Game On, Spring

As February races toward its conclusion, this Austin garden is ready for spring.  I started pruning in late December, after the first of the freezes lay waste to the herbaceous  perennials in my gardens.  I’ve been pruning since.  Seven garbage cans full of garden detritus every week, for almost two months.

Plants like Turk’s Cap (Malavaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) are whacked.

The luscious, sunny-blooming Goldeneye (Viguiera dentata)? Nary but sticks protruding from the ground.

The Martha Gonzales Roses are reduced to a fifth of their full size.

Some Variegated Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica),

fared better than others in my gardens.

All I pruned from the Flax Lily were the freeze damaged straps.  It’s the one plant (I have four groups of them) that I dutifully covered with each freeze forecast into the 20s.

And the  Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and other evergreen native shrubby plants are pruned into tidy balls,

or spindly bits of green perched on woody stems, waiting for the just right  light and breath of warm spring air to burst into new growth.

I still have more to prune, but I’m almost finished for the year.

I didn’t lose any established plants this winter and that gratifies me and validates my garden choices.  I choose natives or hardy non-natives, with the occasional splurge for the newest, cheap thrill plant that everyone (okay, just gardeners) is talking about.

I always think of the winter landscape as barren, but it isn’t, even in this winter which was colder than any of the past 19 years.   With most of the flowering perennials in my front garden temporarily gone, I’m reminded how nice my ignored-most-of-the-year evergreens are during their winter concert on this sunny February day.

And in my back garden, I like the clearly defined garden and pathways.  The iris and yucca straps dominate,

while the Heartleaf Skullcap (Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata) insinuates its soft green carpet anywhere allowed.

I have a clean pond, which will make pond maintenance easier for the rest of the year and appeals to my aesthetic sense.  I don’t think the fish care whether I clean the pond or not.

Spring is almost here.  The Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) is pruned to the ground

but life begins anew.

The Columbines (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana) are lush,

their first buds emerging.

Bring it on, Spring.

10 thoughts on “Game On, Spring

    • Tonight is the night! And tomorrow, if the weather people are to be believed. I am looking forward to spring, as I’m sure you are–more bluebonnets, iris, columbine–the list goes on.


  1. I wish I was as sensible as you in my plant choices. I haven’t lost too many but there are some I rather wish I could lose! Not all natives are well behaved. I agree with you on how many bins of clippings I collect. Seems to be endless.


    • I think what helps me is that I have limited space, so I choose the plants most interesting to me. There are certainly plants I would love to have, but don’t have room or the right conditions. Sigh. I still have the grasses to prune and all of my Barbados Cherry have to be pruned to the ground. More bins to fill!


    • Hi Ally! I agree. I had no decisions to make this year–do I trim to here? Or, do I trim that at all? It was just whack, whack, whack! And of course, there’s a light freeze this morning. Joke is on us!


  2. I love it! I live in College Station and try to do what you do with regard to plant choices. Don’t you just LOVE the nandina? It is always beautiful in the winter. Speaking of…if you are ever in town you can have some of my old fashioned nandina that get much taller than the newer varieties if you want some.

    Heartleaf Skullcap (Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata) I haven’t seen that before. Is it’s max height what is show in the pic? What microculture have you found it likes best?


    • Hi Shawna, thanks for stopping by. I do like the nandina in winter. It’s nondescript for the other seasons, but showy in the quieter time of year. The Heartleaf skullcap is a native to Texas. It is very low to the ground until bloom time (late spring, summer), then it grows to about a foot. If you look at the header photos on my blog, (keep clicking, there are 6 photos, randomly chosen), the photo with the blue bird bath also has the Heartleaf skullcap in bloom. The light blue flowers in the center/left of the photo are the blooms of the plant. Also, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center’s page on Heartleaf skullcap.


  3. It’s looking really good! Your pond is wonderful: Do you leave the waterfall running year-round? And do the waterlilies thrive all winter? We have a pond, too, but here in Wisconsin we have to keep a de-icer in it to keep the water from freezing. We have four goldfish in it that get bigger every year. It amazes me that they’ve survived five Wisconsin winters! Great garden pics, Tina!


    • Ha! No need for a de-icer here in Austin! I am impressed with your goldfish. They must be special Wisconsin-tough, I imagine! In the next few weeks, I’ll need to clean it out–not always a chore I like, but a worthwhile one!


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