Blog posts from April 2014

Nikki Blogs: Don’t feel bad, I kill things, too!

Apr 21, 2014

Hi everyone! I’m blogging! Finally!

I’d like to put up some disclaimers for my first post so that, moving forward, nobody gets the wrong idea of how experienced I am. You know those celebrity “they’re just like us” photos in trash magazines? Well, I’m in the “she’s just like us!” photo with dead roses mixed in with lush, blooming ones. And Leslie is in the “diva” column with her perfect irises and blooming-practically-since-February roses. That’s not to say I know nothing about growing plants. I know more than the average bear! It’s just that I’m still in my killing phase … and I’m 9 years in.


  1. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from Leslie. And Martha. But mostly Leslie.

  2. I’ve killed and replanted and re-killed thousands of dollars in plants. If I’m successful at something and give you some advice, its from years of experience.

  3. I plant what is easy, or I like the color, or it was on sale, or it caught my eye. Leslie says I don’t garden. I decorate.

  4. I like to put sun plants in shade, shade plants in full sun, overwater what should be parched and underwater what needs to daily drinks. I like to really push the boundaries of what is acceptable maintenance in the garden world.

  5. I love to garden. I love to try new things and I’m not afraid to kill it. I’ll replant something two, three, even four times until I get it right!

  6. My favorite plants to grow are herbs, roses, and irises.

Proof I CAN do some pretty decent gardening!


I’ll be around for a while, so if you’d like someone to whine to about your garden, comment below. I feel your pain when it comes to thinking you may have a black thumb. But if I can do it, so can you!

“Hey, can you help me find a home for my rooster?” No, no I can’t and won’t.

Apr 16, 2014

I can't count the number of times I've been asked this question latey. My answer will always be the same: No.

There's a reason that I didn't sell straight run chicks when I ran North Haven Gardens. We worked really hard to provide sexed females only for sale at the garden center. Why? Well, because roosters are outlawed in Dallas. Regardless of how you feel about the necessity of that ordinance, it's current law.

Cuckoo maran silver

What happens when you buy straight run baby chicks? Well, chances are you'll get 50% males, 50% females. It's just the law of nature. So when you buy straight run chicks, and live in an area that doesn't allow roosters, you should have a plan for how you're going to deal with the roosters once they mature. And no, that plan does not include me (or anyone else)  finding a home for them for you. Believe me, I've had an incredibly hard time finding just one home for a rooster that was abandoned at the garden center during my tenure. I spent 9 months raising him to maturity (silkies take a long time to reach sexual maturity) only to be bonded with him by the time he started crowing. Took me months to find just that one home to take my sweet Rico. If you don't want to bond with roosters, don't buy straight run chicks. Again, I say "thanks a lot"  to the jerk that dumped him and his siblings.

Incubating new chicks for your kid's class is really cute, right? But guess what? You're going to get 50% males. So again, what's your action plan for dealing with them once they mature?  If you live in an area that doesn't restrict roosters, then great! But if they're outlawed, where will they go?

Keeping backyard livestock means taking full responsibility for the animals. So if you go ahead and buy straight run chicks, then you're most likely going to have to "dispatch" the males once they show themselves. Learn how to use a sharp hatchet or a stiff broom handle.  Think I'm being mean? Well, then you haven't kept backyard livestock before. Sometimes your birds become very sick, or egg bound, or injured...the most humane thing you can do is put them down in some of those situations. So you'd better learn how to do so, unless you want to pay a vet $200 to stick a needle in their heart to put them down (that's more stressful and painful for the bird).

Go ahead and puruse the boards of  the local backyard poultry group to see how many of those "free rooster" postings get responded to. If you're really lucky, you might be able to find someone outside of town to take them. If so, great! But the chances are high your rooster will be going right into their soup pot. Why? Because really, how many roosters can one person keep? Not many. One rooster per flock...two if they just so happen to sort of get along. Production farms can't take your birds, because there are strict bio-security laws that apply to commercial operations. So you can tell yourself you've saved them from the hatchet, but you may just be passing the buck to someone else.

Back to that ordinance: Don't agree with it? Work with the city to change it if you feel strongly about it. Believe me, I did my share of haggling with the city to get the whole backyard chicken thing rolling. But defying the ordinance and  creating a "rooster problem" in Dallas only puts the entire practice of backyard livestock in peril - why give the naysayers an excuse to complain?

There are many places to purchase sexed chicks. Local feed stores should and typically do distinguish between sexed and straight run chicks. If they don't, you should assume they are straight run. Then run.

Garden Tour: What’s in bloom?

Apr 14, 2014

When you're a gardener, every day that makes up the transition from winter to spring is like having a birthday. We can't wait to hit the garden each day to discover emerging bulbs, leaves and blooms. Each new bloom sends the endorphins rushing through our system. Seriously...plants are like a good dose of crack to us plant addicts. I have no plans to kick my habit any time soon. Or ever. smiley

Tulips finished

So what's blooming? Now that the final tulips are exiting stage right, my garden will transition over from what has been a predominance of white flowers to purple. Everything is coming into bloom a bit late this year due to the extended cool temps.

Iris white sm

The white bearded iris are always the first to bloom in my garden and around town. They are always my first official signal that spring has arrived. These beauties will soon be followed by purples and blues.

Scabiosa sm

The butterflies should be showing up in no time now that the Scabiosa (pincushion flower) is peaking out.

Sophora sm

These are the best smelling blooms around! Texas mountain laurel is one of my absolute favorite plants. This is the first time this young plant in my garden has bloomed!

Rose joewoodardsm

'Joe Woodard' rose is just peachy, and the first to crack a bloom this spring. I love this tidy compact bloomer.

Salvia may night

Savia 'May Night' is kicking into gear with some stunning electric purple blooms. The cool temperatures are really amping up the flower colors this spring.

Crossvine sm

All the crossvine has expoded into flower in just the last couple of days. Gorgeous! There's lot's more going on in the garden, but I'll save some for later. What's blooming in your little patch of happiness?

Back to top

Tips in your inbox


Sign up for the E-Newsletter for industry info, gardening trends & tips.