Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bluebonnets May Be A Brilliant Idea

Grams and Grandad had our house built back in 1984. It's a small ranch-style house in the northwest suburbs of Corpus Christi. We moved in on Grams 30th birthday and we've always loved our house and our neighborhood. Plus, considering that Grams is now 56 years old, it won't be too long before we invite all the neighbors over to celebrate with us as we burn our 30-year note.

Electrical outlet located right above 1980's wash basin.
We had no experience with building a house and had no idea what we were doing. We chose the house plans out of a book and didn't know that we really should have paid a little closer attention to the details. That lack of experience showed up in some interesting little quirks in the house. For example, in both of our bathrooms the electrical outlets are located exactly above and just to the left of the wash basin. It's neither convenient nor safe. And, in addition, in the master bedroom there are two doors about two feet apart. One of them leads into the master bath and the other leads into the walk-in closet. The problem is that the cable outlet is on the right hand side of the bathroom door and the electrical outlet for the television is on the left in between the two doors. It's just a small inconvenience, but over the years it's become a major irritant for me.

The other place where our lack of experience showed is in the direction our house faces. The front door faces due east meaning that the sun sets in our back yard. So on most evenings when we might want to use the back yard and patio for grilling and sitting outside, it's hotter than the face of the sun. It's so hot we rarely go back there between the middle of May and the end of October. It's not unusual for the temperature to exceed 105 degrees on the patio around five o'clock in the summertime.

Mexican Bird of Paradise
For several years we tried to grow a vegetable garden in the back yard and I had a small rose garden that we eventually moved to the north side of the house. The sun gets so hot back there that by late-June anything we've planted has been seared to a brown crisp. In some years it's just not possible to water enough to keep most things alive.

On top of all the usual heat and dryness, in 2009 we had a horrible drought and lost almost everything that was growing in the back yard including the carpet-grass and all of my angels' trumpets and lilies. Some of the grass has come back because this year we've had plenty of rain and it's been perfect for growing things. But other than some Mexican bird of paradise and some rosemary, nothing else survived.

Our Little Princess playing in the bluebonnets
Last spring, about the time we realized that most of the carpet-grass was not going to revive, we were driving around the Hill Country looking for a patch of wildflowers so we could take the traditional Texas bluebonnet snapshots of Our Little Princess. This gave me a brilliant idea. Instead of trying to replant the back yard, why not plant our own field of bluebonnets. (I use the term field lightly. Our back yard is tiny.) 

Bluebonnets are the state flower of Texas. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, they're simple to plant and can be inter-seeded with existing growth. All you have to do is mow the lawn down to about 6 inches, rake away any thatch, hand broadcast the seeds, then stomp them down. You do this in September, water them occasionally, and they should bloom next spring. As a bonus, after they bloom, if you don't mow them down until the seed pods mature, they will re-seed themselves and will bloom again every spring. This should give us a lovely blooming yard while it's cool enough for us to enjoy it.

So this weekend, Grams is going on a quest for bluebonnet seeds. Hopefully, next spring we'll have a back yard full of beautiful Texas wildflowers. By the time the bluebonnets go to seed, we won't care what the back yard looks like. Isn't this a brilliant idea? Watch this space next spring for photos of my beautiful bluebonnet patch.


  1. You have a charming blog! Your Little Princess is beautiful and I just loved your Words of Wisdom quote and your tag line! Thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciated your comment.

  2. I love this idea! We have bermudagrass in our yard that is the bane of my existence. I'm gradually digging it out and replacing it with flower beds, but even years later it pops up around my shrubs. I've thought about killing it all and overseeding with clover or another low maintenance solution, but just haven't found the time or energy. I can't wait to see how this turns out for you. As a fellow Southern gal with a west-facing backyard, I totally feel your pain!