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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?
Ever since putting in the new fence and expanding the yard by over 15 feet, I’ve had a vision for this new part of the yard. And being the soul that I am, nothing was right until I had that part completed. I had seen the vision in my head and nothing else would do. Some people enjoy unfinished projects, as it gives them time to mull it over and really decide if that’s what they want. Others, like me, decide quickly and then can’t stand it until its done.
During the kitchen remodeling process, there have often been so many workers and so much going on inside the house that I’ve spent days outdoors in the garden catching up on projects. I’m actually glad that I’ve been forced outside all day, as I’ve finally completed the hardscape for these beds. While raised beds with stacked limestone borders would be the “prettier” way to go, these low beds and simple edges fit the personality of the house and neighborhood (and the budget of the gardener and homeowner ).
I love the convergence of these paths, and the way it opens up to Choices. Though you can’t see it in the photo, there are actually four choices of directions to wander. It makes me think of Robert Frost when I’m standing there. (Of course, I’m seeing it with tall, thick mature plants lining the paths…)
At the top of the rise, my succulent trough is finally planted. The trough itself was a passalong from my father’s farm. What I love about this particular trough is that my childhood horse, luxuriously retired to the farm during his last years, drank from it. Fond memories like that are scattered through my garden.
Some of the succulents here want a bit more sun than they will get, so they’ll probably not reach the huge proportions that they could if planted elsewhere. Others will eventually try to take over the trough and I’ll have to trim them back and remind them to share and not be so possessive. I’m especially looking forward to growth on the ones that will drape over the front edge.
As a reward, I then allowed myself a few inspirational nursery trips for ideas for the new bed. I always let a bed tell me what it wants, rather than viceversa. Sometimes it takes a few weeks, or even months, for the ideas to come together, but it always eventually will. Then I take action. This one came together after an unexpected purchase. More on that later.
I can’t remember ever seeing autumn color like we have had this year in Central Texas, especially in the city limits. This is a Sumac tree directly across the street from me, and I watched it change from a brilliant gold to this incredible combo display of orange and yellow. I suppose the drought and heat must have created this phenomenon, so I’m taking pictures of it because I really don’t want to go through what we went through ever again, even it means this kind of autumn colors. It has been a stunning display, though.
And I completely forgot to put this into my blog previously. I received an awesome birthday present from my SO in October! This is a gazebo I had my eye on all summer long at Breed and Co. Hardware, and was hoping for an end of season sale. At last, I was rewarded with a sale price (not a huge one), and a fabulous birthday gift. Its hexagonal shape fits my space perfectly, as does the diminutive size. I put a chandelier in the peak of the beautiful arch (which you can’t see in this picture) and we’ve had some lovely dinners out there, as well as a glass of wine as the sun set. It really made a big difference to have a shaded area to sit in, even if it is after dark. It creates a coziness that just wasn’t happening before.
I had this indoor chandelier that I immediately decided was really an outdoor chandelier, it just didn’t know it yet. It looks fabulous inside the little gazebo, and the low watt bulbs at night are just outrageously sweet. The tenting of the top of the gazebo glows, and underneath, a warm inviting dim light beckons. Once it warms up again, I’ll get a nighttime shot of my yard for you. With this chandelier on, and the lights on my waterfall and in the oak trees, it’s really pretty.
And lastly, look at this treasure! I asked my dad, before he came to town for Thanksgiving, if he had any old horse feeders or water troughs that he no longer needed on his farm. He thought he might, and when he and his wife arrived on Turkey Day, this was the primary thing in the back of the vehicle! Isn’t it gorgeous? He kept suggesting ways that I could paint it, or straighten it out and make it look new again, and I kept having to insist that I wanted it exactly as is. I don’t think he really understood that, but he was happy that I was happy.
Right now it is in a pretty shady spot; even though it looks good against the fence there (I’m adding a bed along that fence line and it would be inside the bed), I may need to move it so I can fill it with plants that like a little bit of sun. What can you envision in it?
By the way, I know Pam/Digging mentions Callahan Hardware for her troughs; I’ve also seen them at Zinger Hardware on Anderson Lane for a place a bit closer to drive to than Callahans.