Trini Rodriguez's yard on the corner of Lee and McKie streets is the Spring Lake Garden Club's Yard of the Month. Photos by Sharon Lockett
Shady trees & May blooms
A house on a corner lot offers double the challenge for hands-on gardeners, but Trini Rodriguez enjoys tending her front and side yards to beautify the neighborhood right across from Central Cultural Hispano de San Marcos. As the Spring Lake Garden Club’s yard of the month for May, Rodriguez’s landscape includes everything from a huge ancient oak and pecan tree to delicate oxalis with their shamrock leaves edging flower beds.
Rodriguez grew up in the house and, now retired, keeps up her late mother’s commitment to growing flowering plants in beds surrounding the house and driveway.
Evergreen shrubs (boxwood, pittosporum and ligustrum) contrast with colorful flowers along side of house near covered patio.
Like most successful gardeners, she observes plants to make sure they are growing where they thrive, whether that involves sun or shade, as well as where they enhance the landscape. A front yard with plenty of afternoon sun and a side yard partially shaded by large trees offer ample sites for a variety of plants as well as a small lawn of turf grass, watered by hand. A covered patio next to the side driveway on McKie Street provides still more protection for cold-sensitive but shade-tolerant plants such as Boston fern and even plumeria — a favorite in Hawaii but native to Mexico and Central America — which are moved to a protected inside corner in winter. Other climate conscious plants, such as monsterrra vine, survive in ground near the patio and will come back even if stressed by cold weather. Rodriguez claims a clear preference for perennials, which either adjust to the local environment or will be replaced.
A crape myrtle surrounded by purple cone flowers, pink oxalis and a yellow day lily, with colorful iris and sages in the background.
Front yard plantings are highlighted by a dark pink crape myrtle in a center bed surrounded by pink oxalis and purple cone flowers (Echinacea), accompanied by yellow and purple iris and sages in a bed at the foot of a hedge (red tip photinia) on the property line. A volunteer Mountain Laurel has taken up residence in the central bed and should thrive in summer sunshine. More boxwood line the side of the house, along with a pittosporum, with pink oxalis lining the bed, which she keeps separate from grass with use of a sharp shovel. In a bed separating the front yard from the driveway, the first plant to catch your eye is a firecracker plant (Cuphea ignea), a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies, along with daisies, cone flowers, lantana and more delicate oxalis. A highlight to this area is a talavera style bird bath, a gift from family members.
Delicate flowers and other shade-loving plants thrive under rose bushes beside driveway.
Joining the original oak and pecan trees in the front yard, Rodriguez has planted two trees which have matured into valuable landscape additions — a Bradford pear shading the side driveway near the porch, and a redbud now 20 years old. The thick Bradford pear limbs need pruning over the roof, but the nearby redbud adds more subtle sun control for plants beside the driveway. A healthy vitex in a corner bed next to the street provides a blooming purple backdrop for red and pink knockout roses and cone flowers, yellow day lily and other spring blooms.
Along the driveway nearer the house, a pink Belinda’s Dream rose bush helps protect potted plants congregated underneath taller plants, including pink impatiens, red begonia and hibiscus. Rocks and paving stones are placed to discourage a visiting possum from digging in the bed, and the rose canes help shield pots from the occasional browsing deer. Tending such a variety of plants clearly brings joy to Trini Rodriguez and also beauty to her neighbors.