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Audrey becomes a Landscape Designer
Old 06-19-2010, 10:12 PM   #1
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Audrey becomes a Landscape Designer

Well - it's only one project, but it has been a big one. And I'm starting to feel like a professional landscape designer.

I have spent well over two months in intense research and design which has culminated in the landscape design for our new house. All the trees and flowerbeds were planted and mulched last week. And the grass (with underground watering) will go in early next week.

The attached file below (click for large, readable view) is the design overview and has the trees individually labeled - some are in garden beds, some in the lawn. The colored dots represent flowering shrubs of various species, and the dotted circles are how wide the plant will probably get. That is how I was able to place the plant in each. I used Adobe InDesign (a page layout program) to draw the design and the the grid is a 3 foot scale.

This is ultimately a butterfly and bird garden. All the plants are either butterfly host plants (where they lay eggs and the resulting caterpillars feed), butterfly nectar plants, or bird and hummingbird food/nectar plants. The emphasis is on plants native to the area. Most of the trees are completely foreign to the rest of the US. Acacias dominate the larger shrubs and trees as is typical around here.

We have visited the area for many years, so I was already intimately familiar with the local plants. And the development already emphasizes on these types of plants which is one of the reasons we decided to build a home here. It still took a lot of work to make the final plant selection. Lots of local resources are available - particularly documents from the local international butterfly garden that identify butterfly host and nectar plants.

The actual work was done by the development landscaping crew and they followed my design documents. But I was out there with them helping measure beds, place plants, interpret my design and make adjustments, etc. This is the most extensive garden they've put in at any house, although there are common areas that are just as fancy. I really wanted to take advantage of the north back wall as a backdrop for a wide bed of large plants. Ultimately it should have a bit of a jungle look as a background to the lower flowering plants.

I am most proud of my two large Texas Ebony trees. I paid extra for larger trees, and I got quite a deal as the trees were even twice as large what we ordered. The Texas Ebony is a pretty special tree native to this area. It's a large dark dense evergreen acacia that makes cool dark brown bean pods. Groves of naturally occurring ebonies are increasingly rare around here, so it's neat having a couple of them in my back yard.

Audrey

(P.S. So what do you do all day?)
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Photos of the landscaping going in
Old 06-19-2010, 10:15 PM   #2
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Photos of the landscaping going in

Photos of the Actual Landscape Implementation

Backyard - bed are have been measured and spray paint used to mark boundaries. Dirt is piled up in the larger beds. Otherwise - it's pretty bare around here!




That's me with Victor the development landscape manager. We're looking over the large trees and shrubs that were delivered first thing last Wednesday morning.




Lowering one of the large ebony trees into it's spot along the back wall. Julian is driving the loader. He was the crew chief working with me to make sure everything met the plan.




Back wall bed with most of the trees and large shrubs in place. Also shows the two Texas Wild Olive trees that will be surrounded by grass lawn.




The front yard with it's beds put in and mulched. Hey - it looks just like the drawing! LOL! The tree is the front yard is a Huisache, yet another local thorny acacia type tree.




Here are a three views of the back yard with most of the smaller plants in and the beds all mulched. The bed irrigation system has already be run so that plants can be watered over the weekend.







Now all I need is some grass!

Well, I guess I need some time too. In a year the small shrubs will be much, much larger and blooming like crazy.

Audrey
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:31 PM   #3
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That funky looking plant on the left in the last photo above is a Yucca Treculeana "Spanish Dagger". One day hopefully it'll look something like this:




And maybe some day the Texas Ebonies will look like this:
NPIN: Ebenopsis ebano (Texas ebony)




The Wild Texas Olive is one of the most popular small flowering trees in the Rio Grande Valley - you see it everywhere. It will bloom all year if a freeze doesn't hit. I find the large white flowers on green background very soothing.






The front yard tree is a Huisache. It's one of the first to bloom in the spring. It has really neat little orange ball blooms



and the whole tree it ends up looking like this.



Audrey
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:54 PM   #4
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Marvelous layout and I love the plants! You must be so excited seeing it all come together.

Do you think you will incorporate a water feature in your yard or will you be on the road too much to sustain one?
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Old 06-19-2010, 11:06 PM   #5
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Marvelous layout and I love the plants! You must be so excited seeing it all come together.

Do you think you will incorporate a water feature in your yard or will you be on the road too much to sustain one?
Yes, I am really excited, but I really want to see it grown! By this November a lot of the smaller shrubs should have grown quite a bit and be blooming, so we should already have plenty of butterflies.

The bird bath is marked in the design above. It will have a drip and we will have a couple of misters next to it.

That's what we will start with. Our neighbor has a pretty fancy water feature and we might put one in in a few years. Something small. We have the connections for it.

I'm also going to have a wall fountain in the courtyard.

Audrey
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Old 06-19-2010, 11:13 PM   #6
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The bird bath is marked in the design above. It will have a drip and we will have a couple of misters next to it.

That's what we will start with. Our neighbor has a pretty fancy water feature and we might put one in in a few years. Something small. We have the connections for it.

Audrey
Oh...I see the bird bath now. The drip and misters sound wonderful... I need to look into that..

We put a pond in a few years ago and really enjoy it. I love the sound of running water. But I know you've got enough on your plate for now.
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Old 06-19-2010, 11:37 PM   #7
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Oh...I see the bird bath now. The drip and misters sound wonderful... I need to look into that..
We used to have something like this that we used as a drip (but I don't think we paid that much!)
Wild Birds Unlimited Online Shop WBU Drip-or-Mist

They sell misters too.

Audrey
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Old 06-19-2010, 11:51 PM   #8
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Thanks for the link...I know our hot birdies would love that!

Here's a pic of our pond. The evaporation helps the plants, but a mister would benefit them as well.

Nothin' like happy birds and plants.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:53 AM   #9
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Thanks for the link...I know our hot birdies would love that!

Here's a pic of our pond. The evaporation helps the plants, but a mister would benefit them as well.

Nothin' like happy birds and plants.
Lovely pond in your back yard and neat plants around it. I think you posted a pic of it and snow a while back?

Audrey
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:24 AM   #10
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The Texas Ebony is a pretty special tree native to this area. It's a large dark dense evergreen acacia that makes cool dark brown bean pods. Groves of naturally occurring ebonies are increasingly rare around here, so it's neat having a couple of them in my back yard.
Sounds like a Hawaii monkeypod!

So who's picking up the yard waste?
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Old 06-20-2010, 05:39 AM   #11
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Great Job! We added a potted hibiscus to our deck and it attracts bees, hummingbirds, butterflies. You could put one in a container on your patio. I'm going to bring mine in for the winter to see if it will be a perennial here in Illinois. i would think hibiscus would thrive in Texas - just water it a lot,
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Old 06-20-2010, 07:26 AM   #12
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Sounds like a Hawaii monkeypod!

So who's picking up the yard waste?
It will never get that big! It doesn't get nearly the spread of a monkeypod - mainly goes up. Most of the trees around here produce bean pods.

Since those ebonies are planted in a mulched bed, personally I don't care if the pods stay on the mulch surface. But the grounds crew takes care of yard waste anyway. Not me!

Audrey
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Old 06-20-2010, 07:46 AM   #13
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Great Job! We added a potted hibiscus to our deck and it attracts bees, hummingbirds, butterflies. You could put one in a container on your patio. I'm going to bring mine in for the winter to see if it will be a perennial here in Illinois. i would think hibiscus would thrive in Texas - just water it a lot,
I do plan to have potted tropical (non-native) Hibiscus in the courtyard.

But I actually do have a couple of native hibiscus in the garden beds. These have much smaller flowers than the showy tropical hibiscuses.

Turk's cap. Beloved by hummingbirds - you don't even need a hummingbird feeder! Fast growing and shade tolerant, it's so aggressive I gave it it's own bed. We had this in Austin.




My beloved Heartleaf Hibiscus - I also had a plant in Austin. This is planted next to my courtyard.




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Old 06-20-2010, 07:51 AM   #14
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I love the olives, they were blooming when I was there last year. Gorgeous.

Do you need to wait for cooler weather to put in the grass?

Is the house done and have you moved in yet?
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Old 06-20-2010, 07:59 AM   #15
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I love the olives, they were blooming when I was there last year. Gorgeous.

Do you need to wait for cooler weather to put in the grass?

Is the house done and have you moved in yet?
No need to delay for grass. The grass should go in Tuesday or so. They run soaker hoses every 2 feet and then plant the grass on top. They had to run a cable across the yard for something else, and that delayed the grass because they didn't want to run the hoses until all trenching was complete.

Haven't moved in yet. Hoping to close this week. We lack carpet. Other than that - mostly finishing touches on stuff.

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Old 06-20-2010, 08:14 AM   #16
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Here is one more pic of the back yard. This is the view from the courtyard where I have two garden beds between the coach port on right (where the RV will be parked) and the house. My herb garden is on the left. My grill will be parked next to this, and an outdoor kitchen counter with sink will be built in the courtyard next to the grill "parking space".



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Old 06-20-2010, 08:52 AM   #17
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Everything sounds so lovely. A court yard - I really like that idea. Private but open. I hope you continue to post pictures - especially a year or two from now after your plants are established. I really enjoy watching the birds and butterflies. Oh, the pictures that you will be able to take in your own backyard!
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:59 AM   #18
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All I can say is WOW. You gotta promise to post more pictures as your garden matures.

Off topic, but I was wondering....

You guys have traveled all over the U.S. and decided to settle in south Texas. Despite being a native Texan, I know almost nothing about this area. Could you share with us the factors that contributed to your decision?
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Old 06-20-2010, 09:52 AM   #19
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You guys have traveled all over the U.S. and decided to settle in south Texas. Despite being a native Texan, I know almost nothing about this area. Could you share with us the factors that contributed to your decision?
+1 (Possibly in a thread of its own.)
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:28 AM   #20
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I recommend that you choose a few spots to take pictures from, and take photos from exactly the same angle periodically to create a time lapse series.

In checking out my time lapse shots, I've realized that I need to do some gardening. The yards look lusher now, but also less neat.
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