Recently in shrubs Category

Hey, Bud


Spring is definitely here in Austin, even if the date hasn't officially declared it so. Around town, peach, plum, pear, and dogwood trees are already gorgeously flowering. And buds of other trees and flowers are peeking out to see what's around them, and soon there will be many more blooms and greenery to delight passersby. At home, I'm delighted to see that many of the trees and shrubs we planted in fall and winter made it through the freezes and are beginning to bud.

Goldenball Leadtree:

  buda03-14-10.jpgChinquapin Oak:

budb03-14-10.jpgMexican Redbud:

budc03-14-10.jpgWe even have Salvia blooming. They, along with Gopher Plant and a variety of unknown plants (some might call them weeds), are the first official bloomers of the Great Stems garden.

salvia03-14-10.jpgYou can't really count the hanging basket I planted a few days ago. It came with blooms. It's my first real attempt at a container garden -- I need to go check on the names of two of the plants, but the chartreuse one is sweet potato vine. I'll enjoy watching what happens.

container03-14-10.jpg Hey, cat -- get off the birdbath!

catbirdbatha03-14-10.jpgLacey Oak:

budd03-14-10.jpgA plant I put in the ground on a whim during the fall thrived all through the winter despite freezes and snow. It's growing at a very rapid pace, too, and I need to help it climb up instead of out: coral honeysuckle. I think its new growth is very beautiful.

coralhoneysucklea03-14-10.jpg coralhoneysuckleb03-14-10.jpg coralhoneysucklec03-14-10.jpgCat! Get out of that birdbath, too! Gah!

catbirdbathb03-14-10.jpgIt's a good thing I bought a hanging birdbath on a whim, I guess -- the cat won't be able to use that one! It's a grocery-store purchase, all of $14.95, so cute that I couldn't resist. I added a twig as a perch (not visible in this picture).

birdbath03-14-10.jpgLooking out the study window (with the cat safely back inside), I see two birds at the mosaic birdbath and am happy to report that birds have also discovered the new feeder I put out there. Chickadees, finches, cardinals, and titmice so far... I'm taking pictures -- I'll share them in the next day or two.

In the back I've got an overgrown but wildly successful vegetable garden in one bed and weeds taking over the unused beds. Must get out there and get the new garden planted... In another area, I see a strawberry bloom... and wow, there's a broccoli head forming! My first broccoli!

broccoli03-14-10.jpgRogue pumpkins are showing up where I left an old pumpkin out for too long. Now I'm going to have guilt when I pull them up and not let them take over the garden bed again... Maybe I'll just move them to an open spot in the yard and let them shade out the bermuda...

pumpkinseedlings03-14-10.jpgOff in the wooded area, the wild yaupons are producing fantastic new growth.

yauponbud03-14-10.jpgIt looks like we lost two in-ground citrus trees, but the container lime and lemon trees are suddenly growing like crazy. I better give them some yummy organic fertilizer soon. Maybe I'll see our first fruit this year. The two pomegranates we planted bare root are also starting to bud. Yay! Lime tree:

limetree03-14-10.jpgI planted several Rusty Blackhaw Viburnums this fall. Two came from a local reader who was so wonderful to contact me when she needed to thin out some of the babies below her mother tree. These "babies" were much bigger than most of the ones I purchased!  I'm happy to report that they survived their transplant and are budding right now.

Another Rusty Blackhaw that I purchased took some damage over the winter, and we thought it might not make it. I saw that its main trunk was split, presumably from dog damage. But I was shocked to discover after having left it in its container as is for a couple of months that it was budding. I quickly got it in the ground, and now look at it:



Incomplete list of trees and shrubs we planted this fall and winter, all budding or leafing:

  • Anacua
  • Chinquapin Oak
  • Anacacho Orchid
  • Evergreen Sumac
  • Fragrant Sumac
  • Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (several)
  • Mexican Plum
  • Carolina Buckthorn
  • Flowering Senna
  • Mexican Silk Tassel
  • Canyon Mock Orange
  • American Beautyberry
  • Wax myrtle
  • Pomegranate (two varieties)

Lost to freeze and/or dogs:

  • Lime tree
  • Possibly Satsuma Mandarin Orange
  • Kidneywood (one of two)
  • Barbados Cherry (one of two)

Jury's still out on:

  • Mexican Anacacho Orchid, transplanted
  • Toothache Tree (very small)

All in all, that's not a bad record, given the amount of damage my dogs did last year! I see that some of our perennials are coming up (among the weeds that went crazy). I'll start assessing those soon.

