Front garden in late summer


After escaping another Austin summer by reliving my recent California vacation it’s time to refocus attention on my own garden. The Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) that I planted in early March is finally filling in. Well, the left part is. The section on the right still looks like a man’s hair-replacement plugs. A trio of ‘Margaritaville’ yuccas (an idea I borrowed from Scott and Lauren Springer Ogden‘s garden) are pale, stripey accents.

I plan to write a detailed post about my sedge lawn experiment very soon — possibly tomorrow. Stay tuned for before-and-after photos and how-tos.


The view from the street. Several of my neighbors have asked me this week what the white-blooming flowers are. The garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are showing off!


Their slender stems and neat, grassy foliage are quite elegant, I think, for such a commonplace, easy-to-grow plant.


Deer hate them, and bees love them. I’ll post some chive-loving bee pics soon.


The other side view. (Please don’t flop. Please don’t flop.)


From the front of the house, this is the view that greets me each morning. All three giant mulleins (Verbascum thapsus) are in bloom, and since they’re biennial (living only two years) that means they’ll die come winter. But I hope to have seedlings next spring. I know they are supposed to be seed-making monsters. We’ll see. I seldom get a lot of seedlings in my garden, including garlic chives, despite their reputation.


Soft-yellow mullein bloom, on stalks that are almost as tall as I am.


Hummingbird magnet Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) has been blooming reliably all summer in the shade of the live oaks. I love this easy-care, hot-flowered native.


This is the island bed as seen from the street. Planted in silvers and golds, this is a very low-care area — except for the live oak sprouts, which do drive me to distraction and need frequent cutting down with the weed-whacker. Still, this garden delivers a lot of enjoyment through the year with tough, drought-tolerant evergreens like gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida), ‘Color Guard’ yucca, ‘Powis Castle’ artemisia, Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima), softleaf yucca (Y. recurvifolia), and Mexican oregano (Poliomintha longiflora).

All are deer resistant — and, I guess, rabbit resistant. A couple of days ago, I spotted a rabbit in the neighbor’s front yard for the first time ever. Add rabbits to the menagerie of armadillos, deer, raccoons, and coyotes that call my neighborhood home.

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

14 Responses

  1. Shirley says:

    The sedge experiment is going very well even if parts of it are slower than you’d like. The yucca shows up nicely in the larger swath of sedge than in some of the gardens we’ve seen on tour.

    After reading about garlic chives here last year I added a few and they are also blooming now. They need another year to make a good show but I like them a lot already.

    Your silver and gold looks great and a bit familiar.

    Ha! We do share similar tastes in plants, don’t we? Enjoy your garlic chives. The bees will thank you too. —Pam

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your front garden is gorgeous. I bet the neighbors drool every time they look at it. I will be interested in your carex project.

    I would like to induce more drooling, Lisa. The plants could use the extra water at this time of year. ;-) —Pam

  3. Randy Hyden says:

    I have some mullein that I`m nursing along , also, Pam.I planted the seed last year, so I expect that it won`t shoot that bloom up until next year. Glad to see you back from beautiful San Francisco.

    I planted mine from tiny 4-inch starts I got for a dollar at Barton Springs Nursery. They were so small I thought I’d have them for two years, but they surprised me by growing spectacularly fast and blooming by midsummer. I actually prefer the mullein for its foliage, so I hope to have some real two-year plants next season. —Pam

  4. Szarka says:

    I too, love giant mullein, and experimented with it two years ago. It did indeed reseed…but in unexpected places. Fortunately it transplants just fine.

    Good to know! —Pam

  5. Gail says:

    Love the Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) planting in your front garden…That V thapsis is a beauty and what a marvelous presence it makes in your garden. Looking forward to the Carex story.

    I’m working on that post right now, Gail, and sorting through my photos. —Pam

  6. rebecca says:

    I DO like the sedge-look! I’ll be interested to know how you keep it so clean in between sedges :)

    Well, I weed as needed, but that’s about it, Rebecca. Our big leaf drop is in March because the live oaks shed old leaves as the new are coming in. It was a mess then. —Pam

  7. Neal says:

    Love the sedge and can’t wait to read a post about it. My side yard is on a slope and I’m looking for some way to get rid of the (now almost dead) lawn. Maybe this sedge?

    Great pictures. Thanks.

    I don’t know where you live, Neal, but I was told it likes shade and can tolerate dry shade. It tends to get thirsty in sun in our hot climate, but in other climates perhaps it’s more versatile. —Pam

  8. Everything is looking good. I like the pattern of the sedge, even where it’s not filled in, yet.

    I do like those garlic chives and mullein, too. Might have to plant some. Maybe,,,,just maybe,,,our deer won’t eat those.

    Maybe, Linda — I hope they work for you too. The deer have turned up their noses at them in my garden. —Pam

  9. Oh man ….looking good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The “view that greets you every morning” is INCREDIBLE. So green…and light….and …perfect!

    Thanks, Heather. :-) —Pam

  10. Lori says:

    I am LOVING the front yard transformation. And your post on the sedges will come just in time, since I plan to point a bunch of friends your way as they’ve been debating shade alternatives to turfgrass.

    Sedges are HOT right now as turf alternatives. I just wish they were easier to buy in plugs for the average homeowner. Anyway, I’ll share the details in an upcoming post. —Pam

  11. ricki says:

    Your sedge looks great. I’m trying a similar thing using acoris, but I was not as methodical in spacing, so it looks a bit ragged while waiting to fill in.
    It’s like an Easter egg hunt around here finding where the verbascum seedlings will pop up. They usually show pretty good judgement, but where not, they’re easy to pull out.
    It’s nice to get back to posts about your own garden.

    Thanks, Ricki. I get worn down by summer in Texas and kind of ignore my garden then. But once school starts and the promise of fall is just around the corner, I get a fresh wind. It’s nice to be out in the garden again. —Pam

  12. Love the Berkeley Sedge! I’m thinking of re-doing a difficult hilly part of the lawn on the west side of the house, and I think Sedges will be a part of the plan. I’ll have to go with northern varieties, of course, but there are plenty of native sedges that would work well. Love the Chives and the Mullein!

    That’s the great things about sedges — there’s one for every climate. Good luck with your hilly area! —Pam

  13. Greggo says:

    Your photo reminded me of the promise of sending mullien seed to you. whoops. sorry. They are very aggressive indeed. I would suggest keeping only one seed head if that. The seed germinates best when left on top of the ground as they need sunlight to germ. The photo/garden combo looks great.

    No worries, Greggo! I lucked into these, priced to sell, early this spring. I was actually thinking of trimming off some of the seedheads. I think I’ll take your advice and do so. —Pam

  14. Jo Oanne says:

    Hi Pam. I am new to your blog and a recent transplant to the Hill Country area from North TX. I am enjoying your posts and getting motivated to do some upgrades to our garden. Love all the pictures and it is so helpful that you include names of all the plants. Thank you

    Welcome to central Texas, Jo! The Hill Country is so lovely. Happy digging as you start your new garden! —Pam

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