Tuesday, October 9, 2018

October 9th Before and After 2018

Exactly seven years ago on October 9th, 2011, just a few days after I began this blog, one of my first posts was a "Before and After" of our front garden and I've kept that theme as an annual feature to show my yearly progress.

2010 (before the blog)

Just a year into a complete revision of our landscape I took this photo to document how good it looked.  We had just finished putting rocks in the mailbox strip along the road.  The deep pink Salvia greggii had been in place about 15 years when we divided and replanted them to fit the new scheme.  Just a few months later those blooms were the highlight of our landscape.

The following year in 2011 we had the first of two severe drought years and everything looked terrible.  October 9th just happens to be a date for which I had a good "before" photo from 2010 that I could use to write about my disappointment here on my new blog.  Toasted grasses and under performing salvia were a step backwards in 2011.

Over time I expanded the view to include the driveway and front corner of the garage.

2018:  Today's view was taken yesterday between torrents of rain which have fallen on a near daily basis since early September (nearly 30 inches in four weeks).  Good thing since today turned out dark and rainy too.

The new Yucca rostrata has been in place nearly a year behind the big Agave ovatifolia and the smaller Yucca rostrata in the island bed is growing up nicely.  Native muhly grasses are beginning to bloom and a yellow blooms of Damianita, Skeleton-leaf Goldeneye, and gold Lantana make up for missing sunshine.  I am so impressed with how desert native Skeleton-leaf Goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba) has weathered our rain that I'll feature it in a future postWe've lost a few drought tolerant plants with all this rain but most of my favorite agaves and yuccas are mounded up with gravel for drainage for just such an event.  New to this area are the 'Blonde Ambition' grama grasses I featured in my Blogiversary post last week which are just visible behind the Texas Mountain Laurel to the left of the mailbox.

Here's last year's (2017) view for comparison.  This year in the spring I cut the salvias back to the ground again.  They have responded by growing greener and fuller.  Blooms might be sparse due to a lack of sunny days.  Wow, the small Yucca rostrata (center) has grown a lot with all this rain!

Back to 2018 this wider view photo taken earlier in October on a rare sunny day includes landscaping at the end of the driveway and gives a better view of the new yucca on the garage corner.

And now with seven years of blogging behind me this post would get quite long if I included all of the photos with changes over time.  You can see details of my previous October 9th posts and the changes I've made over the years at the links below.

October 9th 2011
October 9th 2012
October 9th 2013
October 9th 2014
October 9th 2015
October 9th 2016
October 9th 2017

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Celebrating Seven Years of Blogging

I published my first blog post seven years ago today.  My garden was in its early stages and I thought regular posting would push me into gear to set goals for improvements while also sharing my progress (or setbacks) with other gardeners in San Antonio and beyond.  Just before hitting "publish" on that first post I wondered how long this blog would run.  Five years seemed like a good goal at the time.  I blew past five years and here I am at seven.  In honor of seven blogging years (is that the same as dog years?), I am sharing a fall tour of my garden.

With over 25 inches of rain last month it's a good time for a tour because the gardens have sprung to life after a tough summer.  Since I have a tradition of showing wider views on October 9th to compare progress year to year, I'll focus on closeups for this post.

We'll start up front by the street where last spring I was inspired by Christy Ten Eyck's local landscape installations to try a row of 'Blonde Ambition' grama grass in the front garden.  I moved some that had been scattered around the back garden and added a few new ones.  The seed heads start out chartreuse and turn tawny over time.

I like the effect and plan to move a few more from the back where they don't show up as well.

It takes a lot of space to mass them by the hundreds as in a professional landscape but I have found that five have a nice impact placed among spiky plants and salvia.  One of the golden barrels has bloomed for the first time this year.

Red barrel cactus bloomed for the first time this year with bright orange but quite inconspicuous flowers compared to other cactus blooms.

