Our Garden - Winter 2008/2009

The thing about the Houston area is that when the rest of the country is buried in snow drifts, we often get some lovely weather. (Kind of makes up for the often unbearable summers!)

So as we settled in to the new year, I was bitten by "The Gardening Bug" around mid-January.

This was in large part spurred by the vast expanse of blank wall at the back of our property. And it didn't help that I started browsing through my iPhoto and found myself gazing wistfully at the dazzling display my cottage garden put on for me last summer.

So, with no further ado, I started planning what I wanted in our new garden.

We want it to be a haven for wildlife, while at the same time providing Eric and I with a peaceful retreat we can call our own. I'm not ready to turn it completely over to the wildlife and probably hung on to way too much lawn to be considered a true wildlife habitat, but I'm sure it will evolve over time.

As I mention on my birdwatching page, the plan is to create a multi-level shrubbery across the back of our property, to eventually make up for the loss of habitat when the tree in the vacant lot next door is felled so they can build on that lot.

For now, we just dug planting holes where we actually had plants to go in. The rest of it is landscape fabric covered by mulch, as I did at my cottage.

We were blessed with the fact that we had a huge pile of stone in our garage. It was left over by the builders when they finished putting the accent stonework on the front of our house. Now I think about it, that was the catalyst for us to get working in the garden on this particular day -- the pile of rocks was driving me nuts and I wanted it OUT of the garage.

Eric did a wonderful job of hauling the rocks and placing them where I wanted them to go.

We're off to a good start already, I think - having the pine tree in the yard was good planning on our part. Since moving in, in one corner, I planted a couple of Savannah hollies Savannah hollies, - Ilex x attenuata 'Savannah' which will provide shelter and food in the form of berries for the birds.

I've added a small brush pile (courtesy of the pine tree which dropped a few branches over the winter), and added a bird feeder and bird bath.

I was very pleased to note that almost immediately, the local birds were attracted to the area and were soon hopping through the bushes, scratching through the mulch and sipping from the bird bath.

In the far corner, where the builders had thoughtfully surrounded the unsightly green boxes housing the phone and cable connections with holly bushes, I added a flowering crape myrtle - Lagerstroemia indica, and some oleanders - Nerium oleander. Later in the spring I'll also fill in with some annual color -- anything to hide and/or disguise the green boxes!

Below are a couple of shots showing the full length of the back border, which eventually will be filled with inviting and attractive shrubs and flowers, including , a Vitex Tree, Vitex agnus-castus also known as Chaste Lilac and Monk's Pepper and a Chinese Fringe plant - Loropetalum chinense. .

The Vitex tree, which the nursery hacked back to mere sticks in order to get it in the back of my car, has taken off at a gallop. I've never seen anything leaf out so quickly!

The hollies and oleander have some growing to do before they can adequately disquise the utility boxes.

It's got a long way to go. But whenever I get depressed, I just look back at the photos of the garden when I moved into my cottage - nothing more than bare dirt. Then I can look and see how it came on in five years and know that our garden will be even more beautiful.

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