March 31, 2016
Oh, how often I hear from gardeners who “inherited” an Arizona ash. These short-lived, brittle trees wreak havoc on our roofs, cars, and sewer systems. Recently, Tania Derington asked if her scarred Arizona ash needed to go.
Yes, says Daphne! With the size of the tree, she noted that it could fall (no pun intended) into Austin’s heritage tree ordinance. Indeed it did, but Tania got approval in 48 hours to take out this potential hazard as we enter fierce storm season. Get Daphne’s complete answer.
Many of us, me included, “inherited” invasive plants like ligustrum, nandina, and Japanese honeysuckle. These plants are disastrous to our greenbelts and other habitats since they quickly overtake natural diversity.
This week, Nathan Unclebach from Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery offers beautiful, beneficial options.
Mountain laurel is one of his water-thrifty choices to replace ligustrum. In fact, when Greg and I bought our house, ligustrums lined our back fence. We cut them down and planted mountain laurel seeds. It took a “few” years, but now we have an honorable privacy hedge, layered with lots of plants for wildlife.
Mountain laurels are slowpokes, for sure. To speed them up a bit, Nathan root drenches with Medina Hasta Gro monthly: 1 ounce to 1 gallon of water.
Originally, Japanese honeysuckle adorned our fence. Luckily, it died on its own. Before our mountain laurels got big, I planted native crossvine (Bignonia capreolata). Never have I watered it since, but look at this! It’s still on the fence and climbing into the trees (along with passion vine).
Crossvine ‘Tangerine Dream’ is a beauty, too. I spotted one at Mueller where birds are nesting, seriously annoyed when I wanted a closer look.
For luscious fragrance to replace Japanese honeysuckle, Nathan goes for native Carolina jessamine.
He’s got several choices to replace nandina, but one is Viburnum tinus ‘Compactum’ that grows to just 4-6’ tall in part shade. Mine is not the compact version, but it’s the perfect screen against a rental house next door. In spring, compact or not, fragrant flowers attract tons of tiny pollinators.
Watch now for more!
So, what about groundcovers for shade? I vote for native pigeonberry (Rivina humilis), Daphne’s Plant of the Week. Once established, it rarely needs extra water except in super dry times.
Growing to only about 12 to 18” tall, it flowers and fruits continuously from late spring to frost, feeding pollinators and birds. It dies back in winter but quickly returns.
Let’s go inside for a minute, since we do spend hours indoors—whether at home or in the office. John Dromgoole answers oft-asked questions about feeding and pest control. Find out more.
On tour in San Antonio, under graceful oak trees, Pat and David Mozersky’s courtyard garden revels in sun-dappled serenity.
They opted to build a compact house after leaving the family-sized home where they raised their sons, Joel and Jason. Their new-styled lawn is low-care Berkeley sedge, offset by multiple textures and foliar color. Steel planters promote visual depth and nurture plants that prefer rich, deep soil.
To match the resourceful new house, they found Austin garden designer Mark Word to render a stylish, low-care, water thrifty composition outside.
For dimension and purpose, Mark tailored a series of Leuders pavers, tucked in with river rocks to capture rainwater.
For quiet and privacy, they surrounded the courtyard with stone walls, inspired by English field stone walls. When Pat found a horse head sculpture at a local gallery, she knew it was the perfect finishing touch.
In back, Mark framed the diminutive yard with a peaceful, low-care frame that culminates in a favorite patio retreat.
Pat and Joel lucked into the huge teak bench, perfect for hanging out with her King Charles Cavalier spaniels. Her herb bed on the side adds aromatherapy along with cuttings for her yummy recipes.
Pat found the bison wandering an Austin art show, and bought it for David’s birthday, since the bison is the mascot at their alma mater, the University of Manitoba.
The split level design magnifies space, leading to the outdoor kitchen and dining room, where guests can wander from dining to conversation areas.
Entertaining is important to Pat, who wrote the popular San Antonio Express-News column, Chef’s Secrets, for 22 years.
Joel found a zinc-topped table and old factory lamp for Pat’s ultimate at home secret: creating harmony on your plate and where it’s set.
Visit Pat’s garden yourself, along with other gorgeous designs on the San Antonio Watersaver Landscape tour: April 9 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Get the details here.
And watch now!
Lots of events this weekend! I’ll be at the Mayfield Park Trowel & Error Symposium on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. to support this historic park and garden. Talks start at 10 a.m. where Jenny Peterson joins us for garden healing through cancer and signs her book, The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion; Eva Van Dyke from Barton Springs Nursery goes for Gardening on the Wild Side; and Keri Anderson from Slavonk & Hortus Terraria goes Undercover with Seeds & Plants/Terrariums Today.
On Saturday and Sunday, Zilker Garden Festival is hopping with lots of new features, include craft beer, bee-keeping, author book signing, music and as always, fun kid activities–including garden railroads. And PLANTS!
Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda