Monday, April 23, 2007

Visitors and then some

On Saturday ninety people descended on our newly expanded house and garden for our 11th annual spring party. (Question: If we skipped last year because of the construction is it still the 11th annual or should it be called something else?)

And then on Sunday seven Austin garden bloggers arrived as part of a progressive garden tour of five of our gardens (R. Sorrell's of The Great Experiment, Annie's of The Transplantable Rose, my garden, M. Sinclair Steven's of Zanthan Gardens, and Pam's of Digging) plus a walk-through of the beautiful and inspiring garden of Austin-based garden designer and writer Jill Nokes.

Both Saturday and Sunday were overcast, misty days — the sun peeking through from time to time — with highs in the 70s, perfect for showing off a garden. All the buds and blooms were rimed with dampness, nothing was droopy or blasted by the sun. Having old friends in the garden on Saturday was wonderful and then having seven Austin gardeners — and bloggers — visit on Sunday was the most attention this garden and gardener have ever known.

This morning I got up and found a wonderful description of the experience on Zanthan Gardens' site. Like MSS, I worried all week — what would be in bloom, would Climbing Pinkie continue looking glorious, might the buds of the zexmenia or the winecups open in time. And then I was so astonished by the variety and beauty of all the gardens that, when it came my time to act the host, I forgot to worry. I forgot to ask any of the questions or request any of the advice that I had thought about beforehand. And then, all too soon, we were off to the next stop on the tour.

The afternoon sped by, the names and scents of roses — oh, such magnificent roses — a delicious confusion. Last night, after six hours of touring and talking, I lay on the couch in my sitting room, my garden in darkness outside. I should have gone to bed but I wanted to take just a few more minutes to remember the woodland meadow and the rose-covered picket fence, the mystery roses and the brilliant yellow and black caterpillers on a volunteer fennel. I wanted to hold onto the rush of words and the images and scents and textures of plants — clematis and sweet peas, lilies and coneflowers, agave and iris — for just a few minutes longer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Containing the beast

Remember the wisteria? So beautiful for those few weeks in March, so graceful and inviting out the kitchen window. Now it's entering its second life, as a leafy green ceiling for an area of our downstairs yard. The shade is so green and pleasant in the summer that, even if the vine didn't put on such a magnificent show for those few short weeks, we'd be loath to cut it down.

But (cue theme music, something like Jaws maybe) . . . there is a downside to an aggressively established wisteria, especially one whose trunk, make that trunks, are mere feet from a house. Here's the problem:

Don't see what I mean? Check out that innocent looking tendril curling its way around the pole. Ha, I say! Innocent. Think again. Given free rein that very tendril would make its way up the pole within weeks, a month at the outside. (And notice one of the many clumps of Turk's cap that crop up everywhere in my garden; lovely in moderation, not so much in uninvited multitudes.)

Here's the pole. Our electric service comes from the alley to this pole and then down to our house. To the left of the pole you can see the upper branches of our neighbor's pecan tree. And that's the top of the wisteria on the arbor behind the bench.

Imagine, if you will, wisteria growing all the way up the pole, clawing its way up into the pecan and advancing down the electric wire at the same time. Meanwhile, the wisteria on the arbor is also reaching up to entwine itself with those tendrils advancing down the wire. Before you know it, before you've even taken a moment to pay proper attention, an entire sheet of wisteria hangs from the electric wire, solid from the wire to the top of the arbor. And — at the same time — wisteria has transformed the pole into a mass of twining, swaying greenery six feet wide.

This has actually happened. Not once but twice. Experts were consulted. Men with tools — chainsaws on the ends of long poles, wielded in close proximity to the electric service, I kid you not — worked long hours to bring the beast back within bounds.

The most recent clearing was undertaken about two months ago, before the wisteria flowered or leafed out. The pristine pole (not that it's any kind of ornament for the garden but, bristling with vines and swaying in the wind, it just looks dangerous) was an added reason to clear out that corner of the garden this spring. We took out a yucca and a hamelia that grew so large that by mid-summer I gave up on beating my way back there and trying to keep the wisteria off the pole.

This summer, I swear, will be different. That corner is now home to much smaller, more orderly plants and I shouldn't have as much trouble getting to the pole to keep the vines pulled off. The problem is — and I swear this is true — if I go out in the morning and trim back the vines that have crept out under cover of darkness and then check again in the afternoon the vines have returned. We're talking growth of several feet a day.

So, take this as a warning: All is not bright and flowery in wisteria land. The blooms may have looked beautiful in the pictures — and they were fabulous — and you may come over in July and marvel at the cool relief of that green shade — and it is marvelous — but just remember that those luscious blooms, those bouquets of purple, and especially those tendrils, those sweetly curling, ever so graceful tendrils, are the disguise of a beast.

Construction clarification

After my extremely long post yesterday complaining about our neighbors' new parking lot and their apparent plan to build a second-story overlooking our backyard, I wanted to make it clear that we don't have to look at the parking lot from our backyard or porch (thank goodness). Fortunately our addition wraps around the garden, with no views to the alley or across the alley, except when you're standing in the backyard itself and then you just see the top of the house, not the parking lot.

Here's the view over our back fence, looking west. You can see the top of the house (that's the top of the current one-story house), with the back section of the roof removed.

Without a second story all we could see was the peak of their roof (but before the tree-clearing for the parking lot we couldn't see even that). Someone was standing up in the newly exposed attic space last week and I was in the backyard poking around and I could tell that from there he could probably see most of the backyard (but not onto the porch, which is to the left in this picture).

Here's our current view from the new porch. This is looking to the northeast (our backyard is to the west of the original house and north of the addition).

The white house with green trim that you can see through the garden is the duplex I mentioned in yesterday's post. Over the weekend they hired a guy to "neaten up" the — admittedly — overgrown vegetation around the duplex. As far as I can tell he just hacked down anything that was close to the building, including a pomegranate tree covered in those startling orange buds. I do mean hacked: small trees and shrubs chopped randomly, left standing waist high with no foliage remaining, ends of branches shredded. Ah, neighbors.

In a comment on yesterday's post, Annie from The Transplantable Rose suggested a fabulous solution to our potential view problems. On a garden tour last year she saw a tall trellis built in front of a wooden stockade fence but taller than the fence, creating the possibility of something hedgelike but with a small footprint at ground level. I have an image of a rose I've always coveted, Zephirine Drouhin, rising ten feet tall all around my garden. Do any of you remember the huge Zephirine Drouhin that used to cover the roof of the big shed at Barton Springs Nursery? That was some rose, beautiful and fragrant. It would make a magnificent screen.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Progress or problems?

I've been meaning to post some images of changes going on across the alley from us for some time and yesterday I finally got around to taking the "after" picture.

Our neighbors catty-corner across the alley bought the house directly across the alley from us some months back and in January or so told us they were taking the fence down as the starting point for some renovations and additions to the house. We park one of our cars in a spot just off the alley and it was thoughtful of them to notify us of the work beforehand so we could move our car out of the possible danger zone. We knew that they were also planning to cut down the trees (most of little value except as greenery) but we really weren't prepared for what happened.

Here's what the alley looked like before.

And here's what it looked like yesterday.

Quite a change.

In my long-winded way, a little background:

When we moved into this house nearly 13 years ago, the alley was part of the attraction, both because of the availability of off-street parking and because it was such an overgrown, leafy-green tunnel. At the time, the alley itself was hard-packed caliche and gravel and, although probably half our alley-mates used it to access parking, it saw little traffic. Our kids and the neighbors played back there, learned to ride their bikes back there.

Five years ago the city-owned electric utility cleared trees under and around the electric lines that run on poles down the alley. In our backyard (the rear 10 feet of which is an easement) they cut down a large number of hackberries, mostly smallish but one fairly large. Around the same time they resurfaced the alley with asphalt. The alley was less shady but also less muddy after heavy rain and much improved for bike riding.

We took the opportunity of more sunlight to plant a Texas pistache (Pistacia texana) on one side and a tecoma stans (the yellow variety) and a Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), both of which tolerate extremes of heat and drought. That bed has done well and has, in fact, been expanded post-construction. Earlier this spring we thought about putting a Texas redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) into the expanded area.

Then our neighbors started the work across the alley and we're having to reconsider.

When the parking lot went in — concrete lotline to lotline — we were shocked. The shock has worn off a bit but then the actual work on the house started.

If you enlarge the "after" image you can see that they've taken off part of the roof and are, apparently, planning a second-story addition. That addition will have, we think, an excellent view of our backyard. Hence the reconsideration of our back bed plantings. Maybe we need something bigger, taller (but not so tall the city will want to come cut it down in a few years) and preferably something that keeps its leaves in the winter. Something like the pistache.

But that would mean losing the yellow bells (Tecoma stans) and the PoB, which are both in the way and need quite a bit of sun. And I don't want to block the western sun from my long bed since those plants are also mostly sunlovers.

We'll probably wait and see what happens before we make a decision about revamping the whole bed but the situation has inspired a lot of thought about how powerless we are regarding what happens in our immediate surroundings. We have created a house and a garden that we love but something our neighbors do could change our whole experience of those spaces.

Our area has been in the midst of a serious real estate boom for years now. We are close-in, about one mile south of downtown, an attractive neighborhood of trees and hills with a long park running beside the banks of a creek straight through the middle. The original houses are a mix of mostly small two-bedrooms and a few much larger houses; the larger houses were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s (some of the first built on the south side of the Colorado River; downtown and the Capitol are to the north), while the smaller ones mostly date from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, with unbuilt lots filling in since then.

We've been here for nearly 25 years (which explains why we can afford to be here now) and have witnessed a lot of changes but the last few years have been extreme. Starting two or three years ago we finally started seeing the teardowns that have plagued other similar neighborhoods here and elsewhere. Developers bought vacant lots or smaller, run-down houses and in their stead built enormous monoliths, some as large as 4,000 square feet, on fairly small lots. Some of those structures were the impetus for a new city ordinance passed last year that became known as the McMansion ordinance. I'm not an expert on the details but I know it applies to central city, older neighborhoods where smaller houses were being overwhelmed by out-of-scale newer structures. The ordinance limits the size and height of both new houses and additions more strictly than the previous ordinance and, while some of us applaud it and hope it will help maintain the character of these older neighborhoods, it has been controversial.

We built an addition to our house last year (designed and permitted before the new ordinance was initiated) and we felt a responsiblity not to build something that would tower over our neighbors or intrude more than was absolutely necessary on their ability to enjoy their outdoor spaces. I don't mean to be too self-congratulatory but I think we succeeded in that goal. It was an important part of the process for us.

I suppose we knew all along that others might not have the same attitude. We've witnessed that all over the neighborhood so why not next door to us? Of course, we don't know for sure what our across-the-alley neighbors are planning (although we have been analysing their building permit, available on-line) but we've now started pondering the implications of the duplex next door to us on the north. Prime development potential, we now see. Rental units in the neighborhood have disappeared as house prices have gone up (we both moved to the neighborhood initially as renters) and the lot is surely worth a fortune, while the duplex itself is rather dumpy. If it was razed and a new structure — even one meeting the McMansion ordinance requirements — replaced it, it would overlook our backyard and our up-to-now lovely and private new porch.

Yesterday we were talking about calling the duplex owner (who doesn't live there) and telling her that, if she ever decides to sell, we'd like to make an offer. Then at least it would be in our control. I don't know that we could afford such a step but at least then I wouldn't be considering the need for a 10-foot-tall hedge along the north edge of my garden.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bloom day addenda

I can't believe I forgot about these bluebonnets that have been blooming beside our carport for the last few weeks. I always — almost always — love a volunteer in the garden and, although these volunteers haven't quite made it into the garden, they're still welcome. I have no idea where they came from. Birds, I suppose, but there aren't any bluebonnets particularly close to us. They did come up in an area where the soil was disturbed during last year's construction so maybe there were seeds in the soil and the disruption caused them to germinate. Whatever the reason, I'm hoping they spread. Any tips on helping that happen?

I also forgot about another plant that's sending up blooms: my manfreda maculosa. That's not the giant manfreda I posted a close-up of a few weeks ago (and which is supposed to produce a giant bloom stalk, maybe in May) but its daintier relative. You can see a picture of the bloom stalk and a link to the flowers on Digging's Bloom Day report.

April bloggers' bloom day

I'm pleased to participate for the second month in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, sponsored by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Ever since my photography breakthrough (relative though it may be) a week ago or so, I've been looking forward to the chance to record the garden in its April moment.

Here's what's blooming in my south Austin garden this beautiful Sunday.

All four roses are blooming. From the top, the new Cecille Brunner in a pot; Climbing Pinkie (check out my last post for a view of this whole plant; she's been stunning for a week now); Old Blush, past her first flush of bloom but working on another; and Maggie, so sweetly scented and about to burst with blooms.

