Structure + Soften

Can you believe the bearded iris this year? Even when not in bloom, I like them for drought defiant garden structure all year.

peach and lavender bearded iris Central Texas Gardener

A shot on my way to work.

bearded iris and roses austin texas front yard

Dutch irises don’t keep their foliage, but what an inexpensive return investment in spring! Here’s mine with Salvia greggii.

Dutch iris and Salvia greggii Central Texas Gardener

Our Viewer Picture goes to collegiate Anna Provenzano for this shot in her parents’ garden!

bearded iris by Anna Provenzano

My Agave striata in its new bold pot structures up a florific bed—and yes, I just made up that word. A sea of aptenia replaced grass in front, passalong cuttings from Eric Pedley.

agave striata bold structure blue pot central texas gardener

To pair structural succulents with flowering trees and perennials, Eric from East Austin Succulents and Lindsey Mayer from Tillery Street Plant Company team up with Tom this week.

East Austin Succulents and Tillery Street Plant Company KLRU

On the structural side, Eric presents tiny cold-hardy Echeveria agavoides.

echeveria agavoides Central Texas Gardener

Since it likes a break from sun, team it with Lindsey’s tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium) to shade it a bit. This is not the tree for herbal oil, but she reports that it flowers constantly and is their biggest bee draw at Tillery Street. Grows to about 10 feet.

tea tree for bees Central Texas Gardener

Eric adds one of his favorite agaves, A. lophantha ‘Quadricolor’.

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor'

For sun to part shade, Lindsey selects Mangave ‘Bloodspot’, more cold hardy than other mangaves.

'Bloodspot' mangave central texas gardener

For well-drained soil in sun, Eric selects cold hardy Aloe maculata (also called saponaria). Recently I snapped these along Manor Road, covered with bees. Missed the hummingbirds, but they love them, too!

aloe maculata Central Texas Gardener

Lindsey counters with bee-beloved companions blackfoot daisy and four-nerve daisy. Even in my east Austin heavy soil, this front yard near me sports them both, along with structural Yucca rostrada and groundcover silver ponyfoot. Watch now to find out more!

yucca rostrada blackfoot daisy silver ponyfoot Central Texas Gardener

Daphne’s Plant of the Week, Silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea), qualifies as structural groundcover. Along with its silvery contrast, its tight clusters of heart-shaped cupped leaves complement upright plants and sparkle in morning dew.

Silver ponyfoot Dichondra argentea and purple heart Central Texas Gardener

Desert willow is a structural small tree that lightly shades succulents. Hummingbirds zoom straight for its summer flowers. But what to do when a raccoon chomps the main trunk, asks Gail Allen, Landscape Manager at Natural Bridge Caverns? Get Daphne’s options.

desert willow broken trunk fix

To cover a structure, what about luffa gourds to make your own inexpensive sponges for skin and pot scrub? I snapped this last fall at Lake Austin Spa Resort, so missed the luscious yellow flowers that bees love.

luffa gourds Central Texas Gardener

Trisha Shirey explains how to grow these summertime gourds from inexpensive seeds and turn them into LOTS of sponges this fall. Holiday gifts galore!

make luffa gourd sponges Central Texas Gardener

On tour, Havilah and Ryan Gee revamped their front yard with waterwise “Austin chic.”

gee super wide web

Sure, their house came with structure—flat-lined grass and foundation shrubs. Not their style. When oak wilt felled their trees, they enlisted land designer Elizabeth McGreevy (hamming it up!) to turn their front yard into a hangout, not a pass through.

front yard makeover Central Texas Gardener

For a clean geometric look that catches and trickles water, Elizabeth chose tiered beds with concrete “curbs.” The Gees filled them with agaves from craigslist, sedums, herbs, and vegetables to share with the neighbors.

gee wide to basil web

Elizabeth played off the geometry of the curving path.

front yard makeover Central Texas Gardener

To unify spaces without cluttering, Elizabeth planted swatches. Bamboo muhly softens the newly widened front porch.

front yard makeover Central Texas Gardener

‘Desert Museum’ Paloverde gently heightens with distinctive green multi-trunked structure.

gfront yard makeover Central Texas Gardener 'Desert Museum' paloverde

Bees love flowers that bloom from spring through fall.

gfront yard makeover Central Texas Gardener 'Desert Museum' paloverde

Texas sedges frame the patio where Elizabeth used quarter inch minus limestone that packs well, deters weeds, and lets rainfall seep through gently.

gfront yard makeover Central Texas Gardener front yard patio gfront yard makeover Central Texas Gardener front yard patio

Elizabeth knows how to magnify contrasts, like this priceless team of silver ponyfoot and Turks cap.

gfront yard makeover Central Texas Gardener front yard patio

Silver ponyfoot sets off ‘Cavalier’ zoysia that Ryan planted. Another soft contrast, it’s also no water hog, since he planted it deep and rarely mows. He and their son lie on it at night to track the stars.

front yard makeover silver ponyfoot and Cavalier zoysia

See it all now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda