Two of our favorite people, Marie (James’ sister) and Lanny (our brother-in-law) bought a home on the outskirts of Wimberley, Texas about seven years ago. It sits on an acre of land, with a covered veranda across the back of the house, looking out onto a small garden area and swimming pool with a grove of oaks along the back of the pool, and steps dropping down to a lower level of native trees and grasses.
Upon moving in, they both were drawn to the deer that wandered the neighborhood and the local and migrating birds and butterflies. So began the plan for their landscape. Their intention was for everything in the garden to be focused on birds, pollinators, and other critters.
Today, when James and I visit Marie and Lanny, we feel like we’re in paradise. Marie starts her day by filling the bird baths and bird feeders. Her monthly budget includes several hundred pounds of bird seed, peeled and shelled sunflower seed for the finches, a sunflower seed mix for cardinals, doves, titmice, woodpeckers, chickadees, and gold finch, a sunflower seed mix with peanuts and other goodies for the jays. And of course hummingbird feeders and plants for the hummingbirds. “Girlie”, a deer they befriended (and named) in the neighborhood, peers in their front window in the morning – a cue she and her fawn are ready for Marie’s protein formula deer food.
They have a trough of water they keep filled for the deer and smaller animals, including a local fox that comes around when the coast is clear. Marie keeps blooming flowers for the hummingbirds including salvias and Turks cap, and zinnias, tithonia and mist flower for the butterflies and bees.
Down below, on the undeveloped piece of their property, Lanny built a “She Shed” for Marie, where she displays many of her botanical prints, an amazing collection of her family’s antique colored glass flower vases, twiggy bird nests with colored eggs, snake skins, garden tools, garden fabrics and textiles, bird cages and bird houses. It’s heaven on earth for me!! Leading up to the “She Shed” are recirculating water fountains, birdbaths, ferns and hanging baskets with flowers spilling over. And of course on the covered porch are chairs for relaxing.
Ever since I’ve known Lanny, he’s always had a vegetable garden. In Wimberley, he built his biggest one yet. He edged his garden with limestone “cut rock”, created paths with crushed granite and fenced his 25’x20’ garden with wood posts and cattle panels, allowing sun to reach his garden on all sides. On the outside of the fenced area are more raised beds and the compost bins. Lanny says the secret to his garden success is soil regeneration and soaker hoses. He believes in the “no till” method, that is do not disturb the soil; leave the micro-organisms underground and healthy. Marie and Lanny save all their fruit and vegetable scraps for composting. He adds manure, cotton seed compost (high in nitrogen), and garden compost to his beds every spring and fall to ensure the best soil and healthy vegetables. Lanny likes to grow greens because they are compact and keep giving, like spinaches, Swiss chard, collard greens and mustard greens and he always has a great crop of tomatoes, spring and fall.
Marie and Lanny, surrounded by nature, are blessed with their three dogs – Uno, Izzie and Loki – their family. Their days are filled with all the surprises nature can bring – from a fawn just born nestled under the deck to bumblebees buzzing around blooming Mystic Spires salvia, hummingbirds sipping nectar and woodpeckers knocking on wood. James and I are so happy they’ve made a heaven on earth for themselves and their critters!