Mary Louise Whitlow had an “ah ha” moment in the 1990s. She was watering the grass taking up her home’s parkway with a garden hose. “Why am I doing this?” she asked herself. “I don’t even like grass.”
Next thing you know, the grass was out, and she had started on what became a large pollinator garden of native and adapted plants.
Over the years, the garden has expanded past the sidewalk and up the yard’s slope to stop at the shade from her large pecan tree.
Mary Louise grew up in the charming home, one of the few original houses remaining in University Park. Her grandmother gave the pecan tree to her parents when they moved in the house in the mid-1950s.
Mary Louise’s landscape philosophy is straightforward: buy one or two plants of a variety and see what works with limited water, fertilizer and organic pesticides. Now she has “more salvias than you can count.” She particularly loves Gregg’s mistflower and frostweed because the plants attract Monarch and Queen butterflies. She has found zexmenia to be as “tough as nails” and pipevine so resilient that “the caterpillars eat it to a nub and it’s back in a week.” The Jerusalem sage yellow blooms are so beautiful, she says, that her neighbors “stop and stare.”
Two hugelkultur gardens are mounded by the front door. Mary Louise has found that the layers of rotten tree limbs, branches and soil are very efficient in breaking up Texas clay soil and retaining moisture. She has successfully planted tomatoes in decomposing organic straw bales in the backyard.
Her backyard chain-link fence is lined with fig trees, including ‘Alma’, ‘Brown Turkey’ and ‘Celeste.’ Mary Louise harvested enough figs this year to can 71 pints of fig jam.
Click here for full garden tour information.