Garden Photo of the Day

Carol’s lawn-turned-garden in Texas (12 photos)

Out the back door. Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Carol Doersom

Today’s photos are from Carol Doersom in Texas. She says, “I look forward to this daily email and seeing all these gardens. I finally got out to take some photos of my own. Because of the plants I’ve selected things seem to look better in the fall than any other time of year.

Side yard.

“During the past twelve years, the small lot I live on has evolved from edge-to-edge St. Augustine grass to mostly flower beds. I started with a plan, but haven’t followed it very closely. It’s more fun just stuffing things in wherever there’s room. I move plants around a lot, too, until either they’re happy or they die. Planting beds have been added as chinch bugs and drought kill off areas of grass. My big project this year was laying stones to make a terrace on one side of the front yard.

Side yard.

“I use mostly natives and drought tolerant plants. ‘Country Girl’ chrysanthemum, purple aster, Salvia leucantha, and plumbago are the stand-outs this time of year . . . with coral vine scampering over everything it can reach. I don’t have much luck growing food, but did buy a ‘Carnavale’ apple recently that I’m espaliering on the back fence. A fig tree has just replaced a persimmon that didn’t make it through the summer.”

Side yard.

Wow, Carol, what an incredible fall garden! We DEFINITELY need to see pics from other times of the year. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

Front terrace.

**** The push is still on–get outside and take some last minute shots, or compile a few you took earlier in the season. I’ll be eternally grateful…. Email them to [email protected]. Thanks! ****

Coral vine.
Back yard.
Back walkway.
Apple tree.
‘Country Girl’ mum.

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  1. user-1020932 10/30/2013

    carol, i love your property. i would like exploring the garden as it is full of plants i am not familiar with in gardens here. seeing glimpses of neighboring houses i think i love your neighborhood too! the stone terrace is a great place to have a drink on a HOT texas evening and i know from experience what a job that must have been.

  2. dirtgirl1949 10/30/2013

    Carol, love your garden, you sound like my gardening twin on the opposite side of the world! Lawn has got the heave ho in my garden too, it's way too difficult to keep alive here!
    I agree with the concept of 'stuff it in', that's a saying dear to my heart.
    Thank you for sharing your lovely inviting Autumn garden. Please do take some photos of your garden in the other seasons, I imagine it will be quite amazing.

  3. wGardens 10/30/2013

    I am LOVIN' it! What a great job. Having only seen my aunt's property in TX, in photos, and looking dry and barren... WOW! I never expected something so lush and full. You have done a great job. Love the terrace, also. I use a lot of stone in my gardens as well. Your home looks beautiful, too!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/30/2013

    Hi, Carol, your garden is certainly an inspiration to anyone who wonders if taking a more drought tolerant plant selection approach can still give a lush brimming over with flowers result. Your efforts are spectacular.
    I had to go off on a google search to read a little more about coral vine since I wasn't familiar with it. Love how it looks in your one picture scampering along and framing the swath of the delicate artemisia.
    By the way, what is the plant that handsome Blackie is laying at the base of...something in the bamboo family like nandina?

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 10/30/2013

    So lush and awesome!

  6. flowerladydi 10/30/2013

    Carol,,,, LOVE IT,,,, LOVE IT,,,,, LOVE IT!!!!!!!
    LOVE the house!,,, love the flagstone,,,,, LOVE all your lush fabulous plantings!!!

    Nothing more to say but LOVE IT!!!!

  7. Wife_Mother_Gardener 10/30/2013

    Just beautiful, Carol! So much nicer than plain turf. The back walkway is just perfect!

  8. wittyone 10/30/2013

    Oh, Carol, this is just wonderful. I grew up in East Texas and so have a soft spot in my heart for the whole place but your place looks like the perfect spot. I also love your approach----start with a plan but then stick things in where there is room for them. I think planned out to the nth degree beds are beautiful and coherent but I like flowering areas to look unplanned as though they are just a wonderful happenstance. You've succeeded beautifully and I can just imagine what a difference your efforts have made in not only your property but the neighborhood as a whole.

  9. tractor1 10/30/2013

    Blacky is gorgeous... I also have a Blackie.

    An interesting array of plants most of which I'm unfamiliar. I like that front terrace with so many alien plants (to me) growing up between the stones, and I'm wondering what is that large white barked tree (cottonwood?), and if to the right those two tall spindly masts are trees or utility poles, and what's growing in that huge planter? Saying one lives in Texas is like saying one lives in Asia, both huge with many biomes... I have a friend who lives in New Braunfels, Tx so I know how difficult/expensive it is to grow sod grass in their arid rocky ground, water bills are outrageous and often there are water shortages so no watering is permitted during the hottest "Texhell" season. I don't know how lucky you'll be with that apple tree, as far as I know apple trees need to go through a long freeze to produce. I think I'd do citrus, I'd love to have a kumquat tree but alas, citrus won't survive here other than as an indoor plant. Carol, your property looks very alluring, thank you for sharing.

  10. BrendaCentralTexas 10/30/2013

    Hi Carol. I share your gardening philosophy and hope my garden can look similar to yours in 12 years. This year I removed 90% of our lawn, replaced it with river rock and made a plan. I've already left the plan as I wander the local garden center and go to plant exchanges, but everything is still quite small. Thank you for sharing your garden. It is quite inspirational!

  11. tree_ee 10/30/2013

    Thank you all for your kind comments!

    @meander1 . . . Blacky is in front of a clump of Salvia leucantha before it bloomed. I've tried all sorts of ways to keep it from flopping; wattle was one of the more successful methods.

    @wittyone . . . re the unplanned garden: sometimes I drive by my house and try to look at things objectively and think, "Good grief, what a jungle!" But a couple of times a year, things bloom and it seems to work. I do wonder what I'll do when the time comes to sell the place. I expect that all these flower beds would scare most sensible people off.

    @tractor1 . . . the tree with the white looking bark is a very old live oak across the street. Unfortunately it's no longer alive. It's a monster and I hope our neighbors get the thing down before it falls on their house. The two spindly things *are* telephone poles, and the large planter has a peach tree in it--a gift from a friend who just moved to TN. You're right about Texas having so many types of climate, but every county in the state was declared a drought zone to some degree last summer. The Carnavale apple is new to this area--self-fertile & low-chill . . . we'll see how it does! (We have an indoor cat that looks just like the one on the left in your avatar.)

  12. cwheat000 10/30/2013

    The wide view of the side yard is gorgeous. I was stationed in San Antonio for a while. If your climate is anything like theirs, I bet gardening can be a challenge. I love the country girl mum. It reminds me of my all time favorite mum, Sheffield pink. On a different note, I would like to announce my new gardening buddy, Zoey. She is a rescued treeing walker coonhound. Today, my birthday, is her first day with us. I think we are going to love her a lot.

  13. GrannyMay 10/30/2013

    Love your jungle Carol! This does not look at all like it suffers from drought, more like a rainforest, except the plants are unfamiliar. As for re-sale, I'm sure more people would be attracted to your house by your gardens than otherwise. That front terrace and side-garden are show-stoppers! Congratulations!

  14. user-7006902 10/30/2013

    Beautiful! I love your large drifts and combinations of plants with set-in-stone walkways to keep things on the wild side but in check. Just perfect! I always applaud the use of natives - applaud!

  15. sheila_schultz 10/30/2013

    The song, 'It's a Jungle Out There' is running thru my head now... I love your style, Carol! It's amazing how lush plantings can become, even in a drought area, if you go native. Very, very cool!
    Happy Birthday cwheat000, Zoey is one lucky girl!

  16. NevadaSue 10/30/2013

    Carole, I'm so glad you got the camera out. Your yard is a feast for my eyes of what can happen even in a dry climate. I dream of having something like this here in NV some day. Love your stone work and how it just adds so much to the feeling of the garden. My daughter says, "Maybe it is a jungle but it sure is a beautiful one!" and I agree it is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  17. wildthyme 10/30/2013

    Carol, how did you get a picture of my cat!?! I'm not a big cat fan, but mine wormed her way into my heart (any my basement!) several years ago and now I'm a convert. I have a love/hate relationship with my lawn, too. On a 1+ acre lot it gives the dogs a place to play, and it provides a relatively low-maintenance buffer area between planting beds. But it does take a lot of water, and while we're not currently in a drought phase here in MT, that could happen anytime. Still, we've tried to reduce it to a manageable area, and I admire your willingness to eliminate it completely. You've done a lovely job.

  18. MichelleGervais 10/30/2013

    Hey everyone, just had to delete a lot of comments. Stay tuned for some words on the matter tomorrow.

  19. bee1nine 10/30/2013

    Michelle, Can understand this dilemma. Thanks!!

    Hi Carol, I'm so intrigued by this free-flow style and vigorous nature of your garden beds. Really lovely colors and
    textures throughout.,,,and certainly the stand-outs this this time of year.
    I say- good for you to stuff things in. LOVE IT!!

    * Happy b-day cwheat000!! I'm sure you and Zoey shall make
    great gardening buddies!

  20. mainer59 10/30/2013

    I love your muted plant palette. Sometimes I am all about color, but what you have put together is so inviting. Like others, I did not expect anything so lush and full in Texas.

  21. PamWittenberg 10/30/2013

    It's so lush and inviting...hard to believe it's drought tolerant. Lovely!

  22. tree_ee 10/31/2013

    Actually, things green up pretty quickly when there's rain, which there has been quite a bit of in the past month. It's not as dry here as San Antonio, but drier than Houston. I do have to water in the summers. Rain barrels provide what I need for hand watering, plus a good soak with the sprinklers once a week is what it takes to keep things alive. Without any supplemental water the lantanas and yuccas would probably be the only things growing.

    @wildthyme: I think black cats have the best personalities. I haven't gotten rid of all my lawn, but a lot of it. I like having some small mowed areas to contrast with busy-ness of the flower beds.

    @cwheat000: Never heard of treeing walker coonhounds before . . . had to look them up. What a beautiful breed!

    Happy puttering, everyone.

  23. cwheat000 10/31/2013

    Thanks all for all the good words for Zoey and I. She is a little unsure in her new surroundings, but I think she is going to fit in well. She is so smart and so sweet.

  24. dirtgardener 10/31/2013

    All, I am one of those lucky people (friend of Carol's)that is privileged to stroll her beautiful gardens! Not only are her thumbs green but all her fingers and toes. For some of you that don't know, Carol is an artist not only in gardening design but in photography! Seeing her garden evolve over the years that I have know her is exciting and continues to inspire me. All the neighborhood benefits too each time they drive by and view her beautiful corner lot! One spring a few years past, I remember the masses of larkspur and poppies blooming everywhere. I was jealous because mine had not reseeded; Carol generously gave me some more seed that fall, a true dirt gardener! Carol, is that the coral vine on the fence I gave you a few years ago? It looks beautiful! You may think you have a jungle but to me it looks more like Monet's Giverny. Your pathways are inviting and the sun awning over the table adds such a touch of whimsey. Additionally, you have live garden ornaments on display in your beautiful kitty-cats. There is always something new to see, touch and comment about each time I visit your dirt-lot garden! You deserve all these accolades because I know how "stove-up" one can become when beginning each new garden project, or just deciding to transplant one plant, it leads to something more than just that plant! See you soon.

  25. GardenGrl1 10/31/2013

    I love your garden. It is beautiful and lush and not at all like I expected to see from Texas. I'm also trying to edge out my lawn, but am compromising with my husband, who wants something to mow. :-)

    My favorite photo has to be the one of the front of the house, where the plants are flowing over the curb. It just looks so lush and welcoming.

    Can't wait to see more seasonal photos! Thanks for sharing!

  26. oreoclover 11/01/2013

    Beautiful gardens Carol! Certainly dispells the idea that Texas can't be lush! You deal with hot and dry beautifully, not at all what I expected! Great job!

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