Hey, bud. It makes my heart happy to see you!


(Mexican Redbud)

Setting the Urban Example


I've been posting so much on Texas habitats that I realized today how much I miss blogging about my garden -- after all, it's my baby. But soon, soon -- for now I have one more Austin locale to share.

A bit of history -- for many years, Austin's airport resided fairly close to downtown; it was the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. It closed in 1999 with the opening of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and the old airport sat untouched for many years. Today it has been replaced with a new community, including shops, homes, and parks, and it is home to the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas. Of course, this is a commercial development (Mueller), so I'm not going to chat it up too much, but I'd like to say that I appreciate what I saw in my visit to the demonstration garden last weekend (yes, along with Hornsby Bend and Rockport -- I told you it was a busy weekend!).

Basically, the concepts are simple -- think green and sustainability. Builders and developers are making use of recycling, solar energy, native plants, high numbers of trees in parking lots, commuter service, bike paths, and more. In partnership with the Wildflower Center, large areas have been preserved as natural habitats, and homeowners are encouraged to plant native plants, educated with beautiful and/or wild examples shown in the community's demonstration garden, prairies, and ponds.

Enjoy the tour, a bit of a zoom-in/zoom-out look!

Damianita and Prickly Pear...

muellera09-19-09.jpg Gregg's Dalea...muellerb09-19-09.jpg Prickly Pear, Lindheimer's Muhly, Salvia, Lindheimer Senna...

muellere09-19-09.jpgLindheimer Senna...

muellerc09-19-09.jpg Flame Acanthus, Lindheimer Senna, Salvia

muellerd09-19-09.jpg   I fell in love with this mixture of Salvia greggii colors.

muellerf09-19-09.jpg muellerg09-19-09.jpg   Inland Sea Oats in front of American Beautyberry...

muelleri09-19-09.jpg Walkway under Desert Willows...

muellerl09-19-09.jpgA view of the three ponds, surrounded by native grasses...

muellerj09-19-09.jpg  One of the grassland prairies... 


Among the walkways in the demonstration gardens, native plants are all sorted and identified in lists, and the plant species are far more numerous than I've shown in these photos -- this is just a sampling. In addition, there are signs that teach about certain aspects of native gardening. What an excellent way to educate residents and visitors about plants they might like to grow!

Given that this area was once an airport and was destined for development of some kind, it is nice to see such strides toward thoughtful, green building and the restoration of native plants in place of the parking lots and runways I remember.

The Aptly Named Beautyberry


The American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, is truly a sight to behold in the fall. The strikingly vibrant magenta-colored berries stand out boldly against the light-green foliage of this open, airy shrub.

beautyberrya09-12-09.jpgBut aside from its beauty, what makes this shrub truly valuable is that it is a fall and winter food source for more than 40 different songbird species, as well as other birds. It also is enjoyed by mammalian wildlife, including the opossum and raccoon. Its deer resistance probably depends on your area and the harshness of seasonal weather. In some areas, deer leave the mature plants alone, but they're happy to nibble on young shrubs and sometimes the berries. In general, though, it's best to plant the shrub in a protected area if you are concerned about deer.

American Beautyberry is an excellent shrub for understory growth, and understory plants are a key part of successful wildlife habitats. They can provide food and/or places to hide, and despite its airy nature, the Beautyberry does both, particularly when several of the shrubs form a small colony.

beautyberryc09-12-09.jpgIn the summer, the shrub has delightful pale flowers. But it is the beautiful clusters of purple berries that really provide that wow factor come fall. There is also a white variety, but if choosing a color most attractive to birds, I'd stick with purple.

beautyberryb09-12-09.jpgThe deciduous shrub is typically 5-6 feet tall when mature, but I've seen some get more than 8 feet tall. It prefers partial sun/partial shade, but with extra water and attention, it can handle more sun, too. But as an understory plant, it is at its best.

American Beautyberry, according to, is native to all the states of the southern U.S., on up into Maryland, Missouri, and Oklahoma. It thrives in a variety of conditions of soil, water, and light conditions, and it is easily grown from seed as well. A worthy plant for your wildlife habitat! 

Meredith O'Reilly happily
gardens for wildlife in
Austin, TX. She enjoys
educating people of all ages
about native flora, fauna,
and healthy environments.

Nature Blog Network


Powered by Movable Type 4.21-en
OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID