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.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Local excitement

I'd written previously about my big plans for the beds out back this year. I wanted to go on the record so this wouldn't be one of those situations where I ended up being all talk and no trowel.  Truth be told, I occasionally come up with big plans that never get off the drawing board.  Not this time though.  I'm already on my way!  Here's what the first bed selected for revisions looked like before I got started.
There's nothing really wrong here, but this is one of my few sunny spots out back and it had been taken over by non-native plants.  Jewels of Opar, Rosemary, Ox-eye daisy mounds, garlic chives and a Meyer lemon tree are all happy as clams here but most of them don't support native pollinators and that's not in keeping with what I want for our spaces.  So.  Deep breaths taken, one hot and sweaty work session later, and the bed now looks like this:
I left one daisy clump in the far left corner.  I worked around two verbena plants, two clumps of liriope, a patch of bristly mallow, wire grass and a grocery store mini rose bush, leaving them all where they were.  I also left a small clump of garlic chives in place as they are in bloom right now and support pollinators when not much else does.  

I'm a little on the fence about the liriope.  I really like how it is evergreen and I love the subtle flowers. At the moment I plan to leave the clump behind the bird feeder pole because they suppress bird food seed germination a bit, but before long the other clump is destined to take a little trip over to the compost heap.  

I trimmed back the lemon tree a bit, the rosemary a lot, removed the rest of the daisies and all but one Jewel of Opar (hidden behind the lemon).  A giant cosmos growing in the far right corner came out.  I carefully moved a coneflower mound to a more open spot.  I transplanted an orange day lily clump into a place of pride where hopefully it will respond to the lack of crowding and sunshine with a lovely display of blooms.  Eventually.
Here's a look from another angle.  There is room in the bed now for new sun loving native flowering plants to join the party.  And I find that super exciting. The prospect of new native plants (and maybe a little seed scattering too) just makes my day.

And then? This!  It rained a little!
The precipitation didn't last long and the totals weren't significant, but it sprinkled multiple times after I'd gotten the bed cleared out and all my transplants relocated.  I'm not big into portents but it felt like a beneficial sign.  And the rain gave me a great excuse to stop and drink some water while the plants were doing the same.

Finally?  As I was drinking that water, take a look at what I spied from my front door:
An orb weaver.  Isn't she a beauty? Most of the garden spiders out back seem to have decamped since the largest female disappeared.  This lovely lady is currently setting up shop out front.  Maybe she heard about the dicey conditions out back.  Word of web? Anyhow, I'm quite happy to welcome her to the garden.  When it comes to these beneficial spiders, the more the merrier.

I'm calling it quits for the day but I still have big plans for three other beds out back.  I'd prefer cooler weather for both garden and gardener's sakes, but I don't want to waste time now that August is behind us.  Next on the list? Moving variegated liriope sprigs into position to give the edge of a back bed a more finished look.  Because, hot or not, I've got work to do!


Tina said...

It's hard to pull out plants that work and that you love. That said, brave gardening girl you are to (mostly) start over. It's also so tricky when you don't have quite the conditions (sun) that you want so that you must make plant priorities. The work in the bed looks good. What natives do you plant to put in there? And your spider lady--so lovely.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: I'm not exactly sure what will go in the newly opened spaces. I'm going to investigate my options and see what is available. I know I want to get more Turk's cap and pidgeonberry for my shadier spots. And, I do already have clammyweed and indian blanket and bluebonnet and spiderwort seed to play with.

I'm glad I caught the spider lady when I did. I went to check after a bit of rain and she had completely disappeared. Garden mysteries abound...

Anonymous said...

I hear you about plans, never doing the idea. I've even taken out a few plants myself, though I didn't feel too bad - it was their time. Hard to give some plants away, either non-garden friends and neighbors, or bedrock. My vote is add more Liriope or fill in with native, similar foliaged, but bolder Zephyranthes...

I need to get back to at least finishing some of my big plans, so I can get paid!

TexasDeb said...

DC/dryheat: Lilies are great! I have a couple of rain lilies there already and with the spaces made I hope they fill in faster.

I'm "inheriting" passalong pavonia and H. Duelberg salvia tomorrow in trade for garlic chives. I think a pavonia would play nicely. I love having a bit of a clean slate to play with.

debra said...

I am a big fan of liriope. The flowers are pretty and it adds some evergreen structure. Where can a person find pidgeonberry? I've wanted to grow it for some time but haven't seen it offered. And that spider! wowzers.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Yay - another liriope fan. I've always loved it - so reliable year in and year out.

I've had luck finding pidgeonberry at Barton Springs Nursery on Bee Caves Road. They carry a lot of native perennials and if they don't have something you want that they regularly carry when you are there, they'll take your name/contact info and let you know when they get more. There may be other places as well, but BSN is close to where I live and I do most of my plant sourcing there.

The spider abruptly disappeared but the webs are still showing up so.... Beats me! A garden mystery for the ages...

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