Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I Love LA

I love LA! The LA Flower District that is! I had no idea such a fabulous place existed, so I was pretty excited when some friends suggested a visit during my recent stay in Los Angeles.

Try to imagine more flowers than you have ever seen in one place and you probably won't get close to the number of flowers contained in these ginormous warehouses.



The Flower District is contained within a city block in downtown Los Angeles. Here you will find flowers, vases, floral supplies and just about anything to do with flowers and flower arranging including live plants. Everything is for sale at wholesale prices. It's heaven for flower lovers.





I wanted to stuff my suitcase full of driftwood and old grape vine planters, but I didn't have an inch to spare. Darn my pathological need to over pack!



If I lived in LA, I would be in so much trouble.  These arrangements are so awesome and the prices are incredible.



The creative side of me was itching to grab a vase and some cool decorations, so I could create my own masterpiece.




This seashell wreath would be the perfect backdrop for a floral masterpiece.


Just look at all these plants waiting for a good home.


We stopped over in LA following a cruise to Hawaii. I have to say, I saw lots of orchids in Hawaii, but I saw ten times more orchids in the flower district. 





I don't know what these flowers are, but I totally want them! Don't you think they look like underwater sea life. I think they'd go perfectly with all those sea shells.


There's so much cool stuff in the flower district. Next time I go, I'm bringing a pick up.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Baking for the Dogs

I grew sweet potatoes this year for the first time, breaking my number one gardening rule: Don't grow vegetables that you don't like. Since I started growing food to sell at the farmer's market, I decided it would be okay to grow them. After all, I could just sell them, right? 

So, how did that work out? Not so well. I harvested a surplus of the ugliest sweet potatoes that the world has ever seen. They are so ugly that I can't sell them. Many of the sweet potatoes are split or have insect damage. Fortunately, once I cut away the bad spots, they are still perfectly usable. If only I liked to eat sweet potatoes...


Usually the chickens are the beneficiaries of the less than perfect produce, but this time the sweet potatoes are going to the dogs. I've been making batches of dehydrated, sweet potato chews that my dogs snarf up as fast as I can make them.


In fact, my dogs have eaten so many sweet potatoes that they are now dreaming of sweet potatoes! Right, Bailey!


With so many sweet potatoes still to eat, I decided to get a little more creative and do some baking. Today I'm making dog biscuits from a simple recipe I found on the web.

The recipe calls for:

1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour

To cook the sweet potatoes, I peeled them and cut them into bite sized cubes. Then, I placed them in a microwaveable dish and cooked them on high until they were fork tender. After they cooled a bit, I mashed them with a potato masher until they were smooth.


I beat the eggs and then added the apple sauce and sweet potatoes in a large bowl.



After the wet ingredients were well blended, I added the flour.


I kneaded the dough until the flour was incorporated, and then, I plopped the dough onto a well-floured surface.


I rolled the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. I noticed the thicker cuts were a little more biscuit-like while the thinner cuts were very hard and crispy after cooking. My dogs didn't seem to have a preference.

I'm using a cute, little bone shaped biscuit cutter that I found at Walmart. I like to get a little flour on my cutter, so the biscuit dough doesn't stick. Works like a charm.


These biscuits don't contain any shortening, which will hopefully extend their shelf life. I didn't want to make the biscuits greasy by spraying the cookie sheet with cooking spray, so I opted for parchment paper.


I baked the biscuits at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. The more dried out and hard they are, the longer they will last at room temperature. Still, I wouldn't expect them to keep for more than a week or so. I think I'll give some away to friends and freeze some for later.


These biscuits are definitely puppy approved. My dogs loved them!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sunbathing Natives Garden Tour

If you're looking to tour a totally "WOW" garden during the upcoming Inside Austin Garden Tour on October 17, 2015, look no further than this spectacular property overlooking Lake Austin.

At the front of the house, two pups and two lions stand guard. The pups remind me of my own sweet Aussies and the lions remind me of Patience and Fortitude, that stand guard over the NYC Public Library. During our sneak preview tour, Kirk, our host, told us that he and his wife like to dress their lions in seasonal costumes. That's a fun idea!


This home sits on a hill which creates opportunities for very functional and beautiful dry creeks for drainage.


The front of this property has plenty of plants to look at like this variegated lantana, but the million dollar view is in the back.


When you first come around the house into the back garden, the pops of bright color from plants like this salvia leucantha grab your attention right away.


