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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Widely regarded

It has been months since I posted any wide shots.  I have my reasons.  The unusually generous amounts of spring rains led everything to first bolt an extra foot in height and then fall over. (Are you quite as tired of hearing about "all the rain" yet as you were previously tired of hearing about the lack of it?).
It was all very pretty while it was upright, and for the most part everything continued to be functional while it was flopped over.  Pollinators still had access to blossoms, seed was set.  It all worked for the plants, it just didn't look like much.

Paths here, the ones that are chronically in need of weeding, became entirely overrun.  The To-Prune list was short enough - it read "frickin' everything". Only so many hours in the day, only so many mosquito bites I'll host at a time. But I'm at a happy place for the moment and things are back to what passes for normal.  Caution to the winds...let's take a look at some of what's going on out back.

These wide shots never proffer the depth a first hand view provides, but I enjoy seeing other folk's gardens taken more as on the whole, so here goes with a few of the bigger picture(s).  I'll list most of the plants but not by scientific names.  I'm not trying to catalog, just give the general idea.  If you see something you wonder about, please ask.

This first shot is when I'd gotten about seventy-five percent of the clean up completed. I thought I could stomach posting at that point but once I got a good look I balked.  The path running behind the beds was still the seven inch tall equivalent of a rain forest in some spots.
The darkened soil in the front center bed, to the left of the bottle tree and basil in the planter, is a space where there are passalong purple coneflower plants newly placed in a semi-circle around some H. Duelberg salvia and a couple of re-emerged tropical milkweed plants.  To the left of that bench, under the bottle brush tree, are now two mist-flower plants, one white (a passalong) and a second mist flower, a blue, from the sale table at my favorite nursery.  Oregano runs rampant to the far right with parsley and Mexican tarragon on the left.  The black planter behind the bench is filled with thyme.

The paths are nearly all cleared in this shot.  Several planters have been relocated and a few have been elevated to give them more visual impact.  The additional height also holds them up above the constant ground-cover warfare I inevitably encourage.

This strawberry pot has been moved and is taking a shot at becoming a succulent garden.  It's still an investment waiting to pay off, it will take weeks for the succulents to fill out (fill in?) their spaces. I'm hoping this will prove a hospitable warm weather home for the planter and I appreciate that it provides some needed balance for the Blue Guy.  During winter months the planter will be moved to the greenhouse.
That blue Buddha sits atop the broken ceramic post from a bird bath.  The blue post found a second life providing a pedestal so Buddha can ride implacably above the four-o-clocks, columbine, Aztec grass, and whatever else is hiding in there under the Althea tree.

Moving left, behind the bird feeder bed that corner now features cannas, tropical salvia, horse herb, dayflower and an elevated terra cotta planter filled with what I believe to be the dwarf form of sansevieria trifasciata.  There's a flailing grocery store miniature rose in there as well, given one last shot at recovery.
Under the bird feeder, a second strawberry pot, this one in its second year, sits between a potted Makrut lime on the left and some chives on the right.  They help disguise the white base of the pole, a baffle to keep squirrels off.  

What's hard to appreciate at this distance is the goldeneye growing up to the right of the volunteer Meyer lemon tree mid-bed, and the row of blanketflower, now gone to seed on the far right.  There's also purple prairie verbena, wood sorrel, daisies, wire grass, tropical salvia, tradescantia pallida, various rain lilies, coneflowers, a day lily, some heart leaf skullcap and a large rosemary planted in this bed. Once I get every plant established in every bed, hopefully a large (beautiful) pattern will emerge.

This gives you a slightly better glimpse.  That is the bottom half of the bird feeder bed (top left) and the entirety of the bottle tree bed (bottom right).
You can imagine how the cone flowers are going to shine around the blue salvia.  I also have a producing jalapeño plant, mint, garlic chives and basil growing in this area.  Maybe I don't point it out often, but these beds are all for kitchen use as well as wildlife.  There are struggling blackfoot daisy plants, a crag lily, parsley and recently transplanted skullcap (scutellaria suffrutescens) all working things out while the liriope holds court in the corner. Once everything takes it will be splendid, I think.

This is it, an amateur's ongoing attempt to replace lawn with garden beds, captured for the moment, warts and all.
The Death Star is back, the rains have retreated, and there is no longer any play given towards the needs of transplants or new starts.   The active work of installing a better planted mixture of native plants and culinary herbs stops until cooler weather returns.  I hope you've enjoyed taking a look at the layout here.   I certainly look forward to featuring closer shots of these areas as the plantings (and my plans) progress.  Happy summer ya'll!


Tina said...

I adore these overhead and full shots--adore them! I'm eager to see things as they mature and I think you're producing a series of quite lovely gardens. Is Buddha new? Or did I simply fail to notice him until his Independence Day fashion statement?

Summer has arrive and call me old and decrepit, but I'm sure whining about it. Gosh, I may have to water.

Thanks for the look-see. I love your lay-out and I'm sure your critters do too.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: As always, thanks to you for your kind support. I have a love/hate relationship with wide shots. It always feels there is both too much and too little information in them. It does provide a sense of the layout here however, and that I like.

Buddha's been around for a while but he was migratory and I'm not sure if I ever featured him before. I'd always been looking for a way to elevate him (I tried him up on a post for a while) and this new arrangement works pretty well.

Boy howdy - I hear you about summer's arrival. Now it's too hot to plant, I'm reduced to rearranging edging materials and making lists of what I'd like to either propagate or buy more of in September. I'm already hand watering a few things. I hit the sales table at BSN recently and am paying the watering price for my folly with such late purchases. And, I'm still babying the passalongs a bit. The soil here is not so welcoming...not this time of year anyway!

