Home Gardening Statistics

Infographic from “The Mother Nature Network”

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am a numbers guy.  In my real job, I create and maintain computer applications that analyze all of The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s numbers.  Because I crunch and report numbers all day, every day, I am kind of a nut about them.  So, when I found a website that that had numbers relating to gardening, I was ecstatic.  All of the statistics that we are about to discuss came from a very cool web page on the Mother Nature Network.  MNN got all of their stats from the National Gardening Association.

The Average Gardener - According to the National Gardening Association, the average gardener in the U.S. is female.  She is over 45 years old and there is a 79% chance that she has a college degree or at least some college education.  She spends an average of five hours a week working in her 600 square foot food garden.  Each year she spends about $70 on her hobby and harvests $600 worth of food.  In my recent interview with Central Texas Gardener, Linda Lehmusvirta asked me if gardening was worth it.  Well, thanks to that last stat, I have scientific proof that at a bare minimum, my hobby is worth at least $530 per year.

Does Size Matter?- Evidently, my little potager is just about average.  My potager is 24’X24′ for a total of 576 square feet.  According to the stats on the MNN site, the average food garden in the U.S. is 600 square feet.  This stat was the one that hit me the hardest.  Was it coincidence that my potager was so close to the average?  Probably not.  I bet the average garden is 600 sq ‘ because that is about the perfect size for a middle aged, college educated gardener to maintain in five hours per week.

Another interesting stat in this line was the reported median size of a garden.  In case you have forgotten, the median is the point in a population where half of the values fall above a certain point and the half fall below.  So, with a median garden size of 96 square feet (or 12’X8′), that means that there are a lot of people gardening in very small spaces.  While this was a little surprising to me at first, it dawned on me that a lot of those middle aged college grads are urbanites that just don’t have a lot of space to garden in.  I say YEAH!  It is better to have gardened small than to have never gardened at all.  My wife’s school garden is based on Mel Bartholomew’s square foot gardening method.  It is only 8’X3′, but her second graders grow a lot of produce in that 24 sq ‘ space.  So, if you don’t have the space or time to grow an average sized food garden, plant some containers or put together a couple of 3’X3′ sqaure foot gardens in your yard or on your patio.

What Does Our Garden Grow? -It should come as no surprise to you that the most grown vegetable in the American garden is the tomato.  Tomatoes are the most grown vegetable in home gardens all around the world.  However, I have to admit I was shocked by number two and three.  Cucumbers and sweet peppers rounded out the top three.  Even though I grow them, I had no idea that everyone else did too.  Probably has something to do with how versatile they are and how easy they are to grow.  BTW, when you read the chart and you see “Tomatoes 86%”, it means that of the total respondents, 86% grew tomatoes in their garden.

Where We’re Growing – According to the survey, no region of the U.S. gardens significantly more than any other.  If you look at the map on the left, you will see that what they call “The South” has the highest number of gardeners.  If you look closely you will see that this is the smallest geographic region in size but 29% of the folks that live in that area garden.  The second largest region is called “The Midwest”.  It is the largest geographically and 26% of the people that live there garden.  23% of the folks that live in “The West” grow their on food. Finally, 22% of “Northeasterners” grow some of their own food.  “The Northeast” may have the lowest per centage of gardeners and yet it has the highest population density in the U.S.  Because of this, I don’t think these folks garden less because they don’t want to, I think it is probably a result of the VERY urban environments that they live in.

The State of Our Hobby – Right now, the state of our hobby is strong!  In 2008,  31% (or 36 million households) of Americans had a food garden.  By 2009, that number had grown to 37% of households (or 43 million households).  I am not sure what drove this increase but it truly incredible.  Whether driven by a desire to eat in a more healthy manner, or the desire to save money because of the economy, over one third of your neighbors are now growing at least a part of the food they consume.

Compared to 2008, 6 million more Americans kept a garden in 2009.  This bodes very well for the future of our hobby.  However, the most encouraging news in that stat is the fact that 21% (or 1.26 M) of that 6 million were first time gardeners.  How exciting is that?  Historically, gardening was a hobby practiced by the middle aged and the retired.  Not anymore!  More and more young people are rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty.  These newbie’s are going to ensure that the state of our hobby is strong for a very long time.

