Finally... Spring has arrived. It easy to love our mild Austin winters, but the scenery gets a bit dull after three months. Most of our native plants are resting, and while evergreens can be lovely, and naked branches can be sculptural and mysterious, the return of the deciduous trees and perennials is always welcome.
It had just a few blossoms the first year, followed by a thin covering of heart-shaped green leaves. I kept it irrigated through the scorching summer drought (2011) with a Tree Gator.
Every year, redbuds all over town burst into bloom three weeks before this one does, so every year I fear the worst. Last year, the blooming was so late and so minimal that a lanscape contractor that was bidding on some projects asked me if I wanted him to remove this dead tree.
About a week later, it bloomed, very sparsely.
This year I pruned it for the first time, about a month ago, and sprinkled the ground in the freshly cleaned-up bed around it with Rabbit Hill Farm Buds-and-Blooms fertilizer. I don't know whether it was the pruning, the fertilizer, or something else I did or didn't do, but this tree is exploding with beautiful blooms this year.
|Cenizo, February 2013|
|Cenizo, March 2013|
Pruning so drastically is a big leap of faith. I do remember that Rob and I tried to kill a shrub by cutting it to the ground one year, and it reemerged stronger, thicker and taller. I have read about the benefits of pruning. Still, it was emotional. I worried that I was going to kill the Cenizo, Esperanza, Pavonia and Lantana that share the SE wall bed with my birthday Redbud.
So far, it appears my faith will be rewarded. There is new growth on all of these plants. I imagine it will be even more vigorous as the temperatures rise and the days grow longer.
Here's the Lantana (Lantana involucrata) in front of two Rock Rose/Pavonia (Pavonia lasiopetala) that I planted at the same time, last fall. Just a week ago, there were few signs of life on the Lantana. Now there is a promising cluster of leaves and stems.
Behind the Pavonias sits a Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) that I had to cut back drastically to keep it from choking out these other, new plants. It is still tall along the white brick wall, and from my kitchen window, I can see its lovely sky blue flowers along with the magenta blooms of the Redbud.
The one remaining Pigeonberry (Rivina humilis) is beginning to leaf out and green up for Spring. This particular one has thrived since I planted it, but the two I planted next to it (in spots now occupied by Liriope) never thrived, and died off after the first frost.
Our Texas Mountain Laurel, sadly, did not bloom this year. I think we're past the bloom window now. It still has black seedpods attached to it, and I wonder if I should have removed those to stimulate new blooms.
I do see a little bit of new foliage growth on it, which, I hope, won't get devoured by caterpillars this year. I have Bt (Bacillus thuringensis) ready to go, just in case.
Elsewhere in the front yard, things are beginning to bounce back. I gave my one-year-old Martha Gonzales roses a conservative pruning in February. One of them was already starting to bloom, and kept right on blooming after pruning.
One good rain and a liberal soaking with the hose later, it has one or two blooms on it.
This Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) doesn't seem to have lost a single bloom, in spite of windy days and wild temperature fluctuations.
I have plans for the area at the NW side of the house, in front of the HVAC/recycle/trash cart area. I'm not exactly sure what will go in it yet, but there will be a bed bordered in limestone blocks, generously donated by my mom, who lives in Dripping Springs.
Rachel already tested out their climb-worthiness.
This morning I was inspired at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, by this lovely groundcover with pink-red berries, Coral Berry (symphorocarpos orbiculatus), that seemed to like its shady spot. I might have to include it as a border in this limestone bed, or in the backyard around the Cedar Elm.