world of wheat- and dairy-free eating. not one to fear a baking challenge, she’s chronicling her recipe adventures on hey spelty! her posts have inspired me to try non-bleached flour alternatives (hello amaranth, sorghum, millet and quinoa), and so far it’s expanded my gourmet repertoire immensely. pull a chair up to her health-inducing counter in boston and tell her i sent you.

noble springs goat farm post @ manney.time

and last but not least, one of my longest-ever friends carolyn is now blogging about all things locally grown, prepared, and performed at manney.time. this gal has a wealth of experience in many realms, where intelligent and slightly sarcastic writing and beautifully detailed photography always stand out as highlights in my book. she’s passionate about what she does, dives in with her whole heart and isn’t afraid to admit when something’s got to change. swing on over to her place in nashville, and tell her i sent you.

upstate update: ithaca

i’ve been meaning to post a few pictures from our visit to ithaca, the second stop on july’s upstate ny visit, and our former hometown.  we attended a wedding that was held at the ithaca farmers market, one of our favorite stomping grounds.  it was refreshing to once again be amongst tall trees and cool water.

ithaca farmers market, wedding style
ceremony under the cottonwood trees
flower bouquets purchased at market that morning
ithaca farmers market pavilion, wedding style
hydrangea bouquet on ny (blue) limestone
cayuga lake inlet
dockside at the ithaca farmers market
dockside, looking toward market pavilion
the newlyweds

elsewhere in town i enjoyed soaking up the sites with good friends and neighbors.  there was an art installation on the commons that caught my eye.  this installation by jeremy holmes is entitled drawing in the trees.

drawing in the trees by jeremy holmes
drawing in the trees by jeremy holmes
drawing in the trees by jeremy holmes

i was able to check up on the yard that in five years we slowly turned into a garden… but was slightly overwhelmed at the sight of it, so didn’t bother looking too closely… for it’s no longer ours to tend.

an overgrown but supposedly well-tended garden grows on...

instead, i enjoyed the garden of a dear friend.  she’s not afraid of color.  or of slowly ripping out every blade of grass from her lawn…  i love that about her.

the small estate of colorful treasures
a welcoming entry
a hand-painted scene on the garage wall... or is that scotland in the distance?

it was a wonderful visit.  unfortunately, time ran out before we could see everyone we were hoping to see, and do everything we thought we’d have time to do… besides, a girl’s stomach can only handle so much caffeine.  but how beautiful and refreshing it all was… xox to you all!

the most beautiful coffee i've had... in two years.


it was a bit chilly on my walk this morning,  a whopping 40 degrees, so i decided to wade through the neglected hat and mitten bin to see what friends i could find to accompany me.  after donning my favorite fair isle tam (hand knit by an everyday anthropologist) and the first mittens i ever knitted (that have seen better days…), i headed out the door.  twenty minutes later, i was sufficiently warm but kept them on, because really – it’s a rare event when i can wear them.

cool weather friends

inspired by the russet fall colors that are finally starting to show ’round these parts, i headed toward the garden to enjoy its spare colors.

Brassica 'Colorup Purple'
Chasmanthium latifolium
Rosa 'Sunny Knockout'
Prunus persica 'Sam Houston'

then i remembered that a box containing thirty Narcissus tazetta ‘Italicus’ was recently delivered from the the bulb hunter.  this weekend’s rains prevented me from planting them right away, but this was their morning to snuggle down into the soil.

Narcissus tazetta 'Italicus'

frost is in the forecast for this evening and tomorrow morning, and the radio professor just mentioned a chance of snow (yeah right)… so snuggle in little bulbs, i can’t wait to see your pretty little faces.


i just found out that my dear friend lynn was recognized by horticulture magazine as one of the year’s  top 20 favorite garden blogs!  and for good reason too.  with her keen eye and sharp mind, she captures beautiful moments wherever she goes – be it in her upstate ny garden, on travels near and far, or with her adventurous and furry companions.

so be sure to check out her blog, sin city to slaterville, and peruse the other 20 favorites as well (both linked above).

we’ve only known each other for a few years, but our shared obsession with plants quickly solidified our friendship.  she even inspired me to start this blog… and how grateful i am that she did…

grwhryrpltd and travelinbride in the springs, august 2008

congratulations to you, ms. lynn, and your little beagle too!


a northern refresher

last week i headed to the cool northern climes of wisconsin for a little r&r while my husband attended a conference.  it was a great trip.  lots of walking, garden oogling, connection with friends new and old, and family time in the north woods.  here are the image highlights:

kickin' it monona terrace style
kickin' it monona terrace style

monona terrace is a frank lloyd wright designed community and convention center, with a nice rooftop public space.  it was designed and built before LEED certification was in vogue, and with minor adjustments, was awarded a silver rating, the first convention center with such recognition.

