Tuesday, July 8, 2014

TAKE A WALK OUTSIDE, PART 1

If you have been to my garden you know that the house is completely surrounded by walls creating smaller gardens within. Outside we have 2 acres of juniper, oaks, persimmons, retama, agarita, growing on dry, dusty thin limestone soils. Around the house itself we have created garden areas which we think tie the land to the house. So I have two vastly different areas in which to garden.


This was the one area we employed someone to move the rocks, which form the dry creek, into position. I then dug down and added river rock to create the wet-weather creek running though this area. I have introduced agaves into the mix, for structure,  and anything that will grow without irrigation. These include the dwarf yaupon, Texas lantana,wax myrtle, rosemary, yucca, copper canyon daisy and Mexican feather grass. It is a sea of bluebonnets out here in the spring.


The dry creek runs all the way across the front directing water from our infrequent, heavy, Texas downpours. Plants seem happy to seed in the area but the soil is poor and dry and few attain any height. That is, all except for the A. weberi which are the most successful along with the zexmenia and the fall flowering Lindheimer senna.


The creek eventually passes in front of the garage where a pipe feeds any water underneath the driveway and into the real wet weather creek at the bottom of the property. There is little color out here during the summer but another explosion of yellow from the Copper canyon daisies, goldeneye and senna during the fall. A. Weberii is prodigious pup maker and the large ones came as young offsets from my neighbor. I now have plenty of my own to share.


Looking back towards the front entrance gate two turquoise pots hold Agave demettiana 'variegata' It is not hardy in our winters but it is worth putting in the garage for the winter. The original plantings of two sago palm are now in the ground. The one in the photo went unprotected this winter and all the leaves turned brown. The other, much smaller plant,  I was about to pull it, thinking it was dead, when I spotted some changes in the center core. It now has a small crown of green leaves. These plants have survived since the age of the dinosaurs which is a testament to their power to live through difficult conditions.

Beyond the garage we have a side entry. In England this would be referred to as the tradesman's entrance. A door by which the milk would be left or if someone was doing a job he would use this door if he wanted to contact the owner of the house. We use it quite differently. We invite our guests who come to visit the garden to enter this way. It is more convenient for a group to meet on the driveway under the large live oak tree before entering. Plus, the flow for a tour of the garden tour begins here and leaves by the front gate to pass around the outside wall into the other enclosed gardens.


Many of my potted cactus and succulents spend the summer here in the shade of the live oak tree.



Looking back from the platform you can see the large stones which David used to create steps down from the driveway. It was not an easy task deciding how to marry the rounded edge of the driveway to the native area. In the end we decided on the ledge stones. They all came out of the ground on our lot. Our personal quarry!


For a while we thought we would make this area into a Japanese garden, but it was never to become one. This summer I have spent a little time working to improve the area. I added this wooden pot found at a garage sale. A new stock tank pond is contained within a raised bed with some home-made floating islands. I am trying to get silver ponyfoot established around the tank. It is a difficult spot being in the shade until the brutal mid-day sun peaks over the roof-top and shines full on the tank. I am thinking I may need to add some plants on the backside to give shade to the tank.


If you enjoyed taking this walk with me then check back for next time when we'll continue a walk around the house to the back and far side.

21 comments:

  1. Wonderful to have this overview to refer to! Did you build the house, too, or was it already there? What I like is how you included the rocks in the design of the gardens rather than remove them ... working with grain of the land, not against it ... also like all those Texas plants, I have to look up some I don't know.. recama, agarita ... also I'm impressed how different it is from the English style you write about. Inspiring.

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    1. Yes, we did Jane and a right old royal mess was left behind. We are fortunate to have wonderful rocks. I don't know how I could ever design a garden without rocks but this was actually the first time. When you talk about working with the land I am having to do more of that inside now due to the drought. Not enough water for all those plants.

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  2. Thank you for the tour! Of late, I've been spending time thinking about the changes required to adapt my garden to meet the limitations imposed by the drought, changes I've resisted for some time. Your plant selections and design choices provide perspective.

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  3. I'm always so impressed with your yard. It's just amazing the way it just "flows'. It's beautiful and comfortable....a really enjoyable space.
    And I'm in love with those large stones---though I certainly wouldn't want to be the one to move them!!

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    1. Thanks Sue. The stones make the space, which is a good job because I am going to have to rely on them quite a bit with the drought.

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  4. What noble plants those agaves are. Garden centers here sell them , but not for open ground. I might just have to have one for a container. They have such presence-

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    1. There are some agaves that do well in cold climates. Some are hardy to well below freezing. I do have lots in pots too. Love their majesty.

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  5. I enjoyed this overview of how the natural area flows around the house and includes more views than I remember from past posts. The area looks so good with the creek and the agaves along with other great natives. Good idea since I had been trying to picture where you placed the stock tank.

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    1. I don't often take photos of the outside spending most of my gardening time inside the walls.

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  6. A Walk Around the Garden! This is a great variation on the wide shot meme. It is wonderful to be able to place entire areas into context this way. I believe your spaces have some of the best use of negative space I've seen in our area. I have less of that than I'd like here but wrestling naturalistic planting areas out away from standardized lawn and various aggressive ground covers as I am I know I must be patient. Seeing your spaces keeps me inspired. I'll be referring back to these photos again and again. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Deb. We are lucky to have those rocks which just make the spaces. Of course, they always say that about the hardscape. The plants are just the icing on the cake. I often get my inspiration from other garden bloggers.

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  7. Oh, to have my own personal quarry!

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    1. The quarry is one thing, the quarry-man the other.

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  8. This is a great post!
    I love to see the 'wide shots' of gardens. They give the sense of just where things are.
    And, those agaves....love, love, love. I need to find some.

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    1. I'll have some for you next GoGo you plan to go to. Best to get them in in the summer.

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  9. Thank you for a bigger picture than we normally get to see, all beautiful. I suppose I should start lab lobbying now for you garden to be included to the Austin 10 yr Fling tour?

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    1. 10 year fling tour. What is that? Seriously? I wonder how you will manage with so many flingers in your garden. I'm dying to know how it all goes. Can't wait for people to start blogging.

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  10. I enjoyed walking through your garden! Agaves and the blue pots caught my eye right away. I wish I had so many rocks in my garden!

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  11. Your gardens are stunning! I had no idea you had that much land.

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  12. Your home is incredible. Looks like Paradise to me.

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