April 11, 2008

Tess' Snapdragons

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Yesterday I made that post about relationship gardening. Then I decided to write to some other relatives who were gardening and let them know I'd love to see what's happening in their gardens. So you see, that relationship gardening continues to enrich my life, deepening connections with other people.

Tess was the first to respond. We are sort of back-door related. Tess is the mother of one of my sisters-in-law. She is one of the sweetest women I've ever been graced to know.

Tess once took on a project similar to mine - creating a park-like ambiance in her yard. She found it an overwhelming task, as I sometimes do.

Anyways - she now has moved, and has smaller gardens. But oh how lovely they are!


My daughter sent me a post of a mystery plant that has come up in one of her beds, and we are trying to identify it. I'm going to make a post on Dave's Garden as I'm sure I can get help there.

Jen was also on a mission yesterday to find food for some Painted Lady caterpillars. One of the teachers at her childrens' school had sought her out for help; because she knew Jen had raised a lot of Monarchs last year. The teacher had ordered the caterpillars - and they arrived with food that was dried out. Jen spent the whole day researching, and then locating appropriate plants for the butterflies. Of COURSE she was successful! I'll get her to send me some pics.


April 10, 2008

Relationship Gardening

There seems to be no end to the way that gardening can enrich my life. During the last six months of my mother's life, she so enjoyed hearing about my garden. I had not gardened for over 20 years, and had no idea how interested my mother would be in my project to turn my yard into a park.

Mom always loved plants, and had a large garden when I was a child. Every day she wanted to hear the details of what I was planting, what bed I was preparing. She was losing her sight, but always wanted me to bring pictures when I came to see her.

Two weeks before she died, I had the privilege of spending a week with her. One of my favorite memories is of taking her outside in the evening. She was weak, so each evening she would sit in the wheelchair, and I would take her for a walk. I have a picture in my mind of one special moment.

We were outside her building, and the sun was setting. There was a noisette rose bush in full bloom, and I asked her if she would like me to pick her a rose to smell. She was excited and her eyes sparkled. I walked over and picked her a little bouquet of roses, and she closed her eyes to focus on their fragrance. She was very content, sitting their in the sunset. She was content with her life. She was ready to cross over to the other side, and be with those who had gone before. I treasure that memory.

And now - I get to share the joy of gardening with my daughter, with two of my siblings, with my grandchildren.

Posted above is a picture of my daugher Jennifer and her dog Chance. They live in Kansas. Jen has recently moved to a new lakeside home that is built on three lots. The ground is rocky, so she and her husband Eric are putting in raised beds. This is the first, completed last night.

Daffodils are beginning to bloom in her yard, and she has had several plants come up that she thought had died. She called and said, "I called you because I knew you would understand what that meant, that the plants had survived."

Relationship gardening. I love it.


The Freshness of the Morning

When I woke this morning, the first thing that caught my attention was the wisteria, reaching to the sky in search of a place to climb. The breeze was gently wafting its branches back and forth. I thought back to when looking out of the same picture window I was greeted with nothing but the fence.

The clover lay gently on the earth, matted down by the rain during the night. I smiled to remember the sweetness of her blooms. The creeping phlox also waits for the sunshine to open her blooms. The iris bless me with their blooms, after three years of waiting.

Then I walked into the kitchen, and the profusion of pink verbena along the fence made me smile again. I just leaned on the counter by the sink and breathed in the blessing of their presence, feeling the fresh morning breeze against my skin. Even as I sit here at the computer, I can feel and smell the freshness of the morning.

On a more scientific note, I know that the air around my home is bathed in fresh oxygen given off by the plants. I wonder if that is part of the reason I feel so at peace when I walk through the garden. Perhaps it is not just the beauty, but also the actual change in atmosphere provided by all of the plants.

We become a unit, my garden and me - a guild, in the words of the permaculture crowd. Dare I include myself in the guild? We are one, my garden and me.

Praise be to the Creator for the beauty of his world.


April 8, 2008

A Walk through the Garden

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Madame Alfred Couriere - it is her hour to shine. What wonderful blooms she shares with me this morning. She is a climber, and here you see her gracing the entry to our front door. Planted directly in front of her is a wonderful rose called Alfred Colomb. When it arrived from Wayside Gardens it had a rose on it that was the most awesome red. Last year she only bore 2 or 3 roses, but right now she is covered with buds. I'm so excited!

Planted behind Madame is a climber called Lavender Lassie. She is going to be a beaut! At her feet are Salsa Dancer which is a four leaf clover, an oxalis with lovely delicate pink flowers which open with the sun, and Sedum-Acre is the groundcover succulent with the starshaped yellow flowers. I was also thrilled this morning to find these lovely lavendar clematis clooms among the sedum-acre. I'm afraid I've forgotten her name.

To the right of the driveway, is a fairly new bed in progress. The main plants are in, but I'm working on the groundcover. There is chocolate mint growing, and I am currently clearing out the grass and weeds and putting in ice plant, a succulent which flowers heavily with bright pink blooms. I'm excited that my yucca is putting up its first flower stalk!

