Finally, finally, freakin’ FINALLY, our horrible summer of record-breaking drought, heat, and fire seems to be over. I can leave my house without wanting to die! What novelty! I was outside as it got dark, planting some ‘Confetti’ lantana from Robin over at Getting Grounded, and in my short sleeves, I was actually COLD. I had to run in to get a sweatshirt. I was using my gardening gloves not only to keep my fingers clean, but to keep them warm. It was FREAKING FANTASTIC, HOLY SHIT!

(My happiness and relief cannot possibly be overstated.)

So anyway, earlier today a bunch of the Austin garden bloggers got together at Philip and Leah’s East Side Patch for a shindig, wandering around the Patch snacking, catching up, and drinking, in my case, some truly excellent pumpkin beer.

After introducing myself to three people in a row with, “I write Gardener Of Good And Evil, which hasn’t been updated in…a while,” I have resolved to update, so hi! Now that the heat’s over, I’m alive again! Just in time for allergy season!

So anyway, despite my resolution to not buy any new plants that weren’t cactus, I read about the endangered Monarchs migrating through Texas, where pretty much all of their food sources are gone, and went out and bought a bunch of butterfly plants. Thanks to months of heat and drought, I had plenty of places to put them. Here are some pictures I intended to post last week. There’s about five times as much pink and yellow lantana now:

The view from the path to the front door. I thought for sure this Agave Weberi was a goner. Over the course of the summer, it had turned a sickly yellow hue and basically tipped over. It was still firmly attached at the base, so I didn’t think it was the Dreaded Weevil. Then cool weather came, we got a little rain, and it stood back up. Quite dramatic, and also just asking for use in a anvil-to-the-head metaphor of obviousness where it represents the gardener herself:

lindheimer muhly, datura, gophrena, agave Weberi

Aside from the agave weberi, this bed contains gophrena, Silver King artemesia, catmint, a struggling Blush Noisette rose, and bamboo muhly in the stock tank behind it.

I cut back the native Texas sunflowers so I could walk through my yard again. For the first time I can remember, the birds had picked the seedheads completely clean.

The datura is taking over this bed, which is fine with me.

Cactus with more Silver King artemesia and Agave Stricta. The grassy plant in the background is actually a tree-like succulent known as Mexican Grass Plant. The corner where I put it is so dry that everything else I’ve tried there besides artemesia has given up the will to live immediately, and I have lost the will to put anything there that isn’t some form of non-spiny cactus-y thing.

Lo and behold, a huge improvement to the front of the flower moat in the form of 3 Silverstar Yucca. I’m gradually converting this bed to extremely low-water plantings, but when I drastically cut back these Rainbow Knockouts, they responded by filling in and blooming like crazy, looking the best they’ve ever looked. Go figure.

My car. Heh. No, really, my front garden is my hands-down favorite right now, but trying to get pictures without vehicles is extremely difficult. But anyway, I’m in a quandry– I already got a Wheeler’s Sotol to replace the Lindheimer muhly that’s to the right in this picture. I needs a bit of extra water in that spot, but when it’s in bloom like this and the sun backlights it, which happens twice a day…it’s magical. I don’t have another place to put it that would highlight its inflorescence so perfectly. What to do?

Now here’s a wider shot of the front bed from the strip of dead lawn that runs along the street. HUGE problem area at the front of the bed, and I’m not sure what to do about it. All of the plants that trailed over and hid the ugly cheap landscaping bricks have fried or frozen. What to plant there instead, something evergreen and incredibly drought tolerant that won’t shade out the yucca rostrata? I’m thinking that I might have to give ice plant another try there, but I keep hoping I’ll think of a more cold-hardy alternative. Any suggestions?

Clerodendron in front of my front porch. I’ve coveted this plant from afar, so when given the chance, I spirited three large pots away from the Master Gardener greenhouse before the official plant sale (MG perks, yo!), babied these suckers all summer, and now that it’s cooled off, all three plants are blooming, proving that all that annoying hand-watering was totally worth it. I LOVE these blues!

And this concludes my almost-up-to-date photo dump and blog update! And I see that I seem to be cursed with weird formatting issues when I blog. Guess it’s time to download the WordPress app for the iPhone and see if that’ll help somehow.

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12 Responses to It’s ALIIIIIIIIVVVEEEEEE!!!!

  1. jenny says:

    I’m impressed that you got your stuff planted immediately. I think mine is still in the back of the truck! Your garden is looking absolutely wonderful Just goes to show how well you chose your plants for the kind of climate we now have. And the Clerodendron, looks like trinkets at a jewelry store. I had to take a closer look. What a little beauty.

