My Giant Leopard Plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Giganteum’) is in full bloom and would have continued this wonderful show for another two weeks if a nor’easter hadn’t blown in. When I snapped the photo this afternoon around two o’clock, it was 71 degrees outside, then two hours later it was 55 degrees, and now six hours later, it’s 27 degrees. Their beauty will not survive. Our Texas weather extremes can be devastating to us gardeners.
Today is blooming Earth Day, and I have some bodacious beauties to share with you. I took these photos about a week ago thinking the predicted week of rain would destroy their beautiful massing effect. The sun’s back out today, and they have fortunately recovered. Though I’m glad I shot them earlier on a cloudy day, because these particular areas do not photograph well in full sun. Dappled shade would be ideal, but these flowers are either in full sun or full shade. For more photos of the blooming bits of my garden, click the link below.
‘Whirling Butterflies’ is another name for this Gaura. Having big hair in my face pots has always been kind of important. So when this area was suddenly transformed into a sun garden by the loss of an ancient oak tree, I chose Gaura to replace my shade-loving Foxtail Asparagus Fern. There is another one of these face pots in the backyard which is in shade and still sports its dreadlocks of foxtails.
Spring has sprung here in Dallas. Unfortunately a lot of the blooming perennials I showed you last year didn’t make it after last year’s weather extremes and some bad luck. I’ve replaced some of them this past fall, but most will have to be purchased this spring when they become available. What has been replaced is doing very well. Because of our mild winter with no freezing temperatures, the root systems were able to grow the entire winter and are now well established. But it will take another two years to get to where their predecessors were before last spring’s El Niño killed them.
Giant Leopard Plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Giganteum’) started sending up its bloom stalks in November, but the flowers didn’t start to unfurl until the very end of November. These Giant Leopard clumps have doubled in size since they were planted in the spring of 2014, so I’m kind of worried at just how big of a mass they will be next year. The University Park code enforcement lady loves to torment those who dare to plant something other than grass.
My custom designed front gate has finally been installed. It’s been an extremely time consuming and difficult project that began in 2011 with the original sloppy installation. Because it is the front gate, a custom solution was necessary. Since chain-link fencing is no longer as popular as it once was, I could not find a fencing contractor who would give me the time of day on the phone, much less show up for a meeting. They didn’t care if I had created detailed drawings with specifications. The word “custom” caused them too much brain pain. Plus using the traditional galvanized pipes and fittings would make the panels too heavy, causing them sag in the middle. So my architect Charley McKenney took my drawings to the metal artist who had created my fire screen and worked out how to create the two gate panels. It was critical that each frame corner be a sharp 90 degrees and each lace fabric panel be completely inset to the inside of the frame—not merely attached to the frame itself. Eighteen months later, January 2015, the completed gate panels were finally delivered. I had aged considerably since this whole thing started. But wait! There’s more!
Shot over a two week period, these images are being posted just in time for Earth Day. It’s taken three years of hard work, patience, trial and error, and I have often wondered if it was in the stars for my gardens to become fully realized. Finally, there are results. This spring has rewarded me with loads of foliage and blooms. There are still areas (I call them “death gaps”) where additional and/or new replacements are required, but on the whole it’s reassuring that I haven’t wasted so much time, effort and money. In late June, I’ll photograph the gardens in their entirety, but in the meantime while the plants are filling in, here are photos of individual bloomers.
All of these photos were taken this past Friday, March 27. With six weeks of constant rain mixed with freezing temperatures, there hasn’t been an ideal opportunity to photograph anything in my gardens until now. Sadly, because of this bad weather mix, a lot of the late winter bloomers have long passed their photogenic hour. This round of photos showcases current individual bloomers, because the rest of the perennials are just now beginning to emerge. Photographing the entire garden will happen some time in late June or early July.
Should you meander down my alley, this is what you would see. With just a fancy lace chain link fence dividing my back garden from the alley, there’s nothing to obstruct this view. The following photographs were taken at the beginning of July when all plants were looking their best and blooming with one exception, my Texas Lilac Vitex. It had the unfortunate luck of blooming profusely four weeks prior when we had weeks of clouds and rain. Click on the link below for more views of my back garden.
Landscape Architect: Michael Parkey
It’s a view that never fails to start my day with a smile. I’ve recently photographed my backyard gardens and will be posting those photos soon. There’s been numerous setbacks over the last few years. The summers of 2011 and 2012 were brutal to this newly planted paradise, and then there was the drip irrigation system that took a couple of years to adjust and learn what each plant required. Then there was this last winter’s extended freezes that killed my Blue mist flowers, Pink Skullcaps, and most of the Zexmenia. My entire backyard is planted with Texas hardy perennials, but not many of them can survive multiple long periods of time where the temperature never gets close to or above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And then with an extensive cooler-than-usual spring, plants were late in growing and becoming available to buy at local nurseries. It took forever to acquire the replacements I needed.
Hopefully this view will be given a chance to survive for a few more years, because the constant heartbreak with our Texas weather extremes and the constant labor of rebuilding has worn me out. On a positive note: I have planted Texas tough plants and have installed drip irrigation, so the current water restrictions will not be a problem.
Landscape Architect: Michael Parkey