Right behind the yucca bed, is that little shade garden I keep bragging on. I love the way the wisteria is falling over the fence, and am so enjoying the spring bloom of the delphinium.

Now let's step back arond to the front. On the left is a great picture of the two beds right outside the front windows. As you can see we have created a double bed, with a path between them. The roses right up against the house are red and pink knockouts, and boy do they bloom nonstop! They have their first spring blooms now.

In the center photo, just a bit to the south side of the yard, you can see Graham Thomas beginning his climb up the fence. He is an awesome rose with the most gorgeous yellow flowers. I now have a clematis planted on his right, and a cross vine on his left. As I step back out towards the street, you begin to get a fuller view of what is going on in this section of the yard.

On the left, are primrose which are also known as buttercups. The center photo shows off my firewitch dianthus cuddling up to my oxalis. The rose on the right is Valentine. She is in a row of red roses planted on the west side of the front yard - a whole row of red roses I put in for Thomas, for Valentine's Day. The red roses are his favorites.

Speaking of dianthus, these red ones continue to be a focal point of the garden bed along the south side fence, next to the street. This is the bed where the vandalism occurred. Thankfully, only a few plants were uprooted. The white euphorbia I put in as a ground cover. I didn't even realize at the time what a lovely floral display they would put on. The little rose bush between them is another color of Knockout rose. What a show she is putting on even as a baby!

Blush noisette is poised to steal the show from the dianthus, though. Just look at all these buds! This is obviously a floribunda rose - floribunda, meaning abundance of flowers. She blooms in little bouquets.

Here are a few more closeups of my babes in the front beds along the south side of the front yard. Iris, roses, euphorbia in white and purple - and a photo to warm a Texan's heart: bluebonnets and a yellow rose. I have six of these Carefree Sunshine roses planted in this most southerly bed on the slope. With the abundance of blooms they are already putting out, it is clear they are going to be showstoppers. Carefree Sunshine is a groundcover rose.

The irises continue to amaze me with their grace and beauty. They may not have a long season, but they certainly make it easier to wait for those roses! I will need to move them out of the rose beds after they bloom, because they are growing very aggressively. So much for the thought of maintaining the center of the front yard as lawn. That is where the irises are headed.

Now we step through the gate and into the back yard. I am greeted by my salvia, which are just beginning to send up their slender purple flower spikes. Looking on into the yard, my raspberry bed nearly brings tears to my eyes. The bushes at the back of each of these beds is a lilac. Nestled back to the right, under the clematis, is a wild violet which I brought back from a visit to my Uncle Bob's ranch, out in East Texas.

Just past the pear tree are my vegetable beds. I'm so proud of my lettuce! Tom's pride and joy is the strawberry bed, which is just past the lettuce bed.

Rounding the corner, we come to the stand of crepe myrtle trees - 10 in all - and various types. At their feet are pink and maroon verbena, which do an excellent job of smothering the weeds. In front of the verbena are beds of azaleas and Swiss Chard, as well as several rose bushes.

Last but not least, we head around to the north side of the back yard. The arbor stands at the corner of the patio as we head around to the north side of the back yard. Don Juan, a climber, will be leaning on her for support, as a Martha Gonzalez climber heads up the other side. Red Eden, climbing up the chimney is also about to put on a show. Last year, she had a problem with some sort of little worm that caused her roses to ball up and turn brown. She has been sprayed this year, with an eco-friendly product, and I'm hoping that will resolve the problem. The lovely blue creeping phlox is beginning to take over the beds in the shade.

I've decided to just let the wisteria go wild this year, and see where she goes. Should be interesting, as those little tendrils are all searching for something to grab hold of. These iris in the back yard are ones I got at a Dave's Garden swap shortly after beginning my garden-park project. This is the first year they have bloomed.

The roses in the back are also beginning to bloom. Narrow Waters is the soft pink one, a noisette. The bright red is Home Run, and is planted by the patio. The other rose, blooming amongst the Creeping Charlie which needs to be pulled shall have to bloom anonymously for now, as I can't seem to locate her nameplate.

So you see, truly, I do live in a botanical garden with the man I love.
I am blessed.

April 7, 2008

Life in the Garden

Ah - another plus of having our beautiful gardens - a nice, private picnic spot. I also taught an ESL lesson to one of my clients at this table earlier in the day. She loved it!

I so did not anticipate all the ways having a garden would enrich my life. When I get down about something, I just say to myself, "I live in a botanical garden with a man who loves me." What more could I possibly want?

Life is good.
God is great.
Let us thank Him for our food.

Garden Vandalism

It is a sad person who feels the need to destroy beauty. Today I found 5 uprooted plants in a long garden bed along the side of my yard, next to the sidewalk. Five were dianthus, and one was a rose. The dianthus were too far gone - but I was able to salvage the rose.

Well, heck - I'm going to go back out and put the dianthus in the ground as well, and douse it with a root stimulant. Who knows - maybe they will bounce back as well.