I have enjoyed writing articles for this Central Texas Gardening Blog since January 2009 which supplemented my website that I discontinued (per the latest article). These are all contained in the Archives which unfortunately don’t show the article titles and content.   So for your reference, here is the entire list showing topic and date written.   I invite you to visit or revisit any of these articles that might interest you.  If on FaceBook,  I have a FB page “The Xeriphytic Yard” which I also invite you to visit.  Like it to receive updates when new posting occur.  Sharing my gardening enthusiasm and interest with fellow gardeners is what I enjoy most in my retirement years.  I hope you enjoy and will share your gardening enthusiasm via the many media available to us today that we never imagined many years ago.  The list appears below:


Central Texas Gardening Website
Sep 2, 2017 12:05 PM18 Views1 Like

Aug 5, 2017 1:27 PM20 Views

The Grass Patch
Jun 7, 2017 4:39 PM22 Views1 Like

May 11, 2017 3:48 PM35 Views1 Like

Mar 29, 2017 9:29 AM37 Views1 Like

Apr 25, 2016 4:30 PM137 Views1 Like1 Comment

A Colorful Winter Garden
Jan 25, 2016 1:00 PM178 Views

Aug 4, 2015 10:40 AM130 Views1 Like4 Comments

Jun 12, 2015 10:44 AM220 Views1 Like1 Comment

Apr 8, 2015 4:22 PM263 Views1 Like2 Comments

Jan 12, 2015 2:22 PM177 Views

Nov 5, 2014 3:35 PM135 Views3 Likes2 Comments

Landscapers – “so called”??
Mar 15, 2014 12:38 PM296 Views2 Likes1 Comment

2013 – A Gardening Year in Review
Jan 6, 2014 11:05 PM263 Views2 Likes2 Comments

Oct 29, 2013 4:42 PM432 Views3 Likes3 Comments

Some Foliage Makes Good Scents in the Garden
Sep 17, 2013 3:34 PM239 Views1 Like4 Comments

