Garden Talk

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March 21, 2006 at 4:51 pm

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Joy #8211 of being self-employed: I got to spend the entire day gardening, and I didn’t have to feel guilty about it.

The first order of things this morning was to rake our front yard again. I did this no less than two weeks ago, and damned if our

(Quercus virginiana) didn’t have a whole ‘nother yard’s worth of leaves to shed. I swear I looked up and surveyed the trees before killing my shoulders and wrists with the raking two weeks ago.

A couple hours and five full trash bags later, I could again see our sad excuse for a front lawn.

It’s trying to be green, but after all, “” Right now, our lawn’s just doing a really good impression of h-a-y.

One drudge-work task completed, another one begun: I had an ill-fated wildflower garden I created last year, along part of our backyard fenceline near our deck. Well, one of its two 5-foot runs was completely dead, so I harvested all the good topsoil from it and hauled the soil into the front yard to fill in various low spots and wear patches (thank you, neighborhood kiddos!) in the lawn.

I could have sprung for some good lawn dressing, but this was readily available and free. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, Repeat.

After that, the fun stuff could finally begin.

I planted most of the $67 of plants I bought at

(Bandera Rd. store) yesterday. The haul? Three varieties of , including

(Salvia coccinea);

Mexican heather ( hyssopifolia) and cigar plants ( micropetala). I must admit there’s a wonderful synchronicity about loading up a bunch of plants into one’s .

As usual, this is just my first run to the garden center. I still need to buy some new

(Coleus blumei) to replace/augment my potted coleus that suffered a little too much during our overly-dry winter. My whiskey barrel in the backyard is three or four years old and is beginning to disassemble itself, slat by slat. I also need to replenish my red lava rock border in the backyard, since we’re on a slope and the rocks slowly migrate under our fence and into the greenbelt.

And, if I had my act in gear, we’d be buying a Texas

(Quercus texana) to plant in the backyard, but the thought of digging a 4-foot-diameter hole in the rocky substrate of our backyard just isn’t compelling, yet.

That, and the red oak needs to be clear of all structures (house, fence, etc.) by at least 25 feet and that may be a little problematic… I don’t really want it in the middle of my yard, after all.

Anyway, there’s definitely more to come. I need a good deal of fresh soil to replenish my various empty pots and containers so I can plant the

(Lathyrus odoratus) Mom’s childhood tale inspired me to purchase a month or so ago — who knew sweet peas were fragrant, multi-colored flowering plants which make great cuttings and are ardent climbers? OK, maybe I’m the only one who didn’t know that. Sweet peas to me are what one finds on one’s plate at dinnertime.

Anyway, about six hours of work and I now have:

I’m still debating what to do with a thriving 40+ pound (pot and plant) orange-flowering

plant we have on the front porch. I got it from my mom over two year’s ago — someone had given it to her just with the plant and root ball, and she’d left it on her porch in that condition — and it kept growing.

She offered it to me and it stayed that way until I, too, realized it was continuing to grow.

I planted it in a 20 or so gallon pot and it’s now overgrown that, although it shows no ill effects. It’s actually putting out its second flower stalks of 2006 — it put 3.5+ foot tall flower stalks out in mid-January due to our mild winter, and I thought that would be all she wrote, but now it’s on to Round #2.

Anyway, it needs to either be planted in the ground so it can get really big, or I need to find an even bigger pot for it, but anything bigger than what it’s already in means I won’t be able to move it into the garage during our occasional freezing temperatures.

Needless to say, I’m sore. My post-op knee is raging, as is my right wrist, elbow, shoulder and lower back. I have a Thermacare wrap on the small of my back, and another one up over my shoulderblades. Meanwhile, my knee’s awaiting the Elastogel wrap which is currently in the freezer getting chilled enough for reuse. No pain, no ga..garden, as they say!

Can you tell I love gardening? I’m only a green thumb with the things I know I cannot kill. Hand me something fiddly, like a gardenia or a violet, and I’ll kill it in short order. But Texas

— plants that can handle our droughts and full sun? Bring ‘em on!

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