Xeric and stylish gardening in San Antonio, Texas

Xericstyle makeover – “Palladini Paradise”

When I was asked to XERICSTYLE a friends’ garden I was so excited!  Is there anything more thrilling than transforming something?  The garden bones were incredible to start, but unfortunately, everything was over-mulched, dying, struggling, or dead.  We cleared the gardens to start with a blank slate, although most of the plants were saved and moved to happier homes.  A few plants were lost, however, this is always a risk when you transplant.

BEFORE: Old approach to the house.  The first thing you saw was simply not stylish, and the couple who lives here is modern and stylish so this felt like the perfect place to start this xericstyle makeover!!!

AFTER:  A xeric entrance garden, complete with xericstyle signature, an Inuksuk – Welcome friends!  This transplanted spineless prickly pear (Opuntia ellisiana) will eventually fill this bed up and look fabulous.  He is already so happy in his new spot that he has sprouted several new pads.   To the right, trailing rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’)… and to the left, artemisia (Artemisia ‘powis castle’) to provide this bed with a feathery silver living mulch.

BEFORE: View once in the driveway…AFTER:  Simple and modern – 4 planters of purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) that will soften this limestone wall and provide interest and movement too.

BEFORE: Unused pots and “garden gatekeepers” of a red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) and Texas sotol (Dasylirion texanum) that were crowded and desperately needed dividing.  These large and gorgeous plants were sick and screaming for light and air…

BEFORE:  Divide me, Plllleeeeaaaasssee!

BEFORE: Save me!

BEFORE:  This Texas Sotol was on the way out….the mold, mildew and rot was working its way through the plant….a slow and tortuous death was inevitable…

AFTER:  Garden gatekeepers are happy and healthy – the Red Yucca has even rewarded us with a flower.

AFTER:  Texas Sotol is happier…but it will be happiest when I divide it for the homeowner this weekend or next.

BEFORE:  These heavily mulched garden beds needed some TLC.

BEFORE:  Mulch bed of death!!!  I don’t know how …but there was all mulch and virtually no soil at all in this bed – so bizarre.

BEFORE:  Another shot of the mulch bed of death with a very unhappy spineless prickly pear cactus.  This cactus was transplanted to the raised front entrance bed and is thriving!

BEFORE:  Overgrown sun bed and more unused pots…

BEFORE: Overgrown sun bed closer view…

BEFORE: Look how unhappy those twisted-leaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) are!  Also… notice a lot of struggling plants not working in these dappled shade beds.

BEFORE:  Here is a close up of the very unhappy twisted-leaf yuccas suffocating in too much mulch.  Poor “little dudes!”

BEFORE: These dappled shade beds had some great plants I was able to transplant to other areas on the property.  This is another example of the importance of planting the right plants in the right place.  You may love a sun plant and want to see it in a particular bed, but it is NOT going to look good or do anything for you there.  Everything in this bed was moved out and transplanted elsewhere.

BEFORE:  More unused pots…Hmmmmmmmm

BEFORE:  This is the last planting bed before the front door.

OKAY, now for more fun pictures.  But before you see the next “after” shots, notice how all plants were saved and re-used and all pots were also re-located and planted to help create “Palladini Paradise”…  The following pictures are all AFTER shots:

Clean and crisp garden…nice levels were created with pots the homeowners already owned.  In the pots, asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’) and various sedums.

Welcome guests….

And look at these twisted-leaf yuccas now!!!!!!  In a matter of weeks, their transformation is incredible.  YES WEEKS!  Amazing what a little light, air and compost can do!

Dappled shade beds are now modern and clean with foxtail ferns (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Meyeri’), purple shamrock (oxalis triangularis), and a living mulch of blue spruce sedum (sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’) – I just love a living mulch of sedum…effective and stylish!  Also to note, the man of the house is Brazilian and purple shamrock is also known as the “Brazilian loooooove plant,” so of course the gardens had to have a few of them!


I love this cacti bed!

Now this is a part of the garden that will look fabulous and require next to no attention.  Cacti are obviously a great choice for Texas!

New simple sun bed with salvia greggii ‘hot lips’, blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum), lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina ‘Helen Von Stein’), and yucca rostrata.

It was important to include herbs in this transformation as the woman of the house is a fabulous chef.

This bamboo muhly grass (Muhlenbergia dumosa) will get full and gorgeous and it will be a fun thing for guests to touch and brush by as they approach the front door.

LOVE the look of this!  You can barely see him, but in the 3rd picture from the top of this post he is sitting (dying a slow death) in a little pot to the left of the bags of compost.  What an impact he makes in this gigantic pot.  He is so happy hangin’ in this pot…

And last, but certainly not least, the most rewarding part of this entire process for me, was how the two children that live here embraced their new garden and created another one…all their own.  Children’s gardens are so important and most rewarding….to instill a love of nature and nurture in our children is something that will always remain with them.

Thank you to the Palladini’s for allowing me to xericstyle their garden.  It was a beautiful experience for me and I look forward to working on the rest of your garden areas.  And just as the garden roots grow, so does our friendship – cheers to that most.

Forever grateful,


Note: I do not have my professional site up yet, but if you like what you see and you live in the San Antonio area, shoot me an e-mail.  I would love to help you xericstyle your gardens.


  1. zeke

    Wow looks great!!!!!
    So open and inviting now

  2. Salma Quraishi

    HEY! that last paragraph sounded like you’re done with us!!! Not a chance!! I LOVE this!!!! I had forgotten how gross everything was. I can’t walk outside without a smile on my face now (unless the deer have feasted on something… grrr). It’s only going to get better, Thanks to you… I’ll write you the best testimonial for your business site. By the way, i’ve been dreaming of orange tinged large leaf jade, like in the pic i sent you. I wonder how it would do in the shade. Can you find out about it for me?

    • Never done!!!! I am loving working our way through your gardens – And I can hardly wait to make your gardens just how you want them. I will look into the “large leaf jade” and all the pictures you sent to me. You have my word on that….I want to help make your vision a reality. Oh and lastly, I am pretty pissed at those deer – I have a few choice words for those guys! – xericstyle

  3. Salma Quraishi

    The thing that’s not conveyed in all this is your crazy energy– people of the world, you should see this woman in action!!! The other huge thing is the wealth of knowledge that escapes from you like radiant heat– the best part about getting xericstyled is the mentoring and education you get (if you want it, and I did). It’s a process, and the pics don’t even do it justice. SOOO happy. Been needing this for years, didn’t know where to start. Just the right kind of selfless handholding I needed. Very renewing, to have a new hobby, and a like-minded buddy to share it with– it’s really changed my head (in a good way!)

    • I learn so much and gain so much from knowing you – thank YOU! – xericstyle

  4. Salma Quraishi

    we have to get you on facebook so I can post update pics as things grow and get more mature!!

    • Now that is your expertise…you know how I feel about facebook! EEK! I am willing to take the plunge…business’wise….

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