Why Garden?

Photo of Wind Chimes
Gaga Kate's Wind Chimes

Gardening appeals to every sense. It invigorates you mentally and physically. Gardens provide soothing vistas to look at, yummy food to eat, and habitat for animals, birds and insects. Why on earth wouldn’t you garden?

Just the sensory stimulations is worth spending time outside — or at the very least, inside with a potted plant. Touch any plant and it provides you with an instant and visceral response. I love to run my fingers over the velvety petals of the Belinda’s Dream rose in my back yard, even though I have to squeeze past the Red Yucca to do it. (Warning, Red Yucca is sharp and pointy when it pokes you in the calf!)

Visual texture is akin to touch. The adorable fuzziness of the Lamb’s Ear invites you to stoop and rub a leaf between your fingers. My neighbor’s cat finds it a comfortable bed on which to curl up for a mid-afternoon nap.

Color abounds in the garden, even when it’s limited to shades of green. Celendon…Chartreuse… Forest… Fern… Emerald… Grass… Pea… Pine…Sea Green… Shamrock… Kelly…Mint…Teal…Grey-Green…Olive. Notice how many shades of green are named for plants? Yep, many of them are — with good reason. Plants, landscaping, vegetables all touch us in more than one way — and thus stick with us.

I love to watch the ripple of tall grass under the wind’s caress. It’s almost as if you can see the old man with his lips pursed as he blows the waves along the ground. Tulips bob their heads, trees whisper, and the birds and insects swoop and dive in the currents. The wind chimes Paul’s grandmother used to ring to call her grandsons to dinner tinkle happily on the edge of the porch. Plants may not have voices to sing with, but there is plenty of sound to inspire.

Nothing smells quite like Night Blooming Cerius, which I may have just misspelled in the worst possible way, but that’s what happens after an evening on the porch next to this plant. It gets you drunker than champagne in nothing flat. Intensely sweet, I’ve had guests actually close the windows in the Casita Sin Gatos because it was keeping them awake at night. Paul and I were clearing out the onion bed this morning and I brushed up against the fennel in the next row. Heaven on earth, so I picked some to have with my lunch. The sharp licorice taste of Fennel brings out the sweet flavor of the tomato in salad.

I did something that may have been brilliant or it may have been the silliest thought I’ve had all year. I planted asparagus in the side garden, along the path from the garage to the back gate. It is taking over, so I feel justified when I bend down, brush aside some of the mature fronds and find a spear just ripe for the picking. Crunchy nutty-tasting snack!

Sorry, have to go now. I’ve inspired myself into a walk in the woods, where I am planning a shade garden.

Happy Gardening!

Climbing the Walls

When I got married, One of my favorite new relatives was Helene Levy of Galveston, Texas. She had a beautiful Cecile Bruner that climbed a trellis outside her bedroom window. The petite blush rose was fragrant, and bloomed for Helene more often than was decent. Helene’s enthusiasm for her roses (And her fig tree!) endeared her to me. There is a Cecile Bruner climber outside my bedroom window now in her honor.

My Aunt Myrtle had a vibrant blue morning glory climbing up a post right outside her kitchen window. Butterflies seemed to love it. There was a bell on top of that post, but I believe she put the post there was just so she could see the flowers each morning and start her day with the vision of those unfurling blooms and the winged visitors it drew.

My back pasture is graced with a line of trees along the north side. About ten feet wide, the strip runs two-hundred feet along the fence line. One of the things the neighbors said to us when we bought that field was that they would really appreciate it if we wouldn’t trim the trees and if we would make sure and leave all the “vines” in place. We did, because it was a good windbreak, and because I recognized the vine. Each spring, those vines throw out beautiful clusters purple flowers. Who knew that Wysteria could grow forty feet into the sky using native trees as its trellis?

Happy gardening.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Souvenier de la Malmaison, courtesy Antique Rose Emporium website

I was browsing back through my blog entries and noticed something strange. For someone who writes about landscapers, I sure do post a lot of veggie tales.

So, today, I’m going to stop and smell the roses. Specifically the roses of the Texas Rose Rustlers. These legendary folk actually still exist, and here’s the website to prove it. You can even join up if you want.

What happened was that awhile back there were a bunch of abandoned homesteads in far flung areas of the state. Passionate rose-lovers would drive by, spot a specimen they couldn’t identify from their car,  pull over, and go in search of more information. First they’d go up to the house, calling out just in case the owner’s out in the garden, or shed, or barn. (Any real Rose Rustler always asks permission first of any available landowner before wandering someone’s property. It’s courteous — an important part of the Texas Rose Rustler Code — plus it’s pretty darn prudent. Texas has a law saying that you can shoot trespassers.) Once permission is obtained to look, (Or, in the beginning of the movement when such things were more common, abandonment of the homestead was verified.) the interested party then goes to the beauty in question and pokes about a bit, trying to figure out from the hips, blooms, leaves and habitat just what it could be. If permission is granted to take a cutting, then selections are made, clippers are pulled, and the deed is done.

I have a bed of Katy Road Pinks that came from a Rustler’s foray onto an old abandoned farm just west of Houston. Lovely single pink roses, compact and fragrant. These pinks are an ever-blooming variety cultivated long before such things were patented and sold under a trade name. Other roses have been identified and re-propagated for sale by those professionals among the Rustlers. One of my favorite nurseries is outside of Brenham, Texas and run by one of the original Rustlers. The Antique Rose Emporium offers a multitude of specimens that settlers to the area carried with them when coming to establish their homestead out here in the wilderness of early Texas. I trek out there at least twice a year to smell their roses — and bring a new specimen home for a trial. Belinda’s Dream, Caldwell Pink, and Old Blush are three of my favorites. This coming spring I’m adding a Paul’s Scarlet climber to the gate on the west side of the house. Took me ten years to get an arbor that would stay up longer than an hour so that I could put this one in. (I am not very good at building this sort of thing. Bought this arbor already made.) I planted one of these in honor of my husband, Paul, two houses ago and I loved it. Too large to dig and move with us, I had to leave it for the new owners. I hope they appreciated its handsome blooms.

Happy gardening!