Hello dollies! This year my friends Gail from Is This Mutton and Deb from Deb’s World have come up with a new monthly blogging series “Tell Us About…..” They are sharing cohosting duties with Mary Katherine from MK’s Adventures in Style, Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper, and Jill from Grownup Glamour. This creative writing challenge invites bloggers to respond to a different prompt on the third Thursday of the month. The gals are taking turns coming up with the prompts and this month Penny chose the theme gardens and gardening.
Guess what?? Guess who they invited to co-host with them?? Two guesses. Did you guess – me??? Oh, yeah, baby…these gals invited lil ole me to join their posse. And I am thrilled. I feel fancy!!
Tell Us About 05.2023: Gardens and Gardening
As many of you probably remember, we had a pool built in 2017. And it immediately had lots of problems. Enough issues that it couldn’t pass inspection with the city of El Paso. We are talking code violations with the electricity, the equipment, the deck and the plaster. Which is just about everything that goes into making a pool. Anyway, 2 lawyers, 2 lawsuits and 6 years later, we finally received a settlement and were able to get our pool repaired. We finally have the pool, the yard, and the garden we hoped for.
Please let me show you around our oasis in the far west Texas Chihuahuan Desert.
The Front Yard
Because we live in a desert, xeriscaping is strongly suggested. And most houses, when being built, include rock landscaping in the front ‘yard’. In both this house, and my little house where the girls grew up, I opted for a combination of grass and rock. Our plants are all desert-friendly: Indian hawthorn, bottle brush, butterfly bush, purple sage and a fabulously fragrant sweet broom. PC threatens to dig up the sweet broom every year because it just goes crazy. Grows so large. But I argue, what’s not to love?? It is bright and sweet-smelling and beautiful.
Can you pick out the sweet broom? I guess it does dwarf everything else. But everything else, has really struggled to grow. A lot of the other plants were frost nipped in March with our surprise snow. Hope they will snap to with the rain we had last night.
To the right of the driveway, as you face the house, is a Mexican elder. The man who trims it for us now and then calls it a weed. I think of it as a great big bonsai. Love the gnarly shape of the branches. And the fact that it is semi-evergreen so looks green and lush most of the year. It even flowers!! While I am not a big fan of birds, I do have a feeder hanging from a branch of the elder and discovered a nest of blue eggs among deep in the foliage earlier this spring.
I’ve planted some kind of purple thing against the rock wall on the west side of the front yard. Purple is PC’s favorite color. Figured he wouldn’t fuss too much about me planting something else if it flowered with purple blooms.
Almost all El Paso houses feature rock walls. Old houses and new ones, alike. We have a corner lot with a rock wall all the way around the backyard separating us from the neighbors in the back and on the east side. Then we have a lower rock wall that separates the yard from the sidewalk at the curve of the front west corner of the lot. I love the rock walls. The yards in El Paso are not large so the walls add some privacy. Although we have laughed that in both of my houses, when we sit down at the table it would be easy to pass food from our house to the neighbor’s through an open dining room window. We are THAT close.
The east side yard is pretty shady. Some sun in the morning but the house shades it in the afternoon. We haven’t planted anything over there as it is a narrow strip of grass that won’t accommodate much.
The west side yard is wider and faces the Franklin Mountains. We have planted a Texas ash, peach tree and oleander bush in that area. The shade of the ash helps keep the house cool in the afternoons. But its roots have made growing grass difficult. This year I planted strawberry clover in all of the patchy places and it is beginning to take hold.
Our peach tree is quite prolific. We still have frozen peaches from last year’s bounty. And it looks like another bumper crop is coming in this spring. Do you need any peaches?? Have dreamed of making peach wine. An attempt a few years ago proved unfruitful…pardon the pun. We may try again this year. This area of the yard is where Lauren’s bunnies used to play. So our vineyard name was going to be “Bunny Run Winery.”
The oleander is kind of a wild child. For a bit, I was trying to trim in like a tree (or a poodle) with a fluffy top and long, spindly trunk. But new growth keeps sprouting up at the bottom so it is hard to keep it groomed. I have decided to just let it go nuts.
One of my spring goals for 3 years now has been to plant a small veggie garden with the girls. Originally had hoped to do it during Covid, but that didn’t happen. Bought these raised beds and have been waiting since 2020 to use them. This was the year!! Have planted squash, pumpkin, peppers, watermelon, cilantro and basil. Something is coming up, but I am not sure what. Or which. Had put the seed packages in the different beds to indicate what was planted where. But clearly I am a novice farmer, as the sprinklers washed away the writing on the packages and I have no idea what is growing.
