Will the Blooms Return?

I’m thinking about flowers. [I’m not talking about my cousin’s family, though they’d be a welcome sight in this part of the world as much as any!] Perhaps it’s because, here in Texas, signs of sprouting, budding and even outright blooms are beginning to show all around us: the flowering pear trees are starting to burst like giant batches of popcorn, my infant fringeflower is sporting a deep fuchsia-colored tassel or two, and even the local redbud trees are bravely showing off glimpses of their own hot pinks and purples. It may also be that the influence of a few days spent recently on seasonal cleaning and prep in our yard brings, along with the seasonal sneezing and watering of the old eye-bulbs, the welcome scent of earth and sightings of green specks that seem to increase in size while I watch, reminds me of spring and summers past and favorite blossoms I eagerly await on their return. The recent speedy trip to San Antonio, just enough farther south from us to be a week or two ahead in the race to renew its flora, certainly enhanced my longing for the sight of flowers while it was giving me its own preview. And of course, there’s simply the persistent infatuation with all-things-growing that grips me year-round that might be one of the main instigators of this present hope.

No matter what the cause, my heart is yearning for floral happiness these days.Blog.02-28-2013.1

Too Early to be Called Springtime

Leaning back into the shade

Next to a mirror foxed with age but

Gleaming still with that low glint,

Mercurial, that holds onto its ghosts—those

Pale vapors that have passed

Through the pavilion and its garden greens,

Have dreamed while leaning in

This selfsame shade

Of fading memory and of

Incipient bloom, in this

Just-waking secret garden—

Here I will stay at rest, a shade myself

In the pale green gloaming

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Yes, the redbuds are arriving, bees and all; I’m not the only one humming with happiness.

Beginning Again

photoGetting Ahead of Myself

Around that corner just ahead is some Unknown that in my head
Is not the terror-building fright that lends to terrors in the night
For pessimistic glass-half-gone, despairing people, dusk to dawn,
In nightmare hiding, room to room, expecting any moment Doom–
In my imaginings and dreams, instead, the Unknown beckons, gleams
And twinkles like a shooting star, calling to me to roam afar
Into ephemeral and great new joys from early hours to late,
Adventures, newness, glamor, thrills, all dancing at my windowsills
And hovering at door and gate just out of view–
Oh, I can’t wait!photo

 

A Park, a Pond, at Peace

photoNow that the temperatures are gradually sliding into what I consider survivable territory, it’s a lovely opportunity to go outdoors and simply take a leisurely stroll again. I was reminded of this on our little jaunt out to the west coast over Thanksgiving, when even though it was clammy and overcast and somewhat rainy it was a welcome thing to be able to step out the door and not be pushed back in by the blast furnace of the perpetual sun. I love sunshine, really I do, and I’m not sorry to live where I do just now, but it’s a delight to be able to get out and stretch my legs in the neighborhood without any necessity to dash for cover lest I turn instantly into cracklins.

This week, a walk through the surrounding neighborhood, exploring a few streets and walkways and pockets of this town that we’ve not seen before, was the perfect soother on a Saturday afternoon, and a rare treat at that. And it makes me plot further to spend some quality time over the brief winter cooling period just getting out to soak up the happy and calming atmosphere of our more tree-dense areas, our parks and lakes and ponds and the wonderful wild grasses and prairie native plants that make this such a good place to be. To simply step out on the patio from time to time and absorb the rustling leaf sounds of the backyard greenbelt and the obbligato of the birds whistling therein. To hike over to the university campus instead of having to take the shuttle just to survive the three and a half or so miles, and then once there not to need to tear indoors instantly.

I’m only too glad to have the opportunity to recall what is actually so great about the great outdoors and to relish the enchantments of a lightly ruffled pond or the distant competitive singing of a yard full of hounds or even, should I be outdoors and doing the right thing in the right spot at the perfectly right moment, to feel that exceedingly sharp joy found only when one is not enclosed by walls and roof. What a fine joy that can be indeed.photo

Wistful Gardening

 

As is usual, I’m learning, at this point in the year here in north Texas, though I do have a tolerably alive outdoor property (thanks to probably over-watering it), it looks a bit tired and stressed. Everything plantlike is wilting gradually before the season-ending genuine drop in temperature will give it a short revival. Assuming everything continues to go as usual.

In the meantime, I will let our mowing crew change their usual routine this week and dig up some of the lawn they ordinarily mow, putting in a stone-lined gravel path from porch to road so that guests don’t have to traipse quite so far out of their way in the dusk when heading from their cars on the street to the dining table on a visit. But I’ll still feel a little bit wistful when I look at my fainting ‘nursery’ of clearance-sale plants, where they huddle in stolen bits of shade and get thirsty for their next watering an hour after the last one because of the continued high temperatures.

So I will cheer myself up with a little imagined wandering through the garden at earlier and cooler times by sharing with you a few vignettes of some of our plants in happier, hardier moments. If I can’t quite ‘stop and smell the roses’ without them or me getting roasted to a crisp, I’ll inhale the memory of their sturdier selves and hope to nurse them back for a smaller second-coming before winter actually arrives.photocollage

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Old Lady up a Tree

Ha! You thought I was talking about some girlfriend of that guy who lurked in the tree outside Grandma’s window. You may be excused for thinking I’m the equivalent of my own imaginary friend, in fact, but yes indeedy I did climb a tree today. Sometimes it’s good to be a crazy old bat. Here’s why I did it:

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The backyard tree was calling my name . . .

I mean, really. If you had this Bradford flowering pear tree glowing at you through the kitchen window, could you have resisted? Granted, there was also a squirrel-decimated finch feeder glaring from its branches, and removing the skeletal remains from sight seemed like rationalization enough, if I needed any, but the pear trees are unsure we actually had a winter, and so both our front and backyard pears are not only bursting into bloom a tad early they are starting to leaf before the blooms are even fully open, and getting just a little ahead of themselves, as I often do too. It’s not especially sunny today, but pretty warm, and who wants a ladder when it feels like springtime? It may be apropos that from up there I had a nice view of the sweet cedar bat house I’d mounted in the adjacent red oak, but I think a tiny bit of tree-climbing may also have cleared a few of the bats from my own belfry, or at least knocked out a cobweb or two.

You might even wonder why I’d be looking out the window all that much when it’s grey and overcast and kind of, well, lackluster in the great and brown-grassy out of doors here in the first place. Here’s why I did that:

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The little patio nursery is awakening . . .

You could ignore this? Me, I just have to look every few minutes or so just in case the sprouts are suddenly eight inches taller. It could happen. See those adorable little fine-haired leaflets? The dainty little red stems on what I will assume are the sprouts of beetroot plants?

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The charmingly incorrect way I have of throwing everything in together and planting at the same time, same depth, same channel ought to at least entertain me . . .

No one who hangs around this blog for the briefest length of time will mistake me for an orderly, proper, or logical gardener. But I love my mad-scientist fun in yard and garden and the often profligately rewarding things the dirt gives back without regard for my deserving. I was going to say, “my deserts”, but you might easily mistake me in this instance for plotting an entire property full of nothing but cacti, given last year’s Texas drought, my stated intent to move toward a fairly solidly xeriscaped property, better water management, prairie-native plants, succulents, and all of that sort of thing. And I do plan all of that in the long term. But it won’t stop me from, say, planting a few things here and there that mightn’t be strictly ideal for the situation, because I do have that experimental urge and my wildly impractical loves. So yes, I did go ahead and put in a few orange and white tulips in the planters out front, thank you very much. And here’s why:

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The yard--front and back--thus far boasts some fantastic trees (and the two little sticks, one of which you can barely discern here centered on the porch, that I intend to raise into trees eventually), but there's not a lot more to commend it . . . yet . . .

I have my ambitions. Not least of them is to get proper drainage around the house perimeter and evict the hopelessly useless and rarely attractive lawn in favor of paths and planting beds and places that would invite the local bees and butterflies and birds and the greenbelt denizens from out back to come and linger, and the eyes and hearts of visitors to find pleasure. All of this, in place of dull hard St. Augustine “grass”; having lived in temperate climates I find I can’t quite call this scratchy variegated-brown stuff by the honorific reserved for something a lot kinder underfoot and a lot more able to thrive on its own than what we’ve got now. I like to believe I can make a bit of a change for the better! It’ll take a lot of resources, but I have hope. Here’s why:

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In an earlier time and place I went from a similarly "low maintenance" yard (don't you just adore Realtor Speak!) of mostly unhealthy grass and stumpy evergreen shrubs yard to something nicer in only a couple of years . . .

I think you can get a hint of the Why, no? Granted, that was a west-coast climate very friendly to all manner of plants from just this side of tropical (I did grow a banana tree as an annual out back) to alpine. But I’m optimistic that with the right ingredients, a bit of effort and plenty of imagination, I will be able to transform, if slowly, this place too. I may not achieve the lushness of my temperate garden, but I look forward to something a bit more dramatic and inviting. Here’s why:

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The neighborhood wasn't honestly the most upscale, but given the growing climate, I finally decided Parkland wasn't *entirely* a misnomer for it either . . .

This photo was taken less than two years after the whole property had been bulldozed. I dug up and salvaged a number of the rhododendrons and other shrubs, and of course the magnificent Douglas-fir off camera to the right held its ground (after the arborist gave it some tender loving care following its attack by lightning!), but the rest was a big scraped-off dirt pile. So I’ve seen what dirt can do. I’m going to go on believing in what it’ll offer until and unless it proves otherwise. Then you can all say I was just out of my tree.