Skip to content

planning the next

It seems like the most patient of Texas gardeners have all had it with the heat and drought, so I won’t complain. Derek and I have been out of the country for a couple months, so coming back to Austin after the hottest months was coming back to a different garden. We are hitting heat indexes near 110. Yet I am surprised by what actually lived.

When I left, my buffalo grass seed planting were just little teeny one inch grass spikes everywhere. Many of them didn’t flourish and there are whole patches where it just refused to even germinate or grow. However, there are large spots where it not only filled out, but still looks green, which is unusual because buffalograss often goes dormant and brown during the middle of the summer.

Now that I’ve seen what the grass looks like fully grown, I can decide how much of it I want in the yard. I know that fall is one of the best times to plant, so I want to use those months to outline the basic garden design that I can stick with when planting later. Many savvy gardeners here use a lot of decomposed granite to make walkways and then create beds and plantings around them–making more of a ‘grassless’ landscaping design. Which is great and useful and saves water. This gives a kind of reddish desert Texas feel with its emphasis on stones. However, as much as I love the southwest aesthetic, and the native look here, I still want something more of a prairie wild feel to permeate my back yard. Have edges less defined, worn-looking grassy paths that lead subtly toward places. Laced with wildflowers. This is the design that suits me best. So I am trying to find right balance between red (or white) rock and grass/plants.

The sun here is so white yellow and declarative, and the more Texas-y garden aesthetic tends toward ashy warm colors. I get a bit overloaded with all the warm and want some cools–some deep deep cools–jewel-toned teals and deep blues. I picked a type of buffalo grass that leans more toward a cool than a warm green. That way there is some relief to the eyes and contrast with the warm sun.

This is what I love best about English gardens…. they sky is so blue and wet, and looks even bluer and wetter against rows of warm brick housing. English gardens feel so bright under their sky. It is a luscious look. Of course I do not want an English garden here–but the principle of drawing out contrast.

classic English cottage garden style (and actually, a picture of a garden in Alaska

There is a way to do it–how to keep your own identity as well as the identity of the place in which you are gardening. I want to draw out the best in what is truly Austin and work with it, while also making something that feels like Amy (who does have parts of the whole world in her) and her internal garden.