Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 in Review, or "Let's list all the plants I've killed and other poor decisions"

Let's cut right to the chase: I made some excellent decisions this past year, and there are some I'd like a mulligan on.

The biggest one, and the one that falls into both categories, is painting the kitchen cabinets. I love the colors and have zero regrets about doing it, but I regret two things in the doing:
  1. I should have gone with Sherwin Williams Pro Classic. If you weren't witness to the angst real-time, here's a recap. Benjamin Moore Advance is just thin/brittle, and chips too easily. I saw it in my old house when I painted the door frames, but I assumed it was due to the paint underneath it. Nope. I have 2 extra cans of both gray and white that I won't be using, and that ain't cheap.
  2. A liquid deglosser is not as good as sanding the surface. I needed to believe that it was because I wanted to save time and I didn't want a house full of dust, but it's simply not comparable. There are a few small chips in the paint where something struck the surface, and the wood shows right though, telling me that the primer really didn't adhere.

And now for the longer list: plants I've killed. I took some risks this year: there were bound to be casualties. There were also a few mercy killings. And maybe a few "this bores me" killings. R.I.P. to:
  • Salvia leucantha 'Santa Barbara' (they were in the front, and just stayed spindly and stupid)
  • 'Lafter' roses (ditto)
  • Yucca rostrata (technically two of them, mentioned at the end of this post)
  • Lamb's ear 'Helen von Stein'
  • Aralia cordata 'Sun King
  • Salvia x 'Elk Phoenician Purple'
  • Apostle Walking iris
  • Melianthus major 'Honey Bush'
  • Tasmanian Tree Ferns
  • Hydrangea 'Ruby Falls'
  • Hibiscus 'Midnight Marvel' (just the one that I stupidly put in a pot, the other is fine in the ground)
  • 'Regal Shields' Elephant ears
  • Smoke Bush tree (it bores me)
And now for a list of surprising successes:
  • Giant Spider Lily: despite the worm incident, they're tough and tropical looking
  • Hibiscus 'Midnight Marvel': I don't think it's well-sited, but I can fix that
  • Brugmansia 'Double White': this thing is a rock star, producing blooms even now
  • Canna 'Flambe': my love for these is no secret
  • Justicia fulvicoma: I didn't post about these because I only bought 2 as an experiment back in October, but so far so good
  • Variegated Flax Lily: I grew to love the variegation, and I'm now re-evaluating my overall stance on this topic
  • My Japanese maple: a qualified success because it didn't thrive but it didn't die either!
Plans for 2016:
  • Bananas trees! I inherited 2 from a neighbor after the Halloween storms, am optimistic they'll take over that spot in the Spring.
  • Two big-as-I-can-afford Texas Mountain Laurel. It's criminal this property has zero.
  • Finish the DG install in the backyard
  • Overhaul the side yard/address the drainage issue (see Pinterest ideas here)
  • Tetrapanax in a planter! I reeeeeaaally want one but can't risk it spreading uncontrollably, so I got a Cor-ten steel planter for against the far back fence, and I'm going to let it go crazy there.
  • More Yucca 'Lonestar', Brugmansia, Oakleaf Hydrangea, 'Berggarten' Sage, and Giant Spider Lily!
  • Tiered planters: I haven't fully fleshed this out yet, but I've always wanted something tiered in my garden, and it's also an opportunity to create optimal drainage situations for agaves, cacti, and other plants intolerant of my backyard's clay/mud.
  • Expand the beds in the front yard. Nothing radical, I just noticed one day that they're a little skinny and should be fuller/rounder.
  • Maybe a tree swing for the back?
  • Paint the front door, replace the lock
  • Gutters and rainbarrels
What are your plans for 2016?


  1. Oh, windy, my killed plants list is comparable over the years and quite lengthy. However, I'm wondering what I could trade you to get a start of those cannas and the midnight marvel hibiscus? Really gorgeous!

    1. I'll gladly give you some canna offspring, I expect I'll have lots of those! If the Hibiscus makes it through the winter and starts to come back, I'll share what I can of that too!

  2. And good old auto correct. Needless to say, that was supposed to be your name, correctly spelled Wendy.

    1. I figured as much! It thwarts me on a regular basis! ;-)

  3. Happy to see we are both making the same mistakes and killing the same plants - now I don't feel so all alone! I can't grow lamb's ear to save my life; I'm trying mullein next. And, we went with the Benjamin Moore Advance paint on our kitchen cabinets, too (man! what a job!), and it is chipping like crazy on our most frequently used cabinets, big boo hiss! Now I am trying to convince myself the Sherwin Williams Pro paint would have chipped, too. I am saving for new windows next - glad to hear you like the Andersen windows, I am also considering Don Young.

    1. I'm going to watch your progress with the mullein, then! I feel like I've seen them growing on the side of the road in Austin and surrounding areas? Of course that's no guarantee that I won't kill it.

      That Sherwin Williams Pro's like the ex-boyfriend you think about years later and wonder if you made a big mistake.

      I'll have to check out Don Young! We've got plenty more to replace! ;-)

  4. I used to keep a list of plants I've killed, but it grew too long to keep up with. (She says cheerily.) Your goals look like a fun mix of energetic but feasible projects. I look forward to another try at a blogger meet-up at your house (with less rain) to see everything!