Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Finishing Touches

My garden is slowly coming into bloom this year. While the plants have been coming out of dormancy, I have been working around the edges to finally wrap up some projects and put "finishing" touches on the garden. Well, "finishing" for now. I already have a growing mental list of additional adjustments that I want to make. 

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Here in the center of the front garden, Four Nerve Daisies, Tetraneuris scaposa, Winecup, Callirhoe involucrata, Bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, and Mealycup Sage, Salvia farinaceaare blooming around Pale-Leaf Yucca, Yucca pallida, and a Spineless Prickly Pear, Opuntia ellisiana(?). The Coreopsis and Husker Red Penstemon will be blooming in the next couple of weeks.

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The flower stalks on the Yucca are over six feet tall. This is the second time for this one to bloom. The first time it bloomed was two years ago and the flower stalk was only about three feet high.

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So what have I been working on for the last few months? Pathways. Decomposed granite pathways. I moved the garden edging to the property line and removed the grass from the sides of my front yard garden a year and a half ago. I wanted to add pathways and a buffer zone from my neighbor's chemical lawn treatments and possible overspraying into my garden. Before installing the decomposed granite, I also had to modify the underground drainage pipes and relocate sprinkler heads because pathways do not need to be watered. This is the west side of the garden. The purple flowers are Gulf Coast (aka Brazos) Penstemon, Penstemon tenuis. The small tree in the center of the picture is Hercules Club, Zanthoxylum clava-herculis.

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The thorny tree is just beginning to bloom. The flowers are very fragrant and remind me of the scent of honeysuckle. They are very attractive to bees and butterflies. There were not any around at this time, but I bet the trees will be covered in them by the weekend.

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Up the side pathway is the pathway that cuts across the garden. I installed this pathway four years ago. Unfortunately, my landscape material dealer found a new source for decomposed granite and the new stuff did not match the old. In fact, every time I buy decomposed granite, it seems to be a different color. I have four distinct colors in my landscape. To get it all to match, I scraped off a layer of the older granite and used it as a base for the new granite. Then I replaced the scraped off layer with new granite. So, now, the pathway that bisects the garden is the same color as the pathways on the sides. 

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Here is the view after crossing the pathway and looking back to the west. What a contrast from my neighbor's lawns. 

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Here on the east side of the garden is another pathway/buffer zone. The challenge on this side of the garden is that parts of my property are over two feet higher than the neighbor's. After having a fence with a treated wood (yuck) retaining wall installed last year, I extended the fence retaining wall about 12 feet toward the street with concrete retaining wall blocks. I got a good price on the retaining wall blocks 5-6 years ago when the Home Depot Landscape Design stores shut down. I wish I had about 15 more blocks. The interlocking white concrete edging was left over from prior flowerbeds when I still had a lawn. I used steel edging to add three steps up the pathway. Another project from last year was to install the rocks on the right around the rain garden. 

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This is a wider view of the rain garden. Rainwater from the house gutters is routed through underground pipes to the rain garden. The multi-trunk tree in the rain garden is False Indigo, Amorpha fruticosa. Also in the rain garden are Heartleaf Skullcap, Scutellaria ovata, Gregg's Mistflower, Conoclinium greggii, a couple of varieties of Liatris, and a few other miscellaneous plants that sprouted there.

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Here is a close up of the False Indigo. The leaves sprouted out over the last two weeks and it will not be long before the purple flower spikes bloom.

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I mentioned in the last post that I moved the stock tank. Here it is near the front door, surrounded by Blackfoot Daisy, Melampodium leucanthum, Four Nerve Daisy, and a Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, with yellow flowers. Horsetail Reed, Equisetum hyemale, grows inside the stock tank.

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Along the front of the house, I created a decomposed granite porch. I have flagstone for this area, but I am thinking that I may find other uses for the flagstone and just leave the granite. The long snake against the house is a drip irrigation hose with built in emitters. I have this type of hose all around the house in a futile attempt to keep the foundation moist and prevent any additional movement during the dry months. One of the joys of being a homeowner on the blackland prairie. I suspect I use more water on the foundation than the garden.

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On the other side of the sidewalk leading to the front door is another section of decomposed granite porch. Beyond the porch is a flagstone pathway leading to the side pathway on the west side of the garden. The birdbath is now where the stock tank used to be. 

It does not look like much, but it looks finished now. It took many hours on my hands and knees digging out dirt so it could be replaced with decomposed granite. The unneeded dirt was hauled to the side yard near the alley and given away to people seeking free dirt on Craig's List. Then there were about 10 pickup loads of decomposed granite that needed to be unloaded, wheel barreled around to the garden, spread, and tamped down.  Oh, my aching back. 

Well, now it is time to move on and apply some "finishing" touches to the backyard garden. Fortunately, there is not as much to do back there.

25 comments:

  1. Wow! You have been busy. It looks great.

    Feels good, when the 'vision' comes to life, doesn't it?

    Good job.

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    1. Thanks Linda. I am so happy that this part of the garden no longer looks like it is under construction. I need to control my visions in the future. All of this started out with an idea for an island bed in the middle of my front yard. Now there is no yard!

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  2. Gorgeous...although I don't remember EVER thinking your garden was anything other than beautiful ;-) LOVE the photo with the Penstemon...so lush. I do really dig the rock borders you've used...very fitting for the plantings.

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    1. Thanks Scott. You are too kind. And thanks for forgetting what my garden looks like when it goes dormant in the heat of the summer. Gulf Coast Penstemon is a prolific reseeder. This is why it does look so lush. I always try to cut off the flower stalks before the seeds scatter, however, it is good to let some sprout because the older plants get weak and woody. It would do well in your garden.

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  3. Nice work. Many of these plants would be right at home in Tucson as well.

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    1. Thanks Scott. I looked at your landscape design website and saw several plants that I have in my garden.

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  4. It looks amazing! When you said you had a few projects to do I couldn't imagine how you could improve on what I saw last year but you did. Love the idea of using the landscape edging for the steps.

    Your garden looks even better now as if that were possible. We're planning another trip to Plano soon and I had thought to just drive by but now I think more time is needed. I have your email.

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    1. You are welcome to stop by for another look, Shirley. Let me know if there is another plant that I can send home with you. Maybe a bee-brush, Aloysia gratissima?

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  5. It looks as beautiful as ever. I love the way you have dealt with the boundary line and the rise in the path to the gate. Your Gulf Coast penstemons are an amazing height.

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    1. I had to get a little creative at the property line and with the slope of the pathway. I made do with materials on hand and it turned out pretty nice. Another reason for using the pathway as a buffer zone between my garden and my neighbor’s lawns is to help keep my plants from straying into their lawns. As you know with your own garden, native plants like to spread, although most would not survive typical lawn maintenance.

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  6. Such a beautiful garden. When I removed my lawn, I used a border plant to separate on one side, rocks to separate on the other. I love what you've done. It's so much more rewarding, these lovely, tough blooming things! Enjoy.

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    1. I decided against boarder plants along the property line because I was concerned about them getting sprayed with weed killers by the neighbors. As it is, my plants are 4-5 feet inside the property line and overspray is still a real possibility. I am amazed at how many people will spray weed killers on windy days. I don’t think they should spray them at all, but if they are going to, they should at least use some common sense. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. Love, love, love. I live in Corinth and have now removed all of the grass in my backyard and replaced it with decomposed granite and paths lined with knock-out roses, salvia, yucca and other native and drought-tolerant plants. Did the same last year with part of my front yard. Wish we could get everyone to realize this is the way things will have to be in the future as water becomes increasingly scarce! Green lawns and Texas heat just are not meant to go together. It makes NO sense to try.

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    1. I lived in Corinth before I moved to Plano nine years ago. I still had mostly lawn over there and no sprinkler system. I went a little nuts when I moved here and had a smaller lot. Your garden sounds nice. We are ahead of our time.

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  8. Your garden looks great, I love that raised bed made with stones, it looks so natural as if it's been there forever! You have really done a perfect job and although the overall feeling is very relaxed, lushly and natural there isn't a grain of sand out of place. I'm impressed (=read envious).

    Alberto

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    1. Thanks Alberto. It took a lot of work for that relaxed feeling.

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  9. Things are looking great, Michael. An inspiration to me. Thanks for the tour.

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    1. Thanks Randy. I enjoy the nature walks and hikes you post on your blog since I rarely get to see the real thing.

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  10. I found your blog while searching for cattle panel tomato cages, i.e. your June 24, 2012 post. I'm also in DFW...would you share where you purchased the cattle panels?

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  11. island mama, I got the cattle panel from Tractor Supply. They also have hog panel.

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  12. What good news...I can get to TSC, no problem, and we have a trailer. Now my husband has a practical question: would you share what size bolt cutters worked on the panels or did you use a different tool?

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    1. I tried 14 and 24 inch bolt cutters. The 14 inch worked OK but the 24 inch were much better. Bolt cutters leave sharp edges, so you may want to grind down the points. Maybe I will do a how to post on my tomato cages.

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    2. We picked up the panels today, using TSC's bolt cutters to cut them down to fit our trailer. Will pick up a pair of 24" for the house on your advice. No kidding about the sharp edges! Many thanks for the assist!

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  13. HOLY TOLEDO! Everything is incredible! I love your buffer zones - they make too much sense - very clever. I also love your granite around the house. I have that too - and tell me if you think I am nuts...but I think another plus is that termites hate sand....so this could be a preventative measure? I also find, much to my surprise, it does not get tracked into the house much. What about you????

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    1. That would be great if DG keeps the termites away. I was swarmed last weekend while I was out in the garden. Nothing like a termite up your nose. I get a little DG in the house, but it is not too bad. When I replace the floors, I may have to start a no shoes in the house rule.

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