Michael Battalio


Winter's toll

Winter has been hard on the garden this year. We had the fourth coldest Dec-Feb period for Bryan. Consequently several plants that should live through most winters did not make it including a plant I bought just during the fall. I’m most disappointed in the lavender which I meticulously watered during the summer in the hopes that once established it would survive on its own. We had several episodes of winter precipitation, and the weather station recorded a low 21.6 in January. While that is nowhere near the lowest temp that we usually get (in USDA zone 8b for Bryan temps can get to 15 F), temps were cold for long periods. Additionally, we have gotten very little rain since the large amounts last Fall.

On the garden front I’ve been working on getting beds ready for spring. I’ve finally edged the beds along the street (below) and planted some perennials in there (mostly to take up the space the lavender was supposed to fill).

I planted peas a few weeks ago and it has taken them this long to finally start to grow thanks to the cold. Some broccoli is already starting to head much smaller than I wanted. I believe as a result of planting in the shade and the cold. Spinach is also starting to grow. I have some more in the greenhouse that I will set out in a couple of weeks. I planted a spring crop of broccoli today.

Lastly, I built the second raised bed in the side yard. I’ve put some day lilies and irises in.

I’m waiting for a shipment of roses to come in; one will be placed in the blank spot between the windows in the above photo. Soon I will order some foundation plants for the eastern front of the house. I’m still debating whether to tear out the healthy boxwood on the western front.


The TX state climatologist is the professor in one of my classes this semester, and he made the comment that Texas droughts are those times between Texas floods. We are now above average for rainfall for this time of year. We have made up about 10” of rain deficit in about a month and a half. Everything is soaked, so I can’t really garden, but everything is looking great. This being fall, not much is in bloom, but there is a clematis blooming and a clump of mums.

I have also had the chance to repopulate the sunny perennial bed with plants again. We will see how they do come summer, but most of them are fairing well at the moment. The biggest short term plans are to make a second raised bed on the southeastern side of the house and to figure out what to do about the bed adjacent to the driveway.


I’ve planted a couple of new roses in the rose garden. I have decided not to baby these plants. I will water them (as I had to water everything during the summer), but I don’t have to to tend to roses that need a ton of care. So, if the plants can’t take care of themselves, they’re out. I’m going to try to get some antique roses in the near future. We’ll see. The one below is a floribunda ‘Foxy Roxy’. I also bought an ‘Iceberg’.


New Garden

I’m going to start using this space to document my tribulations in beautifying my new property. I bought this house in July of 2012, and I’m going to spend the next five (or less, hopefully not more) years prettying up this space as I work on my Ph.D. When I bought the property the landscape wasn’t much, but I know via Google street view that the owners prior to the previous owners (two owners back that is) were quite good gardeners, and they highly improved most of the soil around the property. Thus, my job is much easier than it could be if I were simply dealing with heavy, Texas clay. I didn’t occur to me until a few months in sot start taking pictures, so alas, I do not have what the property looked like when I first moved in. I do have quite a few things to show now though. Let me first start with the vegetable garden. While most of my property is quite shaded due to five large southern live oaks I have on the mere .25 acres of land, the two side yards to get mostly sun. The western side yard gets more than enough to have a nice vegetable garden. Here is what I have so far: an excellent crop of broccoli and a lot of spinach. The beans and potatoes have already been planted. The potatoes (bottom on left) look excellent.


The ornamentals are starting to look pretty good as well.
Jacob’s ladder (top), elephant ear blooming (bottom)

Oleander (top), Lilies (bottom)

Rose garden (top), bottle brush (I think, bottom)

I’ll be updating this much more frequently now that I’ve have my own garden. Look for an update every two to three weeks.