Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Inside Austin Gardens Tour: Heaven on Ea-- er--The Stoker Garden

So, I'm thinking of subtitling my blog "Better Late Than Never." These are my pictures from the Inside Austin Gardens tour on April 19, specifically the garden of Jenny and David Stocker, where I blew through 2 USB cards and my fully-charged camera battery. (It was just that awesome.)

Uploading pictures to Blogger for this post has been an epic test of the strength of my character, and I concede that I am but scissors to Blogger's rock. So, disclaimer: I will be wandering through this garden willy-nilly, as I have given up posting the scenes in the order you would see them while walking through the garden.

In random order, then, here are two pictures of the lovely vegetable garden, for my food-growing friends:

A shady nook. Doesn't it look like it would be nice and cool here even when it's 100 degrees outside? I like how the fig ivy completely covers the wall and cuts any glare from the stone underneath, which cools everything down. It makes the walls seem to recede and the space seem larger.

The formal shape of the swimming pool gives you a place to rest your eyes. I love that agave, which practically functions as sculpture. Anyone know what kind it is?

Courtyard with square pavers. The friends I dragged along with me particularly liked this area.

Another shot of the pool in the middle of a field of wildflowers.

The circle garden with Knockout roses. I took many pictures of this area, but the sun burned everything out and this is the only picture with colors that didn't hurt my eyes.

Looking from the Knockout bed towards the house, the circle motif is continued by the round patio right off of the back door:

And round pavers in the path surrounding the Knockout bed:

Concrete pavers in the first courtyard. I like the scale here. The pavers are big enough that you don't have to worry about stepping on plants, and also big enough that you can see the shape even with plants blurring the square, formal edges. I also like how this photo shows the horizontal lines across the landscape, edges of pavers and then the edges of the steps. It's a nice contrast to the round shapes of the plants, and leads your eye and then your feet into the next room:

The wild-looking mediterranean entrance courtyard:

I like the rustic stairs as you enter the first of the courtyards from the driveway-- the rough stairs echo the exposed stone of the Balcones Escarpment and thus help the the house blend into its surroundings:

Dry creek in the entrance courtyard. I wonder how much of this is functional?

Another dry creek, this one seen from the driveway. I love how lush and cool and green it looks, and how it draws your eye into the woods:

Another view, another dry stream. All of these dry streams reminded me of MSS's post about the difficulties of keeping these areas looking appealing and free of leaves and weeds:

A pot of aloe, set on a rock wall. I wish I'd had a shot that included the natural woods in the background, because the dry, dead junipers contrasted quite well with the green fleshiness of the aloe.

I also liked how the sedum grew out the bottom of this window basket. I bet that no drop of water is wasted this way.

And in order to put this all in context, here's a shot of the natural woods around the property. As you can see, Jenny and David Stoker are gardening on the outskirts of Mordor. I'm especially impressed with what they've accomplished when I see it in this context.

Word on the street says that, other than the stucco, the Stokers did all of the hardscaping themselves. Holy crap. Having accomplished such a huge project so well, it wouldn't surprise me to hear that they're superheros. Can't you just see it? Jenny and David Stoker: they fight crime!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Souvenir de la Malmaison apparently has a sense of humor

So, I've been warned a million times by a million people that Souvenir de la Malmaison likes to ball in rain and humid weather. But this spring, even in the most ideal dry air, I've had a grand total of one flower open properly.

And then, a few days ago, humid weather hit Austin like a hot wet sponge to the head, and suddenly, Souvenir de la Malmaison decided to bloom properly and put on a show while every other rose in my garden sulked. Check out the audacity:

And check out the detail on the edge of those petals. Now I know why everyone is so freakin' obsessed with this rose.

This has gotten me wondering whether plants can have a sense of humor, because I sense a certain snooty rose declaring, "Dahling, you KNOW I am the star of this show!" Of course, I also picture a certain diva rose holding a cigarette in a long holder as she says this, so who knows?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - April

One of these Bloom Days, I'll get my Bloom Day post up on time! This week has been insanely busy for me. If I'm not at work, I'm out in the front yard shoveling dirt and hauling landscape bricks. My goal is to have the new beds ready for planting by next week. I've had the trees delivered already and it's going to get hot soon, so I'm working as fast as I can. We'll see how that goes. I'm just thankful that the Inside Austin Gardens tour is tomorrow, so I have an excuse to take it easy. I'm just about ready to get myself a t-shirt that says "Welcome To The Gun Show" and rip off the sleeves redneck-style, because with all the heavy lifting I've been doing lately, my biceps can ripple with the best of them.

Anyway, this Bloom Day, welcome to The Shire! Sadly, since there are two mesquite trees overhanging the back yard, Hobbits don't go barefoot here.

In a few short months, everything has grown in leaps and bounds. I'm hoping that soon I won't be seeing much mulch. Here's a shot featuring Maggie, Belinda's Dream, and the Double Knockout, with the Orchid Tree also in bloom.

