Each year we’ve posted an online annual look back at what was done in our gardens and what fun we’ve had gardening together here in Austin, Texas. The “Annie in Austin” who writes the Transplantable Rose blog is called DivaGlinda here. That pen name thing started years and years ago – even our pets have noms de plume!
STARTING THE YEAR AT CHEZ ZEE
The Diva year begins with a planning meeting-breakfast in January. In 2008 the place of choice was Chez Zee, a family owned, Austin icon at 2222 and Balcones.
The food is always delicious and the décor is fun. Our group gets a little loud at times, so we were glad that our table was tucked around a corner.
Our original system of making a project schedule -drawing slips of paper with names of months – had failed. Some Divas drew the same month repeatedly. We’d try a new plan for 2008.
Karla: Hello Divas, Attached is a copy of the rotating schedules we discussed – see you at 9:00 Saturday at Chez Zee – with spreadsheets in hand!!!!
Divas Sophia, Annie, Mindy, Karla, Mattie,Glinda & Buffy all hoped for a good year.
FEBRUARY – MATTIE
Mattie had to change the date set in January … what luck! Her original date could have been a Diva Mud Day but the new date was the kind of early spring day that can spoil an Austin gardener.
Mattie: Dear Divas, According to the weather, Saturday will be beautiful - 70 degrees and scattered clouds. I continue to vacillate about what project to do (there are no shortages!) so you can help me pick. I have purchased lots of compost, mulch and plants so I am overly ambitious and will probably have to continue working for weeks. Now, on to the menu… I think our normal start has been about 8:30 so, if there are no objections, that works for me. I am looking forward to seeing you all!
Before thinking about transplanting shrubs or redoing beds it was time to visit and enjoy quiches and fruit around Mattie’s elegant table.
Once outside, a Burford Holly was dug up, ready to relocate near some new hollies in a border. Mattie’s intention is to eventually have a green screen around the entire perimeter of the half of the lot behind the privacy fence. Mattie’s dog Bianca was interested in our project, too.
Here’s a photo sent by Mattie, showing the undeveloped area between gate & steps a couple of years ago. She’s made a lot of progress since then but this area still needed help.
Mattie wanted us to make it ready for ‘Knockout Roses’ and lilies.
After removing unwanted plants, digging and amending, the Knockouts found a new home.
Next the Divas pondered the placement of the Birdbath.
This took both muscles and tools but Buffy and Mindy knew how to make that Birdbath stand level!
We found time for Mattie’s lovely lunch of different salads – Egg Salad, Potato Salad and Tuna Salad – served on a bed of greens with olives. It was perfect and crunchy and even more delicious when there was Blackberry Cobbler and Ice Cream to follow.
Then back out to dig and place the shrubs at the end of the pool area.
Once planted and watered in, Karla tends to this ‘Nellie Stevens” holly.Our first project for 2008 was a success – time to straggle home and let the birds find Mattie’s garden!
Mattie wrote: Dear Divas of the Dirt, You certainly deserve the name after yesterday! Whew…I couldn't believe how tired I was last night and sore I am today. Hope you all fared better than Bianca and I did. Today I watered and watered and marveled again at how much you did and how really wonderful it looks. It was a real pleasure to have you all over. I look forward to my next Diva Day when I can show you what it looks like a year later. If your hands are dry - use the lotion I gave you. It works really well. Thank you for a terrific day of sharing your company, creativity, experience and knowledge with me in my home. See you next month.
MARCH - GLINDA
I could hardly wait for the Divas to help me with my project and sent an email:
…just a reminder that we're aiming for 8:30 AM as the start time this Saturday. Buffy came over to scope things out and her advice was very welcome! We'll be working in front, enlarging the footprint left when the Arizona Ash was cut down. Then it can be a nice flowerbed! You might need sunscreen and/or a hat.
Mattie has a small crepe myrtle waiting for her. I can dig up shastas and already have lambs ears waiting. Also available are divisions of Crème Brule coreopsis…. I'm kind of bummed about this rose - the flowers are lovely and the foliage seems healthy, but this climber was bought as 'Therese Bugnet', a pink Rugosa-type shrub rose. It's in the pink garden and the location needs a plant that can stand on its own…needs a trellis or wall or fence or something. There's no way it can stay where it is... is anyone interested in adopting it? See you on Saturday!
Diva-Annie answered back: Glinda, sounds like the weather will be perfect for your diva day, hopefully you will sing your newest salvia song for us! See everyone on Saturday at 8:30!
With a date in mid-March the table just had to have daffodils. The breakfast menu included Irish Steel-cut Oatmeal. Eggs in Ham Crisps, pears, pineapple, clementine oranges & blackberries and Irish Soda Bread with currants.
An immense Arizona Ash had been taken down in early spring 2007, the stump ground and the chips turned into the roiled-up soil. Soon after that Philo and I planted a small Cercis/Texas Whitebud off to the side. Then the area was covered with mulch and a few container plants set there while the wood decomposed and the soil mellowed. One year later it would be a sunny flowerbed.
The biggest job, as always, was getting rid of the St Augustine grass to enlarge the bed and give it a good shape. That took hours! The birdbath had been toppled a few times – dogs, cats, raccoons? The Divas used a concrete stepping stone set below ground level as a pad for the birdbath base, burying it a few inches for added stability.
Diva-Annie brought divisions of yellow bulbine to add in to a mixture of native and adapted plants I’d been gathering: Mutabilis rose, ‘Bengal Tiger’ canna, Native Gregg’s mistflower, Verbena bonariensis, lantana, ‘Labuffarosea rainlilies, bluebonnets in bud, Creeping Phlox and Flame Acanthus with orange flowers for hummingbirds.
A liriope border grew near the steps when we bought the house. The unwelcoming straight line had been bothering me for years, and it looked weird to have the planters outside the green stripe looked wrong. The Divas knew just what to do…and did it!
Having a date in mid-March meant we got to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with traditional Irish-American food - Corn Beef, new potatoes and cabbage slaw with Harp Ale, Guiness Stout and country brownies for dessert.
The pink shrub rose that turned out to be a red climbing rose was dug up to go home with Mattie – now there was an empty spot where a pink-for-sure ‘Belinda’s Dream’ could bloom and grow.
The view from the veranda next morning looked wonderful as I wrote to the Divas:
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.
Sophia answered: This was my first diva day since last year and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Everything and everyone made for a perfect day! I was inspired by the delicious meals so I had Roger prepare traditional corned beef and cabbage with homemade beer bread on the side in honor of St Patrick’s Day!
Karla chimed in: Thank you Glinda for the blessing – it just continues the enjoyment of your delicious Irish lunch/table-scape to the beauty of your garden – your new fountain and beds are beautiful. You definitely look ready for your April visitors!! Have a Happy Easter everyone!!
Diva-Annie said: Thanks for the Irish blessing! I'm glad you are enjoying your new view, I can just see you and Oz having one meal at the kitchen table to look at your fountain and then moving to the dining room for the next meal to gaze out at your front yard and the birds in the birdbath. Such a difficult choice! Enjoy them both as well as having a Happy St. Paddy's Day!!
Mattie replied: Hi Divas, thank you! loved the saying and the little trip back to the green isle (I'm Irish too). I think your front yard front looks great. I loved everything you gave me (thanks Sophia and Diva-Annie, too) and got everything in the ground Saturday night hoping for rain Sunday. No luck but maybe this week. Happy St. Paddy's Day to you all.
Here’s the new front bed one week later with the whitebud and bluebonnets in bloom.
The whitebud lasted a few years, but did not survive the "summer from hell 2011"... a new look for the bed was the November 2011 project.