I couldn't resist posting a picture of my rescued-from-the-construction columbine in both bud and flower.

Here are two flowers so delicate that I had a hard time getting a good picture. At the top is bush germander (Teucrium fruticans); this picture makes the flowers look much larger than they really are. At the bottom is Gulf Coast penstemon (Penstemon tenius).

These are the flowers of two succulents. The top is a plant that was a gift a few years. I can't remember what it's called but these blooms appear on a tall stalk. And I can't remember what the bottom plant is called either but you can see it in the background and I'm sure someone will tell me what it is.

These are two of the six salvias I have in the garden. At the top is a fuschia salvia greggii and below salvia nemarosa "May Night" (I have another clump of salvia that was sold to me as salvia superba "May Night"; they look identical). Cedar sage (Salvia roemariana) is also blooming but for the life of me I couldn't get a good shot of it; Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) is also sending up a few bloom stalks, although it's mostly a fall bloomer.

Here are two in bud and oh so close to flowering. At the top is red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) and at the bottom the annual cleome, planted from transplants not seed. Also in bud are winecups (Callirhoe involucrata), California poppies (from transplants, planted very late), and zexmenia.

And here are two final perennials (well a tree and a perennial): The anacacho orchid tree again and a globe mallow (Sphaeralcea), variety unknown.

And one annual that I wasn't going to post (from a big pot of pansies and violas that I'm hoping will hold on for one more week as the temperatures rise). I couldn't resist the face of this viola.

A few other things are flowering that I didn't include: orange and yellow bulbine, a Laura Bush petunia that survived in a pot from last fall, purple and lavender verbena in a pot, and a fuschia bougainvillea (but it was blooming when I bought it so it may not count).

Whew. This is a busy time in a Central Texas garden. If the temperatures don't skyrocket the garden should be in peak form for another month or two and then I'll be reduced to the truly tough plants.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Comments and community

When I started this blog I didn't think much about readers. But within a few short weeks, the blog was discovered, first by Annie of The Transplantable Rose and shortly thereafter by Pam of Digging. I'd left a comment on another Austin garden blog (The Great Experiment, I think) and from there they tracked me down. As Pam said, once you comment, you can run but you can't hide. They, and a few others, left comments here and there and my perspective on blogging started to change. Blogging wasn't just writing for myself, record-keeping or navel gazing. I wasn't exactly sure what it was but I started looking forward to seeing those comments.

It took me a while to understand something about the communal nature of blogging, that thing that Annie was writing about the other day. I started out reading food blogs and there is certainly community there. The same people — from Paris to Seattle to Munich to Bloomington, Indiana — cheer and gripe and share, back and forth and around and around. When one travels, another throws a dinner party and invites bloggers from the neighborhood to join in. The food blogging community has contests and fundraisers and gift exchanges.

As I started reading more garden blogs I saw that a similar, if apparently smaller, community exists here as well (smaller maybe because it's easier to share a recipe than a plant? Or because everyone eats and only the discriminating garden?). Events like Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, sponsored by May Dreams Gardens, and the Mouse & Trowel Awards (have you submitted your nominations?) bring garden bloggers together. And shortly after I was found out by the Austin garden bloggers, they kindly invited me to an actual gathering, face to actual face, in Annie's garden. Now we're planning an all-afternoon tour of our Austin gardens, north to south and back, with snacks and, no doubt, lots of garden questions and advice along the way. Being part of that community is certainly welcome (especially since my friend/next-door neighbor/fellow gardner moved a few years ago, reducing my garden gossip chances by at least half).

I have to admit that, although I check on about 20 garden blogs a day (among the 50 or so blogs that I get feeds for through Bloglines), I mostly lurk. So maybe, in that sense, I'm not truly participating in the garden blogging community. I don't know. I enjoy getting comments, I like knowing that someone is reading, I like that sense of connection. But for some reason I wasn't commenting much.

Then, over the past week or so, I put up several posts and no one seemed to notice. No comments at all (okay, since then several people have commented so I guess someone is reading). Every time my e-mail dinged (I get notified of comments by e-mail) I'd stop what I was doing and check to see if it was a comment. I realized how much I enjoyed getting comments and became determined to comment myself more often. Turnaround is only fair play, right? Or should that be, what goes around, comes around?

I still have some more pondering to do about the difference between personal reflection and a larger readership. About keeping notes for myself and writing something that might be interesting to others. But plenty of time for that.

Oh, and the picture at the top is my attempt this morning to catch Climbing Pinkie at what is absolutely her best moment ever (why do I think of my roses as she? Do you do that?).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Finally, the orchid tree buds

Here is a close-up of buds on the anacacho orchid tree (Bauhinia congesta). I think they look like little clusters of green bananas. The tree is still covered in blooms and buds, although I think it's probably past the absolute peak of its bloom. Last week, while D and I were out walking the dog, we saw a huge orchid tree absolutely loaded down with flowers in the back yard of a house in the next block. Its trunk was quite a bit bigger around than our tree (although it was not much taller) so maybe we have that to look forward to in a few years.

We seem to be past the weirdly chilly weather of last weekend (at least the chill seems vanquished this afternoon, with temperatures in my backyard near 80). Although I'm fairly certain that the temperature here didn't get below freezing, it did get down to 35 or even 34. The leaves of the bat face cuphea purpled up a bit although the plant looks fine but some coleus in the front planter look a bit worse for the wear. I didn't realize coleus was so cold tender but I guess it makes sense. The smaller plants dropped a number of their leaves and leaves on the others look shriveled and brownish. I guess I'll wait and see if they recover.

I've been patrolling the garden with extra vigilence the last few days, looking for signs of decline or disease. Usually every year before our big party at least one part of the garden develops some kind of funk. Some plant spontaneously dies overnight or insects attack and chew a whole section to pieces. So far nothing horrible has happened this year although powdery mildew has taken hold of the Old Blush rose, shriveling its new foliage and damaging some of its buds (and it looked so lovely just a few days ago, I wail). Climbing Pinkie shows some signs of mildew as well although nothing as bad as Old Blush and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my application of a solution of baking soda, water and dish washing soap (the recipe found on the Natural Gardener's website) will keep it in check until it bursts into a riot of flowers as it looks set to do any day.

And the annual infestation of what I have tentatively identified as Colorado potato beetles has started. A year or two ago I took some leaves covered with little brown spots to Barton Spring Nursery and was told they were the mark of the Colorado potato beetle. I finally saw some of the bugs (they hang out on the under side of the leaves and are remarkably fast) and compared them to pictures online and they look similar although not exactly the same.

Whatever they are, the little reddish black bugs attack only certain plants and mostly just disfigure them. Unfortunately one of the main targets are the salvias, of which I have a large number. They also love the bush germander, which is where I first noticed the damage this year. I spray with some kind of environmentally friendly insecticidal soap, which knocks them back but not out. But mark my words, I have my eye on you, bugs.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Ready for our close-up

D. and I have been playing around with the camera all day, taking close-ups of anything in the garden that looks interesting. The ability to capture the exquisite detail of the buds and blooms of the April garden is a revelation and a delight.

Here are some of today's results:

A detail of the manfreda variegata "Macho Mocha."

The intricate geometry of a bulbine bud, just opening

The incredible bluish purple of the salvia superba "May Night"

One of the first blooms of rose "Maggie," the most powerfully scented and intricately constructed bloom form of any of the roses in my garden

I still haven't captured the buds on the orchid tree. The wind is whipping the branches around so much that I can't get a shot in focus. I'll try again later this evening or in the morning but right now I'll just enjoy this lovely cool weather.

Looking better

I've been frustrated by my inability to get good images of the garden, especially close-ups of individual buds or flowers, to include with the blog. Yesterday I e-mailed Pam, whose images at Digging I've admired (and envied) for months. I asked her some questions about what kind of camera she uses and for any other advice.

I was amazed to hear from her that she is using basically the same camera we have (a Canon Powershot A85). She made some suggestions about using the macro feature and about stabilizing the camera and the results, if I don't say so myself, are an immense improvement (and I've finally got the close-ups with the background out of focus that have been eluding me!). The thanks go to Pam, both for the inspiration to attempt to improve the images and for the encouragement to try to get the best out of my camera. Thanks Pam.

In addition to taking her advice, I spent some time with the manual (I've tried to parse it before but it puts me to sleep) and at the same time my techie husband went off to do some experiments that mostly involved increasing the resolution of the images we were shooting and changing the compression factor from normal to superfine.

The image at the top is the corner of the long L-shaped bed in the upstairs backyard; the pink rose is Climbing Pinkie, growing up through and spilling out of a steel teepee-like thing (I'm sure there's a name for it — tuteur?). Below is a cluster of Climbing Pinkie buds, with one bloom open; the plant is covered in bud clusters.

