22 September 2013

Goodbye Desert Willow, Hello Grill Throne

Though it was with a twinge of sadness, the time came this weekend to remove the desert willow. See that whispy tree behind the bench?

I loved that desert willow - its pink blooms and the unique scent of its leaves. But I also didn't love it. There were times in its 7-year life in our garden that it was a lovely ornamental tree. But too often it looked like this, all scraggly twigs and thin leaves:

The desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) is a Texas native that naturally occurs out west. The same goes for the feather grass that was planted beneath it, and I've also used that extensively in the garden. I've found that both of those species don't do very well in my garden's soil and light regimes. The Mexican feather grass always looks like crystal meth hair, all limp and matted. Not the wavy gorgeous feather grass of the open sunny Westside gardens.

Well, things have changed a bit at the Grackle. The plants are changing. Some of them that were doing wonderfully just aren't anymore. And some that used to be small, like the xylosma, are becoming quite large.

And sometimes, practicality must overrule design: we needed a place for our new Weber grill. I was sick and tired of going out to the driveway to use the old grill, and tired of the way it looked sitting out there by the cars.

So we said goodbye to the desert willow on this fall equinox, thanking it for all the good times.

In its place, we have created the grill throne.

Now, I actually can't believe that I ripped out a tree (practically a native) to put in a grill. That just seems like heresy, on a certain level. But on another hand, it sure was nice to grill some burgers there tonight. And there is a new simplicity that may be emerging in the back patio zone.

This probably isn't the final design, but it's a start. 

Next steps may include planting a coral honeysuckle vine on the wood slat screen behind the grill, and maybe, if budget allows, moving the steel edging back a bit and expanding the pea gravel patio. That being said, for a guy of my height, the grill being 3-4inches taller is purty nice.

I'm also going to start planting different plants under the xylosma, which has created quite a shady spot. Perhaps I'll move away from several different species and head toward more of a mass planting of something - more sea oats or some other shade tolerant native.

Anyhoo, out with the old in the with the new. Sniff.


Misti said...

I like desert willows, have actually seen some great commercial landscape plantings using them. But....practicality always makes more sense.

Pam/Digging said...

Grill thrones and meth hair -- ha! I had the same issue with a desert willow in my old garden. Ever optimistic, I'm getting ready to try again with one in my new garden, in a sunny spot vacated by a tree killed by the drought. We'll see...

Anonymous said...

I like your changes - function needs to win sometimes...your garden still looks wonderful AND it works even better for you it sounds like..


LindaCTG said...

I'm so with you! I loved that tree, too, and mine. But mine has looked pathetic for YEARS. It does its show off thing just often enough to keep it, but with this, I may be brave enough to dump it. Plus, I agree with you on the grill: makes life easier for outdoor entertaining!

Peter said...

Seeing your picture of the desert willow made me want to plant mine so just pretend yours moved to my place, hopefully mine doesn't get too wispy. I have a 13 year old weber, just keep it covered and it will last forever.

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting to see if all those desert willows in central TX can become like they do out here where it is desert. Losing it to other elements is a small price to pay for all the other things you have that look great, which we can't even do!

Anonymous said...

...And I thought I was the only one with desert willows that didn't quite live up to their hype. Mine are scraggly brooms that sweep the sky. Both of mine are still in place, however, as they are anchor plants and I don't have the strength or guts to take them out.

Rock rose said...

Desert willows are beautiful trees if they are the right shape and they perform. But, every true gardener knows when something is just not right and the test is to be able to move ahead and bid farewell. Your replacement is perfect and everyone needs a nice place to grill and not tucked away in a corner away from the guests.