The Daily Muse

A Garden Journal -- May 2001

May 9 - morning

I just returned from a short walk through the garden. Everything is dripping wet from the latest in a series of heavy (and much needed) downpours. Our cypress allee is glistening like a series of ferny clouds in the early morning light, the trees are coated with silvery dew that is shining against the still dark backdrop of the fence. The ornamental grasses that we have nestled into our cantera planters look beautiful with the low slanting light catching their blades. We chose planters shaped like frogs- Victor is from Guanajuato, Mexico, home to one of the most beautiful cities of the western hemisphere. The Indian name for Guanajuato means "place of the frogs". So, our planters, and the tadpoles swimming around in our very full pond, are honored guests!

A few days ago we had dozens of friends over for a garden party and blessing. My friend, Father Alan Oakes, who co-produced the Painted Churches documentary with me, performed the blessing. It was a very meaningful ceremony for us- to have our friends in our garden, to be able to share our creation, and, most especially, to take the time to honor the path that we have travelled thus far- it was a blessing indeed! From my morning walks to our garden blessing, I find that it is good to include a little ritual in my life.

May 16 - early morning

It has already been a busy morning in the garden- the starlings that occupied our owl house (within minutes of us putting it up!) have been attending to their very demanding hatchlings, a chubby squirrel has been riding the "squirrelly-gig" that my father built for us, white wing doves and cardinals are taking turns at our bird feeder, and Inca doves are patrolling the garden floor. As for me, I have already made the rounds with my pump sprayer, wetting our blooming plants down with a foliar application of organic fertilizer.

All of our plants seem to be exploding with new growth and color- our bed of cone flowers and daisies will be filled with blooms in the next few days, our first hibiscus bloom of the season opened this morning, we are already harvesting squash, and the fruit is beginning to develop on our tomato plants. The growth of our vines has been particulary impressive- the "tangerine beauty" cross vine has begun to climb our fence, our "incence" passion flower has tripled in size, and our "Duchess of Albany" Texas clematis is beginning to climb up the supports of the telephone pole in our back corner.

This past weekend we went to Houston to spend Mother's Day with my Mom. Sunday morning, before a very decadent brunch, Victor and I visited a nursery where I worked some twenty years ago. I was impressed by how much the place had improved, and found an excellent assortment of both "usual suspects" and interesting plants. One that particulary caught my eye was a terrestrial orchid that I thought was a blettia or Chinese ground orchid. The plants had gorgeous white blooms and palm like foliage. After visiting with the nursery help, I learned that the botanical name for the plant was "spathoglottis" a name that I was unfamiliar with. I purchased three of plants betting that they would prove as hardy as the blettias are here in Austin. After a little internet search I found that the plants are Malaysian ground orchids and may need a little extra winter protection, however, based on everything I have read it sounds like they could prove to be real winners for Austin gardeners too. I intend to plant them alongside my blettias and will let you know how they perform.

May 28 - morning

The last few weeks have been a quiet time in the garden. Despite the fact that we find ourselves consumed with plans for our pond, most of what we have been doing in the garden is simple maintenance, visiting with friends, and quiet meditation.

Our tomatoes are about to produce a basket load of fruit that we are hoping to harvest before the birds do- and many of our summer blooming perennials and annuals are beginning to put on a show. Saturday, we painted some wooden balls red and hung them by the tomatoes, hoping that the birds would sample them and decide we are producing decidely inferior fruit . We'll see how long that lasts! This morning, I noticed three different shades of "rustic colors" gloriosa daisy blooming- I love the autumnal hues even though summer hasn't even officially begun.

Yesterday, a neighbor e-mailed me to say "hi". She had discovered that we are neighbors when she recognized the pictures of our garden on this website. I had to laugh when she decribed their consternation at the nuts who moved in last year and starting cutting down all of the trees! I imagine that more than a few of our neighbors must have thought we were paving our backyard with all of the commotion we stirred up. Regardless of that, it is nice to know that we have dedicated organic gardeners just over the fence line. I look forward to seeing their "oasis" and sharing mine.

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