January 12, 2013
A Broad View Reveals Micro-Climates
Here in zone 8 Austin, Texas it takes winter a while to arrive. And it's not long before spring is hard on it's heels.
So in an effort to live more intentionally, I ventured out after our 2.7" of blessed cold rainfall and took a look-see. It's a lot easier to really look hard at your surroundings when you're not so worried about stepping on a rattlesnake.
The soft, subdued winter hues were relaxing and it was so quiet ... no ac units humming, no noisy lawn equipment; just the trickle of water, bird song and the gentle breeze.
Taking my time I took note of how different everything looks after a winter's soaking rain.
I love the skeletal forms of the flame leaf sumac amongst the heavily textured grasses. I even like the contrasting dark green background of juniper although its pollen makes me constantly clear my throat (which is mild compared to others who suffer 'cedar fever'). I love the evergreen quality that is Austin with its numerous Live Oak trees and junipers.
Coming back into the garden it was easy to see it. Really see it. While we've had several freezes, micro-climates throughout the garden have left pockets of tender plants to stand until the ultimate freeze comes along.
My garden is in this strange, wondrous state of in-between.
With the Turk's cap nearly dormant the flax lily is really stealing the show. Although the lily is tender, it has escaped damage so far. When frozen in the past, it has come back from the roots.
The palmetto is new, added last spring, and will eventually grow into the space serving as a nice textural, evergreen shrub visually softening the wood fence. It isn't a dense shrub so the other plants will be able to grow amongst its foliage. As it grows larger, the Turk's cap may need to be relocated but as the palmetto is a slow grower, they are fine for now.
The shady garage bed; rear from left to right : Japanese yew, forsythia sage, cast iron, philodendron, variegated ginger, Japanese aralia, Japanese yew. Middle from left to right: pineapple sage (view obstructed), flax lily (struggling), yellow columbine, variegated ginger, Japanese maple, heartleaf skullcap, cast iron, sparkler sedge, oakleaf hydrangea, river fern, mondo grass. Front left to right: yellow columbine.
Seeing this bed in partial dormancy is really unusual and it struck me the other day how pretty it is like this. Still lush with lots of nice texture and color. Typically the pineapple sage, philodendron and ginger would be dormant as are the forsythia sage, oakleaf hydrangea, Japanese maple and river fern.
The pineapple sage continues to draw in winter bees and butterflies on warm, sunny days.
Across the garden, the beautiful, silver bark of the native Texas persimmon grows amongst river fern (foreground of fountain), variegated ginger (behind the gate), star jasmine (trellis left) and Martha Gonzales rose. Salvia mexicana stands tall at the back of the photo. All the tender plants show a bit of damage but not enough to distract from the lush verdant display of the plantings.
Micro-climates are making a huge difference in my garden this winter. It's the perfect marriage of a semi-dormant garden and no mosquitoes! We've been finding a little bit of time here and there to relax out here and enjoy the unique view these micro-climates have offered.
What's growing in the micro-climates around your garden?