Sunday, December 8, 2013

Melody's Garden

This blogging journey has introduced me to many new people with fascinating gardens which I have tried to share.  One of my new-found friends is Melody who lives relatively nearby so she shares most of my gardening challenges.  She is an accomplished gardener and her gardens are beautiful but also have many fun surprises.  Let's take a tour.

The gate and long gravel driveway says "way out in the country" but Melody lives about two miles closer to San Antonio than I do.

"Welcome to 3-D Farm" Melody called out as I emerged from the car on my first visit a few months ago.  Deer, Ducks, and Dung. Yep, the stuff they leave behind.  (See Melody's comment on this.  She actually said "Dogs" but it is funny so I've left it)

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks or Whistling Tree Ducks often join the deer in the yard.  You can hear the sounds at this link to "All About Birds".  Choose the recording option titled "calls from flock" for the best representation of a whole flock whistling in unison.

True to their name they roost in the trees....

...and along the roof line whistling all the while.

Beautiful creatures

In the early evening you'll find the wildlife residents waiting for the automated feeder to drop their dinner.

Lucy injured her mouth and has trouble eating so Melody gives her a special ration each day.  The tub is kept filled with water for all the wildlife visitors.

This buck might be after Lucy's dinner....

Having this many deer in the yard means it's best to leave things very natural.

 Agaves and small trees must be fenced off to prevent antlering

And then there are the bunnies which are not as easy to contain

Plants in the front beds are protected from deer by electric wire.

 I love her front porch with plenty of room for a swing.

Her use of vines throughout the gardens is one idea I took away from my visits.   This Sky Vine growing over the fence and the side of the house is quite dramatic.

Behind the high fence is the beautiful and relaxing back garden with a bordered lawn.  More vines on the trees and arbors add so much to the garden.

Pool with spa and water feature

Plenty of colorful plants

Plenty of spots to enjoy the garden

Melody uses a lot of vines in the garden like Passionflower growing up the columns

Cypress vine, Chinese Lantern Hibiscus, Red Fairy Duster

Red Passionflower with its caged seed pod

Melody loves to propagate plants; one of her work tables is near the back porch

  Old garden table with ferns

Chinese Hat flower and Hyacinth Bean Vine.

Across the lawn is a shade garden.  Melody was inspired by cedar arbors and benches at The Antique Rose Emporium gardens and hired Tom, who built the arbors at ARE, to build the cedar structures in her garden.

Pathways under the oaks

Bench with birdhouse is a signature piece we all loved at the ARE gardens.

Roses are a favorite and mix with perennials throughout the sunnier spots in the garden.

A snail vine on the fence produces delicate flowers which curl in a snail shape.

At the end of the driveway is a stone barn with coral vine growing over the wall.  The vine is grown on cattle panel wire fencing attached to the eaves.  When the vine dies back in winter the panel is removed.

The old corral behind the barn will be a new sunny garden area.  Raised beds are key to gardening on our rocky soil.  Plastic was down all summer to solarize weeds and Bermuda grass which had taken over.  The shade garden is behind the far fence.

What a gorgeous setting for a garden!

It's cold outside right now so it's wonderful to go back and remember my visits to Melody's garden.  I haven't seen the new garden for a few weeks and I hear it's changed a lot.  Most of the beds were planted before the cold weather set in.

I can't wait to see the new garden growing next spring.  There are so many beautiful plants to share here and I plan to keep you posted on the progress of Melody's new garden as well.


  1. What a cool garden! Vines add so much interest to the garden. I really need to figure out where to stick a few more, especially that snail vine. I'm not sure it's cold hardy here in Austin, but perhaps it can be grown as an annual vine.

  2. I like her garden with its relaxed planting and tranquil atmosphere. And hats off to her too for such a lovely garden despite the challenges of having deer and rabbits within the vicinity.

  3. What a fun tour! I'm so happy that she makes room for all the wildlife too!

  4. What a beautiful garden! It's like living in a park. We have deer but don't feed them, except that they eat our apples and whatever else they can get to. The ducks are really interesting, maybe more annoying than deer? The vines look great but the red flowers are sensational! The Chinese Lantern Hibiscus with the finely divided petals is gorgeous. I'm amazed at all the things that grow in San Antonio, my childhood memories were of a thorny cactus/ mesquite desert.

  5. It's nice to see gardens looking beautiful. Mine looks so pitiful right now. Love the snail vine, I'm glad to see folks growing it here.

    We had a bunch of whistling ducks on our pond up until probably six weeks ago. They've since moved on, but hopefully they'll come back next year.

  6. It's wonderful that Melody welcomes the wildlife and even feeds all the critters yet also has beautiful deer free areas in which to garden.

  7. Wow, how big is Melody's garden? It seems huge. She really does have a flair for using vines, and they give her garden such an Old World look, especially on the columns by the pool. I love what she's done -- such a tranquil garden. Hmm, I wonder if Melody might welcome an Austin visitor at some point? :-)

    1. It would be fun for you to see her garden since I first met Melody at your talk in SA. You also met her at the ARE in Brenham when you spoke there.

      I think the garden areas might be about an acre but I'll check.

  8. Shirley, thank you for the lovely post on my garden! It's so fun for me to see my yard and how it looked not long ago, before the freeze this weekend. But I do welcome the change of seasons and appreciate taking a break from the warm weather. I had to laugh when I read that you thought 3D Farm was for Deer, Ducks and Dung!!! My daughter always calls it Deer, Ducks, and DOGS, but really it's appropiate the way you said it! I'm looking forward to spring and seeing the bluebonnets and bulbs, and whatever else is new in the yard. Being a gardener is an adventure and I enjoy sharing it with my friends!

    1. Oh no! I should have clarified it. That's funny, I probably heard it that way as was watching my step at the time! I look forward to posting more on your garden in the spring.

  9. What a great garden!

    Love all those vines...especially the Snail Vine.

    I do understand about the dogs and deer and dung. We have that here. I'm a bit glad we don't have the ducks to worry They're pretty, though.

    Thanks for taking us along.

  10. Feeding wildlife is not a good practice. Encourage strictly native, natural growing plants for the area. The wildlife will come. Hopefully the deer food is not corn.. that's like giving deer pieces of chocolate candy. Bad, Bad, Bad. Many good sections, tho, especially the passiflora foetida, or Corona de Cristo vine.

    1. It is not possible to grow enough native food for them in the space available. Despite how it appears in the photos these deer are trapped in a residential area. Since you live in the SA area you must be well aware that there are no options for relocating them either so I suppose we could watch them starve. Folks in this neighborhood have been feeding the deer for decades and they are doing just fine.

  11. What a pretty yard and home. I love the trees and natural areas for the wildlife and the protected areas for the people. LOVE the passion flower vines on the porch posts.

  12. Simply beautiful. The cedar arbors and benches give it the perfect touch. It will be fun to see how the new area is developed. I'm looking forward to follow ups.

  13. I've never seen those Whistling Tree Ducks! Of course we lived on the prairie side of New Braunfels so we did not see the Hill Country fauna. Melody is a jewel and her gardens are as beautiful as ever. (I got to see them when I delivered that potting bench.) Thanks for the tour.

  14. Melody's garden is INCREDIBLE! I love the balance she has struck - I want her to blog!!!!!!!!!! So many incredible plants she much to share!!!!!!! What a tour Shirley!!!!!!!!!! Thank you :)

  15. I think what Liz meant about feeding corn to deer is that it is not nutritious for them. It's like giving candy to children for dinner. There are special formulated deer feeds available.

  16. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments, I know Melody appreciates them very much!