Saturday, January 8, 2011

Garden Tour: January 2011

Have seen several other garden bloggers post a series of pictures creating a tour of their garden or beds.  I have never done so, and I figured its about time - if for no other reason than to provide a baseline set of pictures of the garden's present status (guess this will also have to do for my tardy December Quarterly Report).

Front Yard
  • Three Tiers Garden: This narrow bed lies between my driveway and the neighbors (my yard is to the right).  Dominant plants include Cast Iron Plants (Aspidistra elatior) & Soap Aloe (Aloe maculata).  A few medium-sized Live Oaks provide the shade.
  • Front Left Garden: Small border bed that wraps around the base of a large Red Oak and goes from the driveway to the front door entry steps. Dominant plants include Cast Iron Plants & Autumn Ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora).
  • Front Right Garden: Small border bed that continues from entry steps and wraps around the corner of the house.  Dominant plants include Cast Iron Plants & Boxwood (Buxus microphylla).  Plan on adding a row of Autumn Ferns in front of the Cast Iron Plants (similar to the left side).
  • Front Side Garden: One of the forgotten beds.  Located on the left side of the house near the back yard entry gate/stone path.  Dominant plants include Nandina (Nandina domestica) & Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria 'Nana').  Shade provided by Live Oaks and Yaupons (and privacy fence on two sides).

Back Yard
  • Side Garden: This is the "working" aspect of the yard - that side that tends to get ignored because its where all the unattractive stuff sits (i.e. AC units, garden shed, stone piles, etc.).  No windows look out upon it, so typically only seen when one happens to walk through it going from the front yard towards the larger, primary backyard area.  There is a bed that borders the fence on all three sides, with another island bed containing a bird bath.  Dominant plants include Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) & Dwarf Chinese Hollies (Ilex cornuta 'Rotunda').  Shade provided by a several medium-sized Live Oaks and Yaupons (plus the privacy fence on three sides and the house on the other).  But, since the large Hackberry fell this past spring, this is still considered my "sunny" garden spot.

  • Pond Area: Leaving the side garden, one enters the backyard proper by rounding the corner of the house through a narrow area, stepping onto a multi-level deck that begins at ground level and extends the length of the house (ending six foot off the ground at the other corner).  The first garden area one reaches is around the pond with its dual waterfalls.  Dominant land plants include Dwarf Buford Hollies (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii Nana') & Mahonia (Mahonia aquifolium); the dominant water plant is Water Poppy (Hydrocleys nymphoides).  Shade provided by a very large Red Oak and some medium-sized Live Oaks.

  • Path Area: A series of stone steps rise from the lower deck up to the back of the yard.  Much of my energy is spent (and recharged) in the backyard garden.  A considerable mixture of plants can be found in this general area, so even though there really are no dominant plants, one can find Manfreda 'Macho Mocha' (Manfreda x Mangave 'Macho Mocha'), Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus africanus), Mexican Petunias (Ruellia tweediana 'Colobe Pink') and a few Dyckia species.  Shade is provided by medium to large Live Oaks & Red Oaks.

  • Top of Path: The stone stairway leads one up to the highest level in the backyard.  Here are some views of the top and looking back down the path towards the deck.  

  • Around the Bend: From the top of the steps, a path (combination decomposed granite & stone steps) bends around the corner. This back area of my garden is the least developed with most of the plants having gone into the ground in 2010.  I am still pondering the possibilities for the large empty area - it receives only a small amount of dappled light during the day as it is bordered on two sides by a privacy fence (which has tall cedar growing on the other side) and sits under the canopy of several large Red Oaks, Live Oaks and a large Black Cherry tree.

  • Stepping Stones Path: The path bends around and leads into a series of stepping stones that go through the middle of another large bed and lead back down towards the deck.  Dominant plants include Liriope (Liriope spicata), Variegated Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon jaburan 'Vitattus') & Amaryllis 'San Antonio Rose' (Hippeastrum 'San Antonio Rose'), however, this garden is another that contains several  different types of plants.  Shade is provided by large Live Oaks, Red Oaks & Black Cherry tree, plus several Possumhaw trees

  • End of Stepping Stones:  The path is supposed to lead back to the deck, completing the circle.  But presently it ends a few steps short as I continue to try varying "steps" (thus explaining the scattered flat limestone pieces).  Once completed, more plants will need to be placed around the path and extending out towards the side fence in a new bed.

Continuing to circle the house, one would cross the remaining side yard (home of the compost pile; very shady and consisting of only grass), exit the gate and return to the front yard.  Big plans abound for numerous undeveloped areas, but the large empty areas in the existing beds still cry out for attention - so any further expansions will have to wait (likely quiet a while) until I can fill in the bare locations.

Experiment Status
Zephyr Rain Lily (Zephyranthes 'Labuffarosea') seeds: A couple still going strong.
Mahonia (Mahonia aquifolium) seeds: After sprouting and transplanting, they faded away; thinking inital germinating mixture was too heavy
Bronze Dyckia (Dyckia fosteriana) seeds: Deceased; tiny plants had difficulty rooting in loose mixture (each watering caused them to float free of soil); will have to try different mixture in future attempts
Oakleaf Hydrangea 'Alice' (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice') cuttings: Stayed green until last month, then dried up without ever producing any new leafs.  Will have to burrow to see if any roots established.
Silver Squill (Ledebouria socialis) seeds: A couple doing really well.

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) cuttings: Well, not cuttings - more of "oopsie, broke-offies"; started


  1. Your garden looks great...even in winter.

    I have lots of shade in my fenced area. My sunny areas are 'deer infested'. It's good to see what works in your shade.

    Thanks for the tour.

  2. What a beautiful garden! I could spend many an hour soaking it all in on a warm afternoon. All of your shade must make it quite the heavenly retreat. You don't mention what looks to be quite a stately Sago (or relative?) that shows up in several photos. It's gorgeous! Was it that large when you planted it?

  3. Your garden is a beautiful, wooded sanctuary - glad to see the tour!

  4. I enjoyed your garden tour very much! I love the variety of greens in the dappled sunlight. Lovely

  5. Patchwork: Thanks; I'm always trying to discover plants that do well in shade and our heat.

    Danger: During the summer, the shade certainly helps. And, yes, there are two Sagos back there. They grow quite slowly and are not nearly as thick as those in full sun (these are over a decade old).

    Whimsical: A sanctuary is exactly what I hope my garden will be; a place to set free the day's worries.

    Tina: Glad you visited; have slowly come to realize that shady gardens are mainly gradients of green.

  6. I really like that you eliminated grass in the upper part of your back garden in order to put in the shade garden and stone steps. It looks like a great strolling garden, with lots to explore along the way. Thanks for showing us the long shots. It's always so nice to have an overall view.

  7. You have such a nice sanctuary... very much greener than what my (stereotypical) idea of what a Texas yard would be like. It was fun visiting Your shady garden today. :-)

  8. Pam: Likely can't take credit for "eliminating" the grass; my garden beds tend to naturally evolve from areas where the grass doesn't get enough light to grow!

    Shady: Thanks; here in central Texas things tend towards staying green better in winter (seeing as my first really good freeze didn't occur till almost the end of December!).

  9. Really nice! Makes me really miss live oaks and shady backyards too.

  10. Jean: Certainly have both in abundance in my garden.

  11. What a great tour! Your garden looks so lush and filled with life. How big is your lot? It looks HUGE. I really like all your stone paths. That's the one think I can't really get here in Houston without a lot of money.
    Very nice, natural order to things. Great style!
    I'll come back and look some more when my school work is caught up and I have more time.
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston