Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: April 2012

It’s mid-spring in Central Texas, the drought has lessened, the temperatures are warming, and the gardens have exploded with life. Everything is green and blooming.

'Whale's Tongue' agave and wildflowers

'Bright Edge' yucca and flowers

Patriotic trio

Milkweed with monarch caterpillars

Larkspur

'Whale's Tongue

Pink gaura

Globe mallow, salvia, 'Ruby Crystals' grass & larkspur

'Velvet Violet

'Velvet Violet' salvia, 'Ruby Crystals' grass, bumblebee

Gopher plant

'The Fairy' rose

'Wedding Blush' sweet peas

Rogue poppy

Lantana

Spring flowers

Gulf Coast penstemon

'Blue Curls' wildflower

Bee intoxicated on pink evening primrose pollen

'Buff Beauty' rose

'Dame du Coeur' rose

'Dame du Coeur' rose

Dwarf pomegranate

Pomegranates

Bearss lime

Happiest of Bloom Days to you! Visit Carol’s GBBD page at May Dreams Gardens to discover gardens in bloom around the world.

Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for “The Shovel-Ready Garden”. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Posted in garden bloggers' bloom day, native texas plants, plants you can eat, spring | 22 Comments

Fresh asparagus

This is the third spring for my small (three crown) asparagus patch, which means it’s time to eat fresh asparagus! Here’s everything that’s come up in the past two weeks. I harvested about a half a pound. (The white piece was buried under a hill of compost.)
Homegrown asparagus

Homegrown asparagus tastes completely different from store-bought asparagus. It tastes more ‘green’ and mildly floral, which sort of makes sense, since asparagus was once considered part of the lily family. Not all the stalks came up at the same time, so I kept the early stalks fresh by storing them in a pint glass of water in the refrigerator, covered with a clear plastic bag — otherwise the stalks would shoot up in the garden bed to three feet tall!

What are you harvesting for the first time this spring?

Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for “The Shovel-Ready Garden”. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Posted in asparagus, backyard garden, plants you can eat, spring | 5 Comments

First iris

As I left the house for work this morning, I spied with my little eye…my very first bearded iris! She’s a mauve-colored beauty with bright yellow beards, deeply veined hafts and a light topaz blue streak down the center rib of each petal. I believe her to be at least a second-generation passalong from Jenny at Rock Rose who got it from Lucinda Hutson’s garden.

Here she is, backlit in the morning sun–
Bearded iris

–lit from the front–
Bearded iris

–and languishing at dusk under the shade of a Texas red oak. (It wasn’t until dusk that the topaz blue streak became apparent.)
Lucinda's iris

I couldn’t be more thrilled. By “first iris”, I don’t just mean first iris this spring, but first iris EVER. I’ve never been successful with bearded irises, not even in Houston.
Bearded iris

I don’t know the name of this iris, so for now, I’m going to call it ‘Lucinda’s Iris’.

What surprises are blooming in your garden this spring? Anything you’ve never been able to grow until this very year? Or perhaps a passalong plant from a garden friend?

Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for “The Shovel-Ready Garden”. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Posted in bulbs, iris, spring | 21 Comments

An heirloom tulip for Southern gardens

My tulips are up! This variety is Tulip clusiana from Old House Gardens. It’s a red and white heirloom tulip from 1607.
Tulip clusiana (1607)

I planted 10 precious bulbs in my zone 8b garden a year and a half ago, and they’ve naturalized.
Tulip clusiana

The native T. clusiana can be identified by its deep purple heart which is absent from the hybrids.
Purple heart of Tulip clusiana

There are some T. clusiana hybrids out there (‘Lady Jane’, ‘Tinka’, ‘Chrysantha’) and I’ve planted a few, but none have done as well as the original.

What spring bulbs have naturalized in your garden? I’d love to know!

Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for “The Shovel-Ready Garden”. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Posted in bulbs, heirloom, tulips | 18 Comments

Today’s harvest

Today's harvest.
Today I harvested several carrots, three asparagus spears, lots of snap peas and a few broccoli side shoots. Thanks to the rain washing the pencil marks off my plant tags, I have no idea what variety the carrots are, but I recall planting Nantes, Danvers 126, Royal Chantanay and Tonda di Parigi. At nearly 8 inches long, the two carrots in the center are the biggest carrots I’ve ever grown!

Fresh lettuces from the garden
I also harvested a variety of fresh lettuces including radicchio, green and red Oak Leaf, Garnet Rose Romaine, Rouge D’Hiver Romaine, and Buttercrunch Bibb.

But the pièce de résistance was this, my first kohlrabi. Isn’t it a beaut?
Purple kohlrabi

I think it looks a bit alien with its round shape and its multiple arms, I mean, stems.
Purple kohlrabi

Are you harvesting any veggies today? I’d love to hear about your haul!

Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for “The Shovel-Ready Garden”. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Posted in asparagus, broccoli, carrots, kohlrabi, peas, plants you can eat, spring | 7 Comments

Peas, peas, peas

The snap peas are still going strong! I planted these peas in the fall and we’ve been eating peas for dinner at least once a week for the past 6 weeks or so.
Snap pea

The blossoms are fascinating. This one reminds me of a dinosaur or bird head.
Snap pea blossom

The tendrils grab on to almost anything to anchor the climbing vines…
Pea tendril

…including each other. To the sky!
Pea tendrils

Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for “The Shovel-Ready Garden”. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Posted in peas, plants you can eat | 4 Comments

Roses on parade

Meteorologist Burton Fitzsimmons from YNN News just gave Austinites the good news: so far, we’re way ahead on rainfall for 2012, and for the first time in nine months, Austin is no longer in “exceptional drought” status. We’re not out of the woods yet, with conditions ranging from “extreme” to “severe” drought across Travis County (the northwestern tip remains in “exceptional” drought status, near the Balcones Wildlife Refuge). But as Burton says, it’s a step in the right direction, and my garden’s roses are a testament to that. The rains have rejuvenated these hardy roses, most of which appeared to be on death’s door last August.

‘Lady Banks’
'Lady Banks' rose

‘La Marne’
'La Marne' rose

‘Buff Beauty’
'Buff Beauty' rose

‘Old Blush’
'Old Blush' rose

‘Dame du Coeur’
'Dame du Coeur' rose

‘Mutabilis’
'Mutabilis' rose

March is coming in like a lamb, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s during the day and 50s at night. Jack and I are debating whether to take down the pop-up greenhouse over the lime trees, so the lime blossoms can get a little more bee lovin’.
Bee on 'Mutabilis' rose

What do you think? The 10-day forecast is looking pretty promising for spring’s solid arrival. Hard to believe that NOAA was wrong about a dry La Niña winter and Punxsutawney Phil was wrong about six more weeks of winter, isn’t it? Should I take a chance?

Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for “The Shovel-Ready Garden”. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Posted in roses, spring | 5 Comments