Sunday, March 1, 2009

Winter Garden

Cottonwood (Populus deltoides). They aren't visible in this picture, but there is a tiny little tuft of new leaves on the topmost layer of branches. Spring's a-coming!

First, the fascia.
Matt's been risking life and limb to tear off the old, rotten fascia, and replace them with new, treated fascia. You should be listening to "Also sprach Zarathustra" (the 2001 theme music) while looking at the picture below.

Matt, tearing down the old fascia

And here you can see the old and new fascia side by side.

Manky, rotten old fascia on left; shiny white new fascia on right

It makes me feel very responsible and virtuous to be taking care of this now, as it isn't a major aesthetic issue and doesn't impede the day-to-day running of the house (my two strongest motivating forces for home repair). It's sort of preventative maintenance, my very least favorite kind. Matt's now got the west and south sides complete. I need to do some more priming and painting so he'll have a good supply of boards for the rest of the house.

Then, the Garden Report
Sometimes I get a little frustrated because our garden is so immature. In some places, it just seems like frowzy collection of sticks and twigs. However, either the changing seasons, or a recent (slight) growth spurt, or our new garden additions are making me feel like I can see where we're going. I think I can see it morphing from something disparate and disunified and disproportionate into something that makes sense as a whole. Maybe. Just a little. It's gratifying.

S0 here's a recap of recent progress.

New weeping yaupon, on right. How nice it will someday look with our relatively new trellis and our somewhat less new magnolia!

Enlarged front bed with new special bulge to accommodate new weeping yaupon and a rose or two. We'll (eventually) be putting a walkway along the bed from the drive to the front door.

And the other site of much recent endeavor is the shade garden, which is intended to one day enwrap our little patio like a leafy green stole.

New Mexican Olive (Cordia boissieri).

Our adolescent little cordia is the linchpin of this plan. We need it to anchor the bed, provide evergreen shade, and shield the southeastern corner of the house.

A woodsy, green headge is also key--this patio faces our jerky neighbors (not visible in the picture below--there you see the house of one of our nice neighbors), so we need some privacy. On a more positive note, I'm planning to indulge myself with a greener, moister bit of garden that one is often able to carry off in central Texas. The fact that the garden is east-facing, that it's under a giant deciduous cottonwood, and is shielded by an evergreen ligustrum (for now), means that we have a little more leeway in this corner of our yard. The kinder, gentler soils of Elgin help, too. So I'm hoping to create some bosky lushness.

The ferny grey-blue folliage of the new Dioon edule in front; new oak-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) in back, providing some bright winter color.

The two oak-leaf hydrangeas (one still hypothetical) will be particularly dominant features of the shade garden. They have wonderful loose, airy, greeny-white flowers, and the mature shrubs are built like linebackers.

Oak-leaf hydrangea leaves

I'm also hoping this awesome winter color is a reliable annual feature. They look like giant coleus.

Iris virginiana in front, Japanese maple behind it with native columbine (Aquilegia candensis) at its base, and a small clump of inland sea oat (Chasmanthium latifolium) shoots in the background.

In a couple of paychecks, I plan to order a truckload of mulch to mulch the entire patio area. My back spasms in anticipation.

Elsewhere in the yard, those larkspur/poppie seeds I planted appear to be pulling through. So far, I'm only seeing one kind of seedling--not sure if they're the Oriental poppies or the larkspur. The seedlings are currently pretty sparse, but it's early days yet. I do hope both kinds come up--I absolutely adore a mixed bed of poppies and larkspur against a white wall or, in this case, a white gazebo. I first fell for it at Landmakr Inn in Castroville, that nifty Alsatian settlement W of San Antonio, and I've been hoping to replicate it ever since.

Larkspur? or poppy? seedlings

Although we had some dreary, balled-up buds on 'Ducher' almost all winter, I think this might be the first proper rose of 2009, photographed back on Feb 8th. I'm particularly pleased for it, as it's a dark horse--one of our mystery roses--a tea (maybe) that bears a slight resemblance to 'Monsier Tillier.'

The precocious ersatz 'M. Tillier'

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