Returning member now in Austin Texas

Submitted by David Guillet on Wed, 01/07/2015 - 11:01
Hello Folks, I am a born again NARGS member having rejoined after giving up my membership a couple of years ago on retiring and moving to Austin Texas. When I retired I sold my summer place in Shenandoah Virginia where I had gardened and been an active member of NARGS for some15 years or so. I didn't keep up my membership because it never occurred to me that I would be able to rock garden in hot, dry, and droughty central Texas notorious for thin clayey soils over limestone. But the house we eventually bought was very close to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Wanting to know more about native plants I took a weekend classe there and eventually became a horticultural volunteer. One of the display gardens at Lady Bird is a raised bed “rock garden” full of native xerophytic perennials and sub shrubs. Eventually it dawned on me that a rock garden might actually be possible if I completely changed my way of thinking. Raised beds and berms of gritty soils offer some real possibilities it seems. I have to admit, though, that I will miss the sandy loam and the rhodos, daphnes, trilliums, hellebores, and all the other beauties I was able to grow in Shenandoah. So when I got on the internet to start the research I naturally first went to the NARGS site. I was delighted to find very active forums including one on Desert “Alpines.” Now I’m off and running, making plans to convert my backyard, about 4000 sq ft of largely St Augustine, into a Xeriscape focusing on berms of native and adapted plants. The seed ex, scouting out nurseries, and botanic garden visits are already starting to fill my imagination. Let me hear if any of you folks garden in Central Texas. I would love to see your gardens. David Guillet


Submitted by Lori S. on Thu, 01/08/2015 - 10:30

Welcome back, David!  Please keep us informed about your progress - sounds like it will be very successful! 

Submitted by Fermi on Fri, 03/11/2016 - 04:14

Hi David,

12 months later, how are things going? Were you successful in creating a Texan Rock Garden?

I had visited a wildflower center (may've been the Lady Bird Center) when I used to visit my cousins in Austin back in 1997!



Submitted by David Guillet on Tue, 03/15/2016 - 15:24

In reply to by Fermi

Hey Fermi,

Things seem to be going well. Most everything that went in the fall has survived this winter so far. It has been a very weak winter to say the least. I could probably count days when the low went below freezing on one hand.  At the moment its 91, 20 degrees above normal and a new record.  Well I guess records are meant to be broken. but I haven't found a plant yet that's noticed. 

Oh, yes we got 3" of rain last weekend. Here's a photo of the berms as of today March 15

Melampodium leucanthum and Tetraneuris scaposa have been blooming since December. 


I have a couple of batches of natives and exotics coming in April from specialist nurseries in Colorado. Its rather late

to put in transplants in in Central Texas given how early the heat arrives.  Will be a good test. Fall is a much better time

Here's a shot of the mixed border

Again nothing untoward. This part of the garden got 4 to 6" of Thunderdirt over clay, topped off with a pecan shell mulch. I've been putting stuff in all "winter" a few from local nurseries and a few from shippers in California. 

The real test will come when we start getting those 100 degree days!