March 27, 2008

When I began my organic gardening in earnest, in early 2006, there were very few critters in my yard. I could dig all day, and maybe see one earthworm.

Nowadays, my flower beds are full of earthworms. The yard is also teeming with other critters, like praying mantises, ladybugs and geckos. I purchased praying mantis egg cases a year ago; but I won't need to this year. I am finding them all over the yard. I also won't need to purchase ladybugs this year. I am seeing them throughout the garden.

I even had a toad siting last year! I was especially thrilled with that, because I know that frogs and toads are much rarer than they used to be. I had not seen one in ages.

Last year I discovered that the Swallowtail butterflies enjoyed my dill and parsley plants. As you can see, they also enjoyed lighting on my verbena. This year I have planted a whole bed of parsley. I've actually planted it for use in my green juices and smoothies; but I'm anticipating attracting more butterflies as well.

One of the highlights of my days is hearing the birds singing in the morning as they come to the feeders, or looking out the kitchen window and seeing a sparrow on the patio. Sofar we have had cardinals, sparrows, doves and mockingbirds. I'm sure there have been others, but I'm not too skilled yet at identifying them.

March 26, 2008

Lilac Hedges - Lilies of the Valley

Lilac hedges, Lilies of the Valley, that is what I pictured as my sister Peg and I reminisced about our childhood as she was recovering from ovarian cancer.

My little lilac bushes are, of course, a far cry from those beautiful hedges. We'll see how they fare in their new spot in the garden.

It was winter of 2001 when Peg was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was immediately scheduled for surgery, and the cancer was removed. Her surgeon said the cancer was so aggressive that many doctors would just have sewn her back up and not even have tried to remove it. She was in surgery for 5 hours. Then came the chemo. She was very stressed, and I decided to quit my job and go stay with her. I was there for about 4 1/2 months.

Foot massage eased her pain, and helped her to relax, so that was one of my chores. Other than that, we mostly would sit and visit. We often would talk about memories from our childhood.
I write my own music, and Peg is one of my biggest fans. I told her that we would turn those memories into a song. It took me awhile, but the song did materialize. Perhaps one of these days I will borrow a video camera and sing it for you! In the meantime, here are the lyrics:

Lilac Hedges
copyright 2001 Mary K. Wykes
All rights reserved

Lilac hedges, lilies of the valley
Mama's in the kitchen, cooking all day
Sitting on the porch steps, counting all our pennies
Calculating riches of our old age.

Lilac hedges, lilies of the valley
Daddy's in the office working today
Sitting on the sidewalk, winding up a skate key
"Meet you at the corner. Let's race around the block."

And we sit here together, outside of time
Sit here together, with your hand in mine

Lilac hedges, lilies of the valley
Grammy's in the garden, weeding away
Sitting on the back porch, "I will be the teacher."
"If you are a good girl, I'll give you an A."

And we sit here together, outside of time
Sit here together, with your hand in mine
Sisters forever

These are some of the scenes that the scent of the lilacs brings back to me - those days long past, that can seem like yesterday.

March 25, 2008

Lilac Hedges

The house I grew up in was located in Watertown, South Dakota. My parents had a big garden out back, with a rhubarb hill on which we loved to play "King of the Mountain."

There was a lilac hedge on the property which separated our yard from the neighbors on one side. I loved those lilacs!

Here in Texas, lilacs don't grow all that well. I purchased some about a year and a half ago that were supposed to be special for this area. They straggled through the summer, looking really shaggy. I ran into someone who told me she knew of a lilac bush that was doing well in the shade. So - I have transplanted all of my bushes into the shade.

Lo and behold, they are blooming! I am going to really make sure they get plenty of water this summer - and see if they do better. But right now, the most important thing to me is that they survived, and are blooming!