Tuesday, January 28, 2014

This Time We REALLY Did It!

"Move?  But we just agreed that we love this and want to stay!  We just planted all of those crape myrtles! I haven't divided all of the lilies yet!  I have no rose cuttings!  Are you serious?"

I looked at my husband and I saw that he was.  More than that, he was tired.  Between his business, a large extended family, a full social life (blessings, all) and a four-acre lot to maintain according to somewhat stringent deed restrictions, he was drained.  If I were honest, I was, too.  I knew that we were not giving anyone or anything the attention they deserved and that we were missing much.  We are not getting any younger.  Once thoroughly considered, the idea of living closer to family and friends became a tantalizing one.  While the moving process was exhausting and perhaps we made some hasty decisions, I am convinced that it's all for the best. 

Once we sold our house, we did not want to keep our belongings in storage until Spring; we determined to choose a house from whatever was available and came closest to meeting our requirements at the time.  My husband was moving his office, too.  Everything happened quickly and all at once.  It is the settling down and adjusting that has taken some time. 

Moving from four acres in a quiet, rural subdivision to a house on a golf course, zero lot-line, has been an adventure we will not forget any time soon.  But I am not here to talk about life in the fast lane.  I am here to talk about my garden, our drastically ever-changing landscape. 

I do not have access to all of my photos at present, unfortunately.  < I am not at all sure I like external hard drives at this moment.>  To compare the front and back yards in the same season isn't possible today and to use what photos I have access to really is terribly unfair to the new property.  For now, I shall limit myself to a short, one-paragraph comparison. 

Between the properties, there are two major differences that will affect my gardening.  One, of course, is that the old garden was expansive in all directions and the new garden is tiny in all directions.  The other is the configuration of the house.  Our former house was situated east/west while our new one is north/south.  All of this means that I will have to be very choosy about what to plant, whatever I plant will have more protection from the elements, and suddenly I have a tall, north-facing wall and very little "full sun".  A difference that will affect my garden, if not my gardening style, is the fact that I will have much less control of what surrounds my plantings (neighbor's yards).  It will be an entirely different gardening situation and I admit that I'm looking forward to the challenge.  I've already decided what plants must go to make way for plants I want.  There is so much to do!

But not today.  We have an unusual day of snow and sleet.  Yesterday, the temps were in the 60's and they will return to them later this week.  I hope that you are all warm and well and that 2014 has been good to you so far.

Oh!  There is one rather amusing difference!  We are now the caretakers of three very tall, hardy palms.  They sound lovely in the wind.

I'll be back soon!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Reason to Blush

I don't know how many gardeners -- what percentage -- are like me.  I don't like cutting flowers for display indoors.  I love bouquets, but I always feel I am cheating the garden out of what rightly belongs to it.  A good friend of ours, florist and gifted gardener, protested my silliness.  "But you should cut them!  It's good for them; they'll produce more and everyone will be happy!  Enjoy them!"  I know he's right, but I still have a hard time forcing myself to do it. 
I don't, however, have any such qualms about picking fruit or vegetables from the garden for our benefit.  So what if a plant I grow for its blooms also produces fruit?  One of my favorite roses, Old Blush, produces large hips if left on its own.  I've always been interested in making rose hip jelly, but I am basically too greedy for blooms to give hips a chance to grow.  Knowing that the more I prune, the more flowers this nearly ever-blooming shrub will produce, I remove spent blooms as often as I can.
The flowers, while not the spectacular bourbons I favor, are pretty, abundant, and have a light, sweet fragrance.  


Pretty, ever-blooming flowers, sweet fragrance, healthy foliage -- what more could one ask of a flower?  But that's not all Old Blush is good for.  It's a fairly large, dense shrub, growing up to six feet, sturdy, disease-resistant, and makes a fine hedge.  It is also very easily propagated.  The first photo, in fact, grew from one of my own cuttings.  Which brings me to my point:  having two large, healthy specimans, I decided to finally try and let the hips grow.  They really are so pretty.  I won't pick them until they're nice and rosy (ha -- wish I could say that the perfect pun was intended).  Yes, I want rosy rose hips!

High in vitamin C, they are good for us.  I think I should have enough for two six-ounce jars of jelly and a little left over for tea.  I'm not sure, though.  I'll be happy with one jar if that's all I have hips for.  Either way, I'll save some for tea and I might just take some more cuttings.  A healthy hedge that both flowers and feeds us as well as provide habitat is my kind of hedge.  Old Blush has a lot to be proud of.




Monday, September 9, 2013

Turk's Cap: For the Birds?


I love Turk's Cap, malvaviscus drummondii.  A member of the mallow family, its range stretches from Mexico through Texas, to Florida, Cuba, and beyond.  I am glad that it's conveniently native to Texas, a tough, drought-tolerant plant that was named a Texas Superstar back in 2011.  The flowers are beloved by both  hummingbirds and butterflies, and it also proffers small, red fruits that birds enjoy.

Turk's Cap can take most any soil, is heat resistant, and while it prefers some shade, can also thrive in the Texas sun.  Nevertheless, I've had a hard time growing it.  Only recently, in the last year or so, a plant actually thrived, then another, and now the birds have planted a few for me.  Their attempts have been more successful than mine; these photos are of a bird-sown specimen. 


In our area, it dies back in winter, to return usually stronger each spring.  I've read that the flowers and fruits and even the leaves are edible, but I've never personally tried them.  It took me so long to get the plants going; I'm not about to eat them!  But evidently, the fruits have a faint, apple-like flavor.  Perhaps one day, when I'm more confident, I will try a few.  I don't think the birds should mind; they have plenty.  Share and share alike!