Welcome to our home sweet home. I was fairly miserable when we first moved here, leaving behind our acreage and the gardens we'd worked so hard to create. But family, friends, and gardening reconciled me to the new space. It's been six years and I've enjoyed house and garden more each year. The garden has been so much fun.
There are actually four oak trees squeezed together in our front yard. I cut two out of the photo so as to protect our neighbors' privacy. There's not a lot of distance between our homes. And, see, it looks quite basic from the street. I'm sure passersby must wonder why I'm always crawling around. But if you are a gardener, you know why. There's a lot going on.
Aside from the maroon and pink Ti plants, there are pops of color all around the front garden -- the welcoming garden. The azaleas I planted last summer and fall are working. And our new curbside beds, constructed because oak roots make grass impossible in some areas, are wonderful hosts for almost anything. I planted azaleas and annuals in them to start with. See the foxglove and snapdragons in the first photo, top left?
Salvias, Turks Cap, and Indigo are happy under the oaks. Cone flowers are coming up, too, and herbs such as lavender, bottom right, and rosemary are also at home in the poor, dry soil under the trees. Our house is south-facing, so they get enough sun despite the mini-forest overhead. When we moved in, the Ti plants and asparagus fern were already in place. They wouldn't be my first choices, but I'd feel churlish pulling them up. And you can see that we don't mulch. I'm working really hard at filling these beds with enough plants that mulch isn't necessary.
On the other side is what I call my East Texas garden. There was already a crape myrtle (not native, I know) and a palmetto (native). I added American Beautyberry, a weeping yaupon holly, Turk's Cap, and all sorts of bulbs, both native and non-native. I also planted a variety of indigo which the nursery worker thought was native but which I've come to think isn't. I still like it, though, right along with my azaleas. They might not be native, but they have relatives that are, and they're not hurting anyone.
There's althea and happy, healthy camillas, too, and a host of other things. Enough to keep me crawling around weeding, digging, rearranging from sunup to sundown if I have the desire and enough insect repellant. I have a long bed on one side, too, between our property and our neighbor's. We created it because we liked the idea of flowers and a maple tree better than lawn. I'll share that one next time. In the meantime, can you see the wandering jew, tradescantia pallid, in three of the four photos below? My husband keeps sneaking in clippings here, there, everywhere. I know. It's his garden, too. But I'm keeping an eye on the situation.
You can see that there's more than a neat row of hedges. There's actually very little that's neat about our welcoming garden. I like to think of it as "interesting". And that's to say nothing of the garden variety wildlife, which provide us with almost constant entertainment.
I do love gardening and gardens.
I plot and I plan. I work under dangerous conditions. I am frequently under assault. At times, I might drop everything and run for cover. I strive to work towards the greater good.
Gardening in southeast Texas can be brutal. Heat, humidity, and potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes are problems for more than half the year and a dangerous combination in summer. That’s to say nothing of fire ants and other biting, stinging insects. Snakes, too, although they only make a rare appearance in my little garden. Poison ivy and oak are common and birds sow both generously.
Despite some uncomfortable conditions, I feel very protective of the wild in my garden. It’s important to know friend from foe, for example, venomous from nonvenomous snakes. Even then, it’s often not necessary to engage. As for the bugs, it is not fine with us to hurt the good with the bad. Pesticides are banned. So are herbicides. Our beds, whether food or ornamental, are organic. And while our garden isn’t entirely native, we do have plenty of native plants that please the local wildlife as well as ourselves.
While every garden is different, they all offer challenges, pleasures, time with nature. Much like people, they have their good days and bad days, high seasons and low; and they can all be fun and beautiful if you love them enough.