Celebrating the Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)

IMG_0043a Sally and I celebrated the Fourth of July with our daughter and son-in-law in Oklahoma City.  While there, we visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.  What a lovely and moving place.  Things like this make me so proud to be an American.  I truly believe that there has never been another group of people that can better come together after a tragedy and turn it into a silver lining.  While there is no doubt that what Timothy McVeigh did on that April day was horrible, the people of Oklahoma rose above it and created a lovely and peaceful place that memorializes those lost and celebrates the sacrifice of the volunteers that turned the horror of that day into a place where all can celebrate the indomitable American Spirit.

Each of these beautiful chairs memorialize on of the victims of this senseless tragedy

Each of these beautiful chairs memorialize one of the victims of this senseless tragedy

Two minutes after Timothy McVeigh lit the fuse of his bomb, 168 men, women and small children were gone; so was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.  An additional 300 buildings in the downtown area were damaged.  About the only thing left standing at the blast site was a large American Elm tree that is now called “The Survivor’s Tree”.  This tree is now the center piece of a horticultural tribute to resilience of the American people.

This Elm tree was about the only thing to survive the blast. The "Survivor Tree" is a testamnet to the reseliance of the human spirit.

This Elm tree was about the only thing to survive the blast. The “Survivor Tree” is a testamnet to the reseliance of the human spirit.

Elm trees in general are incredibly hardy trees.  One example in Ontario, Canada grew to 140’ tall. Elms can take extreme cold, extreme heat and endure extreme drought.  At the beginning of the last century they were the most commonly planted tree in America.  However, around 1928, disaster struck in the form of a small black beetle that spread a fungus called “Dutch Elm” disease.  This disease decimated elm populations that had no resistance to this Asian invader.  Dutch Elm Disease is still a serious problem.  However, if you have the money, there are now treatments that can save an infected elm if the infection is caught soon enough.

If you are a Texan and you have an affinity for these hardy trees, you are in luck.  Texas has a native elm that is very resistant to Dutch Elm  Disease.  In fact, the Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia) is resistant to most pests.  While its leaves are sometimes nibbled by the Elm Leaf Beetles, there is not much else that bothers it.  This cedar elm makes a great shade tree and it is extremely drought tolerant.

This lovely print is courtesy of the Texas A&M Forsetry Service Tree Planting Guide at: http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/Display_Onetree.aspx?tid=100

This lovely print is courtesy of the Texas A&M Forsetry Service Tree Planting Guide at:
http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/Display_Onetree.aspx?tid=100

According to my friend Morgan McBride of Tree Town USA, cedar elms are a great choice for most Texas landscapes.  These lovely trees are covered in small, oval, serrated leaves that are rough to the touch and turn yellow in the fall.  They can grow in sandy soils and in thick clay soils.  In fact they can even grow in the highly compacted soils that are common in urban areas.  These adaptable trees have a moderate growth rate and only require a moderate amount of water to thrive.  They can grow to 60’ tall and develop a spread of over 40’.

Cedar elms develop a deep root system that allows them to withstand drought and most windstorms.  If you go to a nursery and ask for an elm for your yard, you need to insist on the cedar elm.  Many nurseries stock the Chinese Lacebark Elm and will often offer it as a substitute.  While the tree does have a lovely rough bark, it develops a shallow root system that makes it easy prey for windstorms.  Also, the Chinese Lacebark is susceptible to cotton root rot.  Because of this, you are taking a risk if you plant it anywhere in our state that once grew cotton (and since most of our state once grew cotton, you really need to think about this when you make your elm choice).

My buddy Morgan is selecting a Cedar Elm for a client.  Notice that he really is touching it with a 10' pole.  Don't know why that is so funny to me but he really does travel around with a 10' pole in his car at all times.

My buddy Morgan is selecting a Cedar Elm for a client. Notice that he really is touching it with a 10′ pole. Don’t know why that is so funny to me but he really does travel around with a 10′ pole in his car at all times.

Like the people of Oklahoma, elm trees were attacked and decimated by an unexpected enemy.  However, they survived.  Now this American classic is making a comeback.  I love elm trees and I am so glad that the people of Oklahoma saved their “The Survivor Tree”.  This deep rooted, dependable and resilient tree is the perfect centerpiece for a memorial that is dedicated to faith, healing and the resilience of the American spirit.

This post has been shared on the HomeAcre Hop and the Homestead Barn Hop.  These hops are great way to gather information from some of the best bloggers on the web.  Be sure to check it out!

