Monday, October 28, 2013

Ruth's Waterwise Garden

After a long hot Texas summer,
what does a certified Waterwise Garden look like in late October?

This is Ruth's garden (another Master Gardener friend of mine).
She very kindly agreed to a late season tour via my blog!

Ruth's yard has been on the Waterwise Garden Tour for the last few years.
The tour is in early June, and is sponsored by Dallas Water Utilities.
June is a lovely month for tours, every plant seems to be bursting with joie de vivre, but I've often thought evaluating a garden in late summer or early fall really raises the bar.

In 2009 Ruth and her husband hired a garden designer to layout a plan for their property, and then they began planting.

Their garden includes plants native to North Texas, and also non-native plants that adapt well to this location because they originated in similar environments. 

There was no shortage of color.
Many of Ruth's plants self-seed or winter-over in our Zone 8 location.

In addition to collecting rain water, Ruth's garden has an irrigation system, but it was used only once this summer.

 The garden art includes some early pieces by Sharon Zigrossi (an artist I featured in an earlier post).

Rather than creating a separate patch,
vegetables like this monster zucchini are mixed in with other plantings.

 The zucchini was backed by a large esperanza and colorful peacock sculpture.

Winding paths circle the long narrow property.
At the back of the property is the service alley.

Ruth doesn't waste any space! Even the back alley had a collection of plants in between the mulch piles.  This gigantic Frostweed bush (Verbesina virginica) was hosting a flock of Monarch butterflies.

Ruth shared a great tip she learned from another Master Gardener:
an easy way to selectively eliminate invasive plants.

This tool, originally designed to reach items in high places, has been modified with pieces of sponge .
(A hole was drilled in each plastic end piece, allowing a plastic tie to secure the sponges).
Now, instead of trying to spot spray an herbicide, the sponges are dipped in the solution. The sponges can easily and selectively grab just the weed.
Ruth says this simple tool is much easier on the back and the garden!

It's inspiring to know that being water wise doesn't mean having a yard that is limited to rocks and cactus (handsome as those paddles are!).

Waterwise has become the word in garden design, and not only in traditionally dry environments.

 I imagine gardeners everywhere could quickly find another use for any savings from a lower water bill!
Here's a list of some of the plants flourishing in Ruth's garden:
Asters, Ageratum, Cosmos, Day Lilies, Esperanza, Lantana, Lenten Rose, Liriope, Mexican Feather Grass, Mums, Rock Rose, Rosemary, Sedum, Turk's Cap, Yucca.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Fresh Eye: Artist Sharon Zigrossi

My last post was a visit to my friend Sharon's garden
 to see her heat resistant, happily thriving succulents.
 I also included a photo of this freshly washed assortment.
They represent an introduction to Sharon's other passion - ART!

 Sharon is a self-taught sculptor who works with found objects.
Where most of us might see only a pile of sadly lost hubcaps,
Sharon sees a garden of shapes waiting to be transformed.

Like many artists not constrained by formal training,
she has a unique visual language.
Sharon sees creative possibilities in otherwise overlooked items.

This mundane hubcap has been re-imagined as a vibrant wheel of color.  

Sharon's studio is inspirational, a wonderful collage of color and pattern.

Just visiting makes me want to settle right in and start creating!
I have wanted one of her pieces for the lake house since I first saw them.
Sharon will do specially commissioned pieces,
 so I asked if she would include two things of mine in her design.

The first item was the nozzle off of a very old watering can that had belonged to my father.  The can itself has holes, and the nozzle is completely clogged, but they have sentimental value.
 The second item was a circular piece of flashing. 
My husband and I seem to spend a lot of time at Home Depot hunting for solutions to various home and garden challenges.  One day I discovered these ruffled circles of metal flashing.  I thought they were so pretty there had to be some way to use them. A couple of weeks later I realized they would be a perfect foil for the nozzle, if Sharon could figure out how to make it all work.
And she did!

To start, Sharon found the perfect hubcap.

 Then began the process of constructing and painting the piece.

Color, glorious color! I love how the large red petals seem to be in motion. And notice her use of pattern: dots and circles echoing the larger shape of the sculpture.

Slowly the original three pieces" disappear".
The hubcap isn't even a distant memory, it's been absorbed into the artists concept.
The finished creation is gorgeous!
We just love the bold color against the limestone walls on the back porch.


To see more of Sharon's work you can visit her Etsy shop here: