Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Design ideas galore!

While at my local Tractor Supply store today replenishing my supply of bird food, I picked up the latest issue of Fine Gardening magazine. Austin garden blogger Pam Penick had mentioned in her blog recently that she had an article published in this month's magazine and I wanted to read it.

After I got the magazine home and read Pam's article - which didn't take long since it is very short - I found that this particular issue is packed with design ideas that I can adapt and apply to my situation.

Pam's bit, for example, details how one can go about systematically reducing the size of one's lawn. This is an idea whose time has come. More and more gardeners are digging out the grass and putting in planting beds with perennials, shrubs, grasses, even vegetables, so this article is very timely. Pam's main tip is to start reducing the lawn from the edges of your garden in, rather than doing island beds throughout the yard. Making long and wide curved beds on the perimeters of your yard is much more pleasing to the eye than chopping out a bed here and there throughout the garden.

Other articles of importance to me in this issue of FG  included a piece on designing with curved terraces, using chartreuse foliage to illuminate dark corners, and growing food in the shade.

Another article of particular interest was about seed-starting myths and avoiding common mistakes when starting seeds. Since I hope to be starting a whole bunch of seeds within the next few days, I read this article twice!

Did I mention that I got a shipment of eighteen packets of seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in the mail today? It was Christmas all over again when I opened that package! I can't wait to get planting.


  1. Ooh! What did you get? I love Baker Creek catalogs, they are always so pretty!! I saw two Monarchs in my yard today (or maybe they were the lookalike ones, they didn't stand still long enough for a positive ID). Did you see the article in the paper about the Calliope hummingbird in The Woodlands?

  2. Oh, Kim, I'm so excited! I got lots of different heirloom veggies, including three kinds of eggplants that I had never heard of. Also got three kinds of datura seeds. I'm really looking forward to getting them all planted.

    I had not heard about the Calliope. I don't often see the paper any more, but I'll see if I can look the story up online. There really seems to be an explosion of over-wintering hummingbirds in the area this winter - including the Rufous that is visiting my yard.

  3. I am so very anxious for spring!!! Gosh...could it just get here LOL What free seed pack is Baker Creek sending this year? Last year I got the funny little French carrots. ;) Happy Gardening and enjoy the warm while it is here ~ Pammy

  4. They sent 'Riesentraube' red tomato seed, Pammy. I'm not familiar with the variety but I suppose I'll plant a couple of the seeds and see what happens.

  5. That sounds great! I want to try the little 8 Ball Zucchini, but I had several zuke/squash plants and ZERO fruit last year.

    The Monarchs are coming from the caterpillars I had before the last cold snap. I had one in the yard today and it had just hatched, so I could find its chrysalis. Soo amazing.

    I had a Rufous hummer last spring here. I am definitely putting my feeders back out.

  6. I love the idea of knocking back the water-hungry St. Augustine and putting gracious, curved beds all around the perimeter. I've done that in my back yard, and have opened up a lot of space in a rather small yard for vegetables, herbs, and native perennials. I agree that island beds are less desirable, at least in smaller spaces. They do serve a purpose in breaking up large expanses, though.

  7. Last year was just a tough one for vegetable gardeners, Kim. I don't know anyone who had any great success. My only moderate successes were green beans and squashes. Let's hope this year will be better.

    Isn't it wonderful to be able to track the butterflies from egg to caterpillar to butterfly? One of the great benefits of being a habitat gardener.

  8. I agree, hollasboy. Island beds can be used judiciously for effect. Pam's point about the wide and long curved beds being pleasing to the eye is also well-taken.

  9. Okra. My one okra did marvelous!

  10. I didn't plant okra last year but I got seeds for something called 'Hill Country Heirloom Red' in my shipment from Baker Creek last week and I'm going to give it a try this year, Kim.