Tuesday, March 2, 2010


A link on Jenny Peterson's blog led me a to a great garden website. Rachel at Successful Garden Design offers some great tips on what to do before you get planting. Plants are the icing on the cake, she says, and you had better have a good cake on which to put it. If you sign up for her newsletter she will send you a tutorial on how to go about designing your garden. I sent for the newsletter and there are some very useful tips. It is well worthwhile if you are contemplating some new garden design.

It is a glorious morning in Austin but there is more than a chill on the air. I went out with camera to take a few shots before the sun came up but was glad to get back in the house to warm up my hands. In this view looking towards the archway I have two pots with all that remain of my Agave desmettiana. Fortunately these two were in the potting shed so made it through our harsh winter. A bunch of dried Nigella fill the second pot waiting for a summer planting of asparagus fern.
When it comes to garden design we had a great backdrop with which to work. We just had to work with filling in what was in the middle. This year I have lost so many plants and spring is so late that without the garden bones things would look terrible. I just have to redo the icing. What I lack are more structural plantings to get the garden through the winter months.

Central Texas has more limestone than we know what to do with. These ledgestones came from our foundation and one man in a bobcat and I worked to arrange them into our sunken garden. Inspired by the central sunken area at the Wildflower Center. Granite covered the ground for a while until the seedlings became a problem. That was when we switched to Arizona sandstone. That was a giant jigsaw, I can tell you. Now I still have too much going on in the cracks, which requires a lot of weeding, but the rewards are Blackfoot daisies, blue eyed grass, blanket flowers and skullcap to name a few.

In the corner of the raised area I have replaced the A. desmettiana with a Yucca recurvifolia, soft leaf yucca. No more messing around with plants that don't make it.

In the English garden I will have to replace one of my roses and most of the wall germander which was edging the birdbath circle. Lost to hot/cold/wet. One or all. It remains to be seen whether the pomegranate tree will have survived.

For now the bare bones are holding the garden together.

More rocks, gravel and river rock in the front and a bumper crop of bluebonnets too. So many that I have had to remove many to prevent overcrowding. Whatever happens this year I think it is going to be the year of the bluebonnet.


  1. Thanks for the link - I'm going to sign up for that newsletter too. I have an idea of what I want, but I know it's not perfect and I'm certainly open to guidance. I love the limestone of the Hill Country, one of the reasons we opted for a stone accent on the front of our house, even though we're in Houston. Your garden has lovely bones :-)

  2. Yes, your garden does have good bones. It looks good, even without the plants. I love those pots with steers on them.

    Thanks for the link. I think I'll sign up for that newsletter, too. I have SO much do to here. There was only a half hearted attempt at landscaping here. We have to UNdo some things, so we can REdo them. So much fun.

    I've lived in Texas all my life. You'd think after all these years (ugh!), I'd get used to strange weather. I'm hoping it warms up enough today to get out and pull weeds in the veggie garden.

    Thanks again, for that link.

  3. Your stucco walls and stonework provide so much excellent structure for your garden. A few more evergreen structural plants will be nice too to set off all your spring flowering plants. I can't wait to see it. Spring may be late this year, but it will be more appreciated than ever, won't it?

  4. I can't wait to see all your bluebonnets blooming. I can't believe you lost one of your roses. Whew, what a freeze that must have been. Thanks for the info on the newsletter. Will check it out.

  5. Fingers crossed for your pomegranate! Yes, your garden does have lovely bones.

    And thank you for the link; I'll have to have a look!

  6. Even I have bluebonnets sprouting! My dwarf pomegranate is showing zero signs of life. I remember that great photo you entered in the Gardening Gone Wild contest with the harvest theme. I hope yours returns.

  7. My dwarf Pomegranite does show signs of green trunks after trimming it back, so I'm crossing my fingers, Jenny. And I know you are in the coldest spot in Austin, and I'm shocked it got so cold to kill a rose. It is funny,though, how we are wondering where spring is and it was just February? We are spoiled to starting early, aren't we?

  8. I love the brick and stone work in your garden. It's beautiful.

    I will have to look into the newsletter.

  9. Ahh this would explain why I had a sudden rush of sign ups to the newsletter yesterday afternoon!

    Thank you for recommending me to your readers, I hope they all get plenty of benefit from the free report and newsletter.

    What a great blog this is. I love the photos of your garden, especially the pots. I'm going to put a link on my site so my readers can check you out too.

    Best wishes


  10. Sorry about your tender agaves, but that yucca does the job beautifully. I well remember photos of your garden in bloom, a stunning sight, but all that stone work holds everything together beautifully. Love that limestone in Texas gardens!

  11. great arid garden - love your use of ground materials - finally no mud - uk winter's are way too muddy for me

  12. Jayne- when i found Rachel's blog I thought I was never going to get off the computer, as I travelled deeper and deeper into the gardening world. What a world is out there.
    Patchwork- there isn't a gardener out there who doesn't need a little help. I am amazed by all the resources including Rachel's website.
    Pam- You are right, spring can't come soon enough. I think we have been spoilt by a series of mild winters. I'm happy that we put all those back breaking hours in doing the stone work. They have seen us through this terrible winter. Roll on spring flowers.
    Jean- A winter made worse by my absence in Dec. and Jan. Otherwise I would have saved all my citrus. Ah, well. A gardener's lot.
    Chookie- I don't know about the big pom. but the smaller one, grown from seed is still alive. I was planning to move it this year. Too late, already.
    Caroline- Ah, the pom. We are still enjoying the fruit juice- squirreled away in the freezer.
    Get grounded- My fault on the rose. When we were away last summer I think it may have been overwatered. Luckily I have a rooted cutting to replace.
    Sweetbay- It did work out well for us. The idea of circles in the English garden came from an RHS book. I couldn't imagine what else to do with such an odd shaped garden with a arced wall. I followed the wall when I did the dry stack wall and from then it was easy . More circles.
    Rachel- Thanks for stopping by, and the link. I think you have a great web site and I'm sure you will help many gardener's to fulfill their garden dreams.
    Denise- We are fortunate to have all that limestone. I have gardened in places where we had to buy stone. Not her!
    Garden beet. Thanks for visiting. I remember those muddy winters well.

  13. I'm replacing a dead agave with the soft leaf yucca too. And really, Jenny, I think your garden has beautiful structure, always. We're just spoiled living here, thinking it all has to be completely fluffy all the time. Oh, forgot to say that I love that your flowers brought back the Tambac memory for David! Scents are so powerful in our memories.

  14. Your garden is lovely! Have you ever thought about adding garden decors like wind chimes and garden spinner? They add a bit of pizazz in any garden space.