Saturday, March 15, 2014

- Rock On: Gardening in the Hill Country

When we first looked at our soon-to-be new home in 2010, the owners had amazing container plants on the front porch, but the ground in front was just grass. Of course, they took their plants with them, so we pondered how best to add visual interest to the front yard using what we had at hand.

What we had in abundance, especially on the floodplain at the back of the property, was rock ... lots and lots of rock. The soil profile for our land is called Rumple-Comfort, which is dominated by clay, brown cobbles of chert, and grey limestone. Don proceeded to create a ground cover of brown stone (after laying down landscaping cloth), finishing the first leg of the project late in 2011.

Realizing that we needed a way to walk from the front to the back of the yard without cutting across the porch, Don started moving around the brown stones, adding large limestone rocks for height, then creating a path with a "Texas Mix" of smaller stones from Gardenville ... one five-gallon bag at a time. Visual interest was provided by driftwood found on the nature trail that runs behind our property. A funky bench, some copper buckets, and a copper bird bath rounded out the second stage of the project in 2012.

The most recent (but certainly not the the last) phase involved putting in plants. Most are agaves and Spanish daggers grown from pups harvested from other parts of the yard, but this year's live Christmas tree also made the cut. In spite of my assurances that they looked fine, Don restained the cedar columns on the front porch ... a subtle but significant improvement.

Note the rain chain to the right ... now weathered to a brown patina.

The path has been extended around the west side of the house, winding past a small rock cairn and the HVAC system to the back of the house, where it now connects to the limestone rock garden, but that's a post for another day ... once the wildflowers are in bloom.

The reddish grass clumps are Little Blue Stem, a successful part of our effort to return much of the
property to prairie grass cover. The green clumps are sedges, which do particularly well under the live oaks.

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