Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Best 30th Birthday Ever, Part 4: The Plan

While I am sometimes prone to going on spontaneous and often ill-advised little adventures (like the time I barged into a prickly pear patch with the grand idea of picking the fruits and making prickly pear margaritas, only to emerge covered in stickers and with a sackful of under-ripe fruits), I generally plan out my big undertakings out pretty well. This project is no exception. In fact, it's several years in the making.

Almost exactly two years ago I took a landscape design class at The Austin Museum of Art's Art School, located at Laguna Gloria. Laguna Gloria is by far one of the most beautiful spots in Austin: an outrageously beautiful historic home surrounded by gorgeous lush gardens, and infused with art throughout. It was the perfectly inspiring (and intimidating) setting for a landscape design class. The class was designed for total beginners (thank goodness!) who were interested in working on plans for their home gardens. After several weekly sessions, I walked away with a to-scale drawing of my backyard, complete with plant selections and measurements and a materials list. The only problem: it was late October when the class ended, and late September/October is the ideal planting time in Central Texas. I didn't think I could get the hardscape done quickly enough to get the plants in the ground and established before the first frost. So I rolled up my plan and set it aside, figuring I'd put it into action the following fall. But then my ex-husband and I went to Italy for two weeks in October, and in addition to eating up a big chunk of our available time it also put a major dent in our budget. So here I am, two years later with a lovely drawing of my yard and nothing tangible to show for it.

I decided to pull the plan out over the weekend and make sure it was all ready to go. I quickly realized that I wanted to make a few changes to it, so I grabbed my ruler and my colored pencils and my eraser (my most often used tool!) and got to modifying. Here's what I ended up with:


What? The circles and numbers mean nothing to you? Okay, well, allow me to paint a little picture for you then. There's a gate leading to the front yard at the bottom, and a sliding glass door leading into the dining room at the bottom right. Off the sliding glass door is an existing concrete patio. In a perfect world I'd jackhammer that ugly slab up. Of course, in a perfect world I'd also be putting down some lovely stone or concrete pavers, not decomposed granite, but I've been told by many people that I have to live in reality, so existing concrete patio it is. Also, decomposed granite (DG) patio in the center. I'd like to install a pre-fabricated pergola on the DG, possibly something like this or this. Oh, with maybe some comfy patio furniture and a fire pit in the middle!

I'm going to plant a Texas mountain laurel in the lower left. It'll grow tall and create some shade and hopefully be evergreen.
Photo by Sally & Andy Wasowski, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

There will be two planting beds running along either side of the patio area. I'm going to fill them with a colorful combination of gaura, mealy blue sage, butterflyweed, and wooly stemodia.

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) 
Photo by Sally & Andy Wasowski, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea)
Photo by Sally & Andy Wasowski, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Photo by Thomas L. Muller, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Woolly stemodia (Stemodia tomentosa)
Photo by Joseph A. Marcus, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.


The little "C"s in circles represent the placement of containers I'd like to plant with various annuals for little pops of color. All the perennials I chose are Texas natives and fairly drought tolerant, so hopefully they'll only need minimal watering. I'm really hopeful this will all come together close to how I envision it - I think the most difficult part will be the hard labor of digging out the dead grass and weeds and bringing in the DG and soil. I have a houseguest this weekend so I don't anticipate getting too much done on this in the coming days, but maybe I'll be able to get to it a few evenings after work, while I still have an hour or two of light to work with.

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