Friday, October 5, 2018

Cleaning up the Front Garden

I have been complaining about the planting bed in the front garden that's right off the front door for a while. Early this year, i finally did something about it. Everything had kind of grown together (and not in a pretty cramscaping way...) And there were gophers and leaves and... sigh.

doesn't this just scream "welcome"?

why do all my neighbor's leaves end up here?
Now, yes, these pictures are from earlier this year - but like May (after the Fling), long past when I should have cleaned off those leaves. But they did such a good job hiding this:
i. hate. gophers. 
Leaves cleared off, we end with this lovely view. Once, there was a flagstone path there. 
not sure this is an improvement yet
You'll note that camilla is tied back. While i would like to say that i did that, it might have been left over from when the house was painted... Poor plant. Clean up continued with digging out the bulbine, eurphoria and other assorted stuff. I also flattened out all the gopher mounds (gopher killing had already occurred a few weeks before...)
this is fairly narrow bed
now the furcraea has some room to breath...


along with the red yucca
the bed wraps around to the front, with lower mounding plants
New irrigation was installed. This bed used to get overspray from the lawn (when there was a lawn). While some drip lines were run when the lawn was removed, I don't think it was enough. Hopefully this will help.  
it snakes through the skinny part of the bed, then up to the yucca out of frame to the left. 
Some mulch - rock for where it's super sunny, and shredded wood for the shady parts near the house.
i also dug out and replaced the flag stone
the bulbine got replanted along the house
and the euphoria got a new home as well. 
I also managed to make room for some plants that had been in the pot holding area for a while. Some of them might get too big, but that's a problem for later (or a gardening style...)

looking towards the street
You can see that this happened before the changes that happened later - i.e. the palo verde falling over.
the new view from the front door - much nicer!


So far, everything has been holding up well. The rock mulch around the xMangave has also help keep the snails away - extra bonus! The changes have held up very well over our hot summer, although the irrigation needs some more adjusting.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Breaking news!

I was going to post another look at something i learned in Austin, but instead, I have some very exciting, breaking news to report - It's not hot anymore!

(oh.. "not hot" in this context means it's not 100+ deg F anymore. It was still 93 deg F yesterday. So, i have to keep remembering that it's still too hot to plant anything, but not too hot to weed anymore)

I don't think i've ever been this excited about getting to do weeding before! So instead of showing more Austin pictures, I'm following Gerhard's lead with Weekend Wrap Up, and showing some pictures of my garden that caught my eye this weekend.

tunas are starting to ripen!
I think that opuntia is the one that Danger Garden sent me a very long time ago... It likes the hill side.

This next one is a different type (Burbank Spineless, I think) - it has fewer but larger tunas that are more orange-y:
The tunas are definitely not spineless...
 Here with my hand for scale - these things are big!
and from what i remember, they don't have very many seeds
This next picture is several projects-in-work that i'm excited about:
mostly water plants
And i found another hesperaloe funifera, which will get planted as soon as it's not actually hot anymore...

Up on the hillside, the new gravel path is working out nicely:
even as the plants continue to grow over it
The plants are also recovering from their spring cutback to cover the wooden steps up the hillside - I really like the way the overgrown look works here:
and such as change from the way the hillside used to be!
This plant is calliandra californica - which i've tried to plant at least 10 times, only to have it die. Except for this seeding, which I didn't plant:
i'm hoping it will eventually grow into a bush?
Meanwhile, one of this summer's experiments is working fairly well - these succulent pots. And it seems to be a little bit of a color echo with the pot, plant and wall!
almost like i learned something in Austin...
The "yellow gold" Lantana came back! It took until mid July before it re
that makes it the second lantana ever to return in my garden
Agave 'Snow Glow' is continuing to grow, and trying it's best to catch the light and glow:
A for effort, i think
 While nearby, 'Blue Glow' sits showing off how it's done:
still my favorite - maybe i need another one?
 And last is Mangave 'Tooth Fairy' - still living next to Agave 'Crazy Horse'. It's wet here because there were sprinklers that needed fixing...
still one of my favorites - but no offsets yet?
Looking at the forecast, we should be set for low 90's most of the week. I know that we can get more hot weather (must. not. plant. plants. yet.) but I'll take this if we can get it. Maybe i'll have all those weeds pulled before new plants start showing up!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

What I learned - Water in the Garden

Since it is still ridiculously hot, let's go back to Austin some more... Although, there is some very exciting progress happening, related to this specific thing I learned, that i can't wait to document here! It just needs to be fixed/finished first...

There were a lot of very beautiful water features that we saw during the Austin Fling. I image much like in the desert, water is always welcome in Texas!

The beauty started right from day one at the Wild Flower Center.
that fern (?) looks happy!
Of course, later on day 1, most of the roof turned into a waterfall/water feature, but that's ok!
They also had some beautiful stock ponds
and in ground ponds, covered with lillies
I think this modern water feature at Mirador is supposed to look like that, and the rain was not to blame...
i love the disappearing edge type water features - filled to overflowing...
Jenny Stocker's small water feature in the shade was no less lovely for being smaller.
the extra rocks are a great way to make it look larger and fill the space
This slightly larger one was in her veggie garden - a great starter size, no?
lillies again!
Of course, no discussion about Austin and water features would be complete without looking at Pam's stock tank garden:
So pretty!
A view from slightly up - i love the fountain in there also.
and everything else, of course. 
There were also a lot of pools in Austin. All of the ones on the tour stood out for being beautifully integrated into the whole garden. Some where "stand out", like the gorgeous pool in Tanglewild's court yard:
a great combo of pool & landscaping
in other gardens, the pool almost blended into the view or the garden.
this was at Kirk Moring - it looks like an extension of the river!
In Jenny's garden, it basically looked like a very rectangular pond had appeared in her garden.
The pond in the Japanese garden at Zilker didn't have the clearest water, but did have lillies, and a lantern/pedoga statue.
And Koi!
Fountains, both small and large, were also great examples of how to bring water into the garden.
the mermaid cove at Lucinda's was great. 
this water feature at Lady Bird Johnson Center was gorgeous, and looked like fun!
A slightly smaller, and very restful/zen like fountain at B. Jane's garden. 
I also really loved that plant combo with the fountain! I thought it was a great example of putting a fountain in a planting bed.  At Tanglewild, this fountain on the patio was also a stand out for me. I image the bees and birds like it too.
how do people make this work with no visible cords/solar panels/water lines?
One of my favorite pools of the whole trip was the one at Tait Moring's garden - the landscaping around it was gorgeous!
that wall & those plants and that tree!
And we were even allowed to put our feet in to cool off a bit!
apparently this is a fling tradition?

Thoughts on how to apply this lesson to my garden:
  • Since i specifically bought the house with no pool, we won't be adding one of those!
  • I do think i should finally pull the trigger on trying a stock pond, however. Even if i start with a smaller one, i can use some of the ideas i saw in Austin to make it feel more substantial. 
  • When i add the stock pond, it should be hooked up to the irrigation system and electrical - to make sure i can have a fountain/pump and add water as needed to account for evaporation. 
  • Some kind of smaller water feature/fountain on the patio might be good as well. If it also looks good empty, that might be even better. Austin is a LOT more humid than here, so my guess is that i'd be refilling often. 
  • If i do get a pond, i want water lilies! Probably topical ones - hopefully they would like the warm water? And i should figure out how to keep the water as clear as possible...

Sunday, August 5, 2018

What I Learned: Garden Art Done Austin-Style

It continues to be hot (shocker!) so instead of doing lots of work in the garden, i went back and looked at Austin pictures for inspiration. There are a few exciting projects happening in the garden, however - now if i could just remember to take pictures!

One thing i don't have a lot of is garden art. No particular reason, although the fact that I buy too many plants is probably one. I'm also not sure what i like, or what looks good, or what will hold up in our sun/heat/cold/wind. I also tend towards minimalist tendencies (well, except for plants), so "extra stuff" was never high on my list.

However, just like with plants, and everything else, the gardens we saw during the Austin Fling had all kinds of inspiration for garden art. Here are some of the ones that caught my eye, from the small:
this cute metal lizard (?) in Diana's garden
To the large:
the labyrinth at The Natural Gardener
And the cute - in this case bushes with some decorations to make them look like caterpillars!
Also at The Natural Gardener!
At Mirador, the garden art was more sculptural and very much blended with the rest of the design.
although it was blocking the gate - on purpose?
Austin had lots of metal lizards - this one in Pam's garden:
I like how it blends into the rock
Pam's garden had lots of cute garden art that really fit in with everything else in her gorgeous garden
a carnivorous plant i might be able to keep alive!

Ditto on the fish!
Some of the art looked like it was part of the plants, like these metal stalks on an agave:
not the world's best picture of Pam's garden...
In Hutto, there were more small sculptures:
and a bottle edging - there were a lot of bottles (trees, bushes, edges) in the Fling
The back gate at Zilker had metal cacti!
The whole gate was gorgeous! 
While at Lucinda Hutson's garden, there were all kinds of metal agave, in different colors:
these were great - they really fit in her garden, but i can see them work in lots of places
A lot of Austin gardens had beautiful rock work. At Kirk Walden's garden, there was also a sculpture near the top pool/spa:
it looked like a dinosaur to me? Fitting with all that rock!
We saw a lot of bottle trees in different gardens - this one from Donna Fowler's garden was among the most colorful:
especially with that blue sky and lime-green trees behind it!
I will admit that while i admire explosions of color like that, I think i can see more subdued art fitting better in my own garden, like this crocodile out of Tait Moring's garden:
hiding in the gravel - i could do this with DG?
Or this combination of spheres and stepping stones in Jenny Stocker's garden. She recently did a post showing how to make these spheres:
i like how they are nestled into the plants
She also had this cute frog statue hanging off the edge of a rock wall:
cute, and looking great on that awesome Texas/Austin rock!
She also had this little "theater", which made the plants themselves look like art:
so neat! And a great focal point on the wall...

Thoughts on how to apply this lesson to my garden:
  • While i admire some of the very colorful art, i'm not sure that's my style. Over and over again in Austin, my eye was caught by art that blended into the gardens. 
  • All the metal (rusted metal, in particular) sculpture was really nice. And maybe the rusted color would keep it from getting too hot in the desert sun? I know i would really like glass, but i don't like setting the garden on fire, so that's probably out...
  • I liked all the spheres - maybe i could get some more for the garden, including glazed ones that match the mostly-blue pots I've been using? I have some small ones scattered around the garden already, but i think the hillside would be a great place to add some bigger ones. 
  • I should look into more "vertical" garden art - like bloom stalks, or other things to add some height, especially when the yuccas/hesperaloes aren't blooming.  
  • I'm very tempted to find a place on a wall to hang a cacti theater like Jenny's - maybe that can be the thing to fill up the wall by the AC and make that part of the garden nicer?
  • Speaking of that part of the garden (that would be the south side) - I wonder if i could add cacti to the fence like at Zilker... it would be fitting! I probably can't get an exact color match though, so I'll have to see if it still works against the blue gate.