Monday, January 6, 2014

Re-gardening: From This to That and Then Another

I do a lot of re-gardening by working and reworking spots that have already been planted.  There's an area near the front walk that has been a gardening challenge.  At first I thought it should be a perennial bed and planted it with white blooming plants and silvery Artemesia.   The blooms were sporadic and some plants didn't bloom at all as the trees grew out, shading more of the bed in summer.  The deer often ate the dwarf Ruellia down to the ground and the whole thing ended up looking jumbled as the plants bloomed at different times.

This was the one day in three years it looked good just before the deer decimated it once again.

As a prominent spot by the walk to the front door I wanted it to look good all year.


The bed needed something more interesting and definitely more pulled together.  These Agaves set in Berkeley Sedge in Christy Ten Eyck's Austin garden caught my eye.


I also like this bed with Silver Ponyfoot in the Mt. Bonnell garden designed by Curt Arnette also in Austin.


While the Silver Ponyfoot looks good, I decided to try something different.  I planted Agave victoria-reginae along with Berkeley Sedge and Wooly Stemodia hoping to see which of the two choices might work out best.  The Berkeley Sedge promptly turned brown and struggled in an early spring heat wave followed shortly thereafter by the drowning of several Wooly Stemodia plants during a 10" rainfall one morning in May.  When Pam Penick stopped by in June it was looking quite sad.


Clearly another plan was needed.  I looked to the nearby island bed for ideas and decided on Creeping or Prostrate Germander, a silvery gray plant that can take blasting hot sun or shade and won't drown in heavy rain.  This Germander has been here through four years of drought, freezes, floods, and heat waves and it always looks good.


The white Plumbago is the best continuous bloomer of the original plants so I added more where the underperformers were removed.


Most of the perennials were removed while white lantana remains on either side of the Plumbago along with several varieties of Artemesia.  I added cold hardy agaves and tossed in some mulch to cover the ground because I wasn't sure I wanted to add more gravel in the front yard.  We do get bored with the idea of rocks in the yard and if you've ever moved gravel around you know you want to be double sure it's going to stay where you put it for a while!  This is the way it remained until October


By October I decided it was going to be a while before the germander filled in and gravel was the best way to tie the two areas together across the walk.  This photo shows why continuity across the walk is needed.


In October we finished it off with gravel.



Now the three beds at the sidewalk junction tie together much better.  The photo below taken this week shows how it looks in winter with the silvery plants standing out.  In previous years the perennials died back leaving the area empty most of the winter.



The two sides relate better across the walk and make a better transition from the sunny to shady areas of the garden.


The Germander will spread and cover the rocks over time.



Next spring and summer this will be a better welcome for our front garden.



From this to that and then another version is all part of re-gardening until it looks right.  This will be so much better, especially after it grows in.  So it should stay like this for a while until it shows me where the remaining tweaks can be made once the plants mature.

19 comments:

  1. Re-gardening! I never heard it called that, but yes, I do a lot of it, too! I am loving the germander and white plumbagos - it will be gorgeous come this spring and summer. I'm also amazed how much difference the gravel made. It gives that area a "finished" look, even with the immature plantings. And yes, I've moved gravel, so I know that wasn't an easy job!

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    1. It does finish it off though I'm glad I waited until it was fully planted.

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  2. That's a great improvement! I do a lot of re-gardening as well. That's a very good term for it.

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    1. You'd think we would move on to other areas needing attention but I think the front is so important to how I view the garden each day.

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  3. Some areas take a lot of tweaking to get right. I like your approach here and look forward to seeing how it fills in. Agaves and groundcovers are, more and more, my choice for gardening in heat and extreme drought, and they're less work than perennials. The only problem is the darn deer. They continue to find new ways to damage my woody lilies. I found a 'Color Guard' yucca completely pulled out of the ground yesterday, one that they'd already antlered a bit. I've just left it lying there -- deer roadkill -- in disgust, and will have to replace it in the spring.

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    1. I'm glad you like the approach since I was so inspired by those garden tours in Austin. That's awful that deer are attacking woody lilies which work so well in your garden plan.

      I know there's a risk the deer might eventually target my woody lilies there and elsewhere in the front. So far so good since they have been ignoring them.

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  4. It looks great. As you know, my gardening is an ongoing Re-gardening project. :/
    I like that germander, too. And, the deer don't bother it or your plumbago?

    Not sure if you saw my reply about the gate. We used The Fence Guy, here in Wimberley. Appropriate name. They have a website.

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    1. Thanks Linda, I was headed back over to check that on your blog today. I found the gate on his website and I'll keep it in mind when we add to the fence later this year.

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  5. It looks fantastic, Shirley! I understand why you would wait to wait with the gravel, but it certainly looks wonderful now! I tend to do the same thing regarding "regardening"--especially at this property as it was so nicely landscaped when we moved in. I only had a few untouched areas to work with. Now I have so many regardening projects that definitely need some attention! Great post!

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    1. At first you think you won't change much and then you keep working your way around changing as you go.

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  6. Thanks for talking us through your process. The gravel really does pull the look together, and makes it look finished while waiting for plants to fill in. I always admire silver ponyfoot, but think you came up with something even better.

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    1. I'm trialing silver ponyfoot in another area which I will reveal later in the spring. I do like it but I just had to try a variation on the theme.

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  7. It's impressive that you stuck with it until you made the space work (very well, by the way!) I just keep throwing more plants in to create a Darwinian sort of garden (survival of the fittest.)

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    1. Those spaces are happily in the back where I just toss it all in and enjoy. This spot is very public and I wanted it to work better.

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  8. It looks good, Shirley! What variety of germander is that?

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    1. Thank you Kris, that is Teucrium cussonii from High Country Gardens. It's a bit more silvery than the Teucrium chamaedys in the other bed. I read a lot of good things about it so I'll keep posting about it.

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  9. I re-gardened a few areas more than once...yes, even me! That looks to be a nice intertwining of cool agave forms...very nice and unique.

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    1. That's part of knowing what looks good...or not. "It can always look better"

      Thanks, they are all small, slow growing and cold hardy types.

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  10. I love the way that area looks now Shirley! and the rocks really add a nice touch :)

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