THINKING ABOUT XERISCAPING? DO IT!

WHY Xeriscape?  We are running out of clean water and future predictions are for sustained drought for the next decade for central Texas.  Austin area population is growing at a rate of 150 new permanent households every day which translates to over 2 million people by 2016 and doubling to 4 million by 2040.  Due to periodic drought periods, our lakes that provide our water cannot be sustained at a uniform full level. Our aquifers are slowly diminishing yet demand for water will increase with population growth. That just doesn’t compute. This is a long-term crisis that must be addressed NOW!  The crisis isn’t going away the next time we get a deluge of rain. Residential water use for landscaping is 30% or more of total water use. This is one area of water conservation that can have a significant impact on addressing this crisis.  It isn’t hard to do.  We must rethink what is an acceptable landscaping for our neighborhoods and change the “green lawn” paradigm.

Advantages of Water-wise landscaping:

Significant impact in conserving critically diminishing water supplies

Saves homeowners money, not only for water usage.

Reduces runoff of pollution into groundwater supplies by chemical lawn products

Reduces yard maintenance (mowing during heat of summer)

Provides durable and lasting landscape by using native and adaptive plants

Protects our fragile environment

Inspires artistry, creativity and variety in landscape design

Helps wildlife by providing natural food and shelter

Three basic principles of xeriscaping:1.  Reduce lawn size, 2.  Use native and adaptive plants, and 3.  Embrace the local environment – don’t try to change it.

Most people want to do the right thing but don’t know how to go about it.  Some tips:

 Plan, plan, plan, first.  Wear down a lot of pencil leads and erasers. Put it on paper, use available and reliable sources of information, e.g. City of Austin Grow Green Book, and run a sanity check on your design before any digging.  If work is to be done by a professional landscaper, supervise and challenge if necessary, what they do or produce.

  1. Check HOA guidelines and submit xeriscape plan for approval if required.
  2. Stick to your plan and modify only as needed as you progress.
  3. Removal of existing lawn can be done with a weed eater to avoid disturbance of soil ecology or damage to tree roots.You can even use shredded grass for compost pile.
  4. Lay out borders between materials and textures using metal stripping. Complete all hardscaping, masonry, and construction work first.
  5. Plan a phased work schedule to coordinate delivery of materials and work days.Three inches of native TX hardwood mulch for mulched areas, and 2” of 5/8” river rock for stone walkways, which may include stepping stones, is recommended.
  6. Choosing, buying and planting plants is the last step, after all hardscaping and layouts are done. It is best to do construction work in fall and winter and plant in spring.
  7. Place plants in-situ and hand water well until established. Allow spacing based on ultimate plant size, not instant appearance.
  8. Palisades Zoysia has been proven to be an excellent choice for both sun and shade and uses less water than other alternatives if small areas of turf are needed.
  9. Remember, xeriscapes reduce maintenance work, but are not maintenance free.

October thru March is the ideal time to change your yard to a water-wise, sustainable landscape.   It’s an investment that will reap benefits to you and your community..

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AND THE WINNERS ARE……..

It’s been over 5 years now for our totally Xeriphytic Yard and there have been lessons learned, unexpected surprises, stressful climate conditions, but no regrets.  So here is a report card on our Xeriphytic experience.  A xeriphytic yard has several objectives including greatly reduced water usage, adaptability and durability of plantings, attraction of wildlife whose habitat is being demolished by continuous human development, and the aesthetics of seeing a diverse, beautiful landscape year around.

A key to success is choice of native and adaptive plants.  We have had trial and error experiences and our garden (defined as the entire yard) has been a testbed for determining the most durable and adaptive plants.  Yes, we have changed out many plants that didn’t do well in the desired location and tried new prospects but overall, the Garden has been 80 percent unchanged over the 5 year period.  A little change out of plants is also a fringe benefit by diversifying the garden occasionally.

I rate my best xeriphytic plants by dependability, pests and disease resistance, adaptability to severe seasonal temperature fluctuations, maintenance requirements, attraction of wildlife, and overall textural appeal.

So, I created a short list of plants, based on our own personal, testing and experience, from which any person wishing to xeriscape their yard and reduce lawn area, might benefit.  As we are in our mid 70’s, living in hot, dry central Texas for 12 years, I have been working year by year to reduce maintenance and still enjoy the relatively carefree benefits of a xeriscape.   My recommendations for beginners is based on a minimum of 3 years of success with each plant and by all means is not all inclusive.  I recommend Googling them by botanical name to learn more about them. I have just listed species in many cases as there are so many varieties and cultivars within most of them.   For example, Crepe Myrtles come from 12” to 20’ tall in a multitude of colors.  I did not intentionally include any potentially dangerous plants, for which the Southwest is famous for.  I word of caution however.  Summer is not the time to construct a xeriscape, but planning for fall would be beneficial.  Seek advice from knowledgeable sources.

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A good xeriscape plan requires much advance study and thought so whatever design you develop, you can’t go wrong with plants on this recommended list for a beginning.  I hope this is helpful and will inspire more people to face the reality that water is becoming a scarce resource and we much change our thinking about our landscaping. There is one recommended turf grass included that we have found best for central Texas overall, Palisades Zoysia and we use it only to comply with our HOA requirement that 25% pf the front area must be turf grass.  We have a lot of happy bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other birds etc. all of which love our choice of native and adaptive plants which provide some natural habitat so we can share the earth with them.

A GARDEN PICTURE IS REALLY WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

OK, a little play on an old phrase, but as I was putting together a PowerPoint presentation on “Garden Photography”, that saying really hit home! The thousands of pictures I have taken of plants , creatures, and layouts in our garden documented the fruits of our labor as a gardener in ways that are impossible to express in words. So, get that camera out and start clicking, if you are not already doing so, but with fair warning – garden photography can be very addictive.   WHY?

It lures you into the garden more often — with fringe benefits.

  • Your garden gets periodic health inspections,
  • New happenings are timely discovered,
  • Problems are timely noted and handled, and
  • Mental planning occurs as you browse around..

Captures seasonal garden changes

 

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Captures details your eye often misses

  macropics

Captures a garden history over time

Provides a means of sharing your garden with others

Expends appreciation of the garden – how it helps the environment

 

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Enables re-visiting prior times & gardens, and brings back memories

Looking at beautiful pictures of your garden, plants you have grown, and nature’s visitors in prime time helps fight the depression of seeing what your garden looks like in down time!  Yes, I mean the dead of winter.

No garden remains static from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year. Every day you walk the garden looking for photo ops provides a one-time opportunity to capture something you may never see again.

Take panorama (broad view) photos, macro (close up detail) photos, and photos of everything that affects or resides in your garden, good, bad, beautiful, ugly — it’s all fair game and part of documenting and learning. Finding unique artistic photo compositions is exciting. There is plenty of material to work with in the garden.

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Garden compositions to look for include:

  1. Complimentary, and/or contrasting color combinations and backgrounds
  2. Interesting and contrasting textures
  3. Adjoining complimentary items (natural or man-made)
  4. Striking ornamental features
  5. Different angles of the same object
  6. Assembled compositions (e.g. arrangements of potted plants)
  7. Detailed patterns and symmetry
  8. Any unique oddities

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The biggest problem you may have is how to organize the many photos in some meaningful way. With about 9,000 pictures of plants, gardens, past and present, I have yet to satisfactorily solve that. But the camera will keep on clicking!

No camera is perfect, so take many shots. Pick and select the best.

Most shots need some graphic enhancement Learn how to use your image software features,  (e.g. color adjustment, definition, brightness, cropping).  BUT NEVER enhance images beyond what your eye actually saw.

Collages save space & can be used effectively for comparative images E.G.  this collage compares the three flowering colors of Hesperaloe that are available.

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A blog has it’s limitations as to how many pictures that can be posted so I developed a Facebook page, “The Xeriphytic Yard” in which I post a multitude of garden photos. If on Facebook, look it up and “like” it so you can get notified of my frequent garden picture additions. 

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So look at your camera as a garden tool. It adds a new dimension to your gardening enjoyment.   I conclude with a little poetic ditty and food for thought.

