Fall Native Plant Sale

I have not been doing much plant shopping this year. I actually have been doing no plant shopping since March, but the Ladybird Wildflower Center had scheduled shopping times for their fall plant sale and I jumped on it.

Since adding the pool we’ve suddenly gotten much closer to the flowerbeds that are furthest from our house. And they’re… acceptable. Lantana, giant liriope, and trees share the space with some weeds that have the sense to grow low enough that I don’t see and pull them.

I also recently decided that it was time to start removing some of the boxwoods in my backyard. There were three in this bed that were just… there. I also removed a mostly dead Cherry Laurel that had been dying since the drought of 2011. You could literally see through a crack in the trunk. It finally went.

So I decided that was the flowerbed for the plant sale. I even did a diagram.

The sale had a lot smaller selection than I expected so my salvia arizonica became some mealy blue sage transplanted from elsewhere in the yard, and I added some Heartleaf Rosemallow to the left of the Harvard Penstemon, but otherwise I stayed pretty true to the design.

I even took some before:

And after pictures:

Window Boxes

The shed is part of our yard that I have mostly come to terms with. We painted it about 2 years go. We were mostly happy with it.

Then we had the pool put in. In doing so we had to take down a row of hedges and suddenly it became very prominent when floating around the pool. Julie touched up the windows with white paint and we made plans to build window boxes. We make lots of plans while floating in the pool.

Before. The dirt splashed shed.

I went looking for pre-made window boxes and was stunned by how expensive they are. We weren’t really looking for a $600 project that ended with very traditional looking window boxes. So I ended going with some pre-made deck railing planters and shelf brackets.

Then, because I’m having extreme motivation problems thanks to COVID, they sat there for a couple months. But I got energized during the July 4th weekend and built the shelves. And stained them. And then stained all of my backyard furniture.

Clearly a little too energized.

They are very simple. I just used 4 pieces of 1×4 and cut them with a handsaw to be slightly larger than the windows. Each shelf is 3 pieces of wood. I put shims between them to provide a nice drainage space and then attached the brackets with screws. The stain was left over from the Decorative Wall Panel project. And the lumber was a side-effect of having a theatre company. We always have lumber.

It was a very un-fussy project. And I’m really happy with the outcome!

They look great from the pool. But it’s too bright and hot right now (109 heat index!) to take that picture. In any case, I’m really happy with them. Both of the plants are just volunteers I dug up from my paths. The left are “Laura Bush” Petunias and the right is Moss Verbena.

Any ideas for more mostly shade plants are welcome in the comments. I’m thinking about trying some Drummond Phlox next year.

Plants need more editing

I was weeding on Saturday. It was time to clear out the bluebonnets. While doing so I noticed a barrel cactus I had completely forgotten about. You can (not) see it in the below picture. Which is amazing because it’s pretty dang big.

very, sneaky hiding barrel cactus

But first a related tangent. When Etta was a baby we went to a farmer’s market outside of Bastrop. While there I picked up two tree seedlings and planted them. Fast forward 11 years and as part of putting in a pool we had to remove these two trees. So I took pictures with Etta to show how much they had both grown.

Ok, so now we’re done with that nostalgia. Do you see the yucca on the far right? The really lovely one? During the pool construction it got beat up. Repeatedly rammed with a digger. Soil was worked into pretty much every single one of its leaves. It ended up looking like this:

The dead yucca on the left used to be so full of life.

Yesterday I finally took it out. There were thankfully some pups underneath. One was a good candidate for replacing the original. I also added that invisible barrel cactus from the original bed, and ended up with this.

I try not to make extra work in the garden, but sometimes the results are worth it! I’m also adding a bonus shot of the agave pup I got from Pam Penick’s Moby surrounded by moss verbena. I’m excited to watch this bed change over time.

Buffalo Grass sod is coming in nicely as well.


A New Path

The pool we’ve been putting in is pretty much done. But we can’t swim yet, and everything is still a mess. It’s juxtaposed with all the flowers, birds, and insects enjoying this lovely spring.

We were going to start adding in flowerbeds today. But Julie stopped me and pointed out my vision for brick planter walls wasn’t aligned with her vision for a path to the pool. So we discussed the pool path.

It wasn’t what we planed to get done today, but we both think it looks fantastic. We’re having buffalo grass delivered tomorrow that will fill in most of this area and be in between the pavers.

From the pool deck:

The bricks ides aren’t quite lined up properly, but you can see the yuccas on either side look like we almost intended a path there when we planted them.

And looking towards the house. I really like the green of the yucca with the navy paint.

We’d eventually like a bathroom inside that pink door so this path is pretty important to that vision.

Everything needs a pressure wash, though… ergh. Also if you ever think about buying pre-cast concrete pavers they’re very hard to line up because they’re only vaguely the same size. It’s one of those cases where you have to be exact up until the moment you have to eyeball it to make it look sane.

You may recognize these pavers from the initial xeric conversion of the front yard.

Waste not…

We’ve been having a pool put in our backyard. This is probably one of the biggest things we’ve had done to the yard, but I haven’t been writing about it. The destruction has been a bit much for me. I will probably do a post at the very end when I can talk positively about it again. And the destruction means I’ll be reworking most of the back yard. So in some ways that’s positive.

Anyway. There has been tons of waste generated. Rather than let them haul it off I’ve been collecting it. I may use it for future projects. I have dreams of an outdoor shower.

At the very least I can use it for drainage at the bottom of beds and pots. After picking up leftover pieces of stone:

And they’ve been threatening cleanup this Friday so I’ve been scrambling to pickup all the rocks they’ve exposed in their excavations.

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.