Tag Archive | bottlebrush

A New Bed in the Sun

One of my many laments since beginning gardening in my current yard is the lack of sun where I want it. Succumbing to gardener’s addiction, I bought sun-loving plants anyway and with crossed fingers plopped them down into my part-shade backyard. Needless to say, they didn’t bloom, got leggy, and were just unhappy all around.

The sunniest spot in my yard is out by the front corner, by the Bottlebrush. (Okay, I couldn’t resist using a picture from last spring with it in full bloom).

I call it the “Stop Sign Bed”, because – well, you can figure it out. This year’s winter project was to make a new, larger bed. And with encouragement from other bloggers, the bed got bigger and bigger to remove water-wasting grass as well as create definition on that side of my home.

First step, the St. Augustine grass, never happy in full sun, had to go. Lori, Gardener of Good and Evil, told me she had used Lasagna Gardening to kill the grass for her many beds. She came over to help me, and off we went.

While the grass is dormant, we laid a thick layer of cardboard and newspaper, making sure that even no small area was left exposed. Grass takes every opportunity to sneak out. We covered that with a thick, rich layer of organic compost, then topped it with mulch.

After all the layers were in place, the entire thing was wet down with a water hose to begin the process of decay.

I added in some Decomposed Granite paths edged with smooth volcanic rock that I had in another part of the yard. As my aching back allows, I’ll add more to further define the edges.

And my favorite part is the Stock Tank that I added near the Stop Sign. It creates a new focal point for the eye to see other than the legal warning. I do hope, though, that it doesn’t distract drivers from the Stop Sign!

The view from the street of the new bed – it ended up quite large. By the time the weather permits springtime planting, the cardboard will be decayed, hopefully the grass will be dead, and I’ll be able to plant all those sun-loving flowers I want.

What was your winter garden project this year?


The Tale of the Bottlebrush Tree

When I was but a wee lass, I was uprooted from my Australian home and whisked to lands far, far away. Finding myself in Austin, Texas, and homeless to boot, I felt comforted that my foster home, Cornerstone Hardware (which no longer exists, sad to say) had adult versions of me growing in the great out-of-doors, and these big parental units were quite beautiful in the late spring and early summer. And I had a a couple of siblings with me, which made me feel quite taken care of. We were all quite young, maybe 2 feet tall at the most.

Imagine my surprise when early in April of 2000, my true mom found me and it was love at first sight!  Well, I think she actually fell in love with the parental units, and she could see the potential in me. She seemed to handle the adoption speedily enough, and apparently in the US of A, the most important paper for plant adoption is something called a “credit card.”

Though my new mom was pretty clueless about me, she knew she loved me and treated me that way. I told her I needed lots of sunshine, so she found the sunniest spot in her yard and put me in the dirt. (Well, really it was Blackland Prairie clay, but I didn’t tell her otherwise). She didn’t know she was supposed to give me food, so I managed to find enough to get by from the dark, gummy clay.   She forgot to ask about how I do or don’t like the cold (I really don’t), so she left me on the northwest sunny corner of the yard without a winter coat. I learned to be tough, even when I was iced over a couple of times.  She came by and talked to me every day, and I loved her despite her clueless, blond behavior. I know she meant well.

After 9 years, I’ve given her many years of delightful blooms. And the neighbors! Oh, my, the neighbors are always asking about me this time of year. I must be quite the rockstar around here. So this year, she told me she wanted to honor me and tell the world about how I tease her every April with thousands of little buds all over. She checks me daily, to see how the buds are doing. I love to slowly draw out her anticipation.

This is how I started this year, with just a hint of things to come.


With all the new stuff happening in the yard over the past year, my mom has been really giving me the spa treatment. I got a great haircut last fall, and then she let me have all the chocolate, I mean compost, that I wanted.

I’m pretty happy about all that.


I slowly let her start to get a peek of what to expect; very, very soon now.


I invited a few friends to join in. This year, I have lots of showing off to do.


And then? It rained! Glorious rain! Oh, it’s been so long.


See what good can happen to those who wait?


Because I’m nearly 12 feet tall now, I invite hundreds of my closest friends over for dinner constantly. They are quite the little gluttons, but I don’t mind. I have plenty of food to share.


Now everyone is happy. I love my home, and have rewarded my mom with years of this show every May, June and sometimes into July. Often, I’ll do it again in September or October. A couple of years ago, we had lovely rain all summer long, and I just kept on blooming all summer long. It was fun! And I still have a blast watching the neighbors stop their cars and gawk when I’m in full plumage. Everybody wants to know my name, which is really Callistemon
citrinus ‘Splendens
. But since ya’ll are my new friends, you can call me Babe, the Bottlebrush Tree. Drive by and check me out sometime!

December GBBD

Garden Bloggers bloom day is sponsored by Carol at May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of every month.

It’s easy to see how Christmas got its definitive red and green signature colors from this Nandina, or Heavenly Bamboo. It’s the last one in my yard – I’ve removed over 5 of them. Once my new plants have gained some height, this aggressive, non-native plant will be removed as well.


My Ivy Geranium still has a couple of purple blooms, surprisingly. It’s fun to see this time of year.


This Purple Heart has one bloom left.


The dwarf Pomegranite has a few small blooms left.


My favorite Bottlebrush seems to love this weather, even though it is a semi-tropical plant!


This cute little Shrimp plant was a new addition in the fall, and though the blooms are faded, it still provides a bit of color.

Again, another semi-tropical plant that hasn’t tucked tail and run in our unusually cold and windy December.


This bleeding heart vine is another fall addition to my yard. It has a few sweet purple blooms left. It appears that my yard is all purple and red!


And though it isn’t really a bloom, the Pyracanthea is still lush with berries. More green and red for the holidays!


The Plumbago, another semi-tropical that flourishes in Austin from spring to fall, has just one small bloom left.


What’s blooming in your garden in these snowy times?