2011 just about did me in. It was a six-month-long summer from hell, beyond any heat and drought imaginable. I am strongly affected by the weather, and that year drove me to resent where I lived. I didn’t go outside for 5 long months – May through September. Everything in the yard was dying or struggling, including decades-old oaks and elms. I gave up gardening then. Never had I worked so hard for such meager rewards.
Subsequently, in 2012, I posted about things other than gardening, and then, finally, nothing at all. I got very busy with a new job venture, and gardening went by the wayside other than maintenance.
Then the maintenance became too much – too hot, too expensive, too much to do every year. In my efforts to create a lovely native landscape, my water bills went up, my mulch bill skyrocketed, and now I had to pay the lawnmowers PLUS trim a bunch of native plants. More work and not enough enjoyment. I had begun to hate my yard.
I decided last summer that the winter projects this year are all intended to make the yard look better with less maintenance. That means less perennials to cut back twice a year. That means more tough evergreens that don’t need to be babied.
To accommodate this, the plants in the front yard Stop Sign bed played “musical chairs” in the fall. Things that were overgrown were either yanked out or moved. I only kept the perennials that I really, really liked. For me, that short list is Pride of Barbados (one of the reasons I created the bed was so I could grow this), Esperanza, Moy Grande Hibiscus, Lantana and fall Aster.
Everything else now in the bed is either evergreen or a bulb/tuber (Iris, Society Garlic, Creme de Menthe Pittosporum, daylilies, Lambs Ears, Crape Myrtle, Mountain Laurel, Color Guard Yucca, Hardy Ice Plant). Pics to come later when things start to green up, right now it is just a bunch of sticks.
Secondly, all the front beds were finally – at long last – finished off with limestone edging. The existing black plastic edging that was SUPPOSED to be temporary ended up being there over five years. So glad to see that gone.
Good friend and tough love landscape designer Lori, Gardener of Good and Evil, reminded me to “plant what works”. Somehow I was finally ready to hear the advice: stop trying to create the landscaping of my dreams that doesn’t grow here. I can never have lush, acid-loving plants like hydrangeas, camellias, azaleas, lilac and more. It finally sunk in that I have to observe what can survive in Central Texas harsh environments and put in more of those things. Loropatelum ZhuZhou (more upright and easily pruned to a small tree than other varieties) is one of those, so it was added where I need some height by the front entrance. It grows quickly, so hopefully it will own that spot soon. I’ll soon add Pittosporum, Aralia, Color Guard Yucca and non-invasive Firepower Nandina to populate this bed. It will give me a consistent look, winter and summer, and is very low maintenance. (Yes!)
There’s so much more to come. I’ll be blogging over the next few months – the re-do to create less maintenance has morphed into a complete makeover, front and back. It’s fun, I’m enjoying it, and hopefully I can continue to enjoy gardening again as I learn to stop trying to push the river.