Through the Garden Gate, Monday

Cindy, at My Corner of Katy, suggested to me that we start a tradition of posting a picture each Monday of a panoramic view of our garden, typically from the same vantage point each week. I love the idea, so I can see how my baby-garden progresses and grows. We would love for everyone to join in that wants to, so that we can all share in the seasonal changes and growth habits of our outdoor worlds.


Cindy has been doing this for several weeks now, and I’m just now joining in. And a day late, at that. I did take the photos Sunday evening, but didn’t get a chance to process pictures until Monday night. So here is my garden, standing at my gate, with my Path of Choices. You can see that it is filled in a bit more from when I did the hardscaping and added a new bed a month ago.


I’ve been wondering why my plants seem to be behind in growth compared to other Austin gardens. I know of one reason – lack of sunshine. Because of the nature of the trees and houses around me, my southside backyard doesn’t get much direct sun until the sun climbs higher into the sky nearer to summer. Usually in May I can claim one area of the yard to have almost 6 hours total sun off and on throughout the day, which qualifies as a sunny bed. Plants that really enjoy the sunshine just won’t work here, but I can coax blooms from Esperanza and Hibiscus, even if they aren’t as prolific as they might be in more sun. Other parts of my yard will get about 4 hours per day – qualifying as partial shade. But prior to May, I just don’t get that much direct sun, so the plants are slow to get started.

I also end up sometimes overwatering, despite my desire to conserve. Because so many of my plants are new and our drought is so severe, I have to water enough to keep those shallow baby roots growing. But then the clay underneath absorbs all that moisture, and my older plants with deeper roots don’t like the constant wetness. It’s a balancing act right now. And again with the drought, the plants are being watered with city water instead of rain, which doesn’t help the nutrition levels. Last year I lost several plants – some to drying out and some to drowning. You can tell I’m not so good with that balancing act just yet.

However, things are looking a bit chlorotic, so I decided to do a home soil test. Despite compost, seaweed and fish emulsion, my soil is nitrogen depleted. It is clay, after all, with lots of mulch. Both of these things suck the nitrogen out of the soil. And then suck the life out of the plants.

I went to Natural Gardener and picked up John’s Recipe in the liquid form. I’ll spray once a week until things get more established, then back off to every 2-3 weeks. Next season I’m going to have to break down and remove the mulch and put John’s Recipe in the pellet form directly into the soil to keep the soil fertile. And by then, hopefully the plants will have a bit better root system and I can water a bit less frequently.

It will be interesting for me to watch the progress as my soil improves, the sun gets higher in the sky and my plants get older. Won’t you join us?


12 thoughts on “Through the Garden Gate, Monday

  1. Darla, in Austin, it’s almost a necessity. Even natives here can struggle sometimes. Believe me, I would love to not worry about it, but I don’ t think I would have much of a garden if I didn’t.

  2. Wouldn’t you know I’ve become entranced with your mulched area. And now to find you’ll have to go underneath it. Seems like everything would seep through and you wouldn’t have to go that far.

  3. Robin — What a wonderful path of choices you have created there. And I think this is a wonderful idea – thanks for taking it on and sharing it with us. I will have to join in on that one. I love the panorama shots so we can get context. I had the same over/underwatering problem last summer as I planted some new things in new beds all summer long. I’m going to try not to do that this year. (ha!)

  4. It’s so easy to be seduced by something wonderful everytime you go to a nursery, isn’t it, Diana? I’ve told myself NO NEW PLANTS so many times! I’m glad to hear that a Master Gardener like you struggles with some of the same issues a newby like me does. Let’s give Cindy, MCOK credit each Monday, shall we?

  5. Brenda, hopefully I won’t have to take up the mulched pathway, only the mulch in the beds. That’s how I’ll start, anyway! I’m entranced with it as well, it’s quickly become my favorite part of the garden. I guess that’s why I’m being so anal with the health of the plants in that area. Notice how I never mention the fern bed, the daylily bed, the plumbago bed…they are struggling a bit, too, but I’m not nearly as impatient with them.

  6. I’m eager to see how the trough and the bed to the right of it progress; I think it’s lovely now; can’t imagine how pretty it will be all filled in. I struggle with heavy clay, too; it’s always something!
    The flower I refer to as humming bird vine is Ipomoea quamoclit, and is also commonly called cypress vine, cardinal climber, or star glory. It’s in the morning glory family. It’s an annual, and will cover a fence in one season, then reseeds itself. If you’d like some seed, email me, I have tons of it I harvested last fall.

  7. Nola, thanks for visiting! Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll have to pass now that I realize that it’s Cypress Vine. That vine doesn’t die back here, and it can take over a yard in a year or two. I’ll enjoy it vicariously on your blog, though.

  8. Robin, I’m going to edit my post from Monday to link to yours. I really do love your path of choices. I’m still struggling with what to do in the newest area of my front garden and today’s thinking is to create a path behind the oak tree rather than in front. Will that still be my plan tomorrow? One can never tell!

  9. Just came from Cindy’s garden gate post, Robin – nice idea! I like the Path of choices. I’ve done something similar from my gate, forcing the visitor to choose a path upon entering, but my paths are grass and I didn’t think up a cool name like you did! Your view into your young garden is already wonderful. It will be fun to watch it fill in.

    John’s recipe, stuff Medina, Terra-tonic, cotton bur compost, revitalizer compost…yeah – it seems that we must turn ourselves into alchemists to make things grow in Austin soil!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. LOL, Cindy! I know what you mean. Sometimes there are too many choices. And it is our prerogative to change our minds, right?

  11. Annie, I certainly didn’t realize the extent that it would take me when I decided to increase my gardening habits. I would much prefer the plop-a-plant method, but when I look at how much money I’ve spent, then I realize I must spend more to save them or waste it all. The concept of living from a place of choice has been my theme of the past two years, so naming this path was a personal intention for me. My desire is to choose the life I want, rather than dealing with what I’ve been dealt. Slowly, I’m turning that wheel. I hope to see your garden gate next Monday!

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