Sunday, October 16, 2016

Little tweaks

There are a couple of spots in the garden that I have struggled with throughout the Summer, and a few weeks ago I couldn't take it any more.

Tweak #1:
This Nolina nelsonii up and died in July. It just sort of sagged from the middle out, like it was rotted from rain (except we had none). Before:

Just a reminder of what it looked like in the Spring. Sigh.

I'm pretty sure a bad bug got at it, maybe Agave weevils or something like that.

I really waited too long to pull it out; I need to spray all those Agaves and Yuccas in that area to make sure I don't lose them too (but that's a post for another day).

I've been coveting my neighbor's Olive tree since we moved here, and had been looking for a place to plant one of my own.

The neighbor's Olive tree. Love the silvery green leaves!

When the nelsonii died, I started researching Olive trees.

I was thinking to get a fruitless one (the wilsoni variety) but they get pretty huge and that spot in the corner isn't that big (maybe 4x6?) Then I came across an Arbosana Olive at Hill Country Water Gardens and it seemed like a great choice, despite it bearing fruit (which I hear is messy). They only get to be 12-15' high, are able to tolerate brief freezes (zone 8-10), and they're drought-tolerant once established.

Yes, there's my trademark Minnie Pearl plant tag.

Tweak #2:
I also pulled out all of the Salvia I'd transplanted to that side of the house. They just weren't working for me with the pokey plants. I replaced them with Bamboo Muhly, which my garden had been sorely lacking anyway.

I'm trying to hide the *#^@!& AC unit until I can build a screen to put in front of it.

Hidden if you look from a certain angle and crouch down

Not even a little hidden

Definitely not hidden. Can I paint it green?

Tweak #3:
This bed, and specifically the roses in it, have struggled mightily since I planted them. It looked pretty in the Spring (what doesn't?) but as the Summer progressed the 'Valentine' roses got more and more scraggly looking.

I think they were in a pot for too long, transplanted too many times, and just never quite got a good root system established. I lovelovelove that rose so pulling them out was sad, but I felt I'd spent enough time (2 years) trying to rehab them: one of us didn't want it bad enough.

The Canna 'Blueberry Sparkler' bloomed off and on all Summer, but just looked raggedy and crispy on the bottom leaves. (You'd never believe that from this photo after the August deluge, right?)

I pulled all of it out except the Smoke Tree, the Pennisetum grass, and the Patio Peach. Then I moved the big planter from the back far corner of the yard (where I'd done nothing with it all year). Here's what we're left with:

That spot gets full sun all year long, so I plan to embrace that: I want to plant some Sharkskin Agave in that planter, and move the gigantic Yucca 'Sapphire Skies' from its pot in the front to this bed. (As you can tell from the post-rainstorm photo above, drainage is going to be an important thing to address in order for that Yucca to survive.)

The Pennisetum is staying (they sure love sun!), however I'm struggling with the Peach and Smoke Tree. The Peach is doing great there, but I'm not sure how to address the needs of a Yucca and it in the same soil (whether the topic is raising the bed, or irrigation/drainage). That bed doesn't get anything but rain water currently, and I don't plan to change that.

I saw that same Peach tree variety in shade at Hill Country Water Gardens, so I'm contemplating moving it to the back area under the Oak tree, where the Begonia luxurians died [shocking absolutely no one]. I know if I do that, the leaves might lose the dark coloring I love so much in the Spring, and I'll never see a peach seed on it again (due to the year-round filtered sunlight).

The Smoke Tree is another story. When I had it in shade, the leaves were solid (boring) green. Now that it's been in it's new spot spot all year, I see that it reeeeeaaaally isn't a fan of our heat/intense sun. It was starting to put out little smoke blooms this Summer and I got excited, then we went several weeks where it was hot and dry, and the leaves started dropping again.

If you look closely at the shot above, you can see new red leaves from the good rain we got Thursday. It's sneaky: it does that every time I want to pull it out!! It's thisclose to going in a brown Home Depot bag.

