Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Fledgling Gardener's View

Look who sat on my solar fountain. A fledgling cardinal hopped and half-flew around my back garden for quite a while yesterday. I was afraid I'd scare her if I opened the door, so this is a through-a-glass-darkly sort of shot.

She stood on the fountain for almost 5 minutes, drank some water and even tried to peck at the metal dragonfly (photo below) before she flew into the nearby oak tree.

One way I learn what will grow here is by observing what my neighbors' have planted. Some beautiful blooms can be seen in their yards this week. This larkspur (Consolida ambigua), looks particularly colorful.

Even the wildscapes along my morning walk are lovely. I don't imagine anyone besides Mother Nature planned this grouping of cactus, stone and wildflowers, but it's pleasing to me.

As is this yellow stand of wildflowers (Thelesperma filifolium?).

I still do not know the names of all the plants in my garden. Below is another mystery plant left by the previous owner that I cannot seem to locate in my garden books. I may take a blossom to the nursery to see if they can give me a clue. Edit: Thanks to Susan, Robin and Annie for letting me know this is a Husker's Red penstemon digitalis. You ladies are a national treasure!

When I visit the nurseries here I'm invariably introduced to plants I've never seen before. But imagine my surprise on my last visit to The Natural Gardener Nursery when I saw these Dandelions for sale. If only I'd known there was a market for Dandelions in Austin, I could have made a fortune from the bushels I dug out of my lawn this spring.

Like the fledgling cardinal I'm not always certain of my 'way around the garden. I'm thankful for the Austin Garden Bloggers and local nursery staff who teach me which plants work in Austin and which do not. Thanks!


Susan said...

Dawn — Just a little while ago I was thinking about how I am so lousy at identifying plants (I'm always impressed by Annie's IDs) but I think I know what your mystery plant is: pestemon digitalis "Husker Red." My neighbor used to have it in her garden and I always admired it. It might be some other variety of penstemon (the picture doesn't enlarge when I click on it) but I think that might be what it is. We'll see if anyone else weighs in.

I think I need a pond or a fountain. I love that picture of the baby cardinal.

— Susan

Pam/Digging said...

Little did I know there's a market for dandelions! Is it a joke, or did you see anyone actually buying these?

Robin said...

Hi Dawn, I believe your mystery plant is a red huskers penstemon. I have no experience with it but see it occasionally for sale @ the Natural Gardener. Love your solar fountain!

Dawn said...


I'm glad it's not just me who sometimes wrestles with plant identification. This plant really threw me. Looks like you and Robin are agreeing that it's some kind of penstemon.

BTW, I'm not sure how some of you Blogspot folks set up your blog so the photos will enlarge when clicked. Any ideas would be appreciated by this newby. :-)


I do believe they were serious. The Dandelions were sitting amidst the other herbs and priced. If it's a joke, it's a pretty good one. ;-)


You and Susan have great eyes. I appreciate your knowledge on this. I had no idea what it was.

I highly recommend getting a container water garden at least. We've had so much fun with this one and the wild animals enjoy it too. I bought the least expensive solar fountain I could find online. It's a definite hit.


Annie in Austin said...

That sure is Husker's Red, and it's one of the best stands of that penstemon that I've seen... sometimes they get all floppy.
Nice legacy plant, Dawn!

The Dandelions are hilarious - and you can also pay $2.50 a plant for Horseherb as a groundcover...if that were true, the hundreds of plants in my parkway could pay for a lot of more interesting plants!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Dawn said...

Hi Annie!

I'm so pleased that I have inherited a cool plant. According to what I've read, hummingbirds and butterflies love penstemon, plus it's reported to be deer resistant. And here's the best news: I actually have 3 of these bunches scattered throughout my front garden. Woohoo!

That's funny about the horseherb, Annie. "Weedness" is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Recently I saw some pennywort for sale. I battled pennywort for 16 years in Florida. If I'd only known I could bag it up and sell it I might have looked at the stuff differently. Or not.


Wild Flora said...

Hi Dawn,
Here's more good news about that Penstemon digitalis "Husker's Red": Penstemons generally are considered to be excellent hummingbird plants.
Wild Flora

A wildlife gardener said...

That's a beautiful bird, the cardinal. And what an exquisite dragonfly ornament you have too. The colour of those blue larkspurs is one of my favourite colours, but, sadly, not a plant I've got in my garden!...yet!

Dawn said...

Thanks AWG!

The adult male cardinals look especially handsome in their full red colors.
I have a mating pair who drop by everyday and feed each other sunflowers seed from my feeder. Very sweet.

The larkspurs are lovely, but I think I prefer your bluebells to be honest. Breathtaking!


Gorden & Planten said...

Greetings from Germany and thank you for commenting my blog!

Dawn said...

Hi Gorden & Planten,

Thanks for your greetings from Germany. You have a lovely garden. :-)


talj said...

Many thanks for stopping by my blog! I took up gardening almost 3 months ago. Since Christmas I have been housebound due to serious health problems. I use crutches and sometimes a wheelchair to help me get around and I live on the 6th floor (the top floor) of an apartment block. Everything I grow is out on my balcony. It's not a very big balcony but it's enough for me and the joy I have had seeing the seeds I have sown growing into seedlings and the bulbs I have planted pushing up through the soil....I'm like a kid at Christmas!

You have a lovely blog and it looks like you know so much about gardening! I am going to make sure I keep popping back to check how you are doing :o)

Dawn said...

Dear Talj,

I'm so sorry that you've had such a rough time with your health. I do hope your balcony garden will continue to give you joy and help you to feel better every day. Your plants do indeed look happy and well cared for. You must have a tremendous green thumb to grow so many lovely plants on your balcony. I'm impressed!

Stop by anytime. I'll certainly do the same with your blog. It's my pleasure to 'meet' you. (Isn't the internet fun?!). :-)

Take good care,

exile61 said...

Hello Dawn, thank you for stopping by my blog. I am glad you liked your visit. I am sure it is quite a challenge to see what's growing in TX. I lived in KS for many years and the heat there was a big challenge. Keep coming back! Have nice day! Andrea

Dawn said...

Dear Andrea,

So, you lived in Kansas! When I was 11 we moved to Independence, Missouri which is very near the state line of Kansas. Yes, it really does get hot in the summer! The Texas heat seems to play a big part in when one puts plants in the ground. I'm still learning.

I enjoy your blog very much. What a great entry today about how your garden has changed since it's beginning!

Take care,

exile61 said...

Dawn, K-State all the way. :-) I feel I have roots in the Midwest, though I do not miss the tornado warnings each spring and fall. I hope I get to see you again "over at my place". Later, Andrea

Alastair said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog.
Ceid Mile Fáilte from Nothern Ireland. I have added your blog to my RSS reader and will be checking in regularly. Thanks for introducing me to myblog.com. I go some great links off it. Thanks for adding me to your members list.


Dawn said...

Thanks Alastair!

I hope more people check out your blog. I enjoy learning how you garden in your part of Northern Ireland. Lovely country!


ladyluz said...

Lovely of you to stop by my blog, Dawn. Glad you enjoyed it, as I enjoy yours, especially the hummers.

Dawn said...

Thanks Ladyluz!

I'm so pleased you dropped by. Everyone needs to visit your blog to see your flowers and your Siamese cat photos.