Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day Projects

Up in Pennsylvania the big news is all about Punxsutawney Phil and his Groundhog Day prediction of an early spring.  When I was growing up in sub-tropical Houston I thought it was an odd story and wondered why anyone would want winter to end early since our February weather was pretty nice.  The rare snowfalls and icy days we experienced seemed like fun to me and a nice break from our typical heat and humidity.  I married a Pennsylvanian, learned to drive in bad weather and spent the next 30 years in very cold places like the upper midwest and New England before returning to Texas for good a few years ago.

Groundhog Day in San Antonio means I'd better get busy and finish my big garden projects because it will soon be too hot to build new border beds or a fence.  Our record high for February is 100F/38C and the low is 4F/-15.5C, not in the same year but it could have been.  In the summer the trend reverses because by July gardeners up north will be out enjoying their gardens and we will be focused on indoor projects to beat the heat.

We have two large projects on the spring agenda this year.

First up is replacing the fence on the north side of the house and extending the perennial border around the buffalo grass lawn in the back yard.  The old fence was removed earlier in the week and we'll be out there soon putting in the new one.  We'll enjoy this view through to the front yard with the open fence while the trees make it quite private on this side.



Those are the new fence panels leaning against the wood fence on the right.



The new fence is already installed in this area between the house and detached garage which will be paved with flat stones.  Groundcover and grasses will be planted in spaces between the stones.  We have allowed horseherb, a native groundcover, to grow in here for about two years which paid off because when I began to remove it last week hundreds of worms turned up indicating the caliche clay soil has begun to break down.  The roughed up area will become a stone-lined creek for excess runoff from the driveway to the creek below the house.


Then there are the do-overs or "re-gardening" as I like to call it.

This year's do-over is the perennial garden to the north of the front walk.  I have been planting flowering perennials there for several years, but it's too shady in summer so they rarely bloom and it just looks jumbled most of the time.  The photo below is the best it looked all last year.

 
The perennials will gradually be moved to new borders in the back and this area will be planted with small agaves and grasses or groundcover similar to gardens I saw on tour in Austin last fall.

Christy Ten Eyck used grasses with agaves at her Austin home.  The deep green is sedge with a few Nasella tenuissima along the path.


Curt Arnette of Sitio Design used Dichondra 'Silver ponyfoot' in this planting at the Mt. Bonnell garden in Austin.



I like both these ideas and think this will look more pulled together for the front walk.  I've already begun clearing the spot leaving the existing Agave angustifolia in place and as soon as I decide between groundcover or grasses we'll begin planting....


.....right after we finish installing the fence and putting the stones down in the side yard.

18 comments:

  1. Good luck with the projects. Hope you get them finished in time. We're due an Arctic blast next week in the UK, so no gardening projects for us just yet.

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    1. Brrr, we haven't had an arctic blast yet this year and now it would be devastating to the garden because all the new shoots are emerging early. Hope you can get out in the garden soon!

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  2. I hope you have fun this Groundhog Day, watever pops up! You've got quite a few projects there - Enjoy.

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    1. Thanks outlaw, we did get quite a bit done with the good weather.

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  3. We'll be doing some 'regardening' here, too. We have devoured shrubs in front. Whatever came through, even chomped on the nandina and the scraggly viburnum...ugh
    Trying to figure out what will survive the shade, drought, cold AND deer. It's a challenge.
    I think your projects will be great. Can't wait to see the results.

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    1. That's awful Linda and certainly a challenge. We don't have nearly the damage you do and I think it's because the deer stay in the creek with natural vegetation much of the time.

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  4. Yes, this is the time of year we central Texans need to get busy! I have a few projects in mind myself before the heat returns.

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    1. Look forward to seeing the results of your projects too Pam.

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  5. Hi Shirley! I found your blog from your comments on Pam's site, and I'm glad I peeked over. Pretty garden! Its hard for me to imagine 100 degrees in Febraury... and I grew up in Texas!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Jen, I enjoyed visiting your blog as well.

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  6. Always having new projects keeps us young, don't you think?

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    1. That's a good way of looking at it, especially if I can figure out how to avoid the sun at the same time. We do a lot of things ourselves for just that reason.

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  7. It sure feels like Spring is on its way. Sounds like you have some fun projects planned. I love the Silver Ponyfoot planting. Would like to replicate that in my garden.

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    1. It does look good in our gardens, I'd like to see what you do with the ideas.

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  8. Even up here, it's time to get cracking - first drying wind, then you-know-what! Guess I need to carve out time and quit blowing it off. Your project sounds good, as do what you'll apply (or if at all) to your "re-gardening" spots.

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    1. Spring sneaks up on you in the desert too.

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  9. Re-gardening. I like that term! I need to re-garden in a few areas myself! ;) I agree with you about needing to get busy even though it's only February. Come June, July, and August, it will be too hot to do anything but look at posts from our northern friends!

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    1. Re-gardening sounds so much more fun than re-work. It's still gardening.

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