Jul 2, 2013 4:23 PM211 Views1 Like7 Comments

Jun 14, 2013 4:13 PM223 Views3 Comments

Apr 25, 2013 8:04 PM1,619 Views3 Likes8 Comments

Dec 31, 2012 2:54 PM267 Views1 Like1 Comment

Oct 15, 2012 4:49 PM274 Views

Sep 22, 2012 9:16 AM9,980 Views1 Comment

Sep 13, 2012 12:56 PM277 Views2 Comments

Aug 10, 2012 12:43 PM3,145 Views2 Comments

Apr 6, 2012 10:25 AM797 Views

Mar 1, 2012 1:42 PM789 Views

Feb 18, 2012 12:24 PM710 Views2 Comments

Jan 1, 2012 9:23 PM173 Views4 Comments

Oct 29, 2011 10:46 AM13,999 Views1 Like11 Comments

Oct 3, 2011 9:51 PM745 Views8 Comments

Jul 14, 2011 7:52 PM645 Views2 Comments

Proven Winners in My Garden
Jun 23, 2011 4:05 PM1,263 Views3 Comments

Jun 9, 2011 2:13 PM52 Views1 Comment

Gardening with Bambi
Apr 15, 2011 12:15 PM183 Views

Mar 1, 2011 4:00 PM122 Views3 Comments

Feb 18, 2011 8:20 PM237 Views

>I’m Dreaming of a Green Winter
Feb 10, 2011 4:42 PM657 Views

>Winter Plant Damage – A Gardener’s Woe
Feb 7, 2011 8:49 PM111 Views

>The Winter Garden Needn’t be Boring
Dec 23, 2010 11:28 AM85 Views1 Comment

Oct 4, 2010 2:24 PM1,533 Views

Sep 25, 2010 12:49 PM2,915 Views1 Comment

Aug 17, 2010 11:25 AM2,063 Views2 Comments

Jun 25, 2010 3:16 PM92 Views1 Comment

Jun 8, 2010 5:00 PM421 Views1 Comment

May 6, 2010 11:31 AM101 Views2 Comments

Apr 16, 2010 9:59 AM1,330 Views

Apr 5, 2010 8:33 PM33 Views

Mar 23, 2010 9:16 PM385 Views2 Comments

Mar 13, 2010 8:12 PM211 Views1 Like4 Comments

Feb 26, 2010 2:33 PM451 Views2 Comments

Feb 15, 2010 4:34 PM455 Views3 Comments

Jan 20, 2010 6:22 PM457 Views9 Comments

Jan 8, 2010 11:11 AM67 Views

Dec 31, 2009 12:10 PM5,589 Views2 Comments

Dec 1, 2009 11:42 AM477 Views1 Comment

Nov 20, 2009 11:02 AM31 Views1 Comment

Oct 28, 2009 4:09 PM229 Views1 Comment

Sep 21, 2009 2:06 PM110 Views2 Comments

>Global Warming and Gardening
Aug 22, 2009 1:18 PM2 Views
>Gardening in the Heat of Summer – NOT!
Jun 28, 2009 11:37 AM41 Views1 Comment

>Survival of the Fittest
Jun 12, 2009 10:42 AM9 Views2 Comments

>Tips for Mailing Plants
May 1, 2009 8:30 PM7 Views2 Comments

>How to Enjoy More Plants with Limited Space
May 1, 2009 7:19 PM15 Views1 Comment

>Look for Us on Central Texas Gardener
Mar 24, 2009 10:03 PM9 Views4 Comments

>Xeriphytic Landscaping in Central Texas
Mar 24, 2009 9:48 PM192 Views1 Comment

>Sharing Plants and Garden Ideas
Mar 7, 2009 3:48 PM18 Views1 Comment

>Variegated Plants for Central Texas
Mar 5, 2009 11:30 PM2,375 Views1 Comment

>My Favorite Five Plants for Austin
Jan 21, 2009 2:16 PM67 Views

>Beyond the Digging
Jan 10, 2009 11:18 AM2 Views


Almost 15 years ago,  I set up and continued to improve a website to help fellow gardeners in the region where I live.  It began as Houston and Gulf Coast Gardening and transitioned to Central Texas Gardening when we moved to Austin 11 years ago.  As social media has developed into a very resourceful tool for sharing with fellow gardeners,  I have ventured into that arena with this Central Texas Gardening Blog and also set up a FaceBook page entitled “The Xeriphytic Yard”.  I find that in this transition, I truly lack the time to maintain and update my formal CENTRAL TEXAS GARDENING website properly.  So I have made the decision to take it down effective September 29, 2017.  If you have visited that site and benefited from the information provided, it has been worth all the time and effort that went into it.  I am retaining all the files that are on that site for future reference myself.

I started learning how to do a website using hypertext language script until WYSIWYG came along with wonderful software tools.  Doing this website has been quite an educational challenge that I enjoyed, even when difficulties arose.  I have another website  to keep my skills up but not gardening related.

Using the CTG Blog,  I can share my enjoyment of gardening narratively, and informally rather than in website format.  Also, I have gotten into garden photography and can post pictures easily and in quantity using the Facebook Page.  Times change, and even in my senior years, I have learned to flex and change with the times.   I look forward to spending more time in the garden and less time on the computer.  In the process, I have amassed a huge collection of photos and done a lot of research.  I give garden topic presentations to local gardening organizations and these resources will continue  to be shared with fellow gardeners in central Texas.

SO, , no longer exists,  but my enthusiasm for ornamental gardening and sharing experiences with others will always be there.


Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 11.55.51 AM







Article Contributed by, Maria Cannon, Dallas, TX

The healing powers of gardening are well-documented, and that applies to large flower gardens small vegetables gardens, and everything in between. Specific types of gardens, termed therapy or therapeutic gardens, may just be the king of the gardening-for-health category. When it comes to helping you battle depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, and health problems caused by stress, it’s hard to beat this particular treatment.


How a therapy garden uses sensory stimulation to help you relax and heal

A good garden is one of the few things in the world that can stimulate all five of our senses. Sight is the most obvious, as flowers are absolutely beautiful to look at. Flowers and herbs all have unique aromas, which can be calming. Certain plants and grasses make sounds when rustled by the wind. Vegetable gardens can provide delicious treats to savor, and the different textures of plants, from smooth leaves to fuzzy Lamb’s Ear, can satisfy our sense of touch.

Don’t just think about plants. A great garden will have some sort of water element to it, which is vital to building an area where you can relax.