This is a detail of a large statue that stands on the site of the old rectory of St. Joseph Catholic Church.  the rectory was destroyed in the blast.  This statue is called "Jesus Wept" and it based on the shortest verse in the bible; John 11:35

This is a detail of a large statue that stands on the site of the old rectory of St. Joseph Catholic Church in OKC. The rectory was destroyed by the April 19 bombing. This statue is called “Jesus Wept” and it is based on the shortest verse in the bible; John 11:35

Start your tillers!!!!

Even though you did not see it on the calendar, last weekend was the end of winter for the Zone 9 gardener.  Ok, I realize that by making that declaration in print I am probably dooming us to a late season freeze.  However, according to historical statistics, Feb. 15 marked the last day that we could realistically expect a freeze in Zone 9B.  Because of this I am now suffering from a severe case of garden fever.  Last weekend, to celebrate the end of winter, I planted 2 -33′ rows of potatoes (Yukon Gold, Kennebec, Red LaSoda).  I also cleaned out the potager in preparation of the flowers and herbs that will be planted there in the next few weeks.

Now is the perfect time to plant all barassicas like broccoli and cauliflower

Now is the perfect time to plant all barassicas like broccoli and cauliflower

Because of our mild climate, we can now plant everything but the most cold sensitive plants.  If you want to have fresh cole crops on your spring table (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts) you need to get them in the garden soon.  The blue leafed cole crops in the brassica family can be safely planted from transplant anytime between now and March 15.

It's not too late to plant root crops like carrots and beets from seed

It’s not too late to plant root crops like carrots and beets from seed

It is also a great time to put out seeds of lettuce, spinach, collards, chard, mustard greens, beets, turnips, radishes and carrots.  All of these are fast growers and they are very easy to grow from seed.  Since they prefer temps below 80, this is probably the last chance you have to grow them until next fall.

Wait until early March to plant your green beans

Wait until early March to plant your green beans

In the next couple of weeks I will be planting my green beans.  I grow “Contender” but there are several other varieties out there that do very well in our area (see Patty’s recommendations in the sidebar).  Green beans are a little cold sensitive so I always hedge my bets and plant them a little later (around March 1).

Now is the perfect time to plant asparagus and artichoke crowns

Now is the perfect time to plant asparagus and artichoke crowns

Late February into early March is also a great time to put out the two perrinial vegetables that do well in our area – asparagus and artichoke.  Both of these are grown from roots called “crowns”.  They take a little more work and a little more care than our single season vegetables, but they are well worth the effort.

A redbud in full bloom is a great reminder that spring really is here again

A redbud in full bloom is a great reminder that spring really is here again

The past two sunny weekends have induced in me a very bad case of gardening fever.  As I write this, every muscle in body aches from the gardening I forced it to endure last weekend.  And that’s fine!  My achy body means that winter is finally over and the 2013 gardening season has begun.  Gentlemen (and ladies), start your tillers!

Growing Zinnias (Zinnia elegans)

Lovely red and yellow Benary’s Giant zinnias in the potager

My mother  is convinced that I would not have had a little sister if it weren’t for zinnias.  Now before your mind goes wandering to some hot and steamy romantic place that it shouldn’t, let me explain that my little sister was adopted.  If you have ever adopted a child you know that it is an arduous process that requires lots of paper work, background checks and home visits.  My parent’s desperately wanted another child.  However, due to complications caused by my birth, another child was a dream that could only come true for them with the help of an adoption agency.  Since my mother wanted this child so much, she always worked very hard to make the best impression possible when the agency folks came to visit.  These visits always warranted my mother’s best; her best dishes, her best cut work table cloth (hand made by my grand mother), her sweetest tea and a large bouquet of zinnias cut from her yard.

My parents were lucky enough to get my sister in record time and with the absolute minimum of fuss.  My mom still swears that their process went so smoothly because the agent loved her tea parties so much.  I have tried to tell her many times that the hassle free adoption probably had more to do with the fact that she and my dad were pretty good people that lived a very good life.  However, she refuses to hear it.  To her,  she got her daughter because of her Southern charm and a big bunch of zinnias.

If you want fool proof color in your Zone 9 beds try Purple Fountain Grass, Sweet Potato Vine and zinnias.

I can honestly say that I have never had a garden without zinnias. They are beautiful, prolific, resilient and resistant.  They come in a million different colors and their upright stalks with their alternating leaves make them so easy to cut and strip for the vase.   They look so good in the beds around my house that not a single bee, moth, wasp or butterfly can get past them.   Yes, I truly love zinnias.

