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Houston back yard


Houston back yard May 2017

Our new back yard in our Houston-area home. When we moved into the house, the yard was all fenced in, carpeted with St. Augustine grass sod. For various reasons we were a bit slow to start on gardening (for one, it was in the middle of Houston's steamy summer; for another, being run over by a car while riding my bike didn't help my mobility), but by the fall of 2016 we had established a few planting pockets to break the monotony of grass and fence. A January freeze did in some of the plantings (nurseries around here thrive on zone optimism, it seems), but we added a few more plantings the next spring.

Things didn't really get started, though, until we commissioned a waterfall pond to be installed in April 2017. The extra soil available from pond excavation helped in the building of lots of new borders along that back fence, and the constant clatter of the waterfall and the antics of our goldfish gaggle draw us out into the garden a lot more. Even though it started out looking pretty sparse, the creative horticultural juices are flowing once again, and things are starting to fill in. I look forward to establishing a back-yard reprieve from the formal front-yard landscaping dictated by the home-owners association, and have been encouraged by the variety of wildlife that has found our outdoor space: lots of butterflies and dragonflies, some lizards, and hummingbirds too.

By the end of the first full year of gardening, several areas have come into focus: besides the waterfall pond and its surroundings, there's the back fence border, which now runs along the entire length of the back of our lot, a mixed border filled with small trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals; the right fence border that offers a little more shade, and is home to blueberries, blackberries, a jujube tree, and various other shrubs and perennials; the sunny left fence border with figs, a Texas persimmon, a huisache tree, and random other plantings; and the foundation border that hugs our home, deriving some precious shade from its roof overhangs and accommodating various generally well-behaved plantings. Those separate areas should all get their own pages, eventually, but the ones that don't yet are combined on this one for now.

Tucked in along the back fence is a small rock garden. Unlike its predecessor in Pennsylvania, which featured many alpines and other small tufted plants, this one contains mostly succulents (sedum, aloe, gasteria, aeonium), along with muehlenbeckia and annual talinum. It's still very much a work in progress – I hope to enlarge it and fill it with drought-tolerant plants suited to Houston's climate in years to come.

Currently growing in our back yard (main area)

Cupressus arizonica var. glabra 'Carolina Sapphire' (Arizona cypress)
Cynodon dactylon (bermuda grass)
Exbucklandia populnea
Kalanchoe tetraphylla (paddle plant, flapjacks)
Lonicera sempervirens 'Magnifica' (coral honeysuckle)
Oxalis regnellii (lucky shamrock)
Pinus virginiana

Currently growing in our back yard (right fence border)

Clerodendron thomsoniae (bleeding heart clerodendron)
Hibiscus sabdariffa (roselle, Jamaican sorrel, tea hibiscus)
Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish bluebells)
Illicium floridanum 'Coosa Red' (Florida anise; red star anise)
Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet' (Virginia sweetspire)
Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' (summer snowflake)
Liriope muscari (lilyturf)
Lysimachia congestiflora (creeping Jenny)
Passiflora caerulea (blue crown passion flower)
Platycodon grandiflorus (balloonflower)
Quercus virginiana (southern live oak)
Rubus fruticosus 'Ouachita' (blackberry)
Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine; confederate jasmin)
Tradescantia pallida (wandering jew; purple heart)
Tradescantia spathacea 'Variegata' (Moses-in-the-cradle; Moses-in-a-basket; oyster plant)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Ziziphus jujuba 'Sihong' (jujube; Chinese date)

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Last modified: November 26, 2017
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