IN THE BLEAK MID-WINTER, WHEN GARDENING TIME IS DOWN;

GET OUT THOSE GARDEN PICTURES, AND GET RID OF THE FROWN;

FOR BEAUTY CAPTURED IN PRIME TIME, CAN NEVER BE DESTROYED;

THANKS TO A CAMERA, THE GARDEN IS IMMORTALIZED, & ENJOYED.

LIST OF ARTICLES WRITTEN FOR CENTRAL TEXAS GARDENING BLOG

I have enjoyed writing articles for this Central Texas Gardening Blog since January 2009 which supplemented my website that I discontinued (per the latest article). These are all contained in the Archives which unfortunately don’t show the article titles and content.   So for your reference, here is the entire list showing topic and date written.   I invite you to visit or revisit any of these articles that might interest you.  If on FaceBook,  I have a FB page “The Xeriphytic Yard” which I also invite you to visit.  Like it to receive updates when new posting occur.  Sharing my gardening enthusiasm and interest with fellow gardeners is what I enjoy most in my retirement years.  I hope you enjoy and will share your gardening enthusiasm via the many media available to us today that we never imagined many years ago.  The list appears below:

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Central Texas Gardening Website
Sep 2, 2017 12:05 PM18 Views1 Like

HORTITHERAPY: FOR BODY, MIND, & SOUL
Aug 5, 2017 1:27 PM20 Views

The Grass Patch
Jun 7, 2017 4:39 PM22 Views1 Like

SHARE YOUR GARDEN!
May 11, 2017 3:48 PM35 Views1 Like

THE JOY OF OUR GARDEN
Mar 29, 2017 9:29 AM37 Views1 Like

I’M A PENNY-PINCHING GARDENER
Apr 25, 2016 4:30 PM137 Views1 Like1 Comment

A Colorful Winter Garden
Jan 25, 2016 1:00 PM178 Views

THE LAZY DAYS OF SUMMER
Aug 4, 2015 10:40 AM130 Views1 Like4 Comments

YOUR GARDEN IS AN ART GALLERY – Really!
Jun 12, 2015 10:44 AM220 Views1 Like1 Comment

A FOUR SEASON GARDEN – PHASE ONE – SPRING
Apr 8, 2015 4:22 PM263 Views1 Like2 Comments

WEEDS – A DREADED PART OF GARDENING
Jan 12, 2015 2:22 PM177 Views

A SILVER LINING FOR YOUR GARDEN
Nov 5, 2014 3:35 PM135 Views3 Likes2 Comments

Landscapers – “so called”??
Mar 15, 2014 12:38 PM296 Views2 Likes1 Comment

2013 – A Gardening Year in Review
Jan 6, 2014 11:05 PM263 Views2 Likes2 Comments

NEW LANDSCAPING THEORY 101
Oct 29, 2013 4:42 PM432 Views3 Likes3 Comments

Some Foliage Makes Good Scents in the Garden
Sep 17, 2013 3:34 PM239 Views1 Like4 Comments

LEARNING BY TROWEL AND ERROR
Jul 2, 2013 4:23 PM211 Views1 Like7 Comments

“FROSTING ON THE CAKE” FOR YOUR SUMMER GARDEN
Jun 14, 2013 4:13 PM223 Views3 Comments

A DREAM GARDEN!
Apr 25, 2013 8:04 PM1,619 Views3 Likes8 Comments

IN THE BLEAK MID WINTER – GARDENER’S PLAN!
Dec 31, 2012 2:54 PM267 Views1 Like1 Comment

ARE LANDSCAPE PROFESSIONALS “PROFESSIONAL”?
Oct 15, 2012 4:49 PM274 Views

LANDSCAPE DESIGN USING MS OFFICE
Sep 22, 2012 9:16 AM9,980 Views1 Comment

OUR XERISCAPE TRANSITION ON KLRU-TV
Sep 13, 2012 12:56 PM277 Views2 Comments

REFLECTIONS ON A XERISCAPE
Aug 10, 2012 12:43 PM3,145 Views2 Comments

ADD SOME SPECIMEN PLANTS TO YOUR GARDEN
Apr 6, 2012 10:25 AM797 Views

WHAT IS A GOOD PLANT NURSERY?
Mar 1, 2012 1:42 PM789 Views

PLANT CULTIVARS / FORMS THAT SOLVE PROBLEMS
Feb 18, 2012 12:24 PM710 Views2 Comments

