Wednesday, November 2, 2016


When I first planted the garden I was in love with the Indian hawthorn, Rhaphiolepis indica. It was evergreen and had these beautiful pink flowers in the spring. In the front courtyard I planted them in three places. In front of the two large windows and alongside the garage. The ones along the dining room window were the first to go, as we redid the area following a very cold winter. Then, earlier this year I removed the ones in front of the other window. Those ones had become rather thin and rangy and made cleaning the window difficult. The remaining ones, alongside the garage were removed last week. We needed to do some work along the wall and they were in the way.

Even though they were perfectly healthy I was glad to see the back of them. For one thing they had become a little intrusive requiring a cut back every year, but the worst thing was that despite being evergreen they shed some leaves and those leaves were a big chore to remove from the dry creek. In heavy rain the leaves would wash onto the drain.
It's never as bad as you think. In fact, it is exciting to be thinking about what you can do in the new area and it will match the rest of the garden a lot better.

Once those bushes were out I knew there was going to have to be some rock work. Yeah! My favorite thing to do.
But on a side note just look at that soil. I am reminded once again of the English garden designer and author Penelope Hobhouse's words as she  designed and implemented a project in Dallas. She referred to "This thing you call soil" And yet it is quite amazing how many plants can survive in such 'rubble' Many of our natives are quite at home in such conditions.

I called upon David to bring me some rocks so that I could build a new edge to the creek to retain that 'soil'. He was relieved to hear that I was only looking for small ones.
I had to remove all the river rocks and dig out with the pick axe. A two day job. Then brush everything and replace the river rock. Here's the finished product.

We now have a cleaner, tidier area which I am hoping will be less maintenance.
Now for the hard part- the planting. Not hard in digging the holes but in choosing the plants. I would like something evergreen for the corner but it must be upright- possibly a grass. Not having any bright ideas about that. Along the edge I will be shopping my own garden for echinacea-always plenty of those. This is a west facing wall and the wall itself, being stucco, gets very hot. It has to be a plant that can cope with intense heat in the summer. Please feel free to offer up some ideas.
Changes to the rock path and the corner of the new area.


  1. What a tidy new spot to plant!
    And you scared me with your title--I was hoping it wasn't YOU saying goodbye! What a relief!
    Personally, I think something "sculptural" would look terrific in that spot. West side and stucco and rock make for tough times for a plant.
    Good luck and have fun with this new space

  2. I remember my own infatuation with Raphiolepsis, which I planted outside the front window of our apartment in Santa Monica many, many years ago. I lost interest in it later, although I do enjoy my current neighbor's back garden when what must be dozens of the shrubs burst into bloom simultaneously. A space between rock and stucco is tough! Is it too narrow for an ornamental grass? Would a Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' handle your winters?

    1. Sticks on Fire does sound like a good option and I have a gorgeous one in a pot. Unfortunately it wouldn't be hardy here if we had a really cold spell. I was thinking grass but would no want one that had to be cut back in the spring. A Candellia would be hardy and I have a potted one. It would have the upright look although not as large as I would like. It might like being in the ground instead of a pot.

  3. "Bring me some rocks" -- hehe. If only we all had it that easy to get stony materials to play with. :)

  4. How about giant hesperaole? As for Hobhouse, I use another quote from her Dallas experience in my current talk: "I think if I were a plant, I wouldn't want to live in Texas." Ha!

  5. That's too funny Pam. I used that same two quotes at my talk last week. I watched the video where she was talking about gardens she had done it was on You tube. Her son was moderator. It was really interesting and very entertaining.

  6. Another plant I had never heard of! I learn so much from your blog. Also, it is somehow very strange to me to imagine Penelope Hobhouse designing a garden in Dallas - even though I have very much enjoyed her writings on gardens well beyond the UK, I still always think there is something very English about her approach and sensibility.

  7. That shrub is a standard here, because it is so hard to kill. What ever you choose, I'm sure it will be beautiful.

  8. Love the Hobhouse comment about soil! The new space looks great and I think you were absolutely right about if being a better fit with your overall garden. We have lots of gravel paths and a couple of dry streams but many, many leaves which makes it hard to maintain those features, so I am in complete sympathy.

  9. well, I see pam already beat me to it, but hesperaloe (giant or not) could meet all your requirements, unless you feel its been overused (bless its sturdy little heart!)

    the freshened space looks great, of course - compliments to you and your Rock Minion :)

  10. The rock edging looks so nice! And it is always exciting to be able to shop for new plants! Have fun!

  11. The dramatic title game me a start! So many sculptural plants would love that wall as a backdrop. Maybe Yucca rostrata? (Hobhouse talking about Texas soil and plants would make a great comedy skit for a Bloggers Fling ;) I actually saw her getting plants out of the "boot" of her car when we visited Tintinhull in '93 which was her last year there...)

  12. I don't cut back my Big Muhly - but I'm also lazy...I will go out give it a good brushing with a rake sometimes, but I'm not sure that's even required as much as I'm trying to get behind it for some reason.

  13. I have discovered Shenandoah Switchgrass. The smallest of the Switchgrasses standing only 30" high and is about 20" in diameter. And it is tough as nails like the other grasses in it's family.