Sunday, March 30, 2008

March Madness

[Photo of one main shaded grassy area before we began this year's work]

Nope - not a huge basketball fan here. My form of March Madness refers to a wild rush to get everything I can see to get done in the yard and garden before the oak pollen counts run me indoors for weeks on end, waiting out the prolific production of the beautiful but toxic (to me) live oaks.

My husband and I have spent the past several weeks paying the price for nearly two decades of letting things go. In our case that often meant letting things grow, rather than pruning. The result was a shaded out yard where only the strongest, tallest, most persistent plants survived, much less thrived. It wasn't altogether awful but it wasn't what we wanted.

So we began last year and continued through to this year methodically pruning, reshaping, reclaiming and restoring the yard to a place where garden beds will reign and St. Augustine lawn and tall hedges have a vastly reduced role to play. Some 20 pickup loads of trimmings are one result - approximately one per year that we were too busy or too intimidated to tackle the projects.

It has been grueling at times, back paining if not back breaking work. But the results are already evident in the signs all around of sunlight reaching in to new areas.[This mallow had never bloomed before!] Sure, there are lots of weeds out there looking pretty identical to my untrained eye to the wildflower seeds we planted earlier. But there are also vegetables planted where grass once grew, and flowers coming out on plants that barely produced leaves before.

Next year the perennials will all have benefitted from a full season to send down roots and claim a reasonable space, but even now, the rewards for our labor are evident from every vantage point.

Better late than never works - even in the garden it seems.[Photo of same area now open to sunlight and planted with a variety of groundcovers, wildflowers, herbs and vegetables]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March Showers Hopeful to Bring...

The Flower

All's in this flower -
Times, seasons, losses, all the fruits of woe.
Beauty's fragility, and death's bare gain,
Pluck'd in passing by, five minutes ago.
All's in this flower, the war of life and death,
God's character and purpose written down,
The force of love, the proof and power of faith
All's here, and all unknown.

Frank Kendon - The Time Piece

Friday, March 7, 2008

Paths as Yet Untrodden

(Old photo of grass beyond the mosaic bed)

I was working on determining where the primary and secondary paths will go in the new bedding areas opened up by the taking away of St. Augustine lawn in the back yard, It reminded me of one of my favorite prayers, used as part of "Matins" - a service of Morning Prayer, and it goes like this:

"Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

In my mind this sums up not only the way to face a new day, but also how to live that day out. That same approach is in large part what nurtures and sustains me in my attempts at gardening.

For me, gardening is no slam dunk. I do not now and never will know all there is to know about soil, plants, local conditions and/or techniques in any way that gives me many guarantees that what I will try to do, will succeed in a way I might recognize. Yet I try, and will keep trying, because it is the trust and the attempting to do what is right that will count as success, rather than any one example of getting it right. (Our proposed network of new paths/Aerial view)

Monday, March 3, 2008


From basking to bundling up....if you don't like the Texas weather, the saying goes, stick around a bit because it is sure to change.

And change it has. Starting last night, a cold front has blown through, bringing northerly winds and rain and more seasonable temperatures for March. It is 45 degrees outside this morning, we've gotten a half inch of much needed rain, and a freeze warning is posted for tonight.

As I stood watching the rain falling, it struck me how vulnerable an act it was in decades past to try to raise food crops when the weather was not something you could know much more about than what you saw on the horizon any given day.

Not that our predictive powers are THAT good, but we do at least get some generally forecast guidelines. I can't imagine what it must have been like to plant and simply trust that rain would come and/or hard freezes would be safely past.

No wonder they labeled major storms "acts of God". As recently as 60 years ago the appearance of that sort of powerful weather system must have seemed as mysterious and awe inspiring as anything else faced in a human lifespan.

Today I am thankful for the rain. I am glad to live in an era when we seem to be able to forecast what to expect, even if we still seem to live relatively oblivious to our effect upon the earth's atmosphere. Maybe eventually we will call major storms "acts of Man" and accept it is not the unseen hand of God but rather the all too prevalent hand of humankind behind the changes we are experiencing.

About Me

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.