Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Moonscape in Bermuda Grass

Meet our backyard.
Not a tree, not a shrub, not even a stump! -- rather boring and vacant. I don't know why the space is so unpopulated by plant life.
Sometime last summer I put in a little gardenia plant that a friend gave me. It was pitiful with dried, yellow leaves, but it's recovered nicely. That's it, in the front right of the photo below. Very little shrub, but one must start somewhere, right?
Then, you see three brown shrubs in a row. Those are old mums. For my British Isles readers -- no, those are not burial sites for deceased mothers. They are chrysanthe ... mums.
They look pitiful too, but each one has a little tuft of green -- new leaves -- at the base of the stalk. I put them in the ground Monday. It was a warm, sunny 73ยบ afternoon. Should one transplant shrubs in early January? I guess it depends on where you live. Two of them were in pots anyway, and the third was being murdered by encroaching canna lilies in the front yard, so I did them all a favor by placing them in the moonscape. The moonscape backyard gets great morning/afternoon sun and lots of it.

Then, there is this poor thing, a euonymous. Can you see it? Its sun was blocked by those same canna lilies, and it nearly died. I'm hoping it will rejuvenate this summer, grow and spread out.
This is the plant I really wanted to rescue from the vicious canna lilies, my sole lavender plant. Will it recover and become healthy?
So there are my two little shrubs, next to a patch of weedy bricks that ought to be a patio, overrun with Bermuda grass. This area is so entirely exposed to all the other houses and people driving/walking/biking by, that we don't sit out there. It's just ... awkward. I do keep big pots of herbs and patio tomatoes there in the summer. The full sun there is wonderful and warm.
The house is a rental, so we don't want to spend money putting in trees or big shrubs, or building any kind of privacy fencing or anything else that might actually improve the living experience in our back yard, I'm sorry to say. It is what it is. So I'm trying to add itty-bitty improvements that don't really cost me much. When the canna lilies in the front yard became so dominating in that bed, I figured it wouldn't hurt anything to move the other plants back here.
I brought only one little plant, in a pot, from our last house -- a rosemary. It was nearly dead then.
For some inexplicable reason I placed it here, between the steps and the heat pump. I admit freely that I have ZERO sense of creativity or aesthetic talent when it comes to decorating with plants.
But my rosemary is alive!
We have at least another ten months in this house, so I will look forward to watching these plants thrive this summer. If anybody has any low-cost ideas of how you would improve such a backyard, if it were yours, I'm all ears! Believe it or not, this is the time of year (in the true South) to do real yard work. No mosquitoes. Great temperatures. Vines and other encroaching plants are at a minimum. No sweating. And the ground is not frozen. Just one of the advantages of living down here!


  1. I'm all about herb gardens. Lavender is supposed to be really fun for the honey bees. Bee balm and other such things are sweet too. Must keep the bees in mind! I linked to your blog had reminded me of or something similar. Maybe you mentioned halfpricebooks? Anyway, it jogged my memory that I could search for books in other places than amazon; so thank you!

    1. That's good advice, Sarah! I need to think of good plants for the bees. I'd like to have more lavender, honestly ... eventually. Yes, the website was They have great prices. For the books I look for, usually the book itself is about $1, with about $2-$3 shipping added, or the book is about $3.50 with free shipping. So much cheaper than other sites. ANd I've never had any trouble with any of the sellers. I've ordered dozens of books there and they've all come.

  2. I'm afraid I'm no help. Mowing the lawn is about as creative as I get. I try doing a garden occasionally, but usually my interest wanes quickly. I'm glad your lavender and rosemary are doing well. You will probably take them with you if you move? I'm all for container gardening. I can fully understand why you wouldn't want to put a lot of money into your backyard when it belongs to the landlord. Sorry I'm not more helpful. Enjoy your nice weather! :)

    1. I'd love to keep the rosemary and lavender, if I can. Sometimes, when you put plants in the ground at a rental, you're required to leave them. It's considered an "improvement." But I could probably patch the ground back over and make it look nice. I love container gardening too, but my tomatoes just never do as well as they do in the ground. I think they need so much water, a container is never quite adequate. I really tried last year, with plants designed for patio containers.

  3. I'd dig and plant seeds in orderly little rows or squares.

  4. I find that lavender is very hardy and mine comes back from the dead every year. I suppose I would just plant some summer bedding plants if I had such a short time left in a house.

  5. Don't you have some gardeners among the retired people in your church? I don't know much about gardening in the South, but pretty much everywhere, one needs to loosen up the soil and add lots of organic matter, and then if you find what likes to grow there, that you also like, sometimes you can get cuttings or starts from friends and neighbors so it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I would want to find someone with a rototiller and just do the whole yard. Then find someone with a horse to give the compost. Someone with design-sense to help you not make a hodge-podge of it. I tend to that random style myself, so I know how unsatisfying it is! I want your church family to organize and help you!


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