This year, my zinnia seeds were a gift from Kim Haven of Billabong Fresh Cut Flower Farm in Hempstead, Tx

This year, I grew Benary’s Giant.  Benary’s Giant are the flowers the pros grow.  My seeds were a gift from my good friend Kim Haven at Billabong Fresh Cut Flower Farm in Hempstead.  While I was a generic zinnia lover before, Kim’s seeds have made me a zinnia connisoer.  The Benary’s Giants were so outstanding, I don’t think I will ever grow another variety.

Growing Zinnias - Each spring I am amazed to see flats of zinnia starts for sale at the nurseries.  While there is nothing wrong with this, zinnias are so easy to grow from seed that it seems a waste to spend so much on so few plants.  One pack of seeds properly planted will yield many more flowers than a whole flat of starts from the big box.

These baby Benary’s Giants are about 30 days old in this picture

The zinnias that most of us grow are cultivars of the species Zinnia elegans.  While there are varieties that grow all over the world, Zinnia elegans originated in Central America and Mexico.  Because of this, they love the full sun and hot temperatures found here in the South.

To start your zinnias, plant the seeds after the soil has warmed up to around 70 degrees.  For me, here in Zone 9, that usually happens by April 15. (***See sidebar at the end of the article).  Cover lightly with no more than a quarter inch of soil.  Zinnias need some light to germinate so if you plant them too deep you won’t get any sprouts.  For best results, plant in a loose soil that has been well worked with organic matter.  To plant my seeds, I drag a rake over the area I want to plant in and then sow the seeds in a broadcast manner.  After they are down, I drag the rake once in the opposite direction.  I then use a spray nozzel to lightly water in the seeds.  For the first couple of weeks I water enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

40 days after planting

If the soil is warm enough, your first sprouts should appear in about 7 days.  Once they are up let them grow to about 3″.  Thin your sprouts to about 6″ for smaller varieties and 12″ for the bigger varieties like Benary’s Giant.  At this point you can begin to apply the standard 1″ of water every five days or so.  If the weather cooperates, you can have your first sprouts about 40 days after germination.  If you dead head regularly and add a mid-season application of compost, you can keep your zinnias blooming until the first frost.

This guy is fully mature at 50 days

Zinnias are amazingly resilient flowers.  They can take some over watering and they can withstand some periods of drought.  They are not bothered by many pests.  However, some of the older varieties are very receptive to mildew infestation.  Mildew will cause your leaves to brown and curl and can eventually kill the plant.  The best way to avoid this is to water from below with drip lines or soaker hoses.  If you have to water from above, water in the morning so the sun can thouroughly dry the foliage during the day.  If you do all of this and still have mildew problems, look for a newer vaiety.  Many of these have been breed for mildew resistance.

Cut and strip your zinnias early in the morning and drop immediately into clean water to extend their vase life

Cutting Zinnias - I grow A LOT of zinnias every year.  I grow them to use as cut flowers in my house.  Heck, this year I even got to use them in my daughters wedding arrangements and bouquets.  With their tough stems and long upright stalks, zinnias make great cut flowers for the home gardener.  To extend their vase life, cut your flowers in the early morning.  Cut above a node to encourage branching and more blooms.  Once you cut the flower, grasp it with your thumb and forefinger right under the flower head.  Then, grasp the stalk with your other hand and pull straight down to remove all of the leaves.  Once the stems are stripped, drop them immediately into bucket full of fresh, clean water.  Finally, transfer to a vase with the proper amount of flower food.

 

We cut the last of our zinnias on November 26 for this lovely birthday bouquet for my mother-in-law.

Last night we cut the last of my zinnias.  They went into a very special bouquet for my mother-in-law.  You see, today is her birthday.  Unfortunately, she is in the final stages of Alzhiemer’s and she will most likely not have her best birthday ever.  Regardless, my wife went out into our garden last night and cut zinnias, cockscomb and roses and made her a spectacular bouquet.  While the bouquet was very beautiful, it was bittersweet on many levels.  First, as sick as MiMi is, we all know that there is a very good chance that we may never get to make another of these late fall bouquets for her.  On a far less tragic note, the bouquet required us to cut the last of our remaining zinnias.  While I know that I will have many more zinnias in the spring, the cutting of the last zinnia of fall is a very real reminder to me that what we call cold weather in Texas is on the way.

