Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mid-season lessons learned

I'm not sure if it's truly mid-season yet as far as Austin weather is concerned, but "The heat has sapped my will to live and I'm generally feeling discouraged" seemed a bit long for a post title.

There are certainly lessons aplenty. In no particular order...

Squirrels suck. They stole and ate all but one of the baby peaches off my peach tree. I know this because I found a peach bit on the patio area. So they're thieves AND slobs. I bought the tree strictly for the foliage so I shouldn't be too bent about it, but when I saw how many I had I was pretty excited and a little proud at the prospect of successfully growing something edible. Dream squashing bastards.

Zone 8b here ain't Zone 8b elsewhere. This is more like a lesson re-learned. I expected to lose my Tree Ferns, but I really thought the Aralia cordata 'Sun King' would make it. I killed 1 in the ground almost immediately after planting it, 1 in the container it was shipped in, and the last 2 I had to water every few days just to keep them alive. I finally gave up in disgust. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Don't buy it if it looks like it's got issues. I bought 9 Giant Spider Lily plants (Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant') from a local nursery, and it turns out they were infested with some weird larvae. The leaves turned yellow and flopped down, eventually seeming to rot. The nursery was awesome and refunded me for all of them (even when I told them they hadn't all shown evidence of the infestation), but they looked sketchy before I even took them home. Don't buy sketchy looking plants.

Sprinkler systems breed complacency. Apparently mine has been broken for at least 2 weeks, but I just assumed it was working because...that's its job. Then I looked out the kitchen window Friday morning and realized my grass was nearly cooked. I plan to pull all that up eventually (see posts about drainage, dry creek beds, etc) but I'd prefer to choose the timetable rather than have it thrust upon me. [Hint: July/August wasn't going to be it.] I ran to Home Depot and got a regular old sprinkler, and have spent the last 24 hours moving it around to various spots in the front and side lawn. I will do so again tonight when it cools down. Yay.

The front bed needs some edits. Salvia 'Amistad' is too tall for the front edge. Irises not getting enough sun under Oak tree. 'Azure' Bush Germander needs relocating from full shade (what was I thinking??). 'Lafter' roses...I don't want to talk about them. In fact, none of my roses are worth talking about and that is disappointing.

You can't transplant Rosemary. That's all there is to say about that.

Squirrels suck. Still.

In other news, I have finished a large portion of the edging in the backyard. I haven't replaced the brick yet (see alternate blog post title for explanation), but this is progress!
That's right: I've figured out how to use the panoramic option on my iPhone.
A focused look at the corner bed against the house
I need to figure out what's going to replace the Tree Ferns. I bought a Napaea dioica (Nappy-headed Glade Mallow) but of course it's tiny right now. I suspect I'll soon need to replace that Fatsia, however. I really want to hide that corner and the metal pipe on the siding. And the siding (period).

Clearly I'm still working on my panoramic technique...

I feel like the Salvia 'Puerto de la Zorra' and Philippine Violet (Barleria Cristata) are taking FOREVER to get to a respectable size. I hate looking at the fence. Thankfully, the new Fatshedera lizei 'Annemeike' seem to be tolerating the heat well so far and I'm optimistic I'll get some vertical action sometime in the not-too-distant future.

While we're talking about things I hate, I'm tired of looking at all the cracked dirt/earth back there. Sooooo, my big plan for that area of the backyard, with a Halloween deadline for accountability:

  1. Remove sod/dirt
  2. Put down decomposed granite
  3. Put down some big limestone or cement pavers and create a seating area
  4. Buy a firepit


  1. Wendy, I don't know anyone who gardens here who doesn't get discouraged by July/August (actually September too, maybe), but we reap our reward the rest of the year. At least that's what I tell myself! Winter is coming, and in our world that's a good thing. (gratuitous Game of Thrones reference)

    1. That's so true, and I don't know why it catches me off-guard every year! It definitely makes us all appreciate Fall/Winter.

      Maybe it's Nature's defense mechanism, because it's the only thing that makes me stop buying plants. Well, I at least slow down, anyway. ;-)

  2. Thanks for the laughs, though they are a little bitter-sweet. That is SO true about the zone 8 thing. The zone system is pretty much meaningless here.

    1. It really is! And yet every year it's like Groundhog Day with me....