a pretty plant combo on monona terrace
a pretty plant combo of Perovskia, Hemerocallis and Prunus atop monona terrace
a frank lloyd wright effect inside monona terrace
a frank lloyd wright effect inside monona terrace, similar to the guggenheim
monona terrace exterior, lake side
monona terrace exterior, lake side
rooftop monona terrace planting
rooftop monona terrace planting of Calamagrostis, Echinacea and Rudbeckia

of course, i found some time to geocache:

benchmark caching at the capitol
benchmark caching at the capitol
earthcaching at olin park, chautauqua of the west
earth caching at olin park, chautauqua of the west

prior to our trip, i befriended linda and mark of each little world.  they sent me a list of not-to-miss madison sites, then generously offered to give me a personal tour of their garden and others around town.  i certainly couldn’t turn that offer down, and we spent a wonderful day together – proof that garden bloggers can be kind, endearing souls…

each little world's moss garden with newly installed rock edge
each little world's moss garden with newly installed rock edge
interior roof view of each little world's tea house, in progress
interior roof view of each little world's tea house, in progress
stone cairn and Hakonechloa at each little world
stone cairn and Hakonechloa at each little world

linda and mark took me to see the first unitarian society meeting house, also designed by frank lloyd wright, and designated as a national historic landmark.  in 2008, an historically-sensitive and sustainable addition was built (designed by the kubala washatko architects), complete with green roof and stormwater management system.  it has a gold LEED rating.  see the previous two links for more info and images.

highly contrasting materials at the unitarian meeting house addition
highly contrasting materials at the unitarian society meeting house addition

the light was high and harsh when we were there, and i couldn’t get a good angle to capture the green roof, but you get the idea.

rain chains utilized in the water management system at the meeting house
rain chains utilized in the water management system at the meeting house addition
hardscaping detail at the ucc meeting house recent addition
hardscaping detail at the meeting house addition
courtyard garden at the ucc meeting house recent addition
courtyard garden at the meeting house addition - this stone was about 4' high

our next stop was the allen centennial gardens on the campus of uw-madison.  i actually came here when i was looking for undergraduate schools way back when, but i didn’t recall it looking so good… must be all the efforts that ed lyon, the garden’s director, and his dedicated crew is doing there.  keep up the good work, the world needs more horticulturalists!

allen centennial garden, uw madison campus
allen centennial garden, uw-madison campus
brassica and cynara plant combo at allen centennial gardens
Brassica and Cynara plant combo at allen centennial gardens
Ipomoea, Nepeta and Talbaghia plant combo at allen
Ipomoea, Nepeta and Talbaghia plant combo at allen

i admired many plant combinations at allen, and might even be able to try similar ones here in texas.

from allen we headed to the uw-madison arboretum, home to curtis prairie, the world’s first and oldest restored prairie.  since acquiring the land in the 30’s, the arboretum has conducted extensive research on planting methods and management techniques such as prescribed fires and storm water management.  we only had a bit of time to spend there, but i picked up a book (prairie plants of the uw-madison arboretum by cochrane, elliot & lipke) at one of the local area bookstores, hoping to glean some of its information for a project in texas.

entrance prairie at the uw madison arboretum
entrance prairie at the uw madison arboretum

wednesday morning i happily found the madison area/dane county farmers’ market, just down from the capitol.  lots of vendors on both sides of the street leading from the capitol to the monona convention center.  i bought a locally roasted coffee, a super sugary bear claw, nibbled on some cheese samples (come on now, this is wisconsin), and bought not one, but two pints of organic raspberries that melted in my mouth – the second one i gave to the conference-bound husband.

the madison farmers' market faces the rising sun
the madison farmers' market faces the rising sun...

and then i headed northwest to reconnect with a dear friend in minneapolis…

ms. lyn in minn
ms. lyn in minn

in the evening we reminisced over a bottle of wine (or two), and in the morning hit the vintage and craft stores, just like we did back in high school (minus the wine part, of course).  isn’t it nice to know that some things never change?  good times…

then headed back to madison, and from there we headed to the north country to visit my relatives and their farm in the woods of butternut:

the barn in butternut
the tourist's view of the barn...

we traipsed through tracks of poplar, balsam, birch and red pine.

strolling through the Betula and Pteridium
strolling through the Betula and Pteridium

we were happily put to work on a new garden for my aunt.  she had a basic idea worked out, and then the boys and i got to reconfiguring it.  we used brick brought from her parent’s hometown of bessemer, and sandstone culled from under the porch of a restaurant just down the road.  we dug a good base and filled it with a gravely sand (also found on the property) before setting the brick.  good thing someone had a tractor lying around to assist us…

no visit is complete without starting a new garden
no visit is complete without starting a new garden

unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to finish, but it’s off to a good start.  i can’t wait to see how it turns out!

as far as we got... take it from here guys!
as far as we got... take it from here guys!

now my aunt will have even more room for her pretty plant combinations, like the perfectly matched phlox and meadow rue combo that i absolutely fell in love with:

Phlox and Thalictrum, a beautiful combination
Phlox and Thalictrum, a beautiful combination

a great trip all around… the greenery, the cool weather, reconnecting with friends and family… i am grateful, and refreshed.