    • Jenny– if you want a cuttings of the Clerodendron, just let me know. It roots pretty easily.

      And don’t worry, I didn’t get EVERYTHING planted from yesterday. I still have a huge shade plant I need to find a home for, and a big bag of rain lily bulbs from Diana still sitting on my front porch!

  2. sandy lawrence says:

    LOVE your gardens. Everything looks fabulous and thriving and just right for our (obviously) changing climate in Central Texas. You asked for suggestions for the strip in front of the yucca rostrata bed. Low-growing, trailing and heat and drought foolproof, they seem to fit the bill, so do you like either Woolly Stemodia tomentosa or Silver Ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea)?
    Missed your funny and informative postings and great photos. So glad you’re back!

    • Sandy– Thank you! I’m glad you like it. I like the Woolly Stedmodia suggestion; I’ve never tried it before. Alas, ponyfoot was my first choice to hide those ugly bricks when I first planted that bed, but it’s just too steeply drained for them to do well. Ponyfoot’s one of those plants that seems to be effortless for so many gardeners, but it’s never been happy in my yard, which is especially aggravating because it’s one of those plants I really love, and despite killing flats upon flats of it all over the yard, over and over…no joy.

  3. Love that butterfly plant! The need for a heat-tolerant, low-growing trailing plant is tricky, and silver ponyfoot doesn’t work for you. Have you tried prostrate rosemary? Trailing lantana? How about Texas nolina? It drapes over a wall beautifully as it grows. Thanks for the baby ‘Silver King’ artemisia at the Patch. I got it planted today!

    • I have tried prostrate rosemary, and I have 3 of them spilling over the wall in other parts of the front garden. The problem with that option is that I think it would grow faster than the yucca rostrata, and probably end up smothering it. But I do love the scent, so maybe I’ll try it anyway and be vigilant with the clippers. Have you tried dalea greggii? I had a pot of it in my hand at Barton Springs nursery earlier, but I’ve only seen pictures and decided to save my $8 for a gallon pot of tried-and-true bamboo muhly instead.

  4. Robin says:

    Wow, your front yard really perked up since I saw it last! Amazing what temps below meltdown levels will do. And I obviously need to water my clerondendron a bit more and give a bite to eat so I can get my blooms – usually it is blooming its head off by now. Don’t you love that bloom?
    I thinking Helen von Stein Lambs Ears by the street – they don’t want to be watered, and mine held up through this awful year – while other varieties melted in the heat. Does that spot get any shade (they do better with a little shade). Also, it isn’t evergreen, but my blackfoot daisy does great if I don’t water it much, and it drapes over the curb nicely. I like your new blog, btw. And I’m with you on the break in the heat!

    • I tried blackfoot daisy the first year I had that front bed, and it worked perfectly to hide the bricks, and the scent on warm days was fabulous. The problem is finding it in 4″ pots when I need it in the spring, since it doesn’t seem to really make it through the winter for me. That spot gets no shade at all, and I’m trying to hide the brick, so the Lamb’s Ears are right out. Maybe I should try rooting some Powis Castle artemesia? It’s done a good job hiding the wall in other parts of front bed. The problem is keeping the yucca rostrata from being overwhelmed, and artemesia has a tendency to smother everything in its path in my garden.

  5. Robin says:

    Yes, for some reason BF Daisy can be hard to find in 4″ pots in the spring. I’ve seen it, though, at Great Outdoors as well as Breed’s, so it can be done. I still have some spots where I need more, and who knows if mine will come back next year or not. Might need more than a few!

  6. I’ve grown black dalea (Dalea frutescens), Lori, in my former garden. It didn’t care for my black gumbo soil though, and got thin and, well, not good looking. But since yours would be on a well-drained wall, it might serve. Speaking of 4″ pots, you could also buy narrowleaf zinnia in spring. It would go all summer for you, just like the blackfoot daisy, but in orange!

    • I got some zinnia seeds at Philip’s, so I definitely want to try it even if I can’t find the blackfoot daisies or zinnias in small pots. I’ve never really used orange in my garden, and I’ve decided that that’s gonna change!

  7. cyndik says:

    oops! I think your fine art degree is showing.

    Hi, it was fun meeting you at Philip’s a couple of weeks ago. After checking out some of your past posts here, I have to say that I love how you group plants- close, varied and thoughtful…with an artists eye I think and a Master Gardener’s thumb. Nice combo.

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