(Sidebar: “Plant after the soil has warmed to 70 degrees” is a pharase that is used in the planting guides for a lot of flowers.  What that really means is “for the fastest and most uniform germination, plant when …”  In reality zinnias and many other flower seeds can be planted whenever.  The seeds will lay dormant in the ground until some environmental factor like moisture or day length tells them to grow.  If you want to test this, let a zinnia (or cockscomb, hollyhock, cleome, larkspur or whatever) go to seed.  Crumple the dry seed head and  let the seeds fall to the ground.  Then walk away.  In early April, plant some of the same type of seeds in another part of your garden.  I will bet you a dollar to a donut that the seeds that were “naturally planted” at the end of their season will produce sprouts before you ever get you April seeds in the ground.)

Red & Green – The Colors of Fall

This weekend was undoubtedly one of my top weekends of the year.  The weather was unbelievable.  My wife and I took advantage of this weather to go and help my buddy Greg Grant harvest sugar cane. Then, on the way home we stopped at the Sale Barn in Crockett and shared steaks with old friends and watched the end of the best game of the year.  Yes, I am talking about the Aggies and their totally awesome victory over the Number 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.  Whoop!!!!

Sally and Greg cutting sugar cane

After church on Sunday, Sally made us a fabulous pot of peas that we had frozen back in the summer.  She also made a pot of pinto beans straight off the vine.  To me, there is nothing better than fresh beans and peas from the garden.

Fresh picked pinto beans

After lunch we headed out to the garden to harvest.  Since it is supposed to be in the thirties this week I wanted to get as much in as I could just in case.  I picked pinto beans, acorn squash, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, cayenne peppers, pimento peppers and tons of tomatoes.  I am so glad that I nursed those tomato plants through the summer.  They have been so productive in the past couple of weeks.  As I put all of these peppers, tomatoes and squash in an old bread bowl, I was taken by how beautiful all of the reds and greens were.  I know that to tree watchers, the colors of fall are reds, yellows and oranges.  However, to us that garden, I am convinced that red and green are the real colors of fall.

The colors of the fall garden

After our harvest we planted three short rows of Louisiana Blue Ribbon sugar cane that I got from Greg.  While planting the sugar cane my wife discovered the biggest horn worm I have ever seen.   This thing was as wide as my hand and as thick as my thumb.  He was happily stripping what was left of the foliage on one of my vitex.  After a few pictures, he became part of my garden forever.  We also planted a ton of spider lily bulbs that he gave us as well.  I put them all in a single small bed by my backdoor.  I now cannot wait for next fall.  This bed is going to be spectacular.  Thanks Greg!

The biggest horn worm I have ever seen. Since it is deer season and the taxidermists are working overtime, I thought about getting this guy mounted!

Yes this weekend had everything that makes life worth living and celebrating; great friends, great food and great weather that allowed for great gardening.

The corn crib at Greg’s parents house

Celebrate the Bulbs of Fall!

All across Central Texas, Oxblood lilies (Rhodophialia bifida) are at the peak of their season.  For those of us that live in areas that were once part of Mr. Austin’s original colony, these red trumpet shaped flowers have announced the arrival of fall for generations.

Oxbloods in my front bed

Here in Central Texas, no other bulb is as loved or celebrated in the fall as these Argentinian imports.  Sometime in the 1870’s the German immigrant/botanist/horticulturist Peter Oberwetter introduced these bulbs to the German speaking areas of the Texas Hill Country.  These bulbs were so pretty and so reliable that they quickly spread throughout Texas.  Now, thanks to the work of people like Chris Wiesinger and Dr. Bill Welch, oxbloods (and other heirloom bulbs) are becoming hugely popular throughout the entire Southern part of the U.S.

A mass of oxbloods on an abandoned homesite. Photo from The Southern Bulb Company

Even though oxbloods are the most common fall blooming bulb in Central Texas, they are not the only ones.  Two members of the of the Lycoris genus (Lycoris radiata and Lycoris aurea) also produce prolific blooms during the early days of the fall season.  Spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) are my personal favorite of the fall blooming bulbs.  All Lycoris bloom on top of a single, unadorned stalk after the first fall rains.  Because of this they are often called “Naked Ladies” or the “Surprise Lily”.  How can you not love their big, red, exotic looking heads?  Their curly petals burst open and arch backward to release long, curved stamens that look like the most gorgeous eye lashes imaginable.  I truly love these flowers!

