Plan for the spring.

January 19, 2013

Spring is such a wonderful part of the year. Nature is exploding with new growth, buds, flowers… Gardens come to life again. Birds are in love and ready to start a family. Landscapes become abuzz with life and related activity. It’s also the time of year when things get out of hand pretty quickly. Weeds seek their opportunity to take over the world. Plants hurry to grow and multiply – often ending up in the wrong places, overgrown, reseeding everywhere, out of place. It also means our gardens are hungry – they Winter garden (6)need energy to grow, bloom and produce. Winter takes its toll on our landscapes, and spring is the time to make it right again.
The best way to maintain a landscape is to do it regularly, and not wait until things are out of control. Proper trimming and pruning, weed control, amending, feeding, mulching, insect and disease control go a long way when done right and on time. It is easier to prevent problems or nip them in the bud when they arise, then to put out fires.

When thinking about your garden, think about its foundations– soil and balance. If you nurture the soil, it will repay you with happy plants. And happy, strong plants are more resilient, more beautiful, more drought tolerant and better adapted to the Texas heat. Healthy soil means healthy turf. And happy plants mean less disease and insect problems. Creating a balanced eco system in your garden is a key to success. Nature has a way of taking care of its own problems. Plus, a garden alive with plants and wildlife is such a beautiful place to be and enjoy. It is also a great way for the children to reconnect with the outdoors. Provide butterfly food and host source and let them observe a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. Add plants that attract hummingbirds and watch them come back year after year. Start an herb garden and let the kids to be hands on. They can pick their own favorite herbs or veggies to grow. Hummingbird (12)Provide shelter for lizards, geckos and other garden creatures and teach your kids that variety and balance is very important in nature. And in return they will help you keep your insect (including mosquito!) population in check.

There are so many ways to you enjoy your garden. The same outdoor space can provide the perfect entertaining area for the adults and a secret garden, full of wonder and life lessons for the kids. No matter how small or big your piece of land is, you can make it work for everyone.

Design with character.

January 13, 2013

Every house has each own character, and tells us something about the people that live in it. Same applies to landscaping. Every front garden represents us in spirit and style, whether on purpose or by neglect.

2112 pembrokeA mature, nicely shaped pomegranate tree needs space , but can serve as an alternative to the more traditional yaupon holly and the bright pomegranate fruit serves as Christmas ornaments. The tree is semi evergreen and looks quite festive at this time of year. Not to mention the delicious pomegranate fruit that you can pick right in your own garden.

When landscaping your garden, take your house into account. If you have a light painted brick house, think of darker, contrasting colors. Purples and reds stand out nicely and help to define the landscape and add a multidimensional element to the space. If your house is dark colored, pair different shades of green with it, and think texture and layers. Fig ivy can be trained to accentuate architectural features of the house. It is both very graceful and lush look.

We are so used to having most shrubs hedged or conformed to the allotted space. Unfortunately by doing so we often create rigid straight lines and add a ‘boxy’ feeling to the space that is usually already full of straight lines and hard angles. By allowing shrubs to grow more naturally, while still contained and well behaved, we can achieve the more formal look that belongs in the front garden, without the harshness of conventional hedge.

Ornamental trees, such as Japanese maples, yaupon hollies, redbuds and many more, add the height to counter balance the height of the house and create a focal point. If Landscape (14)you have large mature tree on your property, especially multi trunked, consider softening and accentuating it with ferns to create luscious, almost tropical look.

And finally, take a look at your front garden from afar – it allows us to gain a new perspective and look at something familiar with a fresh eye.

Spring has arrived. The world is in love. Plants are showing off their blooms, bees are busy pollinating, butterflies swirl around looking for a good host for their offspring and bird mamas teach their young the ways of the world.  Such an abundance of life…

Everyone of us is different and we appreciate different visual experiences. I like natural and simple landscapes that meander and lead you to different spaces, hidden pockets, places you can re-visit and feel like you are discovering something new every time. I like to combine the practical and beautiful. I like gardens to be alive with wildlife – birds signing, butterflies dancing in the air, bees buzzing, lizards basking in the sun.

I wanted to share some landscape photos in hope that you will find one or two that will appeal to you and inspire you to transform your own space into an oasis as defined by your needs and wants. Don’t be afraid to make your garden truly your own. Design it the way you live it.

Spring is such an exciting time.  Everything is coming back to life and the garden is just exploding with life. Blooms, new foliage, wildlife… It is so refreshing to step outside and discover something new happening every day. New blooms, new growth, new creatures. Enjoy while it lasts!

Is it spring yet?

February 3, 2012

This morning I walked to the front yard and was amazed to see about 30 to 40 North American Robins. I have seen several robins in close proximity before, but never so many of them and I have to admit I felt like the scene was a little out of this world. They seemed to have been everywhere – on the lawn, the driveway, the trees… Robins are here! Is it spring yet?

Nature seems to think that the spring is around the corner. Roses are flushing with new growth, trees and shrubs have buds ready to explode with color, foliage and scent and I’ve just noticed this morning that our quince is blooming.

And if the weather will continue to be mild we might actually get some loquats this year. Usually fruit does not develop due to low winter temperatures, but this winter has been exceptionally warm and I’ve noticed the fruit forming on the loquat tree.

It is fascinating to observe nature changing. Both exciting and addictive.  Sharing it with our readers is equally rewarding.

Spring Planting Guide.

January 20, 2011

Spring planting guide dates are based on the average freeze dates, which may differ within cities and counties. The guide is for Fort Worth- Dallas metro area. Please treat these guides as general guides and don’t be afraid to experiment. For instance, if you plant onion starts for growing green onions, your window of opportunity for planting is much wider.  Trial and error often produces wealth of experience that is priceless. Enjoy and have fun!

Asparagus (crowns) Feb 2-16
Beans, snap & lima bush Mar 16 – Apr 13 
Beans, snap pole Mar 16 – Apr 13
Beans, lima pole Mar 16 – Apr 13
Beets  Feb 2-16
Broccoli Feb 2-16
Brussels sprouts  Feb 2-16
Cabbage  Feb 2-16
Carrot  Feb 2-16
Collard (kale) Feb 2 – Mar 2
Corn, sweet   Mar 16 – Apr 27 
Cucumber    Mar 16 – Apr 27 
Eggplant   Mar 30 – Apr 27
Kohlrabi  Feb 2 – Mar 2
Lettuce    Feb 2 – Mar 30
Muskmelon (cantaloupe) Mar 16 – Apr 27
Mustard     Mar 16 – Apr 27
Okra       Mar 30 – Apr 27
Onion (sets)    Jan 5 – Feb 16
Onion (seed)   Jan 19 – Feb 2
Peas, English     Jan 19 – Mar 2
Peas, Southern  Mar 30 – May 25
Pepper     Mar 23 – May 11
Potato  Feb 2 – Feb 16
Potato, sweet      Apr 10 – May 11
Pumpkin    Mar 23 – Apr 13
Radish       Feb 16 – Apr 28 
Spinach    Jan 19 – Mar 9
Squash, summer   Mar 23 – Apr 13
Squash, winter      Mar 23 – Apr 13
Swiss chard    Feb 2 – Mar 2
Tomato (starts)       Mar 16 – May 11
Turnip, greens & roots   Feb 2 – Mar 2  
Watermelon           Mar 16 – Apr 27