Decorative Wall Panel

We got our house painted recently. The first night they started painting we got a ferocious storm. Somehow it managed to get the paint to run, but only right next to our front door.

We like our brick color and didn’t want to paint all of it so Julie and I designed and built this mid-century panel to cover it. This project turned out pretty much exactly as planned which was really awesome for something so visible.

So what did we do? It’s a piece of pressure treated plywood on the back. the front is 2×2 pressure treated wood boards with about 1 inch of spacing between them. I determined the algebraic formula for this is:

(x * 2) - (x - 1) = y

x = number of 2 x 2s
y= width of panel


Julie drew it out using graph paper. Our numbes matched. We have different problem solving styles, but we are aware that we’re weird.

First we cut out the hole for the light and then stained all of the wood. After it dried we attached the boards from the back with 1.5″ decking screws. Having built too many sets to count we always pay more for decking screws. $2 is worth an extra hour of pre-drilling and stripped screws. Then I pre-drilled holes into the brick with my hammer drill and attached the board with a ratchet. It was a pretty easy project, and really inspired me to try more of the cool wood projects from the 1960s that it was inspired by. I’m thinking perhaps a slatted bench may be next…

(Julie suggested that I should add some after shots of the painting as well. they repaired our rotting beams in the front as well, which I just love)

Why xeric?

During the summer I give supplemental water to my back grass where my kids and dogs play. Mainly because I’ve learned to not do so invites a mud pit in November.

I hand water whatever I’ve planted recently, but everything else is on its own. I feel like this picture is such an illustration of Native vs. Non-Native. Neither the “grass” in front of it nor Lindheimer’s Senna has gotten any extra water, but one is thriving and blooming!

Wide-Angle August 2019

How has it been so long since I did a wide-angle view of the front yard? I cleaned up the front path this morning and decided now was the time. I haven’t done any supplemental watering this year, and things are a little crispy but it’s starting to be an ecosystem all its own.

Have I taken pictures with the white roof yet? That’s a dramatic change. New paint coming this fall.
The trees have been growing nicely. Only a few more years and they’ll providing afternoon shade for the backyard.

Apache Plume

I first fell in love with Apache Plume when I was asked to MC the opening of the Luci and Ian Family Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

As part of the event I got to speak to the garden designers and implementers and they were in love with this plant. Their enthusiasm was infections. I spotted it again under some ancient Live Oak Trees in Jester King’s beer garden.

Which is how I decided to pick one up at a plant sale and plant it in the shade of a tree. I’ve been slowly killing it ever since.

But it was with joy that on my evening walk on the Country Club Creek Trail behind our house that I came upon some Apache Plume, seedheads dancing in the wind.

Tree Carnage

A storm on June 2nd twisted and snapped two of our trees. A mesquite tree out front.

And a flameleaf sumac in back.

Which meant we got to go the nursery to buy more trees!

I’ll admit I was a little sad. That mesquite was growing in the grass when we ripped it out and so we let it grow. Here it is back in 2012.

We’re replacing it with a Retama. We also decided to add a Fragrant Mimosa to the front yard.

In the back the Flameleaf Sumac had tons of suckers so I just picked one and trimmed it up.

We also lost a rather large apricot tree this year. It bloomed this spring and then… nothing. So I’m replacing that with two huisaches.

Gardening is nothing if not change…

Composting

People are always saying I should compost my food scraps. “It’s really easy to keep your dogs out”, they say. Then I’m weeding and look up to this…

Junie checking out the compost.

Today’s weeding was the annual “try to get rid of all the bedstraw and wild carrot before it goes to seed and the dogs come in covered in them”.

Goodbye old friend

If you’ve visited my house one of the first things that greeted you was a giant prickly pear. When we sold our old house in 2007 I took two paddles and put them in a pot with some dirt. They sat on my Mom and Dad’s back porch for 4 months, then spent an entire winter shoved into the back of our new shed. I planted it sometime that summer.

To say it thrived was an understatement. It grew into a lovely specimen.

2011 xeriscaping

But then it kept growing. It started making it difficult to get into the house and needed constant pruning. It was like a friend who was clingy, always wanting to play with your hair.

2014 yard remodel

It was impressive in a “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a prickly pear that tall before” way. But not in a “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a prickly pear that beautiful before”. So Julie and I decided today that the time had come. As part of our spring cleaning we took it out.

It has provided some lovely landscaping beams, however.

So what next? We don’t know. I’d love to hear any and all ideas.

Butterflies and Immigration

I try to keep my ranting in other blogs. But every piece of gardening feels like such a political activity that I don’t really know why I try. Here’s a great thread from Austin City Council Member Gregorio Casar on the intersection of immigration and Monarch butterflies.