August is a month of mixed emotions for most Texas gardeners. It’s really hot and the forecast is for more of the same but we still want to be in our gardens (if only they were air conditioned ). Even though it is really hot and will no doubt continue to be really hot for at least another month (and probably dry too) we are at least closer to cooler weather-right? So—since we have no control over the heat-we can dream of fall and make plans in the AC. This is a great time to think about what your next gardening project is-so that you will ready when cooler weather does come around.

I am excited about adding new plants to my beds this fall– also more soaker hoses in my brand new beds and a trellis for my Root Beer Vine that I found at Stegals and maybe my first arbor-so I am shopping for good buys ( August is a great time to buy hoses). I’m sure that you know that fall is truly the best time to plant in Texas –and I have just finished my new revised planting guide on how to plant everything for Fall 2013 . I have attached it to this newsletter for convenience- but you will also receive it several more times in my general emails-since it is new and I have made several important changes that I want you to get used to. So be sure to replace your old planting guide with the new one.

I want to make this newsletter a smorgasbord of fun thoughts and ideas that I am hoping will interest you too.

I collect design ideas all the time that I run across in different places- usually gardening magazines. I keep them in collections that I call my idea books-and I look to them for inspiration often.

I used to save a magazine if it had a fun idea in it– but then I never could remember which magazine I had seen the idea in –so I started saving the pages in binders.


A great way to spend an August afternoon-is in the AC looking at fun ideas to implement in the fall.

Do you know what Root Beer Vine is? It is hard to find-and when you do find it –it is often called Yellow Confederate Star Jasmine . ****Important note-I am not talking about the Carolina Jessamine vine that blooms in spring and fall and is easy to find-so be aware of that-Root Beer vine is very different in many ways.

It looks just like Confederate Star Jasmine except it has yellow blooms instead of white- and smells like root beer instead of gardenias- and it blooms later in the summer and much longer than Confederate Star. Both are great evergreen vines that need a trellis to climb on. Both can grow in full sun or just a few hours of sun or even bright shade. It isn’t a vine that I often talk about because I can’t call it by name—( except to say root beer vine-which was my grandmother’s name for it) and it is hard to find -but if you do find a vine with the above characteristics –who cares what it’s called-as long as you have it in your possession! Right?????- you can find it at Stegalls-817-483-0682

I just talked to Jim Stegall today and he has plenty ready 

Root Beer Vine in Colleyville at Ken & Diane’s



This vine needs support-and I don’t have a very large space to do a vine in my new garden-so I have chosen to use a downspout trellis and keep it trimmed.

Down spout trellises are simple wire cages that fit over your downspouts –these kits come with three 36” long pieces that can be connected to go up the downspout. The kit includes the hardware and you can order them on the link below –I have not seen them locally.,33286&ap=1

I also want to add more large step stones to my larger flower beds for ease of travel and I also just love the country garden look that they give a space. Stepping stones never need maintenance, they add great eye appeal and they keep the garden organized and tidy. When I do a design with good sized beds -the first thing that I think of is how I want to walk through those beds to get to different areas in the garden and I draw in the step stones- then I start designing the different areas that the step stones create. Choose large step stones approximately 1.5” thick and 18” deep X 2’-2.5’ wide and place them about 2” apart to make a comfortable pathway . Don’t put them so far apart that you have to hop across from one to the next. Lay them on level ground and add mulch around them-don’t dig them in-they will settle on their own—if you dig them in the soil will wash over them in time.

This path leads you in from the This path leads you over to the fire pit front gate to the back yard. and through the garden from the steps.

I also love adding boulders or large rocks to my gardens that I design-it gives them so much character- and rocks used as borders are so much more interesting than other edging. Rocks also double as great garden art in Texas gardens and never need watering. On the next page are pictures of a great garden 6


project that I got to help design set in an area that used to be a large stone sheep shearing barn in south Texas. The remaining stone walls of the old barn now make up part of the garden fence and the added rock throughout the area help to define its many sitting areas and add structure to James and Nancy’s garden.

A fun backyard space with drought tolerant native plants and collections of stone edging and boulders.

On this same project cedar trellises and fence pieces add to the south Texas country charm-the shed holds entertainment supplies for garden parties.


I have included a sitting area in my front yard under some large trees and I will fill it with drought tolerant native plants that won’t need a lot of water because I do not have a sprinkler system on my half acre lot and I don’t want to run soaker hoses through this large bed . I want it to be a space that we can run through and sit on our swing and lawn chairs on.

I will add plants along the outer edges of it and the patio and swing are in the middle under the trees. All of the plants along the edge will get sun at least 5 hours a day or more. I plan to add these plants to the edges of the bed this fall.

Pink Gulf Mulhy Grass


Skeleton Leaf Golden Eye


Pink Salvia Greggii


I can’t wait to get started – remember to follow the new planting guide!

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