“Provide a water feature because water is a soothing agent. Still water can provide a setting for meditation while the sound and view of moving water is restorative. You can use a small fountain or create a pond with koi or goldfish,” suggests Care2.

A good therapy garden will have emotional connection

Plants play an important role in memory and positive association, and surrounding yourself with reminders of good times is certainly therapeutic.

“Plant things that are meaningful to you and evoke happy feelings. For example, maybe lilies remind you of your wedding day because they were in your bouquet … The more positive associations you can create in your garden, the more opportunities you’ll have to change your outlook,” notes

Gardening gives you a sense of purpose

For those struggling with depression, loneliness, anxiety, or some other mental health issue, there are very few hobbies that instill a greater sense of purpose than gardening. Think about it: you plant a seed, bulb, or very small plant. You create a perfect environment for it to thrive. Then, you take steps every single day to ensure it succeeds. Eventually, that plant blooms and bears fruit. That fruit can be visually stunning, delicious, or a treat for your nose. Without your care, the plant never would’ve survived.

This is the nurturing benefit of gardening. For those battling their own inner demons, there is nothing greater than giving yourself a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

The therapy is in the work

The results are in, and exercise helps to prevent depression. Getting enough physical activity boosts our brain’s production of feel-good hormones, keeps us fit and healthy (which certainly affects mood and overall life outlook), and helps us keep our minds sharp. Gardening is a wonderful low-impact form of exercise. Doubt that? Spend a whole day in the garden and see how you feel the next day.

Not only that, but working in a garden is a great way to get out in the sunlight and fresh air. Without enough sunlight, we don’t get enough Vitamin D. When we don’t get enough Vitamin D, our brains produce less serotonin, which is a pleasure trigger.

Any garden can be a therapy garden if it’s designed with care, with the intent on stimulating all of your senses. Gardening has many health benefits, but the most important one may be its ability to boost overall mental health

As someone who suffers from fibromyalgia, gardening has been a lifesaver for me. It has allowed me to work through the depression and anxiety I’ve had about my chronic illness, in addition to providing me with a type of physical activity that has proven to be highly therapeutic.


Postscript by Bob Beyer, Central Texas Gardening.

I . who has now reached his senior years, have always felt that Hortitherapy was a Godsend to many people whether battling health issue or just everyday frustrations. Maria’s article hit home for me and I am delighted to receive and share this article from Maria which brought to light, the reasons I value gardening.   In my case,  I grew up in tropical south Florida and have never returned to live there again.  I miss the tropical plants and environment that take me back to my formative years.   So, now, living and gardening in central Texas,  I must have a greenhouse to allow me to grow and enjoy the tropical plants I miss and love like Bougainvillea for example.  My xeriphytic yard has many varieties of hardy palms and other tropical looking plants that can make it thorugh our winters in Austin.  Every day, I feel compelled to walk the garden and look for anything new and exciting, camera in hand to immortalize the beauty of nature so I can still enjoy the garden if confined to indoors due to weather extremes.   I also love to start new plants from rooted cuttings or small divisions so to have the satisfaction reproducing and watching them grow.   Also, the wildlife that are atrracted to a garden brings joy and happiness.  Thank you Maria Cannon for your thought provoking and stimulating article.   What is your reason and prime benefit from gardening?




The Grass Patch

Who likes to get outside in the heat of summer to mow a fast growing lawn when temperatures drain your energy?  That means cranking up the gas powered mower, which contributes to carbon emissions and global warming (not to mention the expense of buying, running, and maintaining it).

The paradigm that every yard (or garden as the entire yard is referred to in England) must have a lawn of finely mowed green grass to match all your neighbors samo samo probably began long ago in the British culture.   A house is not an acceptable neighborhood home without a nice green lawn, right?

Nope, not in my opinion.  Reducing lawn area is a major contribution to reducing unnecessary water usage,  chemical fertilizers and pest control substances that pollute ground and surface water sources, etc.    This is a major principle and component of xeriscaping.

Unfortunately, our community covenants requires a small percentage of front area to be turf (25%), but we experimented and chose Palisades Zoysia as the most attractive, durable, drought tolerant alternative to comply,  and it has not disappointed.

