Aided By the Rain

I am so grateful for the rain last night and today.

Although I am planting a perennial landscape with appropriate plants for our growing zone, it is always a treat for them to receive water from the sky.

My first plantings were several different varieties of irises and Mexican petunias donated by a friend about nine years ago.

I began my serious lawn conversion after taking Master Naturalist Certification in 2010 and Master Gardener Certification in 2011 through the Elm Fork Chapters of Denton County, TX.  I had no idea of the water crisis we are currently experiencing.  It will only get more and more severe.  I live in a high population growth area.  I became convinced that I needed to take some immediate steps to actively practice water conservation.

At first I simply tried out various plants to see what would grow in this soil and climate.  I found out that my favorite flower, dianthus, would keep growing season after season for up to nine years, even though it was listed as an annual.  I grew guara, and it thrived, until I gained more shade coverage from self-planting trees along the border of my yard.  The trees appeared after I planted an aubelia border.  Even as small plants, they caught seeds from wind and passing birds.  They are now about four feet high and wide.

I added two yellow yuccas at the sidewalk entry points of my yard.  Lantana, pink skull cap, artemisia, and pink and blue salvias were able to hang on through the coldest winters and driest summers.  Several varieties of sage, including a Texas sage shrub are also thriving.  It was an amazing experience to see bees return to my yard while attending the small pink flowers on the Texas sage.

Along the east side of my house, I have Turk’s cap, blue saliva, and rock rose which I was given at a seed exchange by members of the Dallas Organic Gardening Society.  When I told them I had no idea how to plant or grow anything, one of the members said just to scatter the seeds.  My nine year old Texas Wildscape is thriving.  It, too, has received donations of self-planting trees courtesy of the natural growth.  Later, I planted Butterfly Weed and had the privilege of seeing monarch butterflies stop by during the two years that it grew.

Butterfly trees have had a mixed experience in different parts of my yard.  Even though their name implies attraction for butterflies, that is not the case.   Three of the plants grew into good sized large shrubs.  Two died during the third year of a drought.  One, which is in an area of self-planted slippery elm and white mulberry, has had more protection and is still growing.

I added perennial dianthus, which is much taller than my original dianthus flowers, and society garlic.  Since I planted them in November and December, I nurtured them through the frosty nights with water-filled gallon jugs nearby in the garden beds.  The water gained heat during the day and released it at night.  Both planted areas survived and are growing and blooming now.  I also added several red saliva shrubs.  All are growing and blooming nicely in both front and back yards.

Even though I love mixed colors, I learned that pollinators see groups of color more easily from the air. Since I have so many pinks and reds, I decided to add yellows.  I have started planting coreopsis and Mexican hat shrubs.

Along with flowers and shrubs, I added two American Beautyberry trees which have survived into their second year.  They are tiny now, but will add understory to the lone redbud tree planted in the center of the front yard, probably by the housing developer.  Of course, now it is sending out shoots all over the yard, so I am pruning them to stay shrub-sized.

A fellow Master Gardener gave me a couple of “umbrella” plants.  It is always fun to share plants with fellow gardeners.  I have flats of marigolds and blue salvia coming which I ordered as part of a fund raiser for the high school baseball team.

Now that I have such lovely rain-soaked ground, it will help the rest of the plants to get a good start.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage

www.InspiredPractices.com

www.KackyMuse.com

www.MyMusicalMind.com

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