April 29, 2016

Cisterns and Water Barrels: Water Capture Systems




I just told Husband that I wanted to take a road trip to the Hill Country outside of Austin, TX.  Years ago we took this same road trip and visited the incredible Lady Bird Johnson WILDFLOWER RESEARCH CENTER. I want to revisit this incredible resource of information on conservation, pollinators, native plants, and especially, for my interests, (as Husband and I plan our small Salida, CO cabin) the incredible indigenous style and architecture of the place.


The Wildflower Center�s striking architecture is constructed to conserve resources. A central irrigation system collects rainwater from 17,000 square feet of roof, or about 10,200 gallons per inch of rain. The separate entry cistern is fed by 1,167 square feet of roof, collecting 700 gallons per inch of rain. Another cistern and ponds collect water for re-circulation. (via WRC site)




On my first visit I was fascinated by so many things...among them their rain water capture system...and how I might, on a modest scale, introduce a water capture system of my own.

So I have finally started the hunt for an option for my garden here in OKC, and am looking at well-reviewed, easy to install, small-enough-to-fit my space, options. Some of them:



this 50 Gallon Pop Up WATER BARREL from HOME DECORATOR'S COLLECTION looks light, portable, easy to install....but I wonder about its durability. Find it for $129.00 here.

Fiskars Tuscany 57 Gal. Rainwater Harvesting System























Or the $149 Fiskar's Tuscany 57 Gallon Water barrel from HOME DEPOT here. More to my aesthetic (even if it will be hidden away...)













is this WILLOW RAIN BARREL RAIN SAVER I saw at Sam's. The brass fittings look durable and are attractive; the willow texture on the facade is the color of the trim of my house and looks 'basket-y', and at around $90 and with a 65 gallon capacity is probably my selection.

On a local and CHEH Neighborhood note, I just saw this in our newsletter:

Water Conservation Tips Rain Barrel Program
by Barbie Smalley

The City of Oklahoma City and the Central OK Storm Water Alliance (COSWA) are partnering to encourage residents to conserve water and reduce pollution through the use of rain barrels.

The organizations are offering a discounted rain barrels online at www.upcycle-products.com starting at $63.50 each.

The deadline to order is June 12. Rain barrels ordered online can be picked up between 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on June 17 or between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. on June 18 from the City's Household Hazardous Waste Facility, 1621 S. Portland.

For more information, contact Andrea Shelton, 297-1797 or andrea.shelton@okc.gov.

I am wondering......is this something you are considering, or do you already have one?  Please let me know!


April 26, 2016

English Gardening in Oklahoma; Foxglove



I've said it more times than I can count...I have an English Garden because I have an English Tudor house...and (in my mind anyhow), the garden should ALWAYS be an extension of the architecture and style of the house. Harmony is what I'm going for. 


But, and here lies the rub....I am not, nor is my garden.....in England's gentle climate. So as I was strolling the gardens to bid them good morning, I found myself wondering....


with all of the dire forecasts for tomorrow...with threat of golf-ball sized hail, 90 mph winds and tornadoes (oh, and a 4.0 earthquake near Harrah this morning)...


if I was also saying 'good-bye'? 

 (And I am not being overly dramatic here, having experienced much weather-related gardening heartache over the years.)


I could almost hear the foxglove anxiously talking with the fern......before conferring with the columbine and the primrose...about their safe spot, and where and when to take shelter. Sadly, I can't do much to protect them; it is hard to tarp an entire garden.


Friends of mine have been buzzing about the storm ahead on social media: soliciting ideas for protecting our garden loved ones; invoking prayer and good weather wishes from others and, in general, commiserating in our concern over our gardens and homes and families. Wishing with all our might, that this might be yet another time that our tv forecasters have missed the mark, have gotten it wrong. One can hope, can't one?


In the event my foxglove (among other garden beauties) is decimated tonight and I have to start over, I can find over 28 varieties here at SWALLOWTAIL GARDEN SEEDS. Watch for tips on growing this finicky cottage garden bloomer in to an upcoming post.  


