Stuck on my stucco walls


I’m in love with the new walls.


They’re not even painted yet (the stucco has to cure for a few weeks first), and I love them.


I love their sturdy form and embracing curves.


Swoop! The culvert-pipe yucca is being moved, by the way. Man, it’s heavy. Three guys couldn’t move it, so I suggested they lay it down and roll it. We’ll see if that works on Friday.


Here’s the long view. The taller wall in the middle will be rusty red, I think.


I’m going to try a gray-green on the curved walls.


Like the color of the shed. The new limestone path makes me happy too.


Substantial new limestone steps lead down from the pool patio to the lower garden. New flagstones added to the mulched path lead around back of the pool. I’ve got a gorgeous black beautyberry on standby to fill that bare spot in front of the cast-iron plant.

Shout-out to Joe, Michael, and their hardworking crew at Corner Stone Construction Services for their quality work, responsiveness, and communication. There are a few finishing touches that remain, plus the painting that I’ll be doing, but it’s close to being done.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Construction in the garden and other happenings


It was a one-two punch, seeing colorful stuccoed walls in Phoenix and Tucson in April and then in Portland in July. Unable to resist the siren song of structure, functionality, and color, I’ve hired a mason to build some walls in the back garden. Two days ago I moved the patio seating out of the way and am enjoying this temporary pond-viewing set-up.


Yesterday digging began for footings, and materials were brought in.


Here’s the plan. Two semicircular seat walls will curve around the small concrete patios at each end of the pool, providing structure and a safety measure; a couple of times people have almost pushed their chairs backward off the elevated patios. The seat walls will give us more seating when entertaining, and they’ll be an attractive backdrop in all seasons. I’m thinking of painting them an olive-khaki green. A 2-inch gap between the seat walls and the concrete patios will be filled with Mexican beach pebbles.

Along the back of the pool, where it curves inward, they’ll build a taller, free-standing, straight-line stucco wall, which I’ll paint a fun accent color (maybe rusty orange). I plan to plant grasses in front of it (maybe ‘Blonde Ambition’ grama) and will probably display an agave in a dish-planter atop it. It’ll be a focal point for an area that’s sorely in need of one.

Tighter flagstone paving will be laid in the foreground, eliminating a tripping hazard where different paving materials meet, and leading to steps into the lower garden.

I’m excited, nervous, and hopeful that it will turn out as I envision. Stay tuned for more, unless it ends up being a disaster, in which case I’ll be too busy gnashing my teeth and wailing to post anything.


In other news, the oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida) are up, as red-coated and jaunty as the pirouetting Buckingham Palace guard.


I love this patch in front of a ‘Bright Edge’ yucca, their yellow stamens echoing the yucca’s stripes.


By the stock-tank pond, spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) are blooming at last. I planted these several years ago, and I think this is the first year they’ve bloomed. They can be slow to get going. I must remember never to disturb them.


After the recent rain, the tired, curled-leaf sweet almond verbena (Aloysia virgata) got a second wind. Now when I step outside on the deck, the sweet fragrance stops me in my tracks, and I must walk over for a deeper sniff.


During my sniff last evening I noticed dozens of Ailanthus webworm moths, which resemble narrow, orange-and-white beetles, nectaring on the flowers.


Honeybees too


I wish I could offer smell-o-vision for you to enjoy the sweet almond scent.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Trying Duranta ‘Sapphire Showers’ for end-of-summer color


My late-summer garden was feeling kind of puny to me last week — before we got the November-worthy cold front yesterday that dropped Austin’s high temperature to 65 incredible-freaking degrees and brought 1-1/4 inches of rain to my garden!!

Sorry, I digress.

Before that blessed weather event happened I was feeling the late-summer doldrums, as I always do before our weather breaks in October, and so I was easily snared by this beautiful, tropical-style perennial that was waving at me at The Natural Gardener and promising to deliver flowery beauty to my summer-weary garden.


It’s Duranta ‘Sapphire Showers’, and I have to admit it’s really not my usual style of plant. It’s thirstier than I would normally buy, probably requiring twice-weekly watering to keep it going in summer. It can be cold-tender in pots. I figure I’ll enjoy it through the rest of the summer and fall and, assuming it returns in spring, however long it lasts next summer, when I tend to travel a bit and expect my plants to get by on once-a-week watering, or less if necessary.

Despite all those caveats, I’m enjoying the grape-like clusters of violet flowers on arching stems. I need to plant a groundcover underneath it though — maybe ‘Silver Falls’ ponyfoot? Then I could enjoy Sapphire Showers and Silver Falls, which has a certain ring to it.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.