A NEW YEAR AND NEW GARDEN OPPORTUNITIES
Jan 1, 2012 9:23 PM173 Views4 Comments

A NEW XERISCAPED FRONT YARD
Oct 29, 2011 10:46 AM13,999 Views1 Like11 Comments

GUT CHECK TIME FOR CENTRAL TEXAS LANDSCAPES
Oct 3, 2011 9:51 PM745 Views8 Comments

PLANT DROUGHT SURVIVAL
Jul 14, 2011 7:52 PM645 Views2 Comments

Proven Winners in My Garden
Jun 23, 2011 4:05 PM1,263 Views3 Comments

WHAT GETS CREATED MUST BE MAINTAINED
Jun 9, 2011 2:13 PM52 Views1 Comment

Gardening with Bambi
Apr 15, 2011 12:15 PM183 Views

THE PROBLEM WITH MANY PLANT NURSERIES
Mar 1, 2011 4:00 PM122 Views3 Comments

A PLANT’S LIFE – INDOORS!
Feb 18, 2011 8:20 PM237 Views

>I’m Dreaming of a Green Winter
Feb 10, 2011 4:42 PM657 Views

>Winter Plant Damage – A Gardener’s Woe
Feb 7, 2011 8:49 PM111 Views

>The Winter Garden Needn’t be Boring
Dec 23, 2010 11:28 AM85 Views1 Comment

>ORNAMENTAL PLANTS TO AVOID IN YOUR CENTRAL TEXAS GARDEN
Oct 4, 2010 2:24 PM1,533 Views

>THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF BROMELIADS
Sep 25, 2010 12:49 PM2,915 Views1 Comment

>TROPICAL PLANTS AND CENTRAL TEXAS
Aug 17, 2010 11:25 AM2,063 Views2 Comments

>GOING GREEN THROUGH GARDENING
Jun 25, 2010 3:16 PM92 Views1 Comment

>ADD FUN TO YOUR GARDEN – aka “WHIMSY”
Jun 8, 2010 5:00 PM421 Views1 Comment

>RESOURCES TO HELP AUSTIN GARDENERS
May 6, 2010 11:31 AM101 Views2 Comments

>NATURES GARDEN – BETTER THAN OUR BEST EFFORTS
Apr 16, 2010 9:59 AM1,330 Views

>TEN SPRING GARDENING TIPS FOR CENTRAL TEXAS GARDENERS
Apr 5, 2010 8:33 PM33 Views

>COST SAVING STRATEGIES FOR GARDENERS
Mar 23, 2010 9:16 PM385 Views2 Comments

>WEEDS – A DREADED PART OF GARDENING
Mar 13, 2010 8:12 PM211 Views1 Like4 Comments

>A RARE SNOW GARDEN IN AUSTIN, TX
Feb 26, 2010 2:33 PM451 Views2 Comments

>GEOPHYTES IN YOUR GARDEN – OH MY!!!
Feb 15, 2010 4:34 PM455 Views3 Comments

>RECOVERING FROM A HARD FREEZE – BOTH GARDENER AND PLANTS
Jan 20, 2010 6:22 PM457 Views9 Comments

>FROM SCORCHING HEAT TO DEEP FREEZE
Jan 8, 2010 11:11 AM67 Views

>CURBSIDE LANDSCAPING
Dec 31, 2009 12:10 PM5,589 Views2 Comments

>MY MOST DREADED GARDEN PEST
Dec 1, 2009 11:42 AM477 Views1 Comment

>THE “DOWN TIME” GARDEN
Nov 20, 2009 11:02 AM31 Views1 Comment

>GOTTA MAKE MORE PLANTS
Oct 28, 2009 4:09 PM229 Views1 Comment

>PALMS FOR AUSTIN? WHY NOT!
Sep 21, 2009 2:06 PM110 Views2 Comments

>Global Warming and Gardening
Aug 22, 2009 1:18 PM2 Views
>Gardening in the Heat of Summer – NOT!
Jun 28, 2009 11:37 AM41 Views1 Comment