These exotic looking  Japanese beauties have also been popular here for a very long time.  While they do not reproduce as rapidly as the oxbloods, Lycoris are tough and reliable.  These flowers are beautiful in their own right, but a mass of them is truly stunning.  If you want to see some of the best pictures of spider lilies that I have ever seen, be sure and catch this month’s issue of Southern Living.  My friend Dr. Bill Welch has an excellent article about them and the supporting photography is exceptional.

A stunning mass of Spiderlilies. Photo from The Southern Bulb Company

The blooms of the fall blooming bulbs of Central Texas last for only a couple of very short weeks.  Since they make terrible cut flowers and are almost impossible to dry, get outside in this amazing weather and enjoy them now.  These flowers make these fleeting early days of the Texas autumn truly special.

Since these flowers last for such a short time, be sure to give them ample water while they bloom.  This will extend their life by a few more precious hours. If you don’t currently have your own (or enough) fall blooming bulbs, contact my buddy Chris Wiesinger at The Southern Bulb Company.  Chris knows more about these charming antiques than anyone I know.  His bulbs are truly the best available anywhere.

This post has been shared on the Homestead Barn Hop and the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to check in on other homesteaders and organic gardeners!

P.S. Bulb blooms aren’t the only way I know fall has finally come to my garden.  Each year around this time I begin to see Green Tree Frogs all around the beds and borders of my property.  I don’t know where these guys hide the rest of the year, but the cool fall weather seems to erase their shyness.

This cute little fellow thought the cushion of one of our rocking chairs was a great place to hide.

See MOH on TV This Weekend!

Nine months ago, the folks at KLRU’s Central Texas Gardener (CTG) came and filmed my potager for an upcoming fall gardening segment on CTG. Well, that “upcoming time” is finally here!  I am so excited to have this opportunity and I want to say a great big thank you to Linda Lehmusvirta and crew for all of the hard work they did on this.  Click on the link below to watch it now.

Central Texas Gardener now airs on five Texas public television stations and is coming soon to New Mexico. Check the station link listed below for the most recent local schedule.

KLRU / 18-1, Austin

  • noon & 4:00 p.m. Saturdays
  • 9:00 a.m. Sundays (repeat)

KLRU-HD, Austin

  • noon & 4:00 p.m. Saturdays
  • 9:00 a.m. Sundays (repeat)

KLRU-Q / 18-3, Austin

  • 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays
  • 7:00 a.m. Wednesdays
  • 9:30 a.m. Fridays

KAMU, College Station

  • 5:00 p.m. Saturdays

KNCT, Killeen

  • 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
  • 5:30 p.m. Sundays

KLRN, San Antonio

  • 11 a.m. Saturdays

KWBU, Waco

  • 3:30 p.m. Saturdays
  • 12:30 p.m Thursdays

KPBT, Midland (Permian Basin)

  • 12:30 p.m. Mondays

KBDI, Denver

  • 2:00 p.m. Sundays
  • 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays

Why I Grow Lettuce and Spinach

Last night, just as it was getting dark, my wife was hand watering our trees .  Suddenly something small and furry shot out of the grass and gave her a bit of start.  She shrieked and I jumped into action.  I bravely chased down this furry little flash and quickly discovered it was a very frightened baby cotton tail. 

The poor little thing was scared to death.  It’s tiny little rabbit heart was pounding out about a million beats per minute.  I picked it up and held it close.  I gently rubbed its little head and rabbit ears and it slowly calmed down long enough for us to get some pictures.  After we took the attached pics, we took it back out to its burrow.

This rabbit burrow was very interesting to me.  Somehow the mom had hollowed out a den by burrowing under bermuda runners.  She had lined this with her fur.  All of this was neatly camoflagued under a pile off dried grass that was left over from our last mowing and weed eating.

Since we just mowed a couple of weks ago, and this little guy looked half grown, I was curious about how quickly rabbits mature.  According to the National Geographic, cotton tails are born completely helpless.  In fact they are so helpless that only about 15% of all babies born survive.  The ones that do are weaned at three weeks and leave the nest at seven weeks.  So, I guess we won’t be mowing around that tree for a while.

All the time that I was holding the little bunny, my country mind kept telling me that I should make this little guy one of the 85% of bunnies that don’t make it to adulthood.  But I knew I couldn’t do it.  Eventhough I know that in about four weeks this little guy and his siblings will be in my garden eating my lettuce and spinach shoots I am just going to let it happen.  Watching the few rabbits I have on my property gives me almost as much pleasure as growing the vegetables that they feast upon.  And, since I don’t really rely on the garden to feed me, I don’t mind sharing my harvest with a couple of bunnies.

