This category contains 40 posts

Spring Slideshow

It has been so busy on the farm getting ready for spring that I haven’t had time to post lately. I have, however, taken the time to take some pictures so I thought I would create a slide show to share some of the activities that have been keeping us busy. We are planning to […]

Birds, Bees and Butterflies

The buddleia alternifolia in the courtyard is attracting all manner of bees and butterflies. The plant is absolutely alive with activity. I got a nice photograph of a monarch feeding on it late in the afternoon.

Spring Flowers Abound

This spring in Central Texas is the most colorful that we have had in years. Not only are there greater numbers and a larger variety of wildflowers this year, they are also much larger and more deep in color than I have ever seen. Every day brings new discoveries and more brilliant displays. We have […]

Sizzling Summer in Austin

Every summer for the past ten or so I have said to myself, surely this summer won’t be as hot and dry as last summer, but unfortunately that just hasn’t turned out to be the case. According to Jim Spencer at KXAN, the summer of 2009 has already been the hottest summer on record so far, with more than 30 days over 100 degrees F. Add to that the fact that we have also had almost no rain for the past six weeks (see the drought map below), we remain in the worst drought that we have seen here for years. All in all, this makes for some terribly challenging growing and gardening conditions.


This native Texas clematis has benefitted from the nice spring rains that we have been having. It has more blooms on it this year than it has had in the past ten years.

Grotto Pond is Complete

I didn’t have much luck with the first desert willow tree that I planted several years ago. It is still alive, but barely. So when we built the retaining wall this spring, which created deep, well drained planting beds, I bought a new desert willow to plant in this bed. I have always wanted to have a mature desert willow tree. They have such beautiful blooms, interesting foliage and graceful growth habits. The blooms on this specimen almost look like orchids.

New Yellow Knock Out Rose – The Sunny

Ron went to Whole Foods early this morning to pick up fresh fruits and veggies for us, and he returned with two nice looking yellow Knock Out roses. This rose, The Sunny (Rosa Radsunny) has been on my wish list ever since I saw an advertisement for it in Fine Gardening magazine last winter. I […]

Trellis Bed Tree and Vine Planting Completed

We finished installing the trees and vines in the beds at the base of the new trellis yesterday, and now I am praying that we don’t have a hard freeze tonight or tomorrow night. That would be unfortunate. We don’t usually get hard freezes here after March 15, so it would be kind of unusual, but the weather has become reliably unpredictable the past few years. I’m thinking about wrapping the vines and small trees in row cover just in case.

First Trellis Plants Purchased

I sent Ron to the Natural Gardener and Barton Springs Nursery today to search for the trees and vines that I selected to plant in the upper trellis beds. Much to my delight, he was able to find everything I wanted. We didn’t have time to plant them this evening, but we placed them in […]

Trellis Project is Complete

Trellis construction is now complete and it looks really good. We found some copper covered post caps which tie in with the copper roofs of the bird houses that are mounted on the taller posts on either side of the stairs that lead to the lower garden. In keeping with the copper accents, I found some string lights with copper shades which I may purchase to string under the trellis, but I haven’t made up my mind on that purchase yet.

Trellis Header Up and Rafters In Progress

Trellis construction has been slow, but steady. With every additional element the structure looks better and better. The header boards are completed and the posts have been cut to length, and the structure balances well with the size and scale of the retaining wall below.

Construction of the Retaining Wall Trellis Begins

Ron has over half of the trellis posts constructed and the effect of the structure on the overall courtyard design is starting to emerge. The posts will ultimately be shortened by a couple of feet so they are a bit tall right now, but I like the thickness (5″ X 5″) we chose. I think the scale and balance of the structure to the courtyard area and the retaining wall are definitely going to work. Ron says he feels like he is building the Parthenon. Ha.

Retaining Wall and Grotto Area

We spent all weekend working on the retaining wall and the grotto area in the southwest corner of the courtyard. Progress was good despite 20-30 mph winds both days (I hate wind). At this point you can really see how the newly created areas lay out and create the transition from the courtyard area to the raised be gardens below.

Retaining Wall Project Continues

I hope your holidays have been as restful and pleasant as ours have been. To be honest, I am not exactly looking forward to returning to work next week, but the weather is predicted to become cold and rainy on Monday and Tuesday so perhaps it won’t be as difficult a transition as it might be. Today it is lovely here. Not too windy, and quite warm.

Courtyard Project – Phase Two: Retaining Wall

We have been pondering and planning the materials and design for the south side of the courtyard for a year now. I can’t tell you how many different ideas we have tested out for the treatment of this space. It is the transition between the courtyard and the lower vegetable garden area. There is about a four foot drop in the elevation between the two areas, and it occurs at the south end of the courtyard area.

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