Aside from that,  there is the back yard, which in most cases is also lawn turfed.  Here is where xeriscaping really pays off.    We have incorporated a small grass patch of Palisades Zoysia for aesthetic and design purposes only, to provide textural contrast to the rest of the yard which is adorned by mother nature’s native and adaptive plants, (which also attracts lots of wildlife for our viewing pleasure}. P1030401

But getting back to my initial point,  WARNING:  FACITIOUSNESS AHEAD.  I just totally exhausted myself mowing our back lawn (grass patch) of 100 sq. ft. using a push mower with the added benefit of providing needed exercise.  It took a whole 15 minutes including edging,  So, I can have my tiny lawn and enjoy it as well without harming the environment, saving water, and much less wear and tear on this old gardener!


I feel so nostalgic, like going back to the future, when I mow our tiny lawn area with this push mower.  I made my first dollar mowing lawns with one like this for $2.50 a yard when I was youngster.

So, bottom line:   Xeriscaping makes sense in every sense of the word.   Let’s use that common sense, simplify our lives and help sustain our beautiful planet.  Sometimes the best way is to go backward.



I have been feeling challenged as to how best to share our garden with other gardening lovers. Although I invite people to come by to see it, they are so busy with jobs family, and other obligations that finding the luxury of time to do so isn’t always possible  I currently use three methods, a website at   which is very general and regional in nature,  this blog by the same name of Central Texas Gardening at , which supplements the website with written articles on many gardening topics archived back to 2010. Most recently I have created a Facebook Page entitled “The Xeriphytic Yard”.   In the latter method, I am able to post many photos of the garden from broad design perspective to micro-detail of that which is growing in it or nature visiting it.   It would be pretty impossible to post so many garden pictures on a blog, so I encourage my blog followers who are on Facebook to visit “The Xeriphytic Yard” Facebook page and like it so you can receive notices of frequent updates.   This way, I can share the joy of what I see and experience year round in our garden with you and maybe share some idea for your garden.  I will continue to write gardening articles occasionally for this blog, but find blog posting to be much more cumbersome to do on a timely basis. The only problem is that some of my gardening friends are not on Facebook miss out. Bummer!   For those who are, the direct address is

That being said, the broader concept of sharing your garden with others through todays technology and social media, is something I encourage as everyone’s yard (syn. with garden) is unique and offers different elements of excitement. I am part of a 58 member closed Facebook group called Austin Garden Bloggers, and we share garden photos all the, while still maintaining our individual blogs.  A list of those is in my website.

Our gardens change character by season and take on a unique look that is only captured during a specific time of year.   I love to see photos taken by my garden network friends. It’s  like a virtual extension of my own garden. This makes a camera a vital gardening tool that can and should be used year round. Just as a xeriphytic garden/landscape offers unlimited opportunity for creativity and artistry, so does photographing your garden offer a challenge to capture it in unique ways, compositions, and details.

So what is a gardener to do in between spring preparation/planting and fall maintenance/harvesting periods. Answer: Visit it daily looking for photo ops that can be stimulating and shared with others. The beauty is often in the details and the camera captures that sometimes better than the eye. Oh yes, include descriptions or narrative to go with it.

So how do you share your garden with others who can’t be there to see it personally?



This is a posting of an article that appeared in Avery Ranch Living Magazine which reflects the reason we love our xeriphytic yard,  five years after its construction.


We are in our mid 70’s, retired, and have created a totally xeriphytic yard that we constructed in fall and winter of 2011. Lana did the design and Bob contributed his knowledge of plants. Five years later, we are enjoying the results of that hard work.  It is truly a dream garden in every sense.  It requires little to no watering,  no chemical fertilizers or pesticides,  relatively less maintenance,  attracts wildlife of all sorts (birds, butterflies, amphibians, mammals, and beneficial insects such as honeybees).  We use native and adaptive, durable and hardy plants to provide a variety of color and textures for all seasons.  We have received the City of Austin Green Garden Award, and have been certified by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife as a certified backyard habitat which is important since subdivision development is destroying natural habitat for wildlife at an significant rate.

We enjoy sitting on our backyard deck which gives us a 180 degree view of it all.   We love to see and hear the purple martins in spring,  followed by migratory and local birds feeding from our feeder or bathing in our bird bath. butterflies and hummingbirds abounded in our garden this past fall. Our selection of native plants is intended to draw all types of wildlife.


Our garden (defined as the entire yard), has been featured on Austin’s PBS station, KLRU’s Central Texas Gardener. The producer called it “cohesive diversity”, a garden with a large variety of plants but structured within a planned design.   There are areas of the garden that reflect themes such as compatible plant groupings, regional look, etc., plus a 360 degree natural pathway around the house to walk and enjoy the entire yard.   We have a hobby greenhouse that allows us to enjoy tropical and tender plants from spring to fall by safely over-wintering them.

We change out some of our plantings each year to avoid having a static garden and provide  new growing experiences.  This often happens when unexpected hard freezes damage or kill some plantings, which is a good excuse to find something different to try.  We seek some diversity year to year within the design structure.

We have tried to make our garden reflect “Central Texas” through use of natural, local materials as well.   We love to help other gardeners through sharing of our experiences.   Our website at , and our Blog at are a means to do this.   We also have a Facebook page “The Xeriphytic Yard” to further share our love of gardening.

We like to think of our yard as an incentive to draw us beyond the walls of our home into the beauty of nature. Gotta smell the roses!  Make your yard a source of joy every day of the year



From early childhood, I have learned how to get the most out of limited resources and that lesson has remained with me my entire life. It’s a habit I can’t break, even with my enjoyment of ornamental gardening in my retirement years. To further justify that, the prices of plant materials in nurseries has skyrocketed to the point that I now consider it a challenge to create a beautiful garden without shelling out big bucks for new plants. I am a penny-pinching gardener. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Pre planning: I am not an impulse buyer but have a plan in mind for every plant I seek and buy. It has to have a place, purpose, and suitability in my garden. Therefore, I research first using reliable internet resources before shopping and buying at plant nurseries and garden centers. I identify and shop at quality nurseries that have the best quality/priced plants.
  2. I select plants that can be eventually divided or can be propagated should I wish to expand use of that plant. Often, one gallon containers contain two rooted plants in one container as growers often do this to ensure survivability of at least one when it reaches market. Perennials, ornamental grasses, succulents, can be divided, shared, or traded as plants mature in your garden. Selectivity and sharing of purchased plants among gardening friends in this way saves money and provides diversity for your garden. .
  3. I propagate new plants from cuttings, always keeping a spare of any plant that may be hard to find if lost, to expand my garden plantings, or to swap with friends for new plants to try.
  4. I use all natural garden decor rather than man-made items. Ornamental rocks, dead wood, etc. make a garden look natural, are found and nature, and are often cost free.
  5. I have a hobby greenhouse which allows me to overwinter tender plants and not have to repurchase new ones annually. This expands the variety in my seasonal gardens.
  6. I am a patient gardener. I enjoy seeing plants grow, start from small and develop into maturity. I would much rather buy a 4″ potted plant and grow it rather than pay a lot more for an already mature plant. Growing is a key part of gardening, in lieu of planting for immediate effect. I take pride in saying I grew this plant from a cutting, division, or starter size.
  7. I can give my garden a change in appearance by rearrangement, rather than replacement of plant materials. Transplanting at the appropriate time of year can give a fresh new look.
  8. I avoid buying high priced, high risk plants, as tempting as they may be. I am not a risk taker when it comes to gardening but stick to those plants that have proven reliability in our area.
  9. I recycle potting soil and create my own compost in lieu of purchasing processed fertilizers.
  10.  I find decor pots and garden ornaments at garage sales and thrift shops and create decor containers from ceramic pieces by drilling drainage holes with a ceramic drill bit.
  11. I collect rainwater for watering in lieu of automated irrigation, and hand water only as needed. I mulch all planted areas to reduce watering needs, and supplement soil nutrients.

Not everyone needs to economize like this, depending on one’s economic status, but a dollar saved is a dollar earned, and if your gardening resources are limited, there are ways to create a masterful ornamental garden within your means. Even living on a fixed retirement income, I can afford to spend much more on my gardening pursuits than I do, but feel better doing more with less, and that makes me a happier gardener. Yes, I am a penny-pinching gardener – it’s hardwired! Doing the most with the least is a challenge I love when it comes to gardening.



A Colorful Winter Garden

A good landscape/garden plan  is designed around all seasons.  There should be no dormant or off season for central Texas gardeners, if you choose the right plantings and blend them well amongst other seasonal favorites that are just that – seasonal.

