June 11, 2015
Water solutions + East Austin Succulents home garden
Some of our xeric plants weren’t big fans of our generous rain. But that’s not what happened to this cenizo (Texas sage), though too much water and bad drainage can do them in.
Nope, what happened to Amber Simon’s cenizo shrubs are house painters who chopped them to sticks!
Daphne explains how to encourage them back: Lightly prune out some of the branches to increase sunlight into the center to help sprout new leaves all around, not just at the tips.
Here’s Daphne’s tips to prune healthy cenizo shrubs and why NOT to hedge them!
My baby Aloe maculatas made it through drenching just fine! I finally took the plunge after seeing them bloom since February at in.gredients (here with native, fragrant vine Carolina jessamine). Plus, Eric Pedley from East Austin Succulents confirmed for us their cold hardiness.
Daphne makes Aloe maculata Plant of the Week for its drought defiance in well-drained gardens, a perfect companion to agaves and globe mallows. And yes, winter cold hardiness!
Also called Aloe saponaria, or soap aloe, it grows in a tight cluster at the base, perfect for smaller gardens, too. Wildlife watchers never tire of the bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds that cluster on its flowers.
Drought was on our minds when months ago I booked Christopher Charles, Conservation Program Associate at Austin Water.
By taping time, our eyes were glued to weather reports on damaging floods and more rain on the way. Christopher tours us through garden rainfall management, like terracing, to slow down swooshing water before it collects at curbside.
Rain gardens are an easy project to let racing water seep into soil gently, rather than eroding your garden or pooling next to the house.
Create your rain garden by digging out a depression—or swale—in the earth where water falls from gutters, the roof, or hardscape.
Many plants work well in rain gardens, like perennial native Turk’s cap and bamboo muhly (foreground).
Native evergreen sedges like Carex retroflexa need little care and go along with dry-wet-dry conditions.
Summertime eye-popping crinum lilies are gracious about Texas weather, too.
Find out more about building rain gardens from Austin’s Grow Green.
To conserve water—now that we’re back to dry—Christopher takes a quick look at wicking beds.
Like Christopher, John Dromgoole notes that water control and conservation begins by improving your soil’s permeability. And, since new plants need water assistance their first year, he’s got tips on handy dandy timers and ollas.
Viewer picture goes to Jon and Kristy in Boerne, who built a heads high protective structure to fend off vegetable pests in summer with netting.
Using recycled cedar (ashe juniper) as posts, they attached PVC pipe that’s rated for above and below ground after painting it to blend in. Small eye hooks allow them to anchor blankets when those frosty days arrive again!
On tour, Julie Patton and Eric Pedley put some pizazz into their small yard, once home to lots of lawn.
Slowly, they’re moving out the lawn for lots and lots of succulents.
Eric’s passion for succulents started with a division from a friend and later a trip to the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society show. He dumped his day job as a bartender and started East Austin Succulents.
Perhaps you’ve met the nursery’s mascot, Frankie, when he goes to work with Eric.
In back, Eric grows some plants for the nursery in a hoop house.
A more protected homemade greenhouse harbors many of his grafted succulents. Later this summer, I’ll post web extras on how he built them, so you’re ready for winter!
Their home’s former owner was a mason who populated the yards with his creations, but he left his cinder block wall unfinished. Julie and Eric added on to it, layered it with stucco, painted it orange and added tiles.
On the ends, he turned cinder blocks around to hold succulents like Graptosedum ‘Blaze’.
They haven’t quite figured out the mason’s brick smoker but it makes great staging for succulent containers.
To pep up their outdoor living room, they stained the floor a deep flame orange to go along with the wall. When Julie lucked into a free chiminea, she pumped it up with spray paint.
With lots of pallets on hand, Julie built their coffee table and chair. Isn’t that cool?
She even used one in the kitchen for their compost bin (outside to demo).
Julie keeps an out on craigslist, discards, or inexpensive finds to finish her furnishing with a few creative dabs of paint.
Eric’s a woodworker, too, like his Adirondack chair.
From a Bastrop mill, he bought a sawed off aromatic cedar log. Its patina richens with each sanding. Cat Judas is literally blind to its beauty, except as a good perching spot.
He recycles old filing cabinets into planters. His tip for filling up large containers: buckets turned upside down or Styrofoam blocks.
When their succulents need water, they head for the rain barrel. Eric uses a sump pump for efficient water pressure. Plus, it’s a great way to add fertilizer.
Eric claims that he’s not a designer. He’s a plant guy. Even in containers, though, he applies “thriller, filler, spiller” techniques.
In the narrow masonry raised bed in front, firecracker fern (Russelia equisetiformis) spills contrast against tidy succulent shapes.
He likes to use Ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) to soften spikier textures.
To complete his textural picture, scavenged rocks edge the borders, while other flagstones turned upright operate as miniature statues.
Julie and Eric believe in the power of finishing touches, like gravel—not only for pretty but to assist drainage for these low-water lovers.
The mason’s mailbox design was perfect for succulents that like confined roots.
Well, you’ve just got to see it all for yourself!
Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda