After April’s article in the Allandale Neighbor, “Allandale Adapting to Drought Conditions,” I became even more attentive to the yards around the neighborhood that have or are in the process of being converted to withstand Austin’s summer heat conditions. The more you look at houses around the neighborhood the more you discover efforts, big and small, of neighbors replacing grass with native plants or in some cases simply replacing yard space with rock gardens or decomposed granite. It’s great! It is adding a lot of diversity to Allandale’s streetscapes making the neighborhood even more interesting to walk, bike and drive around.
Allandale resident Anne Bellomy emailed me to tell me about her yard conversion from one consisting of the standard grass, bushes and trees to a natural habitat with a mix of drought-tolerant native plants. She invited me over to take a tour, which my wife and I gladly did. When we arrived at at the front of her house and got of the car our eyes immediately began roaming around a yard filled with a panoply of native plants and meandering pathways.
Even though it is not a particularly large front yard, one could easily spend a lot of time exploring the variety of plants, insects, birds and yard art that take up the entire space. It includes a small rain garden. Anne gave us a tour pointing out the various species of plants and talking about some of the thinking behind the selection and layout of the plants. As you can see from the photos, the result is spectacular! Spending time in her yard, particularly in her back yard, leaves one wondering if they are still in Austin.
Anne’s yard is a model for wannabe natural gardeners and it has caught the attention of others as well. It was recently featured on KLRU’s “The Central Texas Gardener” program. The eight-minute segment (click here to view) is a narrated video tour of Anne’s yard with her talking about the various phases of her eight year-long yard transformation. It includes before and after photos. In it, Anne talks about how dynamic the garden is. “It is changing all of the time,” she says, not just from season to season but daily with the coming and going of different birds and insects. It is a natural habitat. Over the course of the transformation of her yard, Anne has become quite an expert on natural gardening having taken the Wildlife Austin Stewards training (she now gives talks at those trainings), the Capital Area Master Naturalist training, and the Travis County Master Gardener training. In spite of her calm demeanor, Anne is clearly passionate about gardening and promoting the construction of natural urban habitats throughout the city.
If you would like to know more about her experience, I encourage you to watch KLRU’s video profile of her yard here.