Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A promise of color to come

It's finals week, so postings may be a little sporadic. I did have a break from work over the weekend, however, since I was caught up on grading and my final exams were not until Monday. So I took advantage of the lull in action by sneaking out to the garden, where there was also a timely lull in the cold weather. One of the items on agenda was the long overdue sprucing up of the shutters on the front of the house. Virginia creeper climbs over and around them, wrecking the paint and, occasionally, actually pulling them away from the house. So I scraped and repaired and slapped on a fresh coat of paint. All of which is not all that interesting, except perhaps for the fact that I decided to change colors, going from a subdued gray to a relatively more vibrant rust/deep terra cotta. Here are some before and after shots:

There wasn't anything wrong with the gray color, but the palette of a xeric garden tends to be heavy on the gray-green anyway, and when you add in a little winter dormancy, the whole thing can start to look pretty bland and dreary. I don't mind the look of a sleeping garden too much, since I know that come spring and summer (along with the addition of some new plants in the freshly-formed arroyo planting bed you see to the right of the sidewalk), the whole thing will be calm and restful, and not dreary at all. On the matter of dormancy, though: Are we not meant to scale back on the full-tilt rocketry of life from time to time? Dampen our riotous blooms a bit? Doesn't it rest our spirits and allow us to recharge? So, too, the garden. Leave it be.

Even so, I am also aware that others, unfamiliar with the concepts of either xeriscaping or dormancy, might look at my front yard and be put off by what they perceive as a "dead" landscape. So I thought I'd brighten things up with a small pop of color to chase away the winter doldrums. After all, ugliness, while often misunderstood, is seldom inspirational, and few would look at my winter front yard and be moved by all that resting plant matter to introduce a touch of the xeric to their own gardens.

So a little something was needed as an antidote--a promise of color to come, an end to winter sleep. I picked the deep terra cotta to go with that palette of gray-greens and browns, since foliage, rather than flowers, tends to dominate the xeric landscape. I think it goes nicely with the hues in the wine patio and the arroyo, too.

And come the end of this week of exams, banquets, and commencements, I plan on a partaking in a little dormancy of my own.


  1. The paint colour looks very well, and goes beautifully with the terracotta and the soil!

  2. Looks much better! Maybe paint the roof next?

  3. Looking good! How true, many people don't appreciate the beauties of a dormant landscape. We get a sort of summer dormancy here, when the grass is golden instead of green and some plants and trees lose their leaves, waiting for the winter rains...

    One can learn to appreciate those things.

  4. Jan--Thanks! Do you see a lot of that color in Spain?

    TM--You know, I've been thinking of going lighter next time we re-roof. It's supposed to help with cooling the house (and if enough people do it, the hypothesis is that it will also help lower Earth's temps).

    MIchelle--Too true. I'm always telling people, "It's not brown. Look at it again. Name those colors."

    Cheryl--Me too! I've decided to keep the old shutters for now instead of going for the more traditional looking board and batten. They're growing on me.


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