While your oohing and aahing over the beautiful plants a magnificent view opens to a spectacular panorama.


The views of Lake Austin are enhanced, not blocked, by all the lush plantings. It's difficult to see, but if you look hard, you can see the property fencing which has been strategically placed to not obscure the views.


It takes a pretty awesome pool to compete with that scenery, but this pool is a master piece all on it's own.


Even though the owner has only been in residence since 2013, many of the planting look very mature.

Russian Sage
Tecoma Stans Hybrid
This plant surprised me. At first I thought it was some sort of blue berry, but Kirk said it was a Greek Myrtle shrub. As soon as he provided the ID, I recognized the foliage. I have this shrub, but mine has not bloomed yet. When it does, hopefully berries will follow.


As a special treat, Kirk led us to an upstairs studio where we were able to take in the view from the second floor. Gorgeous!


It's all good in Kirk's garden!


Stay tuned. There are two more garden previews to come.

The Inside Austin Garden Tour is put on by the Travis County Master Gardeners. Don't miss it! Here's the info, so you can mark your calendar:

Date: October 17, 2015
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Check out the Map
Cost: $19 Online, $20 at the tour, Single tickets for individual gardens are $5


There are seven gardens on the tour. Six of the gardens belong to individual homeowners and the 7th garden is the demonstration garden at the Travis County Agrilife Extension Office. As always, the demonstration garden can be visited free of charge.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Oh Deer Garden Tour

On my Inside Austin Garden Tour sneak preview, garden number three belongs to fellow blogger and author Pam Penick. If you follow Pam's blog, Digging, you've seen photos of her garden, but now is your chance to see her garden in person!

Each garden on the tour will have knowledgeable master gardeners on site to answer your garden questions. I'll be one of the master gardeners strolling Pam's garden, so please stop by and say "hi". I'll introduce you to Moby, the whale's tongue agave that sits soaking up sun in the back garden.


Pam is a designer so her garden is well put together with a combination of great plants, cool art, and unique custom features.

This strappy, purple grass called vertigo pennisetum definitely falls under the category of great plants. This one is on my wish list for sure.


Pam's garden contains tough plants that work well in Austin like this grass called inland sea oats.


One of the things that I really like about Pam's garden is that she's always trying new stuff and has interesting varieties of some of my favorite plants. Instead of just the plain red turk's cap, Pam has pink.


Check out the gorgeous berries on this American beautyberry. The standard variety is a pretty purple, but this one has much more intense colored berries.


The purple plumbago I grow is a tough as nails summer staple in Austin, but if you already have that one, check out this white variety.


I have the orange mallow, but looky here. Desert mallow comes in yellow! Pam installed it next to her new blue wall to really make it pop.


If you like garden art, you'll find plenty in Pam's garden. This metal garden star is actually one of many embedded a path out front.  I'm totally borrowing this idea!


I love how Pam works in little pieces of art here and there to accent her plantings. Pam says she loves spiky plants and I can vouch for the fact that dyckia are indeed spikey.  The barbs on this plant will catch you coming and going, but I heart it too.


Bird accents are a perfect fit for any garden. So cute!

 


Pam's garden has an interesting mix of modern and cottage garden aesthestic. I like both styles, so I like to see how Pam makes all the elements blend together. In this photo, a modern succulent plant repeats the orange color of the shade loving hummingbird plant below.


Structurely, plants like this this Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Showers' can be modern or more informal depending on how you use them. This one in Pam's garden sits comfortably, relaxed in a mostly woodland setting. Pam placed it in a sunny break in the trees. The results: it's like a plant prism making magic when the light hits it.


One of my favorite design elements in Pam's garden is a line of framed mirrors that hang on a long, brick wall. I love mirrors in the garden and this display is genius! Yet another idea that I want to borrow.

I hope to see you at Pam's garden on October 17th. You'll get lots of great ideas and maybe borrow a few ideas for yourself.


Stay tuned. There are 3 more garden previews to come.

The Inside Austin Garden Tour is put on by the Travis County Master Gardeners. Don't miss it! Here's the info, so you can mark your calendar:

Date: October 17, 2015
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Check out the Map
Cost: $19 Online, $20 at the tour, Single tickets for individual gardens are $5


There are seven gardens on the tour. Six of the gardens belong to individual homeowners and the 7th garden is the demonstration garden at the Travis County Agrilife Extension Office. As always, the demonstration garden can be visited free of charge.