Austin City Limits and Beyond!

 While speaking at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, one of my biggest treats and greatest surprises was getting to know organic gardening guru, Trisha Shirey – the Director of Flora and Fauna at the Resort.

 We were like two organically grown peas in a pod, trudging off to collect plants for our hands-on container planting demonstration.  Our first stop – the kitschy/clever little garden store called Sunshine Nursery.

  Garden Art!

 Displays for inspiration.

 Our next stop was a container gardener’s mecca – look at those colors!

 Look at all these options! And the funky black containers

 At the Natural Gardener

 I absolutely loved these guys – they followed me all over the nursery.

 Beautiful gardens throughout the grounds

 Inside the butterfly garden

 the maze at the Natural Gardener

 I’ve never seen Euphorbia so large.

 The maze

 An exact replica of Willi Nelson’s guitar

My momma always said that country music guitar playing would grow on me.

Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me That Heaven Was Somewhere Close to Lake Austin Spa Resort?

Nothing like a shaded hammock on a warm summer afternoon to call my name…

As I landed in Austin, Texas, about nine hours ago, the thought crossed my mind that I had never actually spoken to anyone in person about the speaking gig that I was heading toward. We’d had lots of emails and confirmations, and I’d looked up their information online – impressed by the Conde’ Nast ratings and their online presence. But I had never actually spoken to or even met anyone from this resort and I started to get a little nervous. My fears were calmed a little by the fact that the limo driver they had scheduled was there waiting for me, with my name in his hands, as I descended the stairs to baggage claim, and fell away even more as we entered the drive into the Resort. 

The pathway to the spa was what I would have envisioned being like  Grecian bath house.

Shaded verdandas covered with vines

water features throughout the resort create a quiet ambience

The pathway to my room

Loved this funky flower – no idea what it is

There is a calming symmetry to the resort

with well tended trumpet vines to accent the trellised walkways.

 A few of my new friends along the way

Reflections through the library window (you can see my arm taking the picture!)

The place where I am giving the seminars – Lake Austin Spa Resort – is a total escape from reality. Right now I’m sitting on the charming porch of my accommodations after a delectable meal (with veggies grown from their garden) delivered t

o my room, listening to the sounds of late summer with the garden and river before me in the fading sunlight. Citronelle candles keep mosquitos somewhat at bay, a glass of wine and a riveting novel in hand after a day of travel and exploration – the only thing that awaits me is a deep bathtub with bathing salts, a lavender scented bedroom, and the gentle hum of cicadas to lull me to sleep. This is my kind of speaking gig.

Indiana Wants Me…

and, yes, I would go back there. 
We were busy as bees checking out the Indianapolis Museum of Art

We found love at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

 Every pathway at the IMA frames a piece of beauty.

Sweetgum tree Liquidambar styraciflua “Slender Silhouette is a striking form that the IMA has built their entry annual bed around – filled with Canna, Princess grass, Dahlias, Peppermint Stick grass, other grasses

The Buddleia (butterfly bush) seemed to be unfazed by Indy’s heat and drought.

More on the delights of Indianapolis to come – right now my computer is acting like its attention span got lost in one of the cornfields around Indy so I’ll post more when I get better internet connection.

Summertime and The Livin’ is Easy

A summer of record temperatures and whacky rain patterns was quickly forgotten with today’s mild temps. Weeds were pulled, Tomato Art Fest beckoned, a walk into Brentwood for dinner – thank-you, God, for a short summer reprieve!

Summer sky outside my kitchen window

‘Erin Rachel’ Hibiscus

Black and Blue Salvia

Knockout rose with Black and Blue salvia

I had a little friend to keep me company while weeding this afternoon

Tea time for the hummer.

Golden Spirit Smoke Tree (Cotinus coggygria) 

With temps going from lower 80s to the lower 60s and a Saturday full of activities, by late afternoon the hammock could not be denied

Summertime and the livin’ is easy. 

“God and Lawncare” – Author unknown

My friend Linda Mello sent me this. Working in the landscaping business, one of my objectives is to re-educate folks about their landscape care. I don’t know who wrote this but I love how it sums up many of the principles I want to get across!

God said:   
“Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.”

It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?


Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

Yes, Sir.

These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

And where do they get this mulch?

They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about….

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

To Be-gonia or Not to Be-gonia, That is the Question

Begonias get a bad rap, and I am partly to blame. As the new Floriculture Director of Landscape Services, Inc, I have a tendency to take on a snobbish disdain for the plebeian bronze-leaf or green-leaf wax begonia. But when push comes to 100 degree drought shove, these ordinary plants tend to hold up to extraordinary conditions. Then there are exotic rex begonias and the dreamy hybrids like Begonia ‘Bonfire’. 

 I choose “To Be…”

This unknown angel wing begonia is beautifully paired with a vibrant chartruese hosta.