That bed is important to me: there are so many months of the year where it's just miserable to be outside, so I need the outside views from inside the house to make me happy. This one from the kitchen makes me happy (and that's why I busted my behind and the bank to make it happen this Spring):

Hoping I can make the view from the sunroom one worth looking at!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day & Foliage Follow Up: June 2016

I always have good intentions for posting and then next thing I know, I've missed both the Foliage Follow Up and Bloom Day. This month I'm combining both!

Canna 'Flambe' and Uruguayan Firecracker Plant (Dicliptera suberecta)

Dicliptera suberecta

Chocolate Mimosa
I know that's a grainy shot of the Chocolate Mimosa, but I couldn't resist posting it. I love how the leaves look perforated.

Hosta 'Sum and Substance'

'Incense' Passion Vine in bloom!

'Incense' bloom up close

Huge thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day on the 15th of every month, and to Pam Penick of Digging for hosting the monthly Foliage Follow Up on the 16th! (Be sure to stop by Pam's site to say your farewells to Moby, and meet Moby Jr!)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Gardening experiments 2016

This won't be the sexiest post, but I thought it might be helpful (to me) to catalog all the things I'm trialing in my garden right now.

"Trial" makes it sound really scientific, but it mostly amounts to planting stuff that likely won't survive, either in this climate or by my hands (or the unfortunate combination of both).

Additions this Spring:

Ongoing from 2015:
  • Hosta 'Sum and Substance'
  • Acanthus mollis 'Hollard's Gold'
  • Fatshedera lizei 'Annemeike'
  • Justicia fulvicoma (surviving but not thriving)
  • Rootbeer plant (we'll see how it does this Summer when it's 1 bazillion degrees)
I do have one low-risk experiment that seems to be paying off so far! The former owners nailed nails into the grout of the brick siding by the garage; I guess they were using it to help support the gawd-awful Holly Bushes that were leaning into the walkway. 

When I took the shrubs out I left the nails in (didn't know what else to do with them), and earlier this year I wrapped some wire around them to see if I could get a Passion vine 'Incense' to climb up the wall. It looked like a drunk spider did it, but so far it's working!

I've really missed my old Passion vine (I see it every time I open this blog). I'm crossing my fingers that it will get big and overgrown with lots of blooms before the caterpillars decimate it later this year.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Operation "No Mo' Grass", Phase II: plants!

So many exciting plants, so little space!

I love this view so much! Look how the Golden Barrel Cactus glow!

Some close ups with plant names:

Yucca rostrata, Opuntia Santa-Rita, Euphorbia antisyphiltica, Agave parryi truncata,
a Pennisetum grass I can't recall the name of, and some iris I relocated from the front

Agave weberi, Golden Barrel cactus

Opuntia Santa-Rita in bloom

It looks like a 4th of July sparkler!

Agave weberi and Agave parryi truncata

Agave Blue Emperor (tiny), Salvia Pozo Blue, Psoralea fleta, transplanted iris,
and big ol' hulking AC unit

Datura Evening Fragrance, Agave Blue Glow, Opuntia Santa-Rita, Aloe striata
(I think?), Salvia whose name I can't remember (transplant from the back)

Yucca schotti, Golden Barrel cactus

Euphorbia resinifera (Moroccan Mound), Agave parryi (transplanted from the front)
The full list:

  • Euphorbia antisyphilitica
  • Yucca rostrata
  • Agave 'Weberi'
  • Agave parryi truncata
  • Golden Barrel cactus
  • Psoralea fleta (Weeping Blue Broom)
  • Opuntia 'Santa Rita'
  • Agave 'Blue Emperor'
  • Aloe striata (questionable)
  • Blue Glow Agave
  • Salvia Pozo Blue
  • Datura 'Evening Fragrance'
  • Datura seeds from Lori of The Gardener of Good and Evil
  • Euphorbia resinifera (Moroccan Mound)
  • Yucca schotti
  • Agave parryi truncata
  • Golden Barrel cactus

Friday, April 15, 2016

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day: April 2016

I've been surprised to see so many of my Salvia blooming this Spring: I don't remember that from prior years? Might be due to our non-Winter Winter, or just my bad memory.