Garden Designs by July Moreno

Right now, things are pretty quiet in the garden.  Since there is not that much going on I have been out visiting with gardening friends.  I truly believe that the best way to become a better gardener is to go and listen to, and see how, other people grow things.  Each and every time I talk to another gardener I learn something.  Because of that I try and visit with as many gardeners as possible.

An absolutely adorable birdhouse made by July Moreno of Sweet Dreams Home Decor

I recently had the opportunity to visit with July Moreno of San Marcos, Texas.  July is a great gardener and she has a knack for landscape design.  Her design skills are the reason I wanted to visit.  Even though I can grow just about anything, I am greatly lacking in design skills.  My daughter and son-in-law had been telling me about how cute July’s yard was for a while so I decided to take the camera and stop by for a visit and hopefully pick up a few tips.

A red gate and purple bird feeder made from an old lamp stand let me know that a very colorful garden was coming.

Kate and Moose’s recommendation was right on target.  July’s yard was cute!  We entered through a plain old chain link fence gate that she had painted red and flanked with a purple bird feeder made from an old lamp stand.  Who does that?  These pops of color let me know that I was about to enter a very creative place!  Even though her yard is relatively small, it was perfectly set up for entertaining.  Her garden was full of fun and whimsical creations made by her.  July is one of those people that can take just about anything, slap some paint on it and make it look like a million bucks.  July has combined her love of gardening with her love for craft and created a bright and cheery backyard oasis right in the heart of San Marcos.

Add some turquoise paint, a little stain and some Mexican tiles to your patio to create the perfect place for outdoor dining

July has a passion and gift for taking stuff that other people consider trash and “upcycling it” into very attractive yard art and garden furniture (she also does this with items for the home).  She makes bird baths, reflecting balls, stepping stones, swings, tables and anything else that moves her.  July is very proud of her Mexican heritage and it shows in her creations.  In fact, she calls herself the “Happy Chica”.  Her designs incorporate the bright turquoises, oranges, blues and greens of Mexico.  This love of color makes her creations the perfect punch of color to brighten up the garden.

An adorable birdbath in July’s yard. She made the column and then covered it in tiles that she hand cut and glazed. She then attached a talavera bowl for instant cuteness.

July started making her Mexican inspired “jardin del arte” as a hobby.  However, it was so cute that when her friends visited they wanted to take it home.  So, encouraged by these friends, she started making colorful creations for everyone.  If you would like to buy some of her art for your home or yard, you can contact her through her website Sweet Dreams Home Décor or you can find her on Etsy.  She has ready made things for both your home and garden plus she is available for custom creations.  If you like what you have seen here, give her a call.  She can also help you design and decorate your entire casa!

July does amazing things with spray paint. She even paints her terra cota pots

Best Wedding Flowers Ever

A stunning bridal bouquet created by my daughter Whitney. See the rest of her creations on the Ruffled wedding blog.

I am so happy to be able to share with you some truly fabulous wedding flowers.  These pictures are courtesy of the Ruffled wedding blog.  Now it is not uncommon for Ruffled to showcase truly stunning wedding flowers, its what they do.  However, what makes these arrangements better than most is the fact that they were created by a young Master of Horticulture named Whitney White.

Whitney is my daughter and I am very proud of her.  I know where she got her love of flowers but I have no idea where she got her ability to arrange them into such beautiful designs.  I am truly in awe of her talents.

Whitney works for the hippest floral design firm in Dallas.  Bows and Arrows is a small Dallas design firm (voted best in DFW last year) that is getting a lot of big press.  They have been featured in Martha Stewart’s Wedding magazine, several other local and national publications, and on the largest wedding blogs on the web.  This video is from today’s post on Ruffled.  Ruffled is one of the top ten wedding blogs and it receives thousands of hits per day.

Whitney came up with the theme for this shoot, found the location, arranged all of the participants and did all of the floral work.  As you can see from this link the results were amazing (click the link to see the full shoot at “Ruffled” http://ruffledblog.com/midsummer-nights-dream-wedding-inspiration/).

I am very proud of Whitney.  She has worked very hard for very long to get to this point.  She had a dream and she did what it took to see it through.  I love you Whit and I am so proud of you!