Saturday, February 22, 2020

Installng a New Solar Garden - Part 1

When we first bought our house, we somewhat naively and ignorantly had the builders remove all of the "brush"in the front yard.  Much of it was cedars, and we wanted the cedars gone... but along with it went a lot of natural fauna.  I was not much of a gardener back then and didn't recognize or appreciate native plants.  In our back, undeveloped portion of the yard (the part we didn't tear up), I have found lots of fragrant mist flower, yaupon holly, twist leaf yucca, agaritas and even a red bud.   

I am guessing those same plants were also thriving in our front year.  And we had the builders tear them all out.  Sigh.  I can only guess how many of these plants that I am now purchasing, were once living here freely.  So now I am slowly, very slowly, trying to replace the St Augustine back with native plants.  

So this year's endeavor is to replace the hottest, driest portion of the front yard. I am calling it my "solar garden", since it get sun from morning until evening. I am filling the garden with those plants that I *know* are incredibly tough and drought tolerant.  Fortunately, many of these plants I have pulled from other parts of the yard, and some from the back.  That's how I know they are tough ;o)

So far, I have transplanted, from other parts of the yard:



Whale Tongue Agave. I had received a whale tongue agave pup around two years, and I have long thought about placing him in that front dry portion.  So he was the first to arrive.  One of the hard parts of garden planning, is that the plants start off so small, and some take awhile to grow.  I originally planned this guy as the center of the garden, but he is so small right now, it felt sort of silly.  So I put him on the side, figuring in a few years, when he gets bigger, I can build around him.

Agarita.  I then tried transplanting an agarita (see previous blog post).  I am not optimistic about its success, but if it doesn't make, I will buy one to replace it with.  I just love this native bush.

Obedient plant.  Yes, I sometimes cringe because every place I transplant this plant, I regret it.  It quickly takes up so much space.  But I think given the right location, it could look really great.  and it is seriously tough (I can't seem to kill it in my back garden bed - and I've tried).  So, I planted a bunch of them, and they have a lot of space to fill in.  Much of the time, I haven't given this plant enough space, and it crowds out other plants around it.  

White Knock Out rose.  This guy has been hanging in my side garden for many years.  I planted it when the trees were small, but the Burr oak and Chinaberry behind it (trash tree, I know, but it grew on its own and does provide appreciated shade) both have grown to shade the entire area the rose grew in.  Since then, the rose has never done well.  Last year, I thought it had finally died, but this spring, I found a tiny little stem growing at the bottom. Knowing that roses love lots of sun, and they tend to be pretty drought tolerant, I moved this guy into my solar garden.

Fragrant Mist Flower. Behind it I planted a fragrant mist flower that I had purchased a few years back, and but into my front garden.  I didn't realize how big these bushes got (okay, I never really believe the size written on the pot).  I planted it right in front of my Lion's tail, and it grew so large, that I couldn't see the Lion's tail.  So I dug it up and put it in the center of this garden, again giving it lots of space to grow.  For most of the year, this shrub is a straggly non-descript bush, but then in the fall, it bursts into these white flowers that the monarchs *love*.  I frequently will finds dozens of the butterflies around the bush.  

Flame Acanthus.  Another tough as nails plant.  I planted this also in my front garden, and again did not realize how big it got.  It really needs to be a back bush, and I had planted it smack front and center. This plant has quickly spread, and I have moved many of its seedlings to more central places in the front garden. I dug the original up and moved it to the wild flower bed, but then I ignored it, and I think it has since died.  But this is one of the seedlings that I have dug up and put in the back porch garden. I didn't love it there, so I moved it to this bed.  Again, I am giving it lots of room to spread and grow.

Pink Muhly Grass.  I found three of these last fall in the clearance section for $1 at Lowe's.  I quickly grabbed them, knowing them for a score.  One of these I am going to plant beside the flame acanthus, bringing a light feathery touch to the agarita and acanthus. I am going to use the other two to fill in... not sure where just yet.

Lantana.  I found this little guy growing in my vegetable garden, reseeded from the back porch garden, I am guessing.  He was right where I wanted to plant my potatoes, so I dug him up and replanted him here.

Peter's Purple Bee Balm.  I love this plant, and so do the bees and butterflies.  Two or three years ago, I put one small pot in my front garden.  Immediately, I realized I really should have purchased more of them, since this is a plant that needs lots of friends to look good. I went back to purchase some more, and they were all gone. I figured I would catch them again next year.  But the next year, the plant had already spread so much, that I didn't need to purchase any more!  Love when that happens :)  Since then, this plant has really spread - maybe a little further than necessary.  So I dug a shovel full up to put here.  Again, in this garden, I am giving this plant lots of room to spread.

I then added a small path through the garden.  It was actually Kyle's suggestion to do so, and I love when anyone actually takes the time to look at my garden. So when he did, and mentioned his idea of the path, I thought, sure, why not?  :)  I actually really love the path now.



And I wanted to put a large pot in the garden as well.  I have seen these used in other gardens, and I love how a large pot can add height and dimension to a garden, especially during the winter.  When I went to Lowe's and Natural Gardener, I was astounded by the price of large pots.  The cheapest go for between $100 and $150!?!?  I decided to try Craig's List. In an attempt to be more green, this last year, I have started to explore the "Reuse" portion of the three conservation Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recyle)  And low and behold, someone was selling 4 huge, awesome, beautiful pots in Leander for only $80.  Score!  

Salvia Greggi.  I dug up two Salvia Greggi from my back porch garden bed and planted them around the pot.  I have (fingers crossed) yet to ever kill this plant. And I have them all around the garden. They are very drought tolerant and bloom consistently throughout the year. And every once in a while, it seeds a new plant for me to put elsewhere :) Perfect for this new garden.

Twist leaf Yuccas.  I dug these two up from the back portion of the lot.  I did not get a lot of their roots, but I have had pretty good luck growing these guys from transplants before, so here is hoping these work out as well.

Blue Weeping Yucca.  Another clearance plant.  $5 for a large plant.  I have never grown one before, but this one looked gorgeous.


I still have a large portion of the garden to dig out.  I am hoping to fill it with pride of barbados, maybe an Esperanza and Duranta.  



1 comment:

  1. I thought this was going to be about solar panels and building a garden around them. :D I am so glad you are sharing this. I have a section of yard in the front that I am trying to reclaim also. I am excited to see how everything turns out for you.

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