>Survival of the Fittest
Jun 12, 2009 10:42 AM9 Views2 Comments

>Tips for Mailing Plants
May 1, 2009 8:30 PM7 Views2 Comments

>How to Enjoy More Plants with Limited Space
May 1, 2009 7:19 PM15 Views1 Comment

>Look for Us on Central Texas Gardener
Mar 24, 2009 10:03 PM9 Views4 Comments

>Xeriphytic Landscaping in Central Texas
Mar 24, 2009 9:48 PM192 Views1 Comment

>Sharing Plants and Garden Ideas
Mar 7, 2009 3:48 PM18 Views1 Comment

>Variegated Plants for Central Texas
Mar 5, 2009 11:30 PM2,375 Views1 Comment

>My Favorite Five Plants for Austin
Jan 21, 2009 2:16 PM67 Views

>Beyond the Digging
Jan 10, 2009 11:18 AM2 Views

www.centraltexasgardening.info

Almost 15 years ago,  I set up and continued to improve a website to help fellow gardeners in the region where I live.  It began as Houston and Gulf Coast Gardening and transitioned to Central Texas Gardening when we moved to Austin 11 years ago.  As social media has developed into a very resourceful tool for sharing with fellow gardeners,  I have ventured into that arena with this Central Texas Gardening Blog and also set up a FaceBook page entitled “The Xeriphytic Yard”.  I find that in this transition, I truly lack the time to maintain and update my formal CENTRAL TEXAS GARDENING website properly.  So I have made the decision to take it down effective September 29, 2017.  If you have visited that site and benefited from the information provided, it has been worth all the time and effort that went into it.  I am retaining all the files that are on that site for future reference myself.

I started learning how to do a website using hypertext language script until WYSIWYG came along with wonderful software tools.  Doing this website has been quite an educational challenge that I enjoyed, even when difficulties arose.  I have another website  to keep my skills up but not gardening related.

Using the CTG Blog,  I can share my enjoyment of gardening narratively, and informally rather than in website format.  Also, I have gotten into garden photography and can post pictures easily and in quantity using the Facebook Page.  Times change, and even in my senior years, I have learned to flex and change with the times.   I look forward to spending more time in the garden and less time on the computer.  In the process, I have amassed a huge collection of photos and done a lot of research.  I give garden topic presentations to local gardening organizations and these resources will continue  to be shared with fellow gardeners in central Texas.

SO,   www.centraltexasgardening.info , no longer exists,  but my enthusiasm for ornamental gardening and sharing experiences with others will always be there.

 

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HORTITHERAPY: FOR BODY, MIND, & SOUL

Article Contributed by, Maria Cannon, Dallas, TX


The healing powers of gardening are well-documented, and that applies to large flower gardens small vegetables gardens, and everything in between. Specific types of gardens, termed therapy or therapeutic gardens, may just be the king of the gardening-for-health category. When it comes to helping you battle depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, and health problems caused by stress, it’s hard to beat this particular treatment.

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How a therapy garden uses sensory stimulation to help you relax and heal

A good garden is one of the few things in the world that can stimulate all five of our senses. Sight is the most obvious, as flowers are absolutely beautiful to look at. Flowers and herbs all have unique aromas, which can be calming. Certain plants and grasses make sounds when rustled by the wind. Vegetable gardens can provide delicious treats to savor, and the different textures of plants, from smooth leaves to fuzzy Lamb’s Ear, can satisfy our sense of touch.

Don’t just think about plants. A great garden will have some sort of water element to it, which is vital to building an area where you can relax.

“Provide a water feature because water is a soothing agent. Still water can provide a setting for meditation while the sound and view of moving water is restorative. You can use a small fountain or create a pond with koi or goldfish,” suggests Care2.

A good therapy garden will have emotional connection

Plants play an important role in memory and positive association, and surrounding yourself with reminders of good times is certainly therapeutic.

“Plant things that are meaningful to you and evoke happy feelings. For example, maybe lilies remind you of your wedding day because they were in your bouquet … The more positive associations you can create in your garden, the more opportunities you’ll have to change your outlook,” notes MotherEarthLiving.com.