Our pool equipment is on this side of the house, too. Kind of unsightly but necessary.
Our tour today winds up in the back yard. The Pièce de Résistance, if you will. The cherry on top. Shortly after we moved into our house, PC and I bought a hot tub or jacuzzi. Had a concrete slab poured and a walkway built from the back porch to the spa. One spring, when he was out of town for work, I had the concrete on the back porch acid washed and a built-in grill installed. We have used that grill so much!!
In 2017, as I mentioned above, we began the long nightmare of building a pool. Blah. Blah. Blah. Fastforward to this spring, and our pool is finally replastered, the deck refinished, the pergola restained and sealed and the equipment repaired (electricity was repaired back in 2017 when we realized it wasn’t done to code and the house could burn down if we didn’t QUICK do something). I love the finished product. We finally have the pool we dreamed of.
The river rock and most of the plants and the metal cactuses have been added over the years since the pool was first installed. The little gardens against the back of the house were the first things we created back in 2008, when we married and moved into our love shack. On the west side of the back of the house are a butterfly bush, a recently dead rose bush (RIP), and monkey grass I dug up from my childhood home in Memphis. I just planted some lantana and a hibiscus in that garden this spring. We’ll see how they do. The little book-reading gnome was my paternal Grandma Bubby’s.
There’s Japanese/Chinese plum tree on this side of the back yard. And we just planted a jasmine that we hope will climb the trellis and keep water from directly hitting the pillar of the porch.
In the east side garden against the back of the house we have a magnolia that about bit the bullet this spring. The sprinklers had to be off while the pool was being renovated and although I tried to water the bush, it wasn’t enough. It is coming back with a vengeance, though, now. Lots of full, fragrant, creamy white blossoms.
Beside it is a bougainvillea that has about 2 blooms a year. Paul hates its thorny branches. And a blue agave cactus. Our Mexican bird of paradise looks like a dead bird of paradise right now. Hoping it pops back out. Last spring it looked dead til it didn’t. One day it was barren, the next day it was back to life.
There is another Japanese/Chinese plum planted in the grass to match the one on the other side of the house. The wind chime was a gift from precious KellyAnn at This Blonde’s Shopping Bag, when my mama died.
Our oasis is actually the whole backyard. The pool, the shady back porch, the seating area under the pergola. I love it all. The best part – and maybe only good part of PC’s upcoming prostatectomy (other than he will be cancer-free – a BIGGIE), is that he will be home for 2 weeks. And we can sit outside in the cool of the morning. Just enjoy a slower pace…hear that, PC?
Around the perimeter of the pool, we have planted lantana, portulaca, hibiscus, cactus, and a couple of things I don’t remember the names of. And our flickering, mood-setting solar lights and torches. My BFF Sharon gave me the torches last year (sweetest friend) but I refused to put them out until our pool was finally right. I bought similar solar lights at the same time, but ditto…they remained packed away until this spring.
I love everything now. Have a look.
The water needs to warm up just a bit more for swimming to be comfortable. Hopefully by this time next week, I can become the mermaid that I truly am!!
My BFF Sharon has the greenest thumb!! She is solely responsible for the beautiful yards in half of Oklahoma City, I think. So tell me true, how does your garden grow? With silver shells and cockle shells and pretty maids, all in a row? Like the old nursery rhyme?? Would love for you to share a little about your garden in a comment below.
Then join me in visiting my Tell Us About blogger friends who are opening their gardens to us today.
- Marsha from Marsha in the Middle is sharing a picture of a winter garden which she says exists only in memory and in a few photos. Winter garden!!
- Australian blogger Sue Loncaric from Women Living Well after 50 shares information on the health benefits of spending time in the garden and how she enjoys exploring the public gardens. So many to visit!!
- Suzy Turner, from The Grey Brunette, lives in Portugal. While she isn’t really into gardening, she does miss the garden in her former home. She and her husband are in the midst of building their dream home and planning their future garden. Can’t wait to see!!
- Australian blogger Debbie from Deb’s World, claims she likes gardens but isn’t much of a gardener. She enjoys photographing beautiful green spaces.
- Michelle from Following My Muse compares gardening with quilting. “I was amazed when I realized that I plan my gardens the same way I plan my quilts.” Sounds very orderly.
- Mary Katherine from MK’s Adventures in Style tells us about The Hobby That Got Out of Hand… sounds like my weeds!!
- Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper loves all aspects of gardens and gardening which she has returned to in her new home. She offers to take us through a journey of how her love of gardening developed. Let’s go read all about it…
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Grr. Having all kinds of trouble. Not even going to try to proofread this mess. Say a prayer that this posts. Thank you for your friendship and for stopping by.
Hugs and kisses,
So glad you’re part of the posse! I’m in awe of how lovely your pool area looks. What a relief to get it settled, and what an oasis it looks now. The veg patch will be a nice surprise when you see what’s come up! And you have some lovely plants – lantana, hibiscus, bougainvillea. None of those grow very well here in the UK, but I love seeing them in Greece when we go there.
That whole pool area looks so inviting! My garden is very slow and behind this year with just a few plants starting to flower (with just one or two flowers and a few more buds barely starting). I know they’ll fill in more as our weather warms up but I’m always so dismayed to see how fast the weeds sprout up around all the other plants.
Leslie Roberts Clingan
Thank you, sweet friend. My yard is very slow this year, too. I have a couple of plants that still haven’t come out and our grass looks like mid-March and not almost June. Kind of discouraging!!
You have a beautiful garden and pool! I like a, clean, garden. A very relaxing place.
Leslie Roberts Clingan
Thank you. I am ready to spend some time enjoying it now!!
Hi Leslie, your garden is fabulous and I learnt so much from reading your post. I had to look up what xeriscaping was (and we live in a semi-arid environment too), I didn’t know about all the rock walls you have over there and you actually plant lantana – that’s a noxious weed here!! Your pool issue has been awful for you but the final result is amazing, you must be so happy with it all now! I’m so pleased you’ve joined the Tell Us About team and always look forward to your posts. Love love love all the pool shots and your garden is a real delight which I’m sure you enjoy :). Take care x
Leslie, I’m so sorry you all that palaver with the first pool. what an absolute mess!! My husband deals with that kind of thing all the time—he renovates property, including pools so we know how awful it can be. Congratulations on it all being finished now! I must say, I’m rather envious!! It looks absolutely stunning. I love the photos of it at dusk…the lighting is beautiful!
Leslie Roberts Clingan
Thank you so much!! We are celebrating our renovated pool. Hoping, now that the chemicals are balanced, we can get in and swim tomorrow. We did have the grandbabies over for an inaugural swim earlier in the month. I just long to be outside now. I need to persuade my PC that we don’t need to go anywhere…we have heaven on earth right here.
Hi, Leslie – Your gardens and pool are gorgeous. I am so sorry to read that you had 6 years of hassle with your pool. Now is the time to enjoy it and reap your well-earned rewards of perseverence and determination!
Leslie Roberts Clingan
Thank you!! We have the chemicals balanced now that the pool is finished and tomorrow I swim…and float…and swim!!
This is so fascinating as obviously you can only plant what will survive very hot and dry temperatures which is the exact opposite of UK weather patterns! Mind you, our summers do now have some very hot days and I am wondering how my little patch will behave this summer.
Lovely to see the pix – it is so interesting to see how things are grown across the globe 🙂
Leslie Roberts Clingan
This was a wonderful prompt. It has been like a trip around the world, visiting all the bloggers and their garden spaces. Thank you so much for stopping by and for coming up with this great theme.
Leslie, your backyard is what dreams are made of (maybe nightmares for several years)! I love all the little touches, your Grandma Bubby’s gnome and the solar lights! But, those nighttime photos…oh, girl!!! You need some company (once PC is recovered, of course)!
Leslie Roberts Clingan
LOL, come on down or down and over. Thank you. I love our yard now. Just need to get PC to allow us to stay home long enough to enjoy it.
Wow – how spectacular is your oasis! You certainly saved that ’til last… The pool disaster sure sound like a test of your patience and a good marriage – so glad it’s all resolved for you. You certainly know your plants, and not one of them grows where I live, so it’s so interesting.
Cheers until next time, MK
Leslie Roberts Clingan
LOL, the pool fiasco was indeed a test of our marriage. PC was game to ‘fight’ to get it fixed for a few months in. But then he felt like it was futile. I was not going to let it go. In fact, I even picketed in front of the original pool builder’s business. Kind of amazing that I didn’t get shot!!
Sure enjoyed the tour of your oasis. All the flowers!! And the history behind your interest in gardening. Snapping beans can be kinda fun.