Thursday, March 17, 2016

Small space, big joy

We started with a vision--birds, butterflies and flowers with a sprinkling of herbs and vegetables; places for the birds to nest and rest plus water to drink and bathe. Greenery summer and winter.  Lush but still water-wise, with drip irrigation so we could travel in summer without coming back to crispy critter plants.

When we bought the house, the backyard had good bones--trees around the back fence and shading the porch -- but the center was bermuda grass, as invasive as roaches.

Our first conversion step was easy to figure out: surround the yard with beds of flowering bushes and trees, infrastructure to provide shelter and food for the birds. We pickaxed our way around the yard, planting favorites like firebush, American beauty berry, Turk's Cap and more, edging the beds with the limestone rocks we dug up. Some of those plants were offspring of plants from our last place.  I love the living sequence in the garden.

The vision for the biggest area in the center was not so clear, engendering a number of (heated) family discussions before we happened on an image of a formal parterre garden with a center urn circled by herb beds.

I've been more of a wildscape gardener in past but small areas need more structure. Not to mention paths for access, terracing to cope with the slope, raised beds for planting.  And a fountain in the center because water enlivens any space.    

Denny said he could do the hard part, leveling the slope, building the beds, running electricity for the fountain. I would pickaxe to break up the limestone, then plan and plant the greenery.  But first we'd have to kill the infernal bermuda grass.

Once we found the fountain, we were motivated.

We decided on materials, then all we had to do was do it. Every day for hours. In August.  And in the middle we decided to stain the fence too. If you're thinking we were crazy, you're right.

But within four months we'd stained the fence and built and planted the beds, with drip installed for everything but the bit of remaining lawn (soon to be converted to a fairly drought-tolerant and less invasive strain of St. Augustine).  

Every morning when I looked out the window I was happy.

Of course there were the day it rained 5" in a few hours and I realized we didn't have a drainage pipe through the bed...see the water coming to crest the lower bed?

The pipe went in when the paths and patio were installed.

I used a number of evergreen plants for year-round color and planted for a three-season bloom span, although this winter was so warm few plants died back and several bloomed all winter.

We're happy and the garden has truly become a bird, butterfly and bee retreat. 

Copyright 2009-2016 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


TexasDeb said...

Wow wow wow... Just....


I'm loving every decision you made. Visually, the results certainly support your choices crazy timing or not. I'm not sure I'd be able to blog about your garden, I'd be way too happily distracted staying out IN it full time. How to tear yourself away and be content inside uploading photos or writing descriptive passages?! I suppose you do have to eat, occasionally. Allergies or not, pretty sure I'd be a full-time back yard resident if I had such a space to enjoy. Kudos all around - can't wait to see this space featured on CTG (and if that isn't scheduled yet it should be!).

Pit said...

You created yourself a veritable paradise! Wonderfully done!
Have a great weekend,

Dorothy Borders said...

It's beautiful!

Kathleen Scott said...

Thank you Deb! It was an amazing labor but it made me feel like I was home--much more so than renovating the house. And we'really seeing more species of birds!

Kathleen Scott said...

Thank you Pit! Denny says this is his last big garden project. Ever. I think it was worth it.

Linda Lehmusvirta said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I know how much back-breaking work it was but now you can sit back and LOVE it!

dianne said...

What a wonderful transformation to your garden it looks stunning and such a lot of work too.
I love your patio area, such a lovely garden space.
My garden is too big for me, much of it is still lawn but it is bird, butterfly, bee and lizard friendly.
I wish I had the strength and energy to transform my garden into such a beautiful retreat as yours, now you can sit back and enjoy the beauty.
I was pleased to read that your Mom was recovering well.
xoxoxo ♡

Kathleen Scott said...

Thanks Linda! You're right, it was worth it.

Kathleen Scott said...

Hi Dianne, thank you. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Kathleen Scott said...
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Kathleen Scott said...
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N2 said...

We have missed you and are glad to have these recent posts. Great job on the garden! Happy to hear your mom is recovering. x0 N2

Linda/patchwork said...

Looks great!
Your hard work has certainly paid off.

Rock rose said...

You are to be congratulated on a splendid job.

Jayne said...

It looks absolutely stunning Kathleen! It was a lot of work for you both, but the results are definitely worth it.