Gardening gives you a sense of purpose

For those struggling with depression, loneliness, anxiety, or some other mental health issue, there are very few hobbies that instill a greater sense of purpose than gardening. Think about it: you plant a seed, bulb, or very small plant. You create a perfect environment for it to thrive. Then, you take steps every single day to ensure it succeeds. Eventually, that plant blooms and bears fruit. That fruit can be visually stunning, delicious, or a treat for your nose. Without your care, the plant never would’ve survived.

This is the nurturing benefit of gardening. For those battling their own inner demons, there is nothing greater than giving yourself a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

The therapy is in the work

The results are in, and exercise helps to prevent depression. Getting enough physical activity boosts our brain’s production of feel-good hormones, keeps us fit and healthy (which certainly affects mood and overall life outlook), and helps us keep our minds sharp. Gardening is a wonderful low-impact form of exercise. Doubt that? Spend a whole day in the garden and see how you feel the next day.

Not only that, but working in a garden is a great way to get out in the sunlight and fresh air. Without enough sunlight, we don’t get enough Vitamin D. When we don’t get enough Vitamin D, our brains produce less serotonin, which is a pleasure trigger.

Any garden can be a therapy garden if it’s designed with care, with the intent on stimulating all of your senses. Gardening has many health benefits, but the most important one may be its ability to boost overall mental health

As someone who suffers from fibromyalgia, gardening has been a lifesaver for me. It has allowed me to work through the depression and anxiety I’ve had about my chronic illness, in addition to providing me with a type of physical activity that has proven to be highly therapeutic.

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Postscript by Bob Beyer, Central Texas Gardening.

I . who has now reached his senior years, have always felt that Hortitherapy was a Godsend to many people whether battling health issue or just everyday frustrations. Maria’s article hit home for me and I am delighted to receive and share this article from Maria which brought to light, the reasons I value gardening.   In my case,  I grew up in tropical south Florida and have never returned to live there again.  I miss the tropical plants and environment that take me back to my formative years.   So, now, living and gardening in central Texas,  I must have a greenhouse to allow me to grow and enjoy the tropical plants I miss and love like Bougainvillea for example.  My xeriphytic yard has many varieties of hardy palms and other tropical looking plants that can make it thorugh our winters in Austin.  Every day, I feel compelled to walk the garden and look for anything new and exciting, camera in hand to immortalize the beauty of nature so I can still enjoy the garden if confined to indoors due to weather extremes.   I also love to start new plants from rooted cuttings or small divisions so to have the satisfaction reproducing and watching them grow.   Also, the wildlife that are atrracted to a garden brings joy and happiness.  Thank you Maria Cannon for your thought provoking and stimulating article.   What is your reason and prime benefit from gardening?

 

 

 

The Grass Patch

Who likes to get outside in the heat of summer to mow a fast growing lawn when temperatures drain your energy?  That means cranking up the gas powered mower, which contributes to carbon emissions and global warming (not to mention the expense of buying, running, and maintaining it).

The paradigm that every yard (or garden as the entire yard is referred to in England) must have a lawn of finely mowed green grass to match all your neighbors samo samo probably began long ago in the British culture.   A house is not an acceptable neighborhood home without a nice green lawn, right?

Nope, not in my opinion.  Reducing lawn area is a major contribution to reducing unnecessary water usage,  chemical fertilizers and pest control substances that pollute ground and surface water sources, etc.    This is a major principle and component of xeriscaping.

Unfortunately, our community covenants requires a small percentage of front area to be turf (25%), but we experimented and chose Palisades Zoysia as the most attractive, durable, drought tolerant alternative to comply,  and it has not disappointed.

Aside from that,  there is the back yard, which in most cases is also lawn turfed.  Here is where xeriscaping really pays off.    We have incorporated a small grass patch of Palisades Zoysia for aesthetic and design purposes only, to provide textural contrast to the rest of the yard which is adorned by mother nature’s native and adaptive plants, (which also attracts lots of wildlife for our viewing pleasure}. P1030401

But getting back to my initial point,  WARNING:  FACITIOUSNESS AHEAD.  I just totally exhausted myself mowing our back lawn (grass patch) of 100 sq. ft. using a push mower with the added benefit of providing needed exercise.  It took a whole 15 minutes including edging,  So, I can have my tiny lawn and enjoy it as well without harming the environment, saving water, and much less wear and tear on this old gardener!