First and foremost,  you will want to have evergreen plants of various textures, sizes, and shades of color.  While perennials and winter dormant plants are taking their rest, these will provide signs of life in the garden.   But what about color?  That can make or break the winter landscape.  With rare exception,  foliage and other ornamental color features must substitute for floral during the winter period.

I took a camera trip around our yard in late January to see what colorful plants stood out and grabbed my attention while everything else was going through the winter blues.   Here are some of them which were planted intentionally for winter color.


Nothing sparkles and catches your eye better than the iridescent red berries of the Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria).  Here they are displayed on the weeping Yaupons that border the front of our home.  Mockingbirds feast on them during winter as well.


Speaking about fruit, this one is for humans, not the birds.  The Meiwa Kumquat is loaded with bright orange fruit during the peak of winter and provide a nice snack when working in the garden.


Here we see a flower spike before opening on a cold tolerant Aloe ‘blue elf’ which will open in a week with bright orange long lasting typically beautiful aloe blooms.


Getting into foliage color, this variegated boxwood is one of my favorite year round plants.  It maintains it’s dazzling variegated color through winter along with a nice compact shape.


For more yellow splash that never fades in winter, there are many variegated cultivars of Abelia that remain compact and display a myriad of colors.  This one I grow was labeled ‘white marvel’.


Here is the winter color on a dwarf variegated Pyracantha.  The pink shades appear in response to colder temperatures but in summer, the coloration is green tinged with white.


Dwarf Pittosporum t0bira ‘Creme de Mint” is colorful in several ways.  The pale bluish green mature foliage contrasts with the shiny green and yellow new foliage.  This plant needs a protected outdoor area to thrive in winter.


Another winter color favorite is variegated Eleagnus pungent.  This cultivar is ‘maculata’ with the bold yellow center. but there are several other colorful variegated cultivars available.  Variegated plants grow much slower than non-variegated so this plant is easy to maintain year round.


A beautiful variegated chinese Holly, Ilex cornuta ‘O. Spring” is a tough as nails plant for central Texas.  Like most hollies, avoid planting it in an alkaline soil as it has a lower pH requirement.


Trachelosporum jasminoides ‘variegata’ better known as Confederate Jasmine, is a very controllable vine that adds much color to the winter scene.  Variegation varies from white to yellow.


This variegated Viburnum tinus ‘Bewley’s variegated’ is a great compact plant that shows off it’s brilliant color throughout winter.


A favorite among central Texas Gardeners is Dianella tasmanica ‘variegata’ or Tasmanian flax.  It requires protection from wintery blasts but stays colorful and evergreen in a protected location.  Henrietta bunny loves it!


Another colorful foliage plant needing a protected spot is variegated Alpine zerumbet ‘variegata’.  Give it a sheltered shady location and it will brighten that area throughout winter.  In hard freezes, it will disappear until spring however.


Sometimes, new growth on a plant provides color in winter such as this dwarf Podocarpus macrophilla.  It also resides in a somewhat protected location but like they say in the realty business, “location, location, location”,  a principal that is very relevant to gardeners also. especially during winter season.


The devil is in the details sometimes.  This is a close up of new growth coming out on Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘pink splash’. It is only the tip of the plant but proves that a walk around the garden in winter sometimes requires closer scrutiny.


Finally, winter interest if often found in texture as seen here in the dying plumage of Gulf Muhly. Not the bright pink it displays in fall when in its prime, the long lasting plumage offers a tinge of white beauty to the garden throughout winter.

One of the blessings we have by living in central Texas is avoidance of severe winter conditions which allow us to enjoy a wide variety of colorful plants in any season.  This doesn’t just happen but requires that your garden planning incorporate intentionally, a variety of plants that will provide that color and seasonal interest.   As I write this, it is late January, but I am already thinking about how to improve my garden not only for the warm growing season ahead, but next winter.  If you missed out on your opportunity to add more color to your winter garden this year, it’s never too early to plan ahead.  We have had a much warmer than normal winter so far in central Texas,  but planning should always anticipate and be prepared for the worst climatic scenario.  Seeing color in the garden during winter is inspirational and keeps my spirits high during the winter down-time.  It really does!