Native clammy-weed has found a place in the rock garden.  After seeding prolifically for several years it nearly died out but has returned in one of the hottest, driest spots.

A lack of rain over the summer led to a reduced crop of American Beautyberries (l) while the darker Mexican Beautyberries (r) seem to have weathered the summer drought much better.

Behind the Beautyberries I found this combination amusing.

Below you can see the face pot sits alone at the end of the path.  Two years ago I pulled out a ton of messy liriope and planted various sedges.  Various because it wasn't easy to find enough of a single variety.  That's Berkeley Sedge on the left of the path and locally native Webberville Sedge on the right.  They look very close in texture so it works.

The fountain still rocks.

There's been so much rain the Cenizo sage along the driveway blooms sporadically instead of all at once.   

Kitty enjoys rain lilies which have been spreading around the garden.

Keeping in mind that I have invited a group to tour the garden next May there seems to be work to do in the back garden as this area still lacks some definition and needs attention.

Flowers are overflowing the tank in the circle garden.

Pathways have been overrun.

Salvia farinacea has filled the tank to the point where I'll need to take some out in the spring.

Vignettes of all my collected stuff in the garden.

I reworked the flower "bed" last spring and it's looking a good deal better now.

Yes, we're still in Texas.

Loving the purple of Salvia Amistad which is the only Salvia guaranitica I can grow.  Hummingbirds also love it.

Brugmansia noid enhances my view from the kitchen sink and that Crinum to the left looks like a good candidate to divide and add some contrasting texture to the front fence garden I mentioned earlier.

Mexican Lime is almost ready for Key Lime pie.

Bougainvillea, gold lantana, cactus, and Yucca rigida in the back corner with Cow's tongue prickly pear.

My favorite view of bending oaks over the path we use most often.  Taking out the trash is actually kind of fun, especially walking back down this path.

That's the quick tour to celebrate my seventh anniversary of blogging at Rock-Oak-Deer.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday October 2018

Our rainiest September on record in San Antonio followed one of our driest, hottest summers ever.  Over 25" of often pounding rain kept me out of the garden and the usual late summer butterfly population was down but we should soon make up for lost time.  The rain has brought an abundance of flowers to the tank garden which is a magnet for daily bee activity just in time for Wildlife Wednesday hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Tina at "My Gardener Says....".

Wildlife literally buzzing in the tank garden is a little hard to see from here so we'll have a closer look.  Honeybees are all over the Salvia farinacea.

And so are the bumblebees.  Different bumblebees can be identified by the shape of their fuzzy stripes but I am chart-challenged apparently so just look at all that bright orange pollen.

We need a GIF to demonstrate the activity.

Frostweed (Verbesina virginica) is blooming just in time for Monarch season.  Monarchs have been spotted in Austin just an hour north so they should be here soon.

Our neighbor who regularly mowed "weeds" around the stop sign at the end of our street has moved and I discovered Monarch host plant Zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) has popped up along with a surprising variety of native plants.  I've been collecting seeds in case another "helpful" neighbor decides to start mowing.  Its companion is excellent nectar source pink Oxalis drummondii which has begun colonizing in my buffalo grass.

I continue to be fascinated by tiny toads showing up after a rain.  Immediately after hatching out in the open they make a run for the nearest cover similar to turtles heading for the sea.  This one is smaller than my pinkie nail.  

Baby toads are excellent at camouflage.

Burrowing animals like foxes and armadillos have their access limited by water in our typically dry creek but the deer are loving it.  For years we watched in amusement as they play in the water and often walk or even run up and down the middle of the creek after a rain.

Deer are even better at camouflage than the toads.  It's a handy survival device.

Ah, there you are.

It's a buck, they know to remain in the trees so their antlers blend in.

The rest of the herd is here too.

Enough spying, he's showing off that beautiful leaping style.

That's the wildlife report from my September garden.  Tina has more wildlife garden posts in the comments section of her blog.