While I never met a foxglove I didn't like, I prefer the tall stately varieties like digitalis purpurea 'Excelsior' (here).


 Today's Takeaway Tip:  Do what you can to protect your garden: bring in or find shelter for potted specimens, secure garden furniture and umbrellas, try to maintain a sense of perspective.....and humor. (Not Easy)  Find something to look forward to: try growing foxglove from seed if you love it as much as I do.



 For more information on English Garden Style and Cottage Gardens, watch this recent 4 YOUR GARDEN SEGMENT below. Don't see the video player? Go here.




April 24, 2016

Mindfulness, 10% Happier and Hosta/Heuchera Pairing



If you are among those who walk by my house , you will QUITE often see me rapt with attention at something going on in the front garden. Entranced by an emerging bulb...enamored of a fresh bloom, captivated by the magical world of growing things. It is as close to being 'in the zone' as I ever get...



this foraging for small wonders in the garden. I can, and often do, wander about for hours, just looking and planning and acknowledging the beauty that surrounds me...us. Recently, I was making a late morning round and noticed the beautiful, unblemished leaves of a golden leaved hosta...


playing host to some of the most exquisite shadows. The husky profile of an ajuga leaf...


the intricate outline of coral bell blooms, and the way their shadows moved and swayed with the breeze...so grateful that their beauty captured my attention; so grateful that I had the time to notice them...and be mindful of them in the moment.


Like many others, I am fascinated by this whole Mindfulness phenomenon. The practice of living in the moment; being saturated in the moment; recognizing the transience of the moment...the 'we only have NOW' moment and the link this presentism has to happiness.

While listening to an NPR (I think) podcast, I happened upon an interview with an ABC reporter who had delved into the mindfulness topic with intense interest, curiosity and and journalistic objectivity. He recorded his experiences and research in the book 10% Happier (here). (I highly recommend listening to it vs. reading it. Husband and I both enjoyed hearing it together.) It really has helped me be more focused, more observant...more mindful of the world around me. (Though I did find it ironic that while listening to it in my car I missed my turn.)


These luscious shadows reminded me of what an exceptional couple these two plants make. Their colors, textures and growing habitat are all simpatico, making for a very happy marriage.  


This year I added Fire Alarm Heuchera (here), whose flame colored foliage contrasts well with any color of hosta (though I think pairing coral bells with yellow and blue leaved hosta is especially striking). Look below and note how different the color is between 'Fire Alarm" and 'Purple Palace' heuchera.





Heuchera 'Georgia Peach' plays well with others too.



SO many to try....


and be mindful of.


Today's Takeaway Tip:  Try the plant marriage of heuchera and hosta for three season beauty.

April 23, 2016

Transform Plastic into Sandstone


This is an oldie but goodie Martha Stewart project, go here for her directions on how to transform dollar store plastic pots and garden ornament into elegant looking sandstone. Or you can watch LC and me doing our own version on the 4 YOUR GARDEN EPISODE below. (Don't see the video player?  Go here.

If you pay close attention, you will see two rather pitiful NewsChannel4 Lindas.  Watch as LC and I try to take apart the two halves of the planter......I had just thrown my back out and LC had a fresh broken ankle.  Neither one of us could lean forward to put any muscle into separating the stupid thing. Bad backs and broken ankles being yet more reasons to have lightweight planters in your garden.




Why not give it a go on this fabulously beautiful weekend?

Today's Takeaway Tip: Turn dollar store pots into something lightweight and sophisticated using nothing more than a little paint, glue and sand.


April 22, 2016

A Garden of Second Chances: Nandina


It is so ubiquitous in our gardens that we take it for granted. It is so amenable to everything we throw at it....sun or shade, wet or dry, hot or cold, windy or not....that we don't recognize that it too would like just a   little bit please   of our gardening attention. Yes, that ol' reliable, but EVER SO VALUABLE IN THE LANDSCAPE....



the heavenly bamboo nandina domestica.