Debra said...

Dry dry and the weather forecast pictures have changed from happy blue skies with fluffy white clouds to the scary blazing deathstar image. So it is especially nice to see all your green! And a treat to see how your garden just gets prettier and prettier. What is the plant surrounding the canna with the starburst like leaves? I really like that combo and might copy it here. =)

Kris Peterson said...

It's good to see your wide shots again, Deb. Everything looks healthy and happy! Despite your protestations about the remaining presence of weeds, I think it looks very orderly. I can only imagine what kinds of weeds you faced after so much rain. (Really, I can only imagine that.) It may annoy you but I have to say that I'm also impressed by that beautiful green lawn. (Something else I can only imagine.)

TexasDeb said...

Kris: Thank you! It's been interesting how the garden plants reacted to the extra rain. Some were actually stressed by all the water because guess who has been busy putting in natives - especially those that don't need (or potentially appreciate!) much in the way of rain. Everything shot up at least an extra foot, some plants more than that, and then most of them just flopped over. The weeds, well...*shudder*. Pruning and weeding were monumental undertakings this year in our area.

The grass is the last patch and The Hub has claimed it as "his". He claims the mowing is part of his exercise. I protested mightily until our son got a dog, but keeping a bit of grass has proven a good choice that way. The Hub enjoys watering by hand. I'm pretty sure he didn't get enough time playing with a hose growing up.

Debra said...

Oh! That must be those purple bell shaped flowers. I just assumed that was a native plant because yeah -- it grows everywhere. So basically: re-calculate, off route. (Still makes a nice leaf combo)

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Thank you!

But...Beware - that plant you admired is a non-sterile Ruellia (Britton's wild petunia), it is not a native and it is a bully beyond measure. Ranked as invasive now, actually. It ranks as one of my great garden plant purchase errors of all time but it was done in all innocence, decades ago. It is here, that's the reality and I work on keeping it in check. I'm determined to enjoy it until I'm faced with digging it out as a final job in the back yard's procession from lawn to gardens.

There are better behaved sterile (non seed setting) cultivars available that are reportedly able to be used without fear though they do still spread "vegetatively". Ruellia are near neighbors and therefore draw their share of pollinators but if I could travel back in time, I'd swap it all out for a native plant in a heartbeat. If you do decide to use a new sterile cultivar, I'd advise planting in containers to keep it under control. Honestly, it is a gorgeous plant. It just grows a little too well in our area.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: It is in a lot of landscapes here - especially commercial ones. It looks a lot like the nightshades and there is a native variety but I haven't seen that in nurseries so far. It does have a lovely leaf shape and it grows SO well in dry shade...sigh... Finding a replacement will be easy enough but I'll miss it's exuberance when that time comes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these overall, birds-eye views...helps a designer see how everything relates that you show close-up! The bench will provide some great viewpoints to watch it all fill in and erupt. Rain, too much of a good thing...even in the desert that happens.

Good luck with the Death Star, we had a warmer than usual morning since the clouds rolled in before dawn.

TexasDeb said...

David/DHB: Thank you! It makes me a bit leery to reveal everything at once. With this overhead angle, most of the height variations I've tried to employ get flattened out. And I spend a certain amount of time sitting and standing in various spots around the back, checking out lines of sight and the varying views you get from differing angles. None of which is apparent in these wide shots. So, defensive, that would be the word, these limited-in-their-own-way wide shots leave me feeling somewhat defensive.

And I do love that bench (as do birds, anoles and dragonflies) as a perching point. It is a lovely place to sit and the bed immediately in front of it (one I didn't really show this go-round) is one of my favorites. Did I pack that bed with lovelies because it was right in front of the bench or did the bench land there because that bed gets good sun and was an early project, put into play well before some of the other beds came together in this last iteration? Can't recall, don't care. It is a favorite, no question.

I'm ready (as anybody can be) for the Death Star. It is mid-July after all. Dry heat is to be expected. : )

Kathleen Scott said...

What a tidy garden--even if it took a lot of effort to make it so. I like organization in the garden even if I can't seem to do it myself.

Especially fun to see your ornamentation--bottle tree, blue buddha, bench, strawberry pots. I need to work on adding visual focal points.

TexasDeb said...

Kat: Thank you! Tidy! I like that... Honestly before I broke areas out into defined beds my plant-a-jumble and see-what-happens approach resulted in a huge mess. Now things are still pretty jumbled up but I'm working on using more grouping because pollinators like it and I'm discovering I do, too.

Ha. The ornaments are the fun part for me. No weeding, no watering (in some cases) and providing interest all year. I've regretted many planting choices but never a bench or a bird bath. But you've been fearless tackling water features before. I can't wait to see how your new spaces will shape up!

Dyer-Consequences said...

Hi this not related to your post, but I just wanted to share with you. I am doing a garden related kickstarter http://bit.ly/Connect_A_Pot
is something you would be interested in blogging about(or backing just for yourself)?
If you are, I would love to get in touch with you.

TexasDeb said...

Mr. Dyer: I don't blog about products on request and I'm not in a position to back a startup, but I'll leave your comment here and anybody who is interested can find you and participate as they are willing. The aquaponics looks fascinating and the pots were appealing. Good luck!

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Your gardens are stunning...I love the shapes and plantings...very nicely designed and now growing in they are lush and beautiful!

TexasDeb said...

Donna: Thank you. These garden beds have been evolving the past few years and are not nearly "there" yet, but we are all on our way! I do try to snap out of "what's next" mode long enough to enjoy them in the interim stages.