This is the first flower on the yellow columbine plant that the foundation crew had to dig up last spring when they were building the giant french drain through the garden. They positioned the drain so carefully that the columbine was the only plant that was disturbed and they dug it up and I've saved it in a pot ever since. I just got it in the ground this week and now it's flowering.

And these are the buds at the end of one of eight bloom stalks on the clump of red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora). I mention the number of stalks because last year it didn't bloom at all. Not one stalk. I was ready to dig the whole clump up (it's been in the ground for 12 years and I thought maybe it was too old to bloom) but now it's redeeming itself (although the salmon color of the blooms does clash with the pink roses on either side. Oh well).

And finally, this is one of many clusters of flowers covering the Anacacho orchid tree (Bauhinia congesta). I'm going to try to get a close-up of one of the unopened bunch of buds when the light is better later; they look like tiny bananas to me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring planting and party plans

For the last 10 years we've had a big party in late April, timed mostly to coincide with various April events that deserve celebration, but not coincidentally also coinciding with the garden's best moment. Or is it the other way around? Have I gradually created a garden that looks its best at a time when we want to have a party (we've found that mid to late April gives us the best chance of relatively cool weather and no mosquitoes, at least at our house).

We skipped the party last year, which would have been the 11th annual, because of the construction. We actually toyed with the notion of having it in the midst of the building project and, if we had been at the just-framed stage, it might have worked but by mid-April we were into drywall and that was a mess that wouldn't haved mixed well with a party, even if the garden was looking better than I would have expected with no attention and construction going on all around it.

The first year we had the party — 1996 — the long back bed had been planted for one year. (I wish I had some digital pictures of the garden from those days; surely I have prints that I could scan. I'll have to look). In the intervening years that long L-shaped bed has changed and evolved. The only plants left from my original plan are a couple of red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora). The picture at the top of the page is the long leg of the bed today, looking from front to back, past the wildly blooming Old Blush rose and the orchid tree, covered in its white flowers.

That original configuration also included the only plant that existed in the back yard (other than weeds and Turk's cap) before we built the bed: a large multi-stemmed yucca, possibly twisted leaf yucca. Over several years that yucca deteriorated, plagued by various insect infestations. About five years ago we cut it down and thought we dug it up but it returned and we let it grow back, filling in the back of that part of the bed. This spring we decided that it just looked straggly and unattractive and were determined to be done with it once and for all. My able assistant worked long and tirelessly until, finally, he extracted an enormous, bulbous root, about three feet long and probably 18 inches around. After that I got the bright idea that I wanted to dig up the hamelia patens that had been in the ground beside the yucca for the past seven or eight years. It was the orange variety and I much prefer the red one I have in the far back. Besides, witih it gone (it was HUGE in the summer, six to eight feet wide and tall) I would have the perfect place for the agave parryii that I bought with my birthday gift certificate. So Dan set to with my new garden fork and extracted the hamelia.

I built a circle of stones to elevate the agave a bit and improve its drainage and transplanted a Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) seedling from the front yard behind it. I put (probably too many) annuals and a couple of small perennials around it: some rather sad California poppies in 4-inch pots that I've had since December but never planted, three bat-face cupheas, three winecups (the creeping kind not the standing which I prefer but couldn't find in 4-inch), three 4-inch cleomes, and two one-gallon salvia superba "May Night" (I have some other salivas called "May Night" but they were labeled salvia nemarosa; they look identical to me). Also the one-gallon dark blue plumbago I bought last fall and couldn't find a home for. Oh, and I plan to plant the Cecile Brunner rose that my mom sent me in a big pot in the spot where the hamelia was.

I also finally got the yellow columbine that was dug up when the French drain was built last spring back in the ground (just in time for it to bloom) and put the salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue" that's been overcrowded in its pot for several years in the ground too (that's the pot I'll use for Cecile Brunner). Now I just have a few more plants to get in the ground (some inland sea oats and a couple of salvia roemarianas/cedar sage).

It's a good thing I'm finally getting everything in the ground because we finally decided yesterday, a bit late, to go ahead with this year's party and now I have a little less than three weeks to get the garden in shape (with the added incentive of a visit by the Austin garden bloggers on the day following the party.

The back garden is actually looking quite lovely right now. Hopefully it will hold up for a few more weeks.