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I feel so nostalgic, like going back to the future, when I mow our tiny lawn area with this push mower.  I made my first dollar mowing lawns with one like this for $2.50 a yard when I was youngster.

So, bottom line:   Xeriscaping makes sense in every sense of the word.   Let’s use that common sense, simplify our lives and help sustain our beautiful planet.  Sometimes the best way is to go backward.

 

SHARE YOUR GARDEN!

I have been feeling challenged as to how best to share our garden with other gardening lovers. Although I invite people to come by to see it, they are so busy with jobs family, and other obligations that finding the luxury of time to do so isn’t always possible  I currently use three methods, a website at www.centraltexasgardening.info   which is very general and regional in nature,  this blog by the same name of Central Texas Gardening at www.centraltexasgardening.wordpress.com , which supplements the website with written articles on many gardening topics archived back to 2010. Most recently I have created a Facebook Page entitled “The Xeriphytic Yard”.   In the latter method, I am able to post many photos of the garden from broad design perspective to micro-detail of that which is growing in it or nature visiting it.   It would be pretty impossible to post so many garden pictures on a blog, so I encourage my blog followers who are on Facebook to visit “The Xeriphytic Yard” Facebook page and like it so you can receive notices of frequent updates.   This way, I can share the joy of what I see and experience year round in our garden with you and maybe share some idea for your garden.  I will continue to write gardening articles occasionally for this blog, but find blog posting to be much more cumbersome to do on a timely basis. The only problem is that some of my gardening friends are not on Facebook miss out. Bummer!   For those who are, the direct address is https://www.facebook.com/centraltexasgardening/

That being said, the broader concept of sharing your garden with others through todays technology and social media, is something I encourage as everyone’s yard (syn. with garden) is unique and offers different elements of excitement. I am part of a 58 member closed Facebook group called Austin Garden Bloggers, and we share garden photos all the, while still maintaining our individual blogs.  A list of those is in my website.

Our gardens change character by season and take on a unique look that is only captured during a specific time of year.   I love to see photos taken by my garden network friends. It’s  like a virtual extension of my own garden. This makes a camera a vital gardening tool that can and should be used year round. Just as a xeriphytic garden/landscape offers unlimited opportunity for creativity and artistry, so does photographing your garden offer a challenge to capture it in unique ways, compositions, and details.

So what is a gardener to do in between spring preparation/planting and fall maintenance/harvesting periods. Answer: Visit it daily looking for photo ops that can be stimulating and shared with others. The beauty is often in the details and the camera captures that sometimes better than the eye. Oh yes, include descriptions or narrative to go with it.

So how do you share your garden with others who can’t be there to see it personally?

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THE JOY OF OUR GARDEN

This is a posting of an article that appeared in Avery Ranch Living Magazine which reflects the reason we love our xeriphytic yard,  five years after its construction.

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We are in our mid 70’s, retired, and have created a totally xeriphytic yard that we constructed in fall and winter of 2011. Lana did the design and Bob contributed his knowledge of plants. Five years later, we are enjoying the results of that hard work.  It is truly a dream garden in every sense.  It requires little to no watering,  no chemical fertilizers or pesticides,  relatively less maintenance,  attracts wildlife of all sorts (birds, butterflies, amphibians, mammals, and beneficial insects such as honeybees).  We use native and adaptive, durable and hardy plants to provide a variety of color and textures for all seasons.  We have received the City of Austin Green Garden Award, and have been certified by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife as a certified backyard habitat which is important since subdivision development is destroying natural habitat for wildlife at an significant rate.

We enjoy sitting on our backyard deck which gives us a 180 degree view of it all.   We love to see and hear the purple martins in spring,  followed by migratory and local birds feeding from our feeder or bathing in our bird bath. butterflies and hummingbirds abounded in our garden this past fall. Our selection of native plants is intended to draw all types of wildlife.

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Our garden (defined as the entire yard), has been featured on Austin’s PBS station, KLRU’s Central Texas Gardener. The producer called it “cohesive diversity”, a garden with a large variety of plants but structured within a planned design.   There are areas of the garden that reflect themes such as compatible plant groupings, regional look, etc., plus a 360 degree natural pathway around the house to walk and enjoy the entire yard.   We have a hobby greenhouse that allows us to enjoy tropical and tender plants from spring to fall by safely over-wintering them.

We change out some of our plantings each year to avoid having a static garden and provide  new growing experiences.  This often happens when unexpected hard freezes damage or kill some plantings, which is a good excuse to find something different to try.  We seek some diversity year to year within the design structure.

We have tried to make our garden reflect “Central Texas” through use of natural, local materials as well.   We love to help other gardeners through sharing of our experiences.   Our website at www.centraltexasgardening.info , and our Blog at www.centraltexasgardening.wordpress.com are a means to do this.   We also have a Facebook page “The Xeriphytic Yard” to further share our love of gardening.

We like to think of our yard as an incentive to draw us beyond the walls of our home into the beauty of nature. Gotta smell the roses!  Make your yard a source of joy every day of the year

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I’M A PENNY-PINCHING GARDENER

From early childhood, I have learned how to get the most out of limited resources and that lesson has remained with me my entire life. It’s a habit I can’t break, even with my enjoyment of ornamental gardening in my retirement years. To further justify that, the prices of plant materials in nurseries has skyrocketed to the point that I now consider it a challenge to create a beautiful garden without shelling out big bucks for new plants. I am a penny-pinching gardener. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Pre planning: I am not an impulse buyer but have a plan in mind for every plant I seek and buy. It has to have a place, purpose, and suitability in my garden. Therefore, I research first using reliable internet resources before shopping and buying at plant nurseries and garden centers. I identify and shop at quality nurseries that have the best quality/priced plants.
  2. I select plants that can be eventually divided or can be propagated should I wish to expand use of that plant. Often, one gallon containers contain two rooted plants in one container as growers often do this to ensure survivability of at least one when it reaches market. Perennials, ornamental grasses, succulents, can be divided, shared, or traded as plants mature in your garden. Selectivity and sharing of purchased plants among gardening friends in this way saves money and provides diversity for your garden. .
  3. I propagate new plants from cuttings, always keeping a spare of any plant that may be hard to find if lost, to expand my garden plantings, or to swap with friends for new plants to try.
  4. I use all natural garden decor rather than man-made items. Ornamental rocks, dead wood, etc. make a garden look natural, are found and nature, and are often cost free.
  5. I have a hobby greenhouse which allows me to overwinter tender plants and not have to repurchase new ones annually. This expands the variety in my seasonal gardens.
  6. I am a patient gardener. I enjoy seeing plants grow, start from small and develop into maturity. I would much rather buy a 4″ potted plant and grow it rather than pay a lot more for an already mature plant. Growing is a key part of gardening, in lieu of planting for immediate effect. I take pride in saying I grew this plant from a cutting, division, or starter size.
  7. I can give my garden a change in appearance by rearrangement, rather than replacement of plant materials. Transplanting at the appropriate time of year can give a fresh new look.
  8. I avoid buying high priced, high risk plants, as tempting as they may be. I am not a risk taker when it comes to gardening but stick to those plants that have proven reliability in our area.
  9. I recycle potting soil and create my own compost in lieu of purchasing processed fertilizers.
  10.  I find decor pots and garden ornaments at garage sales and thrift shops and create decor containers from ceramic pieces by drilling drainage holes with a ceramic drill bit.
  11. I collect rainwater for watering in lieu of automated irrigation, and hand water only as needed. I mulch all planted areas to reduce watering needs, and supplement soil nutrients.

Not everyone needs to economize like this, depending on one’s economic status, but a dollar saved is a dollar earned, and if your gardening resources are limited, there are ways to create a masterful ornamental garden within your means. Even living on a fixed retirement income, I can afford to spend much more on my gardening pursuits than I do, but feel better doing more with less, and that makes me a happier gardener. Yes, I am a penny-pinching gardener – it’s hardwired! Doing the most with the least is a challenge I love when it comes to gardening.