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.

Fall Aster and Best Laid Plans

Recently two friends of mine got married in my backyard. The rains were dicey and only ended about 10 minutes before the wedding started, but everything could not have looked more beautiful.

That said, I planted a row of Fall Aster along the edge of the flowerbed. The plants were full of buds. Everything looked ready to fall into line. And they bloomed a week after the wedding. Plants, they care about seasons and sunlight and nothing for what we have going on in our lives.

In any case, they’re looking fantastic right now and I’m really enjoying them.

Memory is a funny thing

We’re hosting a wedding in our backyard in a couple weeks. One of the things that I felt was most in need of attention was our shed. It was still the same ugly gun metal gray as when we bought our house. The shed is in the original renderings of our house and I think the paint might be original as well. It was in rough shape.

In trying to think of a picture to illustrate the before-and-after I was thinking of this picture of when the kids were small.

In my memory the shed was so dominant and ugly. It is clearly not as dominant or ugly as I remember. Just the only thing in the picture that isn’t completely lovely. In any case we decided to recreate the picture.

Most of the trees in the first photo are gone, and new trees have taken their place. The kids are bigger. . And you still don’t really notice the shed.

So here’s the before:

And the after with one of my helpers.

We plan to eventually paint the trim white, but we’ll see if that project ever happens. Maybe in another decade…