When The Head Gardener Goes to Austin ...

My favorite spot at The Natural Gardener

On the weekend of the spring plant sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, she is faced with a difficult decision, made even more difficult by time constraints. Does she go to the LBJWC and risk spending precious minutes or hours waiting for a parking spot and standing in line to enter? Or does she bypass the LBJWC and head to as many of the Austin bloggers' favorite local nurseries as she can in the limited time available to her? She's been told that Barton Springs Nursery has an evergreen Clematis in stock, the C. armandii which both the HG and the Queen Mum have long coveted. (Don't tell the HG I told y'all this, because she is ashamed of this stain on her past, but she killed an Armandii Clematis that was growing here at Wit's End when she moved in.) Clearly she has to make time for a stop there and she knows from long experience that she will find it necessary to spend more than just a few minutes perusing the other offerings. But the LBJWC might have something she just can't live without ... and so she agonizes over how best to allot her time ...

When a scathingly brilliant idea occurs to her ... she brought the laptop with her and the Wildflower Center will have a list on their website of the plants being offered for sale! After consulting the list, the Head Gardener decided that local nurseries would be the priority of the day. If time permitted, she would stop by the LBJWC on her way back to the hotel to pick up the Executive Producer, her traveling companion (and main reason for time constraints). She would not like my telling you that she wasted far too many precious minutes making a loop of South Austin in her efforts to get to the two nurseries she wanted to visit, the aforementioned Barton Springs Nursery and The Natural Gardener. The HG's sense of direction is abysmal and the directions she printed out used the Wildflower Center as their starting point. The iPhone was her saving grace, as it has been in the past, and she finally arrived at her first stop.

Poppies are TNG's signature plant in the spring

The Natural Gardener is a sprawling, rambling nursery with all sorts of interesting vignettes and plant selections to explore. Everywhere you turn there are chairs and benches inviting you to sit and gaze at the beauty around you. The Head Gardener hopes to make a return trip before summer weather arrives and it's too hot to plant whatever must-haves she finds there. She managed to accumulate a sizeable number of plants and more in the hour or so she was there today: 4 sedums to plant out front near the flagstone sidewalk; one 'Little Trudy' catmint; one Lampranthus 'Red Hots', which looks like an ice plant/Delosperma on steroids; one Salvia coccinea 'Molly Ivins', with lavender-pink blooms; 3 Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila phacelioides); a Tubtrug in Pistachio; and a handmade birdhouse from a local artisan who goes by Sir Gordeaux. And a small Mexican oregano (Poliomentha). The HG managed to fit most of her plant purchases into one cardboard flat and stow them behind the passenger seat of FloraBob, the little red truck.

For my friend Robin at Bumblebee: (above) Artichokes (underplanted with strawberries)
(below) Square footbeds overflowing with good things to eat
in the lovely potager

Then it was on to Barton Springs Nursery where the Head Gardener headed straight for the vines section but initially failed to see any of the Clematis she wanted. She'd been assured by some knowledgeable locals that the plants were there. Was her trip to be in vain? Thankfully, it was not ... the plants were indeed in stock and two handsome specimens were set aside for purchase. Although BSN is a smaller nursery, it is nonetheless chock full of wonderful plants, as well as helpful and friendly staff (also the case at Natural Gardener ... it was such a delight to be served at both nurseries by people who clearly enjoyed their jobs). The HG was quite taken with the selection of 4 inch perennials; she'd have bought a lot more of those if we didn't already have quite a few of them on this corner of Katy. Not to mention that we needed more room to fit them in ... we agreed that forcing them to travel 2-1/2 hours at high speed in the bed of the truck was NOT a good idea. (Only later did we realize we could have borrowed boxes from my sister and closed them up inside for the trip.) In addition to the two five gallon pots of C. armandii, we also left BSN with 3 one gallon pots of Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) and 2 one gallon pots of Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea) (all on sale, how could we resist?). Four-inch pots purchased included Cuban Gold Duranta, Wild Watermelon Salvia, Coral Honeysuckle, Patrick's Abutilon, and Texas Bluebells (Eustoma grandiflorum). We also grabbed a couple of BSN t-shirts to wear in the garden. We'd have taken pictures at BSN if it had been less crowded and we weren't in such a hurry. Next time!

The Head Gardener and I had the dickens of a time fitting ALL our purchases behind the seats of the truck. The Executive Producer was not happy with our relegating suitcases and extraneous contents to the truck bed. Only with some bungee cords supplied by my generous and helpful sister were we able to mollify him. (No, we didn't use them to restrain him, but rather the items in the truck bed.) We were a little cramped in the front for the ride home but he bore that with fairly good humor. We made it back home without incident and the Head Gardener carefully unloaded all our purchases. I took the photograph below before we moved them into the back garden for safety. There will be a delay of several days before we're able to plant them due to a number of scheduling conflicts. The HG and I plan to visit them several times daily, though!

And I almost forgot: Friday night I tweeted that the Executive Producer and I were dining at Cypress Grill, a Cajun place on the south side. Not long after, the door to the restaurant opened and a smiling blonde woman looked at me and said "My corner of Katy!" Robin from Getting Grounded lives only a couple of minutes' walk from the restaurant so she popped in to say hi! It was a treat to meet her and talk plants for a while. Thanks for taking time to do that, Robin!


Anonymous said…
I so remember those fantastic poppies in the spring two years ago. I love Texas in the springtime. Glad you had fun.~~Dee
What a great haul! I will admit to killing 2 (two!) Armandii C. before I succeeded.
What a lovely lot of plants! And what a very small world it can be--what fun to meet up with Robin from Getting Grounded.
Cindy, MCOK said…
Dee, I should have taken a picture of the yard next door to my sister. It was overflowing with poppies and bluebonnets!

Leslie, that makes me feel better. I'm going to research where to put this and baby it carefully.

MG, it was a delight to meet Robin. I'm so glad she came by the restaurant.