I didn't capture pictures of all of them, just the one that surprised me the most:

Salvia Van Houttei

My Blue Elf Aloe bloomed faithfully as it does every Spring, although my Aloe striata (if that's really what it is) hasn't bloomed since we moved here 2 years ago. Not enough sun?

Blue Elf Aloe
These Aloe striata(?) at the base of the Yucca were magnificent in my old garden. What gives?

My Iris have seemed hesitant this Spring...but Dashing and Polished Manners have popped up everywhere! (I'd swear I bought more variety from Schreiner's??)

Dashing Iris

Polished Manners Iris

My Patio Peach is coming back! Fingers crossed I get little peaches this year (like I did last year) and they survive to be eaten (unlike last year - this time I won't leave the gate open and let the deer eat them).

Peach blooms with Valentine Rose

And I saved the best for last: my Canna Wyoming is blooming!

Canna Wyoming, on a salad bed of Salvia

I'd had them in the front garden, and the *#@$%! deer ate the blooms before I ever got to enjoy them. I moved a few to the back, and even though it's shadier I'd say they're definitely happier. I know I am!

In other exciting news, my passalong Castor Bean has bloomed! I'll need to move it to the new side bed outside the fence so Daisy doesn't eat the seeds, but for now we're both pleased about where it is and what it's doing. (Me and the plant; Daisy doesn't much care.)

Castor Bean bloom!

Happy Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, everyone! Tremendous thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this every month! I can't wait to see what's blooming for everyone else.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Operation "No Mo' Grass", Phase I: sod removal and limestone paver path

I've been contemplating (for what seems like forever) removal of the St. Augustine on the left side of the house, and planting lots of drought-tolerant stuff.

The tipping-point was my trip to Phoenix back in February: I was stunned by the beauty of the cacti, agaves, and aloes.

An elegant and sculptural Palo Verde on the grounds of our hotel

The Desert Botanical Garden

Organ Pipe cactus

Octopus cactus (Stenocereus alamosensis)

Argentine Giant cactus (Echinopsis candicans)

Unknown cactus
Aloes and lavender on the hotel grounds

Unknown aloe, with 'Blue Flame' in the background?

Aloes at the Desert Botanical Garden

Blue Glow agave, lining the driveway to the hotel.

Agave 'Blue Glow' collage
I came home to Austin wanting to re-create all of it in my sunniest, hottest spot.

My sticking point has been the drainage situation: you might recall that it's the side of the house where all the water runs from the back yard to the street (see posts here and here). I didn't want to plant a bunch of really cool xeric stuff only to watch it rot.

I mentally debated a dry creek bed leading from the gate to the street, but then someone explained to me that I'd need to pull all the rocks out every 5 years or so, re-trench it sorta-kinda, and put all the rocks back? Um, no.

I finally decided that maybe if I put down big, wide, flat pavers the water could just run over those and I'd never have to worry about sediment build-up on/under them. Not sure if that's sound logic, but it's the logic I went with because it gave me justification for buying big, wide, flat pavers.

I pinned by brains out on Pinterest to get design ideas (what the heck did we DO before that??), emailed my landscaping guy like 30 times with different paver patterns (okay, three times), and then, with my tax refund check in hand (virtually speaking), it was time.


Getting rid of the stupid floppy hated shrubs
Daisy inspecting their work

My only regret is choosing 1/2 inch granite to fill in between the pavers. It. Goes. Everywhere.

I'm a little nervous that it's too high to really direct the water to the street, but I guess we'll find out!

Phase II: plants!