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Category Archives: Spring

Garden Guests

May 23, 2021

Carolina Wren Hatchlings

The Audubon Society describes it as a “rush and rumble” sound. It was exactly what I was hearing repeatedly over the past month while working in the greenhouse. Close by, yet unnoticed, a little wren kept darting in and out of potted plants on a high shelf just outside the back of the greenhouse. 

Sometime around mid-March, when the chance of freezing temperatures had ended, our scented pelargoniums were moved from inside the greenhouse to a large 5-tiered shelving unit outside. We were getting them acclimated to the cooler temperatures before planting in the edible landscape. Nestled on the top shelf, right next to the back greenhouse wall, five medium-sized peach scented pelargoniums were thriving in their temporary environment. 

As temperatures warmed, a decision was made to get the plants into the ground and ready for their semi-permanent, seasonal home. Reaching carefully for one of the taller plants, it seemed odd to find a scattering of leaves, twigs and stems surrounding the base. As I gently lifted the plant down to eye level, that familiar chirping sound filled the air. 

Thankfully, Starla, had agreed to meet me at the garden to take pictures. With our iPhones in hand, we quietly moved in to get a closer look. Much to our surprise, at least three tiny baby wrens were snuggled down in the make-shift nest waiting for mamma to feed them. Mamma wren had done such a fine job of camouflaging her babies that it was difficult to see how many were in the nest. Respectful of the home she had made for them, Starla quickly snapped a few photos of babies anxiously awaiting, with beaks wide open, for mamma to appear.

Seconds later, Starla had captured the perfect photo and we returned the plant to its location on the shelf. Two of the five peach pelargoniums have now been planted in the edible landscape. The pelargonium holding the wren’s nest will remain undisturbed until the little birds are old enough to leave. Two other pelargoniums are flanking it, giving them a little added protection from rain and high winds. Eventually, all pelargoniums will go to their new home in the edible landscape but, for now, we’re enjoying the sweet sounds of the wren’s cheerful trilling songs.

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

Picture by Starla Willis, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2011

Spotted Manfreda Plant

May 12, 2021

Spotted Manfreda Plant

Several weeks ago during a recent work day at the garden, we noticed a flower stalk coming up from the middle of a couple of our spotted manfreda plants on the courtyard of Raincatcher’s Garden.  This particular succulent plant, also know as Texas Tuberose or Manfreda maculosa is short (grows 12 – 15 inches tall) with silvery green leaves and is covered with purple spots. It is native to southern Texas and northern Mexico and does best in full sun.  It is considered a tender perennial but is often an evergreen plant in mild winters.  It completely died back this past winter and not only came back this spring but quickly produced a flower stalk.  

Manfreda in Bloom

The plant eventually grows into a thick clump of shoots connected at the roots and is often referred to as a ground cover plant.  The best part about the growth habit of this plant is that it is begging to be shared.  In fact, I got my plant many years ago from a couple who were on the city of Dallas Water Wise Garden tour.  As soon as I asked the home owner about the plant, she quickly retrieved a trowel and dug up an offshoot for me.  I have lost count of how many of these plants I have given to gardening friends as well as planting several in the courtyard at Midway Hills Christian Church.

The Alien Looking Flower of the Manfreda

I did a bit of research about the flower and I found that the relatively tall inflorescent carries mildly fragrant tubular flowers.  The flowers lack colorful petals, but have especially long pistils and stamens.  One website described the flower as “alien looking.”   

This is a plant to consider growing in your garden or in a container.  And if you’re lucky, it will gift you with a large, alien looking flower!

Jackie James Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 1993

We will have a couple of varieties of manfreda plants available at our plant sale on May 13th and 14th.   Hope to see you there.

Jackie James, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 1993

Flower Photos by garden friend, Diane Washam 


PLANT SALE LOCATION: 11001 MIDWAY ROAD, DALLAS, TEXAS 75229

MAY 13TH AND 14TH

RAINCATCHER’S PLANT SALE 



Thursday, May 13th, 9:00am – 2:00pm 

Friday, May 14th, 9:00am – 12:00 noon 

Prices start at $2 for 4” pots. CASH or CHECK ONLY, PLEASE!!! 

Location: Midway Hill Christian Church, 11001 Midway Rd., Dallas, 75229

You are invited to shop our annual plant sale in the Courtyard Garden at Midway  Hills Christian Church. Plants for sale have been donated from our volunteers’  home gardens, dug and divided from the the Raincatcher’s Garden, and started from  seeds by our volunteers. Many have been planted in decorative pots and in outdoor pots as herb gardens and vegetable pots. The plants in nursery pots (4”–5 gal.) include herbs, veggies, perennials, annuals, sedums, succulents, cactus, ground covers, trees, shrubs and many more. 

This event will be subject to current Covid-19 protocols: 

• Masks must be worn 

• Social Distancing observed (limited access to Courtyard). Please be prepared  to wait for admission. 

• Please limit your visiting in the Courtyard so we can admit those who are  waiting. We welcome you to tour the North Gardens.  

• Hand sanitizer available 

• Volunteers working the sale will all be fully vaccinated 

This sale has been a successful fundraising event for Raincatchers Garden at  Midway Hills for many years. We thank you all for your continued support. 

Sarah Sanders, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

Pictures by Beverly Allen

Dig Into Garden Resources While Sheltering

April 19, 2020

While quarantine has been hard on everyone, it gives us a chance to learn something new. There are many online classes and resources to dig into.

Digging!

Several Master Gardeners have been sending me links which are now compiled below for you to browse.

Susan Thornbury suggests the Texas Wildflower Newsletter here. and eco-friendly low maintenance gardening.

She added this article on what plants can teach us about surviving a pandemic as a must-read.

Beverly Allen has been reviewing techniques to start herb and vegetables from seed and found these guidelines to share from Terrior Seeds.

The Agrilife Facebook Live class (class #2 seed starting) on the same topic are also very helpful.

Kids at home? Garden projects from Garden Design for cute ideas.

Sheila Kostelny has recommended A start to finish guide for growing sweet potatoes.

Here’s one from me. I am imagining myself in France at Monet’s garden.

 

Ann Lamb

 

June 2nd is the date for our scented geranium educational event and lunch. Please consider signing up on Eventbrite.  The date of our event may change depending on health guidelines from Dallas authorities and the Dallas County Master Gardener Association. See the eventbrite link above for more details.

 

Pictures by Starla Willis

 

A Gardener’s Response To Shelter in Place

April 7, 2020

Until 3 weeks ago I had no idea what “Shelter in Place” would look like, I just knew I didn’t like the sound of it.

On Monday, I went to The Raincatcher’s Garden before restrictions went into effect on Tuesday. The garden was showing signs of spring; wildflowers, vegetables, new growth, flowering trees and shrubs, and irises. Although the bees were about their normal business of pollinating, it was lacking the normal buzz of people.

Raincatcher’s Garden without the buzz!

We are now about 2 or 3 weeks into Shelter in Place – How are things going?   To be really honest, this girl is having a hard time staying put There are plenty of things to do at home, inside and out, but it’s the NOT going, and NOT connecting that’s the real challenge. 

Starla and son and dog sheltering in place.

 I am a social gardener. I realize that my energy comes from interaction with people as much as growing things, so this quarantine is difficult to say the least.  

But on the bright side, my yard is awash with color; yellow columbine, red and pink roses, purple irises, and pink Indian hawthorn and many white flowers. 

Front yard with Columbine, Iris, and a backdrop of Loropetalum.

Bridal wreath and white Agapanthus. Other white flowers in Starla’s garden include dianthus, candytuft and snowball viburnum.

 With all of this springtime bounty, I have found a distraction that stays within the boundaries of social distancing and provides an outlet for me.

Wanting to surprise my neighbor from across the street, I asked to borrow a vase. She agreed and then the fun began, after flowers and greenery were chosen from the yard, an arrangement was created and placed on her porch. 

It was fun to bring a little joy, some sweet scents, and colorful flowers to an unsuspecting neighbor in this time of uncertainty.  My kitchen has turned into a florist’s workshop as I  continue to create garden bouquets for my neighbors.

A surprise bouquet from Starla. Starla, won’t you be my neighbor?

Everyone is dealing with this situation differently, but this has helped me to stay connected while adhering to social distancing guidelines. 

I can’t wait to get back to regular routines and friends, but in the meantime this will be my outlet. By the way, can I borrow a vase?

What are you doing to bring a little sunshine to those in your circle?  Dallas Garden Buzz would like to hear how you are dealing with this disruption of our normal patterns.  Leave a comment to let us know.

Starla Willis with captions by Ann Lamb

Raincatcher’s Garden Spring 2020

April 2, 2020

Most of us are at home this week and for the next coming weeks.

If you’re itching to walk through a garden, why not take a tour of ours through the eyes of Starla, our photographer who took these pictures last week.

New decomposed granite walkway flanked by beds of  Canyon Creek Abelia, Hamelim Dwarf Fountain Grass, and Texas Sage, “Compactum” (Texas Ranger) Read a full description of this new memorial garden here.

Veggie beds full of turnips (mostly gone), mustard greens (lots), collards (gone), carrots, and onions. Meanwhile Jim, is nursing 6″ pots of tomatoes and peppers for the garden.

Pollination of a blackberry blossom

The color wheel garden with a pretty apricot iris. Jim has repotted 40 zinnias and has 20 more to repot for the color wheel.

Redbud tree in bloom

The rain garden, our unsung hero! It has been channeling rain from our full rain cisterns to this sunken garden.

Garden questions? Send us a question by making a comment.

Ann Lamb

Pictures by Starla Willis

Have Hope, Carry On

March 24, 2020

Hello dear readers,

Most everything, every event, every gathering has been cancelled in Dallas and we are under ‘shelter in place’ orders until April 3.

The Dallas County Master Gardener office is closed and our Dallas County help desk is not available at this time. If you have garden questions, send them to us in the comments area of this blog and we will try to answer quickly.

