Sunday, August 16, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day at the Natural Gardener

Since nothing's blooming in my garden that you all haven't seen 100 times before, I'm posting pics from yesterday's field trip to John Dromgoole's Austin nursery, the Natural Gardener, where I attended an Organic Gardening 101 class. Meredith from Great Stems was kind enough to drive me to the class in her nifty hybrid; upon our arrival, we met up almost immediately with Cat of AmLo Farms. The class was held in a shady section of the orchard and herb garden.

At least 200 people attended: many, many more than I'd expected.

Rosina Newton, horticulturist at The Natural Gardener for the past 12 years, gave the presentation. The class was nearly an hour and a half long and covered everything from site selection to harvesting, including a hands-on demonstration of preparing a raised bed.

The class was right near the garden demonstration area, so it was easy to stroll around while listening to the presentation. I desperately need some of these hoop houses over my raised beds. Jack promised he'd help me build some.

They seem insanely easy to build. You install rebar spikes on either side of the bed, 2 feet apart, with half the spike buried in the dirt and the other half sticking up above ground. Flexible PVC pipe (diameter a bit larger than the rebar) goes on top of the rebar and arches over the bed. Then you cover the arches with (depending on the season) shade cloth or floating row cover, anchor it down with clamps or rocks or what have you, and voila: protection from pests and unrelenting sun or frost.

Look at these gigantic okra. They must have been a foot long. They'd make one heck of a jar of okra pickles!

Dromgoole's herb garden is going strong despite the drought and the heat. 3551herbs

Throughout the nursery, the grounds are chock full of gardens. Check out the swing on the left! Wee!

I love this combination of trailing rosemary, blue salvia and hot pink portulaca.

There's even a babbling brook, surrounded by agave and native grasses.

When the class was over, we went shopping. The class was free and everyone received a 10% coupon for attending. All the plants were 30% off, so I had to get another purple fountain grass plant (Jack loves them), a rock rose and a Mexican oregano. I used the coupon on Renee's Garden seeds (baby spinach and green beans). I'm proud to say that I planted everything I bought today. (P.S. The plant sale is going on through August 20.)

As I wandered down the Xeric Plants aisle, this little fellow fluttered over, right on cue. Hmmm, I wonder if he's on staff?

The Natural Gardener's staff members are all so helpful, willing to answer any question, and Dromgoole's Lady Bug garden products are second to none. The Natural Gardener offers a variety of garden soils, composts and mulches, and brews and sells compost tea.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable gardener's outing, and it was great to meet two awesome Austin garden bloggers. I knew some of the material presented during the class (yay me) but learned some new tips as well, and got oodles of helpful handouts. After next weekend's Master Gardener public class on the same subject, I should have all the information I need to make my fall garden a blooming success.


  1. What a great tour! The hoop houses are a good idea.--Randy

  2. It sounds like an educational and fun excursion. Glad to hear you got some great new plants as well.

  3. it was so much fun meeting up with you and meredith. i am definitely planning on attending the class next weekend too so hopefully will see you there!

    lovely pictures of the NG too...i just love that place...:)

  4. Hi, Caroline. I am tickled to find another Texas garden I've not seen before. If it grows in Texas, generally it grows here, except for lime-lovers like bluebonnets. Loved this field trip post, full of information. Thanks.

  5. That looks like a fun field trip. Haven't been there in ages. Looks like I need to make it up there again. It might inspire me to do some work around here.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. It looks so great there. I haven't been to The Natural Gardener in years and I'd say they've really grown. Thanks for the tour and the info!

  7. I loved my one visit to the Natural Gardener in 2008. I wish there was a place like that in my city!