Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Photos taken during the project were by Glinda (that's me). Photos taken a few days after we left are by Mindy.

Karla thought our post needed this view of all the stuff we seven women use on these projects. In addition to the horticultural supplies like composts, mulches and plants, the hostess provides coolers full of cold drinks and we each bring an assortment of tools and totes. Sometimes we bring plants to share with each other, too.DivasoftheDirt,tools & stuff
Let's head back to the project:
DivaAnnie likes to work at ground level. She amazes us with her persistence and patience. Instead of using force or violence, she carefully untangles and clears areas ready for amending. And when she puts a new plant into the ground, it stays planted! DivasoftheDirt,Annie fig roots
In the outer courtyard here's Sophia prying up weeds along with some shrubs that were a previous experiment by Mindy. The coral berries were native, but they seemed to sucker too freely without looking attractive. That Mahonia/grape holly can stay - it will work in the new design. This time Sophia got to work at ground level - last November she was high on a a ladder cutting the fig vine off the timbers.
DivasoftheDirt,Sophia digging
Once the outer courtyard was in better shape, Mindy took the new tiller on its maiden run. It did a pretty good job, but when the Divas dug deeper than the tines could reach, more and more long, huge fig roots kept appearing. DivasoftheDirt,Mindy,new tiller

Mindy, Mattie, DivaAnnie and Karla continued to fight with the fig roots around the not-live-oak, then used hand tillers before replanting holly ferns. After the dying tree is removed piece by piece, the philodendron seen in the photo at the top of this post will live in the inner courtyard. Mindy told us the entire fig colony started from two small 4" pots from a local nursery.DivasoftheDirt,twisting tillers
Out around the corner Buffy had dug in compost and loosened the soil to plant a Chilopsis/ Desert Willow. Once established it should be drought-tolerant, and a good rain should persuade it to produce lovely flowers. This particular Chilopsis is a variety called 'Bubba'.DivasoftheDirt,Chilopsia plantedBuffy and I had fun reinstalling that huge 'spineless' cactus to the left of the Desert Willow. If you've never met one - spineless is a relative term. We had gloves on but still ended up with little spines all over our clothes and unprotected skin.

Hard soil, semi-shade, wandering deer and limited water make the courtyard a difficult situation for any gardener, but Mindy does not give up easily! After bags and bags of composts were added, the new planting of soft-leaved yuccas, holly ferns, Four-nerved daisies, bluebonnets, iris, lambs ears, Setcresia/purple heart and Mexican feather grass was set in.

DivasoftheDirt,rt CY afterThe flat-backed water barrel was in place for our Diva day, but not hooked up. There were full water barrels on the patio so we walked through the house carrying water from the back of the house to the front courtyard, giving all the new plants a good drink and then mulched them.

DivasoftheDirt,CY doneThe Divas hunted around the property for stones and used them to edge the left side of the courtyard. A Loropetalum went in against the wall, with pockets teased out for foxgloves, and more setcresia closer to the oak. Mattie got artistic at the corner of the house, fitting stones together under the spot where a rainchain would be hung. It was nearly 5 PM when Mindy called us in to eat - so not exactly lunch - but a delicious meal. DivasoftheDirt,soba ginger salad
The main dish was wonderful - Cold Peanut, Chicken, and Soba Noodle Salad
accompanied by Hot and Spicy Asparagus.

The lettuce was supposed to be a garnish, but we didn't leave one leaf! Mindy thought her cake was too crumbly but we thought the taste was perfect. Here's a close-up of the Texas Mountain Laurels decorating the table. DivasoftheDirt,TX Mt Laurels, table
We went back out and tried to get a little more done before packing up the tools and doing some clear up. We left Mindy and Warren with shovels in hand, using decomposed granite to fill in the bottle edges. DivasoftheDirt,Mindy & Warren, edging

Let's take a stroll from the drive down the sidewalk past this very Hill Country front garden. We like the way Rusty the metal horse sculpture looks in his revamped quarters among Hesperaloe, yucca, cactus, desert willow and salvias. DivasoftheDirt,Austin entrancePast the cactus and the crepe myrtles, we approach the entrance to the courtyard. It's a few days after the Divas met and the rain barrel is now hooked up. DivasoftheDirt,CY corner after
Now the new rain chain hangs on the left of the courtyard.DivasoftheDirt,CY afterInstead of carrying water through the house, Mindy can use the coiled hose to water the courtyard plants. DivasoftheDirt,Mindy new rain barrelEncouraging the bluebonnets to bloom.
DivasoftheDirt,cherub bluebonnetAnother cherub hides in the purple heart across the walk.
Cherub setcreaseaFrom the front door the view into the courtyard is a pleasing one
DivasoftheDirt,look out CY afterAnd at the base of the rainchain, Mindy will see a little souvenir of the day...when Mattie made the rock-splash, she tucked a heart-shaped rock into the very center. DivasoftheDirt,rainchain & heart


  1. Hello Divas!

    I'm new to Austin and just starting my garden here. I just discovered your website and I think the bottle edging is fabulous. Question: do you have any problems using the bottles with the heat here? I get full, brutal sun in my backyard and I'm worried the bottles might shatter in the heat? What do you think?

  2. This was Mindy's Garden, so she's the one who should answer:

    Thanks Cadence for the complement on my bottle edging!! It was not my original idea--I think I spotted it in Better Homes & Gardens or somewhere, but my husband and I (and a lot of our friends) are wine lovers, so I had no shortage of bottles!! Even if you're a newby to Austin, you probably know by now, we went through a record drought and heat in the summer and a crazy snow and deep freeze this winter (your gonna love our "seasons";). The bottle edging is holding up beautifully!!

    Thanks for blogging and have a fabulous Spring!!
    Diva Mindy


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