Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
First project up: the planter box. The box is formed by the patio’s banco seating and the steps to the garage apartment. It is 36” deep and 5 feet long. The interior masonry is covered with a sheet of rubber tucked under the coping, pond liner-style. There is a scupper at the bottom for drainage.
(I tried to eliminate the construction-related mess from the photos, reminiscent of Cultivating Paradise’s comments on photographing her garden amidst a building site.)
What is that wooden contraption? Why, it’s the railing that was to keep the hapless from tripping ass over elbow into the open planter box. The building couldn’t pass the final inspection without some railing around the planter, but I didn’t want to start moving dirt and plants until the permit was closed. So up went this temporary bit of carpentry. Anyway, it was accepted and the 2x4s can come down any day now. Any day.
So we passed the final, and then the planter box has been planted. The first step was to put a bit of mesh over the drain slot. (It makes an unimpressive view, so no photo.)
Step 2: Rocks were tipped in to provide a drainage layer deep enough to cover the drain slot. I chose this red volcanic rock because it is the lightest rock I found. I don’t anticipate needing to scoop it back out but I never want to be sorry if I do.
Step 3: Spun poly filter fabric goes over the drainage layer of rocks. It’s there to keep the rocks and soil from merging.
Step 5: The plants go in. On the ends we have wooly stemodia / Stemodia tormentosa, a Texas native which likes the well-drained condition it should find in this planter. Beside those, purple heart / Setcreasea pallida which were started from potted plants in the front garden. The puny lemon grass in the center came from a community plant sale. I would like to stick in Manfreda variagata next to the purple heart, which made an appealing combo in Digging’s container gardens. I see Manfreda from time to time in the nurseries here, but now that I am shopping for them, I haven't been able to find them. I guess the lemon grass will go into the (currently non-existant) vegetable beds when the Manfreda is good enough to turn up. That makes it a place-holder plant.
Coming soon: a follow up showing the whole completed patio and planter box...minus the 2x4s.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Galveston would be a different city without their year-round deep green intermingled canopies. They tie together the city’s signature mix of the god-awful tawdry with the timelessly elegant.
But it sounds like most of the live oaks will recover, with care. The browning was mostly due to windburn, not salt water poisoning, and some new growth is emerging.
Scorched live oaks visible beyond the palms. This is not autumnal color! Photo thanks to Mr Nelson.
*My friend Ms Alex says Galveston is more like an old auntie to Houston. Galveston is gracious, slightly stinky and half-mad, born into class but with shocking bad taste. Gotta love her.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
As spectacular as the blooms are, my favorite part of the plant is the leaves. Here is the rosette of a swamp coneflower in the garden today. The big leaves are blue green and they will stay this lush and cabbage-colored through the winter. This is different from other Rudbeckias which go dormant as miniscule and miserable-looking rosettes during winter.
Swamp coneflowers do have a period of looking seedy in the late summer when they are all about the stalky old flowerheads. I want to attract finches so I tolerate the gangly seedheads. Post Hurricane Ike, I cut them back and new growth sprang up soon after. Sorry finches, wherever you are.
Though it grows in low wet spots in the wild, swamp coneflower will do just fine in regular garden soil. My five are in an un-irrigated, slightly built-up planting bed. Louisiana iris, switch grass, and native crinum lilies are also dual citizens of the swamp and flower bed. If I had a big raingarden in a sunny spot, I would happily add them together with more swamp coneflowers.
Friday, October 10, 2008
To set the record straight, the annoying little trees that were next door are not Tree of Heaven/Ailanthus, but Golden Rain Tree/ Koelreuteria paniculata. I want to slander them in exactly the same way (a rose by any other name, huh?). Yes, they have gorgeous flowers but Golden Rain Tree is so invasive. Too many volunteers crowded together in a monoculture, or forcing their way between sidewalk and building, have led me to think they are not attractive or desirable.
And another thing: I thought the Cuban brown anoles and the local green anoles had different ecological niches but now that doesn't seem to be true. Young Cuban brown anoles are scuttling over everything! I hope that this little guy is not the last green anole left in the garden:
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Living in Texas and working in the landscape industry, the pressure is on me to be fluent in Spanish. Alas, my Spanish stinks. Often when I launch into a conversation with a nursery worker, for example, I get the kind of look that means, "We must humor her, but what the hell is she trying to say?"
Spanish is an easy language to learn, some say. I am proof against that. Oh, why didn’t I learn when I was a young thing, before my brain filled with woody tissue? Ever hopeful, I am taking lessons at Ole School of Spanish. In that spirit, here’s a mini Spanish lesson with plants which go by their Spanish names as often as English around here. Photos were taken at the marvelous nursery The Arbor Gate in Tomball, Texas.
Esperanza (meaning ‘hope’)/ Yellow bells in English/ Tecoma stans in Latin:
Chile Pequin (‘little chili’)/ Bird pepper/ Capsicum annuum:
Hoja santa (‘holy leaf’)/ Rootbeer plant/ Piper auritum:
Yerba Buena (‘good herb’)/Mexican mint marigold/Tagetes lucida
Well, I don’t have a good photo to post but you can see yerba buena here.