Monday, November 25, 2013

The Dry Creek Bed

This view is too pretty not to share!
I took this photo on Friday from the little 3rd floor balcony off my studio in the city.


The flush of color dressing these oak trees was so intense the photo hardly captures it.


*******
Out at the lake, there was quite a lot of rain and wind last week.
We arrived in the dark on Friday night, so when we opened the blinds on Saturday morning, it was a surprise to find the big Hackberry tree in front of the house was suddenly leafless.


We had finished part one of the dry creek bed last week, but I forgot to take a photo.
 And now it's under a yellow blanket...


Until the leaves are dry enough to blow away, it's rather hard to see, but all the big stones from the round tub  I showed in my last post are now in place over the top of the drainage pipe.
 (Yes, it was a back-breaker, plus a wrist and elbow strainer!)


I also started the plantings.  They include cast iron plant (aspidistra), several types of nandina, juniper, variegated euonymus, liriope, ground cover Asian jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum), and Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica).


This view shows the path and steps that lead up to the higher level.
Eventually that path will continue to the left, and lead back down to the dogtrot patio area.
I am so fortunate to be married to a man who can lay a dandy path and even create stairs!


In the back yard, he also completed the path to the dock.


I love the beautiful curves.  This going to be another fun area to plant!

 The rains continued all weekend (the lake is up two feet since mid-October!).
Nice timing to send us indoors, to start sorting ideas and materials for the holiday decorations. 
My Mother created this years first vignette in our kitchen window.


Although our chances of snow are very thin,
 and building a snowman zero,
because we all grew up in the north we crave the imagery of a white Christmas.


Our childhood memories (from Thanksgiving through Easter) are of a snow covered landscape.


This little scene brings back memories of real white frosted, icicle trimmed roofs.
 I always loved that magical sparkle tree lights have when they glow through a blanket snow! 
 Wouldn't it be nice if we could import that weather for just a week?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Stone for the Front Garden

 We have finally had enough rain to determine if the drainage system for our front courtyard actually works. 
 And, happily, it does! 
The water now flows down and around and into the lake.
That means no more giant rain pond blocking the way to the front door!
This photo from last spring shows the water spouting off the roof and filling the courtyard.

Now with the sidewalk in place and the drain working,
we can start landscaping this area.

 I started with a hedge of small sized Burford holly on each side of the walk.


Our plan is for a very naturalized landscape to compliment the architecture of the house,
but we decided that the contrast of this more formal element will help highlight the way to our front door.



That haze of pink in the center of the garden is gaura (Gaura lindheimeri).



I'd like fill this space with more of these native plants. Sometimes called bee blossom, the little flowers seem to dance in the breeze, and the butterflies love them!

The river rock was placed just where we wanted to continue to extend the sidewalk with stepping stones, so we'll have to finish with that idea when the tub is empty.



 The stones in the big round tub must be ferried down the walk and through the opening in the wall. 
Hmmm...that sounds like a back-breaker!
They will be laid over the buried drainage pipe to create the look of a dry stream bed.


I love this tiny path - it's so nice to have a way to the hose fob that is not boot-sucking mud.


The mysterious pile of stones next to the path is to cope with the very dramatic rush of water that surges off our roof during a rainstorm.
 The house does not have gutters
 (they just didn't look right on this Texas regional design),
and when it finally does rain here,
it pours,
blowing the  plants in this spot right out of the ground!

We have four other places where rain water streaming off of the roof is a problem.
Here, by the guest house, we are trying a rain chain.


It's tricky to adjust it, however, because the trajectory of the water changes with the strength of the downpour.
 Once we get it right, we plan to put a rain barrel under it.


Meanwhile, I'm building these stone pads.
They work, and eventually the plants will grow up and hide them.

I've started planting perennials in this spot: soft-leaved Mahonia, evergreen ferns, liriope, mums, creeping jenny and dianthus.

And out on the water...


 The pelicans and cormorants have returned!
I guess mid-November is the time to look for them.
Suddenly there they were, flying low over the house,
and landing in the thousands out by the pier.


We never get tired of watching them!