Cat’s pollinator garden with a canyon view
May 16, 2019
Three years ago my friend Cat Jones (check out her IG and blog) and her husband, Derrick, newly empty nesters, sold their house and Cat’s lovely garden and moved to a different home in their Steiner Ranch neighborhood, not to downsize but — fellow gardeners, can you relate? — to upsize their lot.
A canyon view in the backyard, perfect for summer sunset-watching, sold them on the house. Out front, Cat has been steadily turning the standard lawn with foundation shrubs into a beautiful pollinator garden with a low-profile evergreen backbone.
Cat is not afraid to take risks, like this Berkeley sedge and silver ponyfoot meadow in a sunny spot by the front door. She punctuates the green-and-silver combo with a rusty basin she’s turned into a tiny pond, complete with water lily and floating steel balls. With chocolate-spotted, fleshy leaves, a flowering ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave is the perfect companion.
Detail of the ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave flower spike
She says she didn’t plan this combo, but Cat has an artistic eye for what works together, and this is perfection. Rusty-spotted mangave with rusty vessel, and silver ponyfoot with stainless steel floating balls in the pond.
Derrick constructed cedar and hog wire trellises for vertical gardening by the front porch.
‘Princess Diana’ clematis cloaks this trellis.
I love this Celtic figure cradling a bowl of blue glass beads and a stone heart.
A bee hotel for solitary native bees nestles in a patch of purple coneflower.
A honeybee enjoys the coneflowers too.
In a hot and sunny strip along the driveway, Cat planted flowering perennials and annual wildflowers including tall verbena…
…tall winecup (I’d never seen the tall variety before)…
…and ‘Peter’s Purple’ monarda. A swallowtail butterfly skipped from one flower to the next, sipping nectar.
Swallowtail and ‘Peter’s Purple’ monarda, aka bee balm
An apricot rose
Lanceleaf coreopsis and red-veined sorrel
Tall winecup and masses of blanketflower — kapow!
Such a pretty combo.
Add golden coreopsis and it glows.
Along the foundation of the house it’s shady, so Cat grows pretty foliage plants like ‘Sparkler’ sedge (shown here), giant leopard plant, and Japanese maple.
A spot with morning sun glows with low-mounding ‘Cream de Mint’ pittosporum paired with purple-tinged common sage (Salvia officinalis).
Giant coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima) shoots skyward in the side garden.
Sweet statuary tucked amid the plants.
And then you enter the gated backyard to see this: a rustic patio shaded by live oaks and perched on the edge of a canyon, with a view of green hills bumping up against the big Texas sky.
A winding path leads down into the sunny upper canyon, where sown wildflowers like larkspur…
…and poppy mingle with native wildflowers and grasses.
A second patio just above an open meadow contains two Adirondacks overlooking masses of blanketflower and the hills beyond.
Back up top, a hummingbird and I paused to appreciate ‘Amistad’ salvia. He was too quick for me to capture though.
Cat prowls thrift shops for finds like this: a section of wrought-iron fencing, which leans against the house as an impromptu trellis. In front, white-flowering oakleaf hydrangea and white-striped variegated miscanthus brighten this shady spot.
Two potted Agave desmettiana appear to be admiring themselves in twin mirrors hung on the fence.
Cat and Derrick updated their existing deck with skirting that matches their new contemporary-style fencing, with horizontal slats of varying widths. Along the base, a tall pot fountain bubbles and beckons to birds that chirp and call all through Cat’s canyon-side garden.
The fountain also “calls” to a large stock-tank pond on the far side of the garden, one water feature riffing on the other.
An 8-foot stock tank holds an assortment of nicely potted pond plants with wine-colored foliage. Floating silver balls add sparkle, and a pillar-style fountain adds a soft splashing sound. Cat says she got the stock tank from a family whose children used it as a swimming pool until they outgrew it.
Now the only swimmers are goldfish…
…glistening frogs, and the occasional pesky water snake that tries to eat the more welcome pond denizens.
In the late afternoon, slanting sunlight glows through the black elephant ears “like magic,” Cat says.
I love Cat’s container combos, like this spidery red bromeliad with spotted squill. Both were passalongs from friends.
In a shadier spot, African hosta (Drimiopsis maculata) and purple oxalis make a divine pair. I had African hosta in the ground, and it just got lost amid other plants, so I’m taking note of how great it looks in a bowl planter.
My thanks to Cat for sharing her beautiful garden with me again! It’s been exciting to see it coming into its own as a reflection of her own unique style, in harmony with the canyon that brought them here, to their new home and garden adventure.
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