Going to “Ragna school”…part 1
I am so fortunate that friend and fellow blogger, Shirley from Rock-Oak-Deer, put me in touch with her friend Ragna. Yes, the Ragna that was recently on Central Texas Gardener, and featured on Shirley’s blog here, here, here, and here.
I went to “Ragna school” for 3.5 hours in her garden this week and I did not leave the same woman/gardener. The thing about gardeners and garden bloggers, I am learning, is that they share a lot. They share in knowledge, they are generous, and if you want mentorship, all you have to do is ask! It blows my mind.
I am so excited to show you around a little (through a few posts!); I know many of you have seen her fabulous gardens already, but gardens never stay the same, and Ragna self-reports she changes things around A LOT. Oh and by the way, her name is not pronounced “rag-na”, but rather “rawg-na.” I have been saying it in my head wrong all this time, and I thought you may want to say it “right” in your head too. ;)Here is the lovely Ragna at the start of our tour with my two monkeys, whom she was both sweet and brave to invite. Ragna came out to meet us and we started off our tour here under her incredible Arroyo Sweetwood (Myrospermum sousanum) tree.Ragna grew this very special tree from seed, and she reports it is easy to do so. Speaking of seeds – the seed pods are so beautiful (I am kicking myself I did not get a good photo). They are approx 4 inches long and glow a neon chartreusey-green… MAGICAL. The best part…Ragna reports that the pods stay that intense color for months and months and do not even begin to turn brown until we are well into fall. Isn’t this a beautifully put together little hell-strip end cap? Native velvet pod mimosa tree (Mimosa dysocarpa), Opuntia Santa-Rita ‘Tubac’, blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum), little bunny grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘little bunny’), and a little pride of barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) seeded itself in front of the opuntia on its own. What is that red plant in the back, you ask?It is the most intensely red firecracker fern (Russelia equisetiformis) I have ever seen. So gorgeous!This anchor front garden bed pulled me in – I loved this eclectic-looking combo (yet still easy enough to duplicate) of yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), blue plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), cold-hardy mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) , with a few key pots and art mixed in to make it Ragna-style. Typically I find native yaupon holly a little boring – SHAME ON ME. Ragna uses them in a few key areas around her home, and she maintains them to perfection. I also noticed that she likes to utilize their limbs as picture frames to surround special scenes like this one…Pretty, eh? She has a special way of framing scenes, and it continues throughout her garden. I enjoyed this very natural scene behind the front hedge of tough Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’, agave (weberi?), Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), and wooly butterfly bush (Buddleja marrubiifolia). When it fills in, this bed is going to be even more dynamite. Ragna has a way of making even the most natural scenes funky – in this one, a few pots she painted brightly, and a very eclectic hardscape arrangement. Yep, she Ragna-styled this area too. Everything in this garden is interesting and fun to look at – LOVE IT!Another natural scene – Ragna rescued this wormwood from a near-by field. In behind you see part of her container collection.Check -it -out! Love this one! It is ALIVE! Love these too! Also, her use of large hanging baskets, with funky plants, in her trees looks amazing.And look at these! Ragna sure has a special way of displaying her collections. Next, I am going to show a few pictures without chatter. I know I learned so much from her arrangements and the flare containers add within the landscape – I hope you get as many ideas as I did. Okay sorry…chatter already…but look at what this tiny container adds to this scene! It finishes it off. She does not miss a single opportunity! There is also a lot of non-living art around Ragna’s garden, check out this scary lizard. But look closer…It is alive! No, just kidding. BUT, that is a real wasp nest. Ragna said she leaves the wasp nests around her home alone. She says they take care of the aphids for her.
We are going to move around back on my next post.
What I learned most in Ragna’s front garden –
1-Containers add so much to the landscape.
2- Trees are so important – so important I am going to do a post just on “Ragna’s Trees” so please stay tuned.
3- Be flexible. In speaking with Ragna, so many of her plants seeded themselves and she rolled with it. They look incredible. I am still in the “I want what I want where I want it stage” – completely unrealistic. Also, Ragna has re-invented her front garden many times over many years – due to deer…due to pests…but she rolled with it.
As years go by, I can only dream of being as good a gardener as Ragna….as flexible and as skilled …
Thank you Ragna, for sharing your garden and your knowledge.
Stay tuned y’all….for “The Stress-Free Zone”…A.K.A. Ragna’s backyard.