Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Accentuate the positives

After a few months under the influence of heat and drought I often fall into bad habits.  One of my worst is a tendency to focus on what isn't happening in my garden.
Like, when my oxblood lilies seemed to be the last kids in their class to bloom.

Today I am working on turning over a new leaf.  I am determined to spend more of my time concentrating on what is happening in my garden that I'm happy about.

I have some basil plants that overwintered in the greenhouse in a large plastic planter that I let go to seed.  I love basil, I love finches, and it turns out finches love basil seeds.  So after I gathered some seed to keep for the next planting cycle I left the pot set out close to our dedicated bird feeder.
It didn't take long before this guy showed up and started working the basil plants over pretty thoroughly.  I didn't want to disturb him so I kept my distance (which is another way of saying sorry these photos are not the clearest) but I had a great half hour watching him enjoy our shared bounty.
As do many central Texans I have a sort of hell strip along the street.  We took out all our lawn and put in all sorts of natives and near neighbors, mostly xeric specimens but this area bakes all summer long in the afternoon sun.  There is bermuda in the lawn next door and between the heat and the deer and the overrun I don't have a lot of luck with intricate garden composition in this span along the curb.  Rather than offering garden design it is a lot more like a leafy version of that reality show "Survivor".  Minus TV cameras, attractive host, or cash prizes.

By the end of the summer most of it looks like this:
You can kind of tell somebody tried to do something along here (if you squint and are in a gracious mood) but it is pretty clear that whatever the original plan was, the Bermuda grass ran away with the meeting and simply did its own thing.

Now after cooler weather and a bit of rain I determined it was time to get these areas back under control (at least temporarily).  It took hours of work and a trip or two to the nursery for supplies, but most of it now looks like this:
I'd always wanted to try out some mealy blue sage in one of the last areas to get full sun so I picked up two (on sale!) and placed them in front of a firecracker plant and cedar stump.   The firecracker plant is struggling (fist to sky:Bambi!), but made it through its first summer so trowels crossed the winter won't be harsh and mess with it too much.  By next year it I'm optimistic it will reliably pump out hummingbird attracting red blooms like a larger more established one further down the curb that has survived two mild winters so far.
Under the gravel I've scattered three different varieties of bluebonnet and corn poppy seed. With a lot of luck and a little rain, there will be all sorts of color and visual interest for the passersby before summertime's anarchy of heat kicks back in. And even if the seed don't germinate, the red firecracker blooms against the blue sage ought to be striking together.  But there I go getting ahead of myself.

As of today I'm appreciating the sage's blue blooms that are gorgeous all on their own.  And the fact that as of noon today a good three quarters of my hell strip looks a lot more like paradise.



Cat said...

I like how you're thinking. After this long summer my garden is weary and so is the gardener. You inspired my post tonight to look for the positive ;)

TexasDeb said...

Cat: I feel your weariness. Every September once it begins to cool even a little I think to myself "OK - time to gear up and get back to work in that garden!". And then I mostly do not. It is nearly always October before I can begin to bring myself to address the neglect that comes along with summertime heat and drought.

Too bad the weeds don't take August off!