FRIDAY FINDS + A PEEK AT AUSTIN

It's Friday Finds time, but first I wanted to share a couple pictures from my trip to Austin with Troy-Bilt's Saturday6 gang last week. Troy-Bilt sent the Saturday6, a group of bloggers who work with them, on a shindig to find out about some new products, explore Austin and do a little good. (Disclaimer: They paid for this trip as part of my Saturday6 contract, but I'm sharing pictures with you just because.)

We took a tour of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and although we were about three weeks too early in terms of the blooms putting on a show, it was a pretty fascinating place.

The entry kiosk is entirely self-sufficient. Solar panels on the awning provide all the power, including for air conditioning, which they are able to do because it has a green roof that keeps it significantly cooler than a normal roof would.



For several years, a great-horned owl has returned to the center to nest and raise her young.  She's in the corner in the photo below.


See her head peeking up?

The Texas mountain laurels were blooming.


And the bluebonnets (Lupinus texenis) were just starting to come to life in warmer areas of the garden.

They had very interesting ideas for creating raised and tiered beds.



Unfortunately I can't recall what this plant is, but I loved the combination of blue foliage and orange flowers.

We also spent a day working at a community garden project along with Planet in Action. This was a nice area that sort of fell into disrepair a few years ago, so we, along with Planet in Action, a few county parks employees and a group of very enthusiastic Americorps volunteers (who did a lot of push-ups throughout the day), created some large raised beds, planted grapes and new fruit trees and pruned existing fruit trees that hadn't been touched in a long time.

Raised beds planted and mulched.
This was an example of one of the pear trees we pruned. Everyone sort of divided up and Eric from GardenFork and Kenny from Veggie Gardening Tips and I seemed to end up on pruning duty. It was fun to group prune. Gardening can be such a solitary activity, but we had all had a nice chat while pruning and it was nice to bat around pruning ideas amongst each other. These trees hadn't been pruned in over five years and we had to constantly remind ourselves that you can't undo five years of unchecked growth in one day.
Before pruning.

And here's what it looked like after.
After pruning.
 This next photo is also an after shot although you'd probably not believe that because you can see there's still quite a tangle in there. We were wary of taking out too much of the tree at once (the general rule is no more than 25% of the growth, not counting dead wood), and we had to prioritize the worst offenders. I lobbied hard to take out that older crossing branch that you see in the front of that picture, but was overruled, because it would have left a huge hole in the canopy of the tree. It can and, I'm sure, will be taken out next year.


It was great to get in the garden again and it was nice to help out such a worthwhile project. My fellow bloggers must have felt the same way because we ripped through that project list much more quickly than I think anyone expected us to.

Rochelle and an Americorps volunteer tackle a giant pile of mulch.

 So that was Austin. Now onto what's been good on the Internet this week.

I don't care for corned beef, but plenty of people wouldn't be without it this time of year. Here's what I can only assume is a great recipe for it.

I really enjoyed Matt Mattus's behind-the-scenes look at how the cover of the latest Pith + Vigor came together.

 I love this DIY table.

I'm completely giddy about Michelle Obama's latest initiative.

 Heather is offering up some great March gardening tips to get you going.

That's it for this week. I'm off to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show tomorrow. I'm very excited as I've never been to that one before. I also have some homework to do this weekend. I'm taking an advanced master gardener course on landscape design and one of our first projects is to design a garden for a fictional hospital courtyard. Our designs will be analyzed by professors and students in the landscape architecture program at the University of Wisconsin so I'm alternately excited for real, unbiased feedback and more than a little nervous.

What's on your docket for the weekend?





1 comment :

  1. Looks like a great trip!! I always feel the same way about pruning an old tree or shrub. I never know when to stop and am always afraid of going "too far".

    Thanks for featuring my blog AGAIN!! Looks like it's going to be a nice weekend here, so I'll be heading out and putting my own advice to good use.

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