Exhibit One: photos of my yard before and during the overhaul.
Exhibits Two through Eleven: the garden as it exists today. Doesn't look half bad from a distance. But don't look too closely at the home's 'boxwood mustache' -- it got an extra-close shave in January and hasn't fully recovered. (In fact, don't look too closely at anything.) We've done nothing with the hell strip. (Good thing, too: the city dug up our neighborhood's easements in 2010 and 2011 before resurfacing the streets with fresh asphalt.) The large tree in this photo is a Texas Red Oak and the smaller tree is a Bur Oak. (Yeah, I know Bur Oaks get huge. That'll be someone else's problem, long after I'm gone.) Our neighbor's Arizona Ash is hanging over the driveway.
A little closer look from a slightly different angle. Everything in front is blooming except the large mound of Lantana montevidensis 'Pot O'Gold' on the corner. (It's got buds, though.) The 'Whale's Tongue' (Agave ovatifolia) on the right is barely visible from this vantage point.
Northwest side of the garden. Bermuda grass is growing all throughout the perennials, and nutsedge surrounds the bur oak, Big Noisy Sigh. (Your Honor, please refer to Exhibit One to see how thoroughly we removed the weeds before planting and installing the flagstone path...)
After seeing this photo, I dug out all the Bermuda from around this grouping in a disgusted, sweaty fit. Mark my words, it'll be back in three weeks. Digging it up doesn't kill it, covering it with corrugated cardboard and burying it in three inches of mulch doesn't kill it, covering it with a giant boulder for a year doesn't kill it, and (please don't ask me how I know this) scalping it and painting it with glyphosate doesn't kill it. I'm considering tilling it up and annihilating the roots with an acetylene torch next (not really joking). Front to back: purple trailing lantana, Salvia greggii 'Lipstick', Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge', California poppies.
I love this grouping from this angle. Front to back: Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima), Englemann's daisy (Engelmannia peristenia), a lone 'Wedding Blush' sweet pea, Salvia greggii 'Lipstick', purple trailing lantana, and across the flagstone path, a white Salvia greggii.
I think I'd like this grouping better if the salvia wasn't so woody; I'll whack it back to the ground at the end of next month and it should fill out with soft, new growth before fall.
Looking east to west, you can actually see the agave in the middle of this shot; Bur Oak to the agave's left, the neighbor's Arizona ash in the rear. Front to back: Salvia greggi 'Cherry Sage', four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa), 'Indigo Spires' salvia, rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala), white Salvia greggi, purple trailing lantana, Salvia greggii 'Lipstick', California poppies, Englemann's daisy, Mexican feathergrass.
Northeast side of the garden. Front to back: white Salvia greggii, rock rose, 'Indigo Spires' salvia, dwarf Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens). The perennials look full and lush from this angle, but they're really rather spindly (check out the next photo). If you look closely, you'll spot some iris foliage to the right of the 'Indigo Spires'.
This shot was taken from the front door looking to the northeast. Horseherb and weedy grasses are growing amongst the flagstones in the path, making it less of a trip hazard; the grasses are dying in the heat and need to be dug out. Clockwise from the front: pink Salvia
To the right of the fall aster lives this 'Peter's Purple' bee balm (Monarda fistulosa). It was looking a bit peaked a few weeks ago, but a mid-May rainstorm convinced it to bloom. I'll cut it back to the ground after it blooms and see if it recovers from whatever's turning its lower leaves yellow, droopy and spotty. Behind it is a large patch of red 'Cedar Sage' (Salvia roemeriana ).
A close-up of 'Yellow Bells' esperanza (Tecoma stans) and blue Plumbago auriculata amidst the Bermuda.
Our Austin garden blogging group has a monthly get-together where we hash out design ideas for our garden "problem areas". I signed up to host in March 2013, but I don't think I can wait! My "problem areas" are obvious: 1) BERMUDA H. GRASS (the H stands for HADES). If anyone has an idea for taking it out without killing the trees and the perennials (or installing 4' x 4' x 4' concrete planters in my front yard), I'm all ears! 2) Lack of maintenance. I could use a recommendation for an Austin landscape maintenance company with a crew that can tell the difference between nutsedge and wildflower seedlings. 3) Assuming the Bermuda can be eradicated, I may actually have space on the northeast side for a) walking paths, b) additional plantings and/or c) a sitting area -- but can't decide between on what (pea gravel? decomposed granite? more flagstone? something else?).
I'd love to hear what you think! But be gentle...
Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.