When I was on the Garden Writer's Tour a number of years ago (an event that drew visitors from literally all over the world), I was surprised at the number of gardeners from England, Canada, and northern US climes, who were smitten with it and our ease of growing it in the South... for its vibrant berries and delicate foliage.  Like so many other things in life, I had to look at it through the lens of others to full appreciate its merits and its value in our gardens.


Nandina berries floating in rainwater in the birdbath...with a zen and spa-like cascade flourish of viburnum petals and a singular Japanese maple leaf.


I think one of the reasons it is disliked here in the South is because it gets woody and leggy and bereft in appearance when not properly pruned. The one and only demand, I might add, that it makes of us.


So I prevail upon you to reconsider your attitude towards this invaluable shrub.  Because, really, all it wants, like most of us... 



is a second chance. 




And it is within our power to provide it!  

For nandina is about only shrub I know that can be pruned anywhere along the cane...even all of the way to the ground...at about any time of year...and it is so unforgiving that it will flush out at the site of the cut.




I have lots, LOTS, of nandina that serves as a backdrop to my other plantings. But I have one stand-alone length of Plum Passion Nandina (here) that had
developed that forlorn look of which I speak. So with absolutely no fear, I cut it all the way back to the ground and within two weeks it was producing new, succulent, decidedly unwoody canes and fresh foliage.



Here it is this morning, more than living up to my high expectations and reinforcing my belief that...


everything in life and in gardening deserves a second chance.

Today's Takeaway Tip:  If your nandinas are looking woody, leggy, and less than their best, consider giving them a hard prune. If pruning ALL of the canes is too drastic a move for you, just prune the canes in front, leaving those in the back to hold their place in line. :)

For more gardening tips and projects join me and Linda Cavanaugh on Fridays at 4:30 on KFOR's 4 Your Garden.

April 21, 2016

Magnificent Wrought Iron Rose Trellis


A climbing rose is only as beautiful as the support upon which it climbs.

In my humble opinion anyway.

And this remarkable wrought iron trellis at a home down the street doesn't disappoint. My friend Sunshine and her husband Mr. S have exquisite taste,


and with just a smidgeon of input from me, they designed and had built (by OLD WORLD IRON (here)this stately wrought iron trellis upon which four glorious apricot-colored roses grow.


It covers the west facing facade of their garage, also facing the pool (a topic for another time...) and accomplishing two garden design musts: creating beauty that is suitable to the style of the garden, and...


covering and breaking up an otherwise less-than-spectacular feature, the side of their garage.


It was designed as a grid of 26" squares with a central circle and diagonal lines radiating from the circle to all four corners. This design referenced architectural features of the house and is extremely handsome....with or without the roses...rendering it a marvelous feature in the winter (when canes are devoid of foliage and flowers) as well.


In total, the trellis measures an impressive 156" wide by about 76" tall...the scale of the trellis determined by the amount of space we wanted to cover on the wall.


They selected the rose to enhance and coordinate with their blonde brick home...a color that also pairs magnificently with the color of the pool....not coincidentally the same color of the Oklahoma summer sky...


an intense blue that can break your heart and ALMOST make up for the heat of our torrid summers.



Sadly, we have both forgotten the name of this apricot rose, a vigorous, tough variety that performs in a stellar fashion. It took four of them to cover the expanse...


four roses that the owners keep fastidiously pruned, both for beauty and health of the canes. (Again, a topic for another post!)


For a huge selection of brilliant and beautiful climbing roses, look no further than DAVID AUSTEN ROSES (here).  I am especially fond of EDEN (pink) , GRAHAM THOMAS (yellow), and CONSTANCE SPRY (pink)...all of which I grow in my own garden.


If this post has not sated your rose appetite, do visit the rose post on the blog PATINA FARM, an absolutely swoon worthy blog that will both inspire and depress you...in the best way :)

 Today's Takeaway Tip: It need not be grand, but a beautiful climbing rose deserves an equally handsome support.  Whether rustic or contemporary; custom or hand made; wood, metal or organic........select a trellis that matches your style of gardening, your home's architecture, and the needs of your rose. And fragrance is always a plus in selecting your climber.