Homeowners... and Garden Owners

I am ecstatic!!!  Karen and I have purchased a beautiful log cabin just outside Nacogdoches!!!  And, in the process, we've gotten a school-of-hard-knocks education in house buying.  There were times we thought the whole process would fall through, but it all worked out in the end.  


But, that's not all…  the house came with 2.5 acres of land!!!  Approximately an acre of it is shaded with mature trees, and the rest is open turf, ripe for planting various woodies and forbs.  Holy.  Cow.   

It's so much fun to think about finally having a place of our own that we can tend to and transform.   I love finally using design techniques and themes that I've taught for years and did at clients' houses to our own place.  And, it's amazing to be cognizant of all the iterations my brain has as I really ponder the genius of the place. What does a landscape in east Texas look like?  How can it be functional, beautiful, and ecological?

First, I'm considering views from the house.  Where can we stick plants to enjoy them inside and out?  Also, there's a spacious wrap-around porch that surrounds most of the house, save for the garage, and I'm dreaming of beautiful vistas that can be enjoyed from these outside sitting areas.


From a brief survey of the property, I already know that I want an edible garden by the kitchen.  Karen has already made a long two-column list of all the edibles she'd like to grow here.  I'm up to the challenge.  Yes, sometimes vegetable garden areas can look a little rough, so how can I make it beautiful year-round with foodscaping?  Or, perhaps we use this space for edibles for a year or two and then transform it into another type of garden all the while creating a larger edible garden out back.


The north and east sides of the garage and the back porch, respectively, create guidelines for a large rectangular area where I'd like to kill the turf and create an entertaining space.  I envision a fire pit off to the side with seats around and perhaps some wooden tables scattered about for succulents. 


There are no gutters on the house, so I'm considering some type of short ornamental grass groundcover that could take the rain coming off the roof.   Having this feature has become even more apparent with Hurricane Harvey dumping rain on the house a few weeks ago.

To the west of the garage, there is a slight slope and a large back lawn that receives abundant sun.  I detest mowing large spaces, and these areas will give way to gardens such as a larger production vegetable garden for corn, pumpkins, etc.; a moveable hoophouse; an orchard type space for figs and muscadines; a cut flower garden; and of course, a mixed planting prairie. 


To the east of the house is a glade framed by large oak trees.  I understand this area was the old home place.  The mature trees form a nice backdrop for another outdoor entertaining area, perhaps a place where bocce ball or croquet could be played.  However, the glade is currently populated with an arboretum-like scattering of various immature woodies like Vitex, Punica, Camellia, Spiraea, and others.  I plan to move these to open the area up, and it will also help create a long vista from the front of the house.  Karen has mentioned wanting a white garden somewhere on the property, and whites at the end of the glade would help to pull the eye through this garden.  


In front of the house and to the east are more mature trees and shrubs in a line by the road.  I'm already calling this planting the shrub border where I can plant a variety of plants over the coming years.  Directly in front of the house are a few Camellias, and I see this area becoming the winter garden.  The front porch would be a great place to sit on warm winter days, and I've had an Edgeworthia cramped in a pot for long enough. 


South of the line of woodies the land slopes off suddenly for about a four-foot drop.  My guess is that this bank may have been the side of an old road bed since it looks like the ditches that flank roads back home in Tennessee.  We were walking by it the other night, and I commented it would be a great place to plant daffodils and other shade-loving ephemerals.


My mind also drifts to the problems we will have, mainly in the way of deer.  The lady who previously owned the property actually fed them corn!  No more of that.  And, we've found in our backyard evidence from pigs roughing the soil up, too.

But, even with the potential problems, the possibilities here seem endless.  (Did I mention the soil looks like sandy loam!?!  The shovel cuts right through it!)  But, enough writing for today.  I've been a container gardening nomad for long enough.  It's time to go out and garden.