Oh How My Garden Grows — Befores and Afters

garden04-04-12.jpgNow that I’ve finally finished my Florida wildlife posts, I get to have fun getting back to my roots, as it were — my garden here in Austin! The rains over the winter helped revitalize my garden tremendously, and while we are nowhere near out of the drought yet, I’m just happy as can be that I have what feels like a garden again. My garden did NOT look like this last year, as I am what is best described as a minimal waterer. I teach my plants to be survivors.

Normally I’d do a before/after later in the year as an anniversary post, but every time I walk outside I am just amazed at the transformation of my yard in a mere 3.5 years. So I’m going to show it off!





What a difference! That’s a garden given only compost and occasionally liquid seaweed upon planting. It’s more than 90 percent native Texas plants, and even though the poppies blooming aren’t native, they give the garden such a nice touch of color.

Here’s the hot-tub pond, BEFORE:



gardenb04-04-12.jpgLast year we built the soil up around the pond to make a berm, and this year we’ve been creating a border around it and filling it in with plants. At some point I’ll show you a different view of the pond area, as it’s looking really nice (I just forgot to take the picture, and I’m impatient to show the changes).



Speaking of the pond, the bullfrog is back. Or maybe it’s a new bullfrog. I heard it for the first time ever just tonight — the sound so confused me that I thought my pond pump was broken, until I realized that it was a frog’s call. I think we’ve decided to name the bullfrog Jeremiah. Maybe the name is not so original, but it’s a fun song to sing to the bullfrog while we are out there! I’m sad to say that Jeremiah hates me ever since I cleaned out the pond a couple of weeks ago. I think he thinks he’s Alpha frog and I messed with his territory and his ego, or at least his sense of safety. I’d show you a picture of him except that now Jeremiah darts underwater anytime I’m within even 10 feet of the pond. Doesn’t he realize that I cleaned the pond just for him? We seem to have plenty of fish, by the way. I blame Bob Pool (Draco Gardens) and his darn procreating goldfish.

fragrantmimosa04-02-12.jpgFragrant Mimosa in bloom

The Wonderful Pomegranate is blooming at last, not that I remembered to take a picture. It’s blooming one whopping bloom at a time, leaving the rest as buds that just tease me until it’s the next one’s turn to open. Now how is pollination going to happen like that? I want Pomegranates!


This year I have 37 milkweed plants (Tropical, as I still can’t get Antelope Horns to establish). They have been eaten down to sticks by all the giant Monarch caterpillars. Now what? I don’t want to have to buy even more milkweed! I guess it’s a decent problem to have — I’m ecstatic to be supporting so many Monarchs.

It’s getting hot, and I’m wishing it would rain again, but I’m just grateful as can be for what I’ve got. The butterflies are returning en masse, as are the caterpillars, and birds are singing glorious songs of happy, happy. My gardening goal for the year is simply to fill in the empty spaces in the beds we have and maintain only — other than that, we’ve got to focus on building a new shed. Forward progress!

22 thoughts on “Oh How My Garden Grows — Befores and Afters

  1. Hard to believe all that wonderful landscaping happened in such a short amount of time! Your garden looks great, and a good before/after photo combo is inspiring. My milkweed was totally stripped of leaves early last spring by queen caterpillars but re-leafed within a week or two. Hope yours go on to feed more hungry caterpillars!

  2. What an amazing transformation in such a short period of time! I hear the frogs at night and just love them! How lovely you have so many milkweed plants and caterpillars! I have the same habit as you, buying more plants because I fear there isn’t enough for them to eat!

  3. Karin, I started out with 21 milkweed and added more when someone gave me her excess caterpillars, which then proceeded to feast upon the feast I offered them. Fortunately, there is built in control, since the nurseries are depleted of 4″ plants right now.

  4. Meredith your garden is a stunning masterpiece….I love your pond and how you created it….too many monarchs are a great problem to have…wishing for the butterflies and more birds…once we warm again they will all return making the garden happy!

  5. Wow! Impressive. You have done a fabulous job transforming your backyard to a beautiful garden. This is such motivation for me. We have only been at our new house for a year and we have SO much work to do. Seems like it never ends, but I guess that is part of the fun:)

  6. Pretty, pretty pretty! I need some of those butterfly weeds, though I do have antelope horns growing in the wild areas. We haven’t seen many (if any) monarchs down south.

  7. It does feel like the work ahead is impossible at times, but somehow we move forward. You will have so much fun looking back to see how far your garden has come!

  8. Oh, how I long for Antelope Horns — I keep trying but they won’t establish. They are looking beautiful in wild places around town, though.

  9. Gaz, we got a used, broken hot tub from someone on Craigslist. I’m sure they were thrilled for us to remove it from their property for them. It has become a bird and frog haven, and dragonflies and damsels use it, too. We love it!

  10. Meredith—thanks for sharing your hot tub pond pics with us. I have a 1930 Kohler bathtub sitting in my yard now that came out of the house out in Taylor we’re remodeling. I’ve decided to make a pond out of it, but it’s very heavy, and I can’t move it. I kept thinking that I’d have to put it up against something since it’s made to fit into a corner of a bathroom. The idea of building the soil up *around* the tub never occurred to me! I kept thinking I’d have to dig a huge hole. LOL. It’s in a spot where I need some privacy cover anyway, so now I’m thinking of tall things I can plant behind it on a berm.
    Happy trails! bobbi c.

  11. Hi, Bobbi! Details of our full pond process are available in the side bar of the blog — at some point I’ll update it with the latest pics- the switch to native pond plants and the surrounding berm. Good luck with your project — and yes, if digging down is daunting, build up!

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