Please don’t fret, our gardens will survive and one day soon we will be welcoming you back to Raincatcher’s events, plant sales, garden classes, and garden visits.

In the meantime, look through seeds you have saved and begin planting. Seeds represent hope!

Some garden centers in Dallas are open and have pick-up service because they supply herbs and vegetables. I have an order in right now, for starts of squash, eggplant, jalapēno, green beans and hopefully sun gold tomatoes.

Starla took this picture yesterday of The Raincatcher’s Garden to cheer you.

Bluebonnets, Englemann daisy, redbud trees and peach, pear, plum trees in bloom.

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

Raincatcher’s Plant Sale, April 25

April 23, 2019

Master Gardeners are bringing the very best plants out of their gardens and you have an opportunity to purchase them on Thursday, April 25 before the Master Gardener meeting 10-11:30am and then afterwards from 1-2:00pm. The proceeds are plowed back into our garden so that we can continue the educational programs we enjoy bringing to you.

Lisa Centala has three toad lilies and has propagated purple trailing ruellia, a tender perennial. Lisa originally got the ruellia  from one of our favorite Master Gardeners, Tim Allsup. It had been in his grandmother’s garden.

Trailing Ruellia, pretty in a pot!

Toad Lilies

Jim Dempsey, a  true gentleman gardener, brings seedlings and rooted cuttings from his home garden to our sale. You may want to make a list of what you plan to buy before coming. I sure am!

Tomatoes:
Celebrity
Cherokee Purple
Brandywine Red
Beauty
Lemon Boy
Yellow Pear
Porter
Tomatillo: Grande Rio Verde
Eggplant: Black Beauty
Peppers: Hot Sunset
Gypsy
Cornito Giallo
Carmen
Poblano L
Dutura: Double Yellow
Marigolds:
Janie Yellow
Janie Orange
Disco Mix
Super Hero
Tithona (Mexican Sunflower): Fiesta del Sol
Zinnia:
Pinwheel Mix
Forecast
Giant Yellow
Giant Lavender
Basil:
Purple
Sweet
Rudbeckia:
Autumn Glorosia
Cuttings (rooted):
Champanel grape
Celeste grape
Winter Honeysuckle

Evelyn Womble is offering Hardy Amaryllis bulbs. They are blooming right now in our courtyard and are so pretty, so reliable and they multiply!

Evelyn holding Hardy Amaryllis blooms. You can buy these bulbs at our sale.

We are willing to part with some of the treasured members of our garden for a small price. So won’t you please come to our sale on Thursday; it’s a tax free day.  Cash, check or credit card accepted.

Ann Lamb

 

All Members of the public are invited to Master Gardener meetings.

Click here to find out more about this month’s meeting on Orchids Treasures of Texas.

Bluebonnets at The Raincatcher’s Garden

April 9, 2019

Bluebonnets are blooming once again along Midway.

Bluebonnet close up

In the fall we sowed more wildflower seeds, hoping for their return.

Bluebonnets at The Raincatcher’s Garden

It’s a good year to head out on country roads outside of Dallas to see bluebonnets. Here’s a great website that gives an update on the blooms in Ennis: https://www.visitennis.org

We have written many times about bluebonnets so before you go in search of them read:

Itching in the Bluebonnet Field

Wildflowers at the Farm

Bluebonnets in Texas 2014

And now would you please get your calendar ready for these dates:

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL

Thursday, April 25th – Plant sale and DCMGA monthly meeting.

Tuesday, April 30th, 11am-  ‘Planting the Edible Landscape – the Spring/Summer Collection” with Linda and Ana to share the plants chosen and the reason behind the choices. Class and tour to be provided.

Tuesday May 7th, 9-11am Turf talk and demonstration by Stephen Hudkins.
 
Saturday May 25th 9-11am Grapevine Canopy Management Pruning by Michael Cook
 
Grow and Graze Events:
 

June 25th… Herbs of the Mediterranean (Please note the new date!)

August 27th… Corn, the Golden Essence of Summer, and Okra, a Garden Giant

October 22nd …Seasonal Splendor, Pumpkins and Sweet Potatoes

Grow and Graze reservations will be posted approximately one month before the event.
 
Ann Lamb
Pictures by Starla Willis

 

 

It’s Spring and Plant Sales Are Coming!

April 2, 2019

Over and under and in and out, Roseanne and her volunteer band of planters are busily preparing for the upcoming plant sale at Texas Discovery Gardens.  They could still use some help in the mornings  and be sure to ready your list and make your way to the plant sale April 13 and 14th, (April 12th for members).

I just added a new Shrub to mine !

Texas Discovery Garden Greenhouse

Under the tables, so to speak at TDG!

I spy Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’.

Kerria japonica is the perfect blooming shrub for shade to part sun.

Tig Thompson and pots!

The Raincatcher’s Garden plant sale is April 25th. More information about what we have to sell will be coming your way in the next few weeks. Good prices, home-grown selections!

Putting on plant sales is a lot of work. Thanks to all the volunteers who share their plants through the spring plant sales and thanks to our audience who support our endeavors. It is a labor of love to find new homes for our plants.

Starla Willis

 

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