Here we are in Central Texas in August with consistent 100+ degree days and little to no rain. That’s enough to drive a gardener crazy! The only way to do any garden maintenance is in early morning or late evening, which tends to conflicts with other daily activities and commitments. By 10 a.m. , it is way too hot to be working outdoors until at least 7 p.m. It’s survival mode for both plants and gardener!

As depressing as that scenario may be, it’s a fact of life for Texas gardeners. All we can do is just the following.

  1. Survey the garden and yard daily for distressed plants and take appropriate action, be it watering or reducing exposure to light and heat intensity.
  2. Water plants in early morning or late evening at least twice a week , keeping in mind that container plants dry our much faster and may need more frequent watering.
  3. Avoid the desire to do any additional plantings or transplanting until cooler temperatures and more consistent rain occurs in fall.
  4. Use these stressful periods as a learning period, noting which plants survive and are the best adaptive to these severe conditions.
  5. 5  Be planning for garden modifications and improvements in fall to implement a more heat and drought tolerant garden for next year.
  6. Make sure that if you are away for more than 2 days, someone will be checking on and caring for your plants.
  7. Avoid fertilizing or pruning to induce new growth that will be stressed during periods of extreme heat.   It is never inappropriate to add compost and mulching to any plant bed during summer. Anything that will improve moisture retention is a plus.
  8. Xeriscape, xeriscape, xeriscape! Plan and implement an environmental friendly, water-wise landscape this fall, so next year, your yard will sustain itself during these harsh periods with minimal water and maintenance.
  9. Take care of the gardener. Don’t expose yourself to sunburn, heat exhaustion, and dehydration, as your garden depends on you ultimately. We suffer some plant losses during winter and some during summer, but your garden can’t afford to lose the gardener.
  10. Continue to educate yourself during the time in air conditioned comfort.There is so much to learn about gardening, so this down time provides that time to study and learn more about how to be a successful gardener and new plants to try.
  11. In summer, flowering plants tend to go on hiatus until fall, so substitute the color of flower blooms by using plants with colorful foliage. Tropical plants for summer seasonal use can take the heat and brighten up your summer garden.
  12.  If in our challenging climatic conditions, you can’t maintain what you’ve created, cut back and reduce. It is better to have a good looking smaller garden than a large unkempt one. Choose quality over quantity.

Our total xeriscaped yard continues to change based on lessons learned from these extreme weather conditions and patterns. Every time I think I have achieved a totally durable landscape, I am proven otherwise, so the challenge is to continue to make adjustments that will produce a more sustainable and durable garden in response to seasonal experiences. Will I ever achieve the perfect garden? NEVER!

Central Texas has got to be one of the toughest environments in which to grow an ornamental garden with temperature and rainfall extremes, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and you’ve got to be tough to be a Texas gardener. So, as long as there are these challenges, I will always be busy in the garden, weather permitting.   The main challenge in summer is to fight the urge to be in the garden and find ways to keep productively busy indoors when working in the garden is not a sensible option.

So my fellow gardening enthusiasts, KEEP COOL, and just do the minimum necessary to sustain your gardens during this stressful period. It’s survival time for both your plants and YOU    .

>Survival of the Fittest


I have said in many prior posts that one of the great joys of gardening includes photographing the wonders of it.  It doesn’t need to be a fancy featured camera with all the bells and whistles.  Graphic enhancement software can improve imperfect pictures to restore what your eyes really saw.  With the age of digital photography, we can take photos galore and then get choosy about those we keep.

I made it a personal project this spring to capture our garden in details that my human eye failed to catch but the camera didn’t.  To that, I added photos from the past few years to create a garden art gallery.  I see nature as a work of art and to capture the color, diversity, textures, contrasts, shapes, and other details really does the plants you grow justice.

The result has been a slide show I compiled of 235 photos, taking 20 minutes to view at the rate of 5 seconds per image and I’d like to share it with you.  It can be viewed easily at

So sit back with a cup of coffee, glass of wine, or whatever you prefer,  and be prepared to be mesmerized by the intricacy of the garden, the artistry it contains, and realize that these were all taken in our own yard and garden of plants we are or have grown. in Austin, TX.

So, no watercolors, oil paintings, etc. can quite capture the reality of the garden like a camera, a gardener with an eye for composition and the realization that your garden is really a work of art.     ENJOY THE SHOW!

Mom's garden