Out in the front we agreed with Sophia - some of the grass in the parkway needed help and some of it should be torn out and better plants installed.
Grass didn't grow on the front edge - time for a redo - the Divas decided that although the separate, smaller beds with established plants looked pretty good, one large border surrounded by stone edging would be even better. Luckily Sophia and Diva-Annie had collected a wheelbarrow full of freebies because it was time to Rock this Bed!
All the tools are ready for turf-removal (some of it will be transplanted to the North end of the parkway), digging and mixing in amendments.
A garden hose outlines the interior shape of the new unified border. Sophia's front yard is overhung with a few large Cedar Elms - sometimes a pain for pollen and leaves - but their filtered shade lets in enough light for foliage plants and flowers while shielding the garden from the worst of summer's sun. With a little breeze even a day in the nineties was tolerable.
We weeded existing beds and Diva-Annie took on the task of digging up many square yards of invasive Vinca major which had started out as a rooted cutting from a friend but now had overwhelmed the fern bed near the front porch. Sometimes Annie had help, sometimes she worked alone, patiently working in the tangle, determined to free the ferns from captivity and make space for the beautiful caladium plants that Sophia had bought. Caladiums can usually take heat if they are in shade and Sophia has that! She also bought a couple of gorgeous hostas - if anyone can make them thrive in Austin it will be Sophia.
Everyone is a gourmet cook at this house! We'd been spoiled by Roger's culinary arts at previous meetings...this time he started the banquet with Caprese salad and a luscious Cantaloupe soup. Next came piquant pasta salad paired with Sophia's homestyle stuffed peppers. We were thrilled to hear that Sophia's son Mark had made a Tres Leches Cake for dessert. It seemed impossible that the amazing chocolate cake Mark made for us in 2007 could be equaled or surpassed, but his Tres Leches belongs on a pedestal...wonderful!
Mindy had suspected that the reason everything died in the parkway was the soil - what's put in by contractors is frequently the sandy loam nicknamed "Red Death" by gardeners. Her idea was to dig in amendments and raise the bed before making a new flower bed in the center of the parkway and replanting the far end with turf that was removed when the beds were joined together. We hope the resprigged parkway can make it.
On the other side of the walk the Divas used our new Mantis tiller to make everything ready, then built a cool foot path before adding plants. You can see the caladiums sitting ready in their pots near the front porch. This kind of shade is just perfect for those Aspidistra/Cast Iron plants near the tree trunks
At the South end of the unified bed are two 'Mutabilis' roses which had a rather drastic pruning. Taking out some of the oldest rose canes might let the adjoining Bauhinia regain its shape and the pruning should encourage the roses to rebloom in late summer or fall.
Before we left at 7PM that night we'd placed the caladiums but not planted them. I went back a few days later to take "after" photos and with the Divas' cars and tools removed from the view, saw a transformed landscape.
The new layered look with rock edging seems to work well for Roger & Sophia's front garden from the new parkway bedto the outlines of the new unified bed
to the shady area of ferns, hostas and caladium near the front door
There's a whole colorful world for Sophia and her family to enjoy!