Charles and Maria Stafford's home in the Rio Vista neighborhood is the Spring Lake Garden Club's October Yard of the Month. Their front yard is full of bright and colorful flora with both Central Texas native plants and semi-tropical plants. Photos by Sharon Lockett
Mixing native & tropical flora
A mixture of flowering plants native to Central Texas, joined with colorful semi-tropical bloomers, makes an impressive garden at the Stafford residence on Field Street in San Marcos’ Rio Vista neighborhood. The entry sidewalk steps, spanned by a rounded metal arbor of pink flowering bower vine (Pandora jasmiinoides), invite visitors to discover even more blooming bounty in Spring Lake Garden Club’s Yard of the Month for October.
A string of bananas succulent thrives in semi shade hanging from a crape myrtle tree.
Since 2004, Charles and Maria Stafford have added new plants, both natural and exotic, to their front yard, relying on large pots for species which provide glorious color but need indoor protection in colder months. Strong hues of potted bougainvillea and hibiscus complement the bright yellow blooms of esperanza, pride of Barbados, and shrimp plant in beds beside the house, along with lantana and plumbago (both blue and white). Garden figurines and ornaments and mosaic tile balls are mixed in with plants, and small solar lanterns highlight the garden after dark.
In a sunny front corner of the yard, a stand of blue lavender, sage and pelargoniums near a bird bath set in pea gravel mulch invites butterflies to explore the garden, and also provides a site for succulents to thrive. On either side of the front walk, two vitex trees attract bees, when in bloom with their blue flowers. Mulched beds below the trees, all edged in matching concrete stones, feature white petunia, vinca and other small plants, and the same edger stones mark nearby beds for roses (red, yellow and white) and sego palms flanking the entry arbor. Maria Stafford notes that the arbor’s bower vine, a native of Australia, is a strong climber and needs sturdy support, but offers its trumpet-shaped pink blossoms throughout the summer.
Front flower bed presents a mix of hardy plumbago (blue and white) with semi-tropical bougainvillea and hibiscus plus garden ornaments.
An old crape myrtle tree near the house now provides support for hanging plants, including a pandora vine with pink blossoms and a handsome trailing succulent which appears as a string of beads or miniature bananas (Senecio radicans). A variety of other succulents thrive in the ground in sunnier parts of the garden near the bird bath or in the thin soil next to a large tree by the street. A ponytail palm has its own pot near the front door, where a large plumeria (yellow blooms when in flower) also enjoys summer weather but requires protection in winter.
The Stafford garden is designed for a change of seasons, anchored with plenty of hardy trees, shrubs, and perennials, but ready to accommodate more demanding plants which add exotic forms and colors to the landscape. Maria Stafford is happy to take care of extra watering in summer and frost protection in winter to achieve her gardening goals in an exceptionally colorful front yard.
Blooming bower vine covers an arbor at the entrance to the Stafford residence in Rio Vista.