Today's incarnation of Double Delight:

The other Double Knockout:

Ice plant, a total workhorse bloomer for the last month at least:

The best of my attempts at photographing larkspur. I love this stuff. It reminds me of the delphiniums I grew in Wisconsin.

Madame Alfred Carriere, reminding me of the bloom form of Marie Pavie:

Maggie on the fence:

Marie Pavie putting on a show, with Double Knockout in the background:

Pink Knockout looks almost like a bicolor as the flowers age:

First bloom, Pioneer rose Thomas Affleck. Unfortunately, I can't catch a fragrance, but the bush is thornless, so there are compensations:

And a list of plants blooming on the 15th:

Thomas Affleck
Double Knockout
Pink Double Knockout
Pink Knockout
Rainbow Knockout
Blushing Knockout
Belinda's Dream
Louis Philippe
Souvenir de la Malmaison (theoretically, since only that one bud has opened properly)
Duchesse de Brabant (one flower, full flush in probably a week or so)
Marie Pavie
Archduke Charles
Double Delight
Mutabilis (one flower)

white potato vine
confederate jasmine
sambuc jasmine
salvia greggii
"bath's pink" dianthus
one purple coneflower
white guara "The Bride"
blackfoot daisy
mexican feathergrass
snapdragons & violas
abutilon "marilyn's choice" (never out of flower since I got it!)
verbena "homestead pink" under the tree
moss verbena
other trailing verbenas I've forgotten the names of
ice plant
mexican buckyeye
yellow & orange bulbine

And I end with a plea to the tech gurus reading this: how on earth do I fix my formatting? If I write my post as usual, and then go into the html window and backspace until there's only one space after my pictures, I end up with pictures and text that don't line up. It looks good to me in Firefox, Safari, and in Internet Explorer that I tried on another computer, but quite a few people have told me that I have huge spaces between my pictures. I have no idea what else to try!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More roses!

The big show right now is being put on by Maggie, who is also wonderfully scented. Weirdly, her scent is very changeable from day-to-day, but usually rich and rosy. However, on one bizarre occasion-- and I am not making this up-- her flowers smelled like Miller Lite. (I made two friends smell the flowers in question to make sure I wasn't insane, and yup, lousy American beer. )

Here's Louis Philippe, who is doing wonderfully in part-shade. Check out the lighter petal reverse-- I love the depth it gives to the bloom. L. Philippe's flowers start off cupped, and stay that way if it's cold:

But when it's warm, he looks like this:

This bush is rather leggy, so I recommend planting in groups of three or at the back of the border. The Antique Rose Emporium does this too.

Double Knockout, burning my retinas, but look at that form!

Sweet relief! This is the first decent picture I've gotten of my Blushing Knockout. I love the delicate coloring and form, like a wild rose:

The Pink Double Knockout. I take back what I said about this bush lacking charm, because unlike the other Knockouts, it's actually scented! And it's scented enough that I, with my lousy sense of smell, could smell it from two feet away! I would describe the scent as a sort of spicy tea rose, very pleasant.

My only hybrid tea, Double Delight. This one also clashes with my color scheme in being too warmly red, but every time I'm about to give it away, it blooms with huge vanilla-scented blooms, and well...

Double Delight also changes color with sun and heat. This is the same bloom a day later. When it's really sunny and hot, the whole flower turns red.

The last day of Abraham Darby in bloom:

And now I think it's time for the first lawn mowing of the season. A few days ago I had a ribbon-cutting ceremony like Carol, but mine was quite literal, as I fired up my electric mower and then promptly ran over the power cord and sliced it to ribbons. Oops? Or rather: Welcome to spring!

Souvenir de la Escargot

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sunday's roses

After not being in the garden for nearly three days while I was busy with Spring Fling, like many Fling-ers, the first thing I did when I got home on Sunday night was to check on the garden.

Now that the trees have leafed out, it feels more like a garden in the backyard. Nearly the entire backyard is covered with a green ceiling of leaves, either crape myrtle or the delicate sun-filtering leaves of the two mesquite.

Abraham Darby is almost done blooming:

And here's poor Abe from the top view. It looks like he bloomed at just the right time, since the plant tends to defoliate when this happens. The sad thing is, this is the only rose I spray!

Pink Knockout against the fence. I'm amused that the flower color and foliage of the Knockout perfectly match the flower color and foliage of the verbena planted right in front of it. Happy accident!

The first good picture I've taken of the found rose "Maggie":

I was losing the light, but here's the Pink Double Knockout, finally blooming. I'd never seen it flower before, so I was ragingly curious. Sadly, now that it's in bloom, I think it lacks charm, but I'm hoping it'll take some shade and still bloom. Nothing else really seems to want to thrive in that spot under the crape myrtles. We'll see what happens.

For comparison purposes, here's the regular Double Knockout, looking less obnoxiously tomato-red today. This pink is a bright shade that I can live with.

And in conclusion, the garden seen through the gate of two unfurling blooms of the hybrid tea "Double Delight":