Wednesday, June 01, 2011


The mists of February barely dampened the ground and the heat was firmly in place by the time we met for our March project at Buffy's house. As always, entering her beautiful dining room made us feel special.DivasoftheDirt,Buffy dining room
Then the delicious eggs, potatoes, sautéed peppers, fruit and biscuits kept that special feeling going... good grief! Buffy had cooked up a batch of homemade Apple Butter for the biscuits!DivasoftheDirt,march breakfastThe long bed next to Buffy's drive had been on her wishlist for a few years but some other task always took precedence. Today she designated the drive bed as the #1 Project.
When the bed was first made more than a decade ago, the rosemary and Cenizo/Texas sage plants were chosen for their toughness and drought resistance. But even tough plants wear out here. Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) can look good for quite awhile in the home landscape, but within Austin city limits, our hot nights & high humidity eventually win. Buffy's Texas sage was half dead.DivasoftheDirt,B4 drive bed
The rosemary was alive on the outside but a ratty, brown mess underneath. It insisted on growing over the driveway, the sharp branch ends attacking cars and passengers. Now not only Buffy but scratched-up family members were calling for a complete redo. DivasoftheDirt,drive bed to do
Some Divas of the Dirt began the dismantling of this bed, others worked on the border near the fence gate or the yaupon border or the long parkway border. There was enough cutting back, weeding, composting, mulching & pruning of shrubs to keep us all busy. Back at the drive, it took a long time to get the old plants cleared out. Newer subdivisions in Central Texas usually have the utility boxes in the front yard, making access easier, but disguise more difficult:DivasoftheDirt,clearing drive bedThe Texas Sage/Cenizo trunk had been wrapped in vines - making a twirled design in the bark. DivasoftheDirt,cenizo down to stubThe Texas Sage may have been half-dead, but it sure did not want to leave!DivasoftheDirt,trunk of Texas sageAt one point we called my husband Oz and asked him to bring a chainsaw, but by the time he arrived, Buffy & Mindy somehow hauled that monster plant out of the ground.DivasoftheDirt,roots out on Texas SageThe existing stone blocks were reused, and new ones sawed to reshape the bed and give it some definitionDivasoftheDirt,sawing stone blocks

Now the bed could be replanted! A native Anacacho Orchid Tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) would be the new centerpiece, with starts of heat-and-drought tolerant plants like salvias, Butterfly weed (Asclepias curassavica) Blackfoot daisies and Russian sage set in place. It doesn't look like much now, but give it time! DivasoftheDirt,Drive bed replanted
The Shrubby Germander (Teucrium fruticans) and Fall Aster looked good after the shady yaupon/oak bed was weeded, composted & mulched DivasoftheDirt,shrubby germander
The strip along the street was back in shape, too - this mulch will help the plants survive an Austin summer. DivasoftheDirt,Curb Border redone
Inside the cool house, another feast awaited the tired-out Divas of the Dirt as Buffy served up fish tacos with a wonderful soup - Black Bean with avocado sauce:And for dessert, a triumph of a Flan - DivasoftheDirt,Buffy fab Flan

Set on a plate with fruit, bathed in caramel sauce and topped with home whipped cream. DivasoftheDirt,Buffy's Flan on plateWe said goodbye, knowing we'd be together in three weeks, each leaving with a precious jar of that Apple Butter. Thanks, Buffy!