The Daily Muse

A GardenJournal -- June 2002

Last Update: June 30


A telephoto shot down our cypress allee.


June 4 - evening


Just a few words mark our first tomato harvest of the season... last night we feasted on an heirloom tomato and fresh basil pesto salad. Is there anything more rewarding than that? I think I am beginning to understand the meaning of Thanksgiving and the other harvest festivals of the world. Praise God from Whom Tomatoes flow!


June 8 - morning


Yesterday, a passing thunder shower provided us with  a surprise gift of a half-inch of rain. I spent a good part of the day working in the garden and was resting by the pond when I heard the first thunder echo in the distance. I raced around dragging pots out into the open and did my rain dance. When it actually started to rain, I found it difficult not to let my self get soaked. It has been two months since I have actually seen rain and it felt like a miracle. This morning, the garden is thankful and so am I.


June 16- morning


Last night we had another surprise rain storm, this one bringing nearly two inches of rain, our biggest rain event of the year! This one was a life saver, quite literally, I think it will save some of our newly planted perennials and transplants. The sun is out now and the garden is glistening and cool. In a short while we will be joining a friend for the Austin Area Pond Tour, a big annual gardening event. It will be nice touring gardens in the rain freshened air.


We had friends over for dinner yesterday and Victor wowed everyone with his now famous version of an "heirloom tomato tart." When he made this dish for the first time last year everyone just melted at the table- last night, the results were much the same. We are harvesting buckets of heirlooms and modern tomatoes: lemon boys, romas, mortgage lifters, and an orange variety that we think might be Russian persimmon. (We lost the tag on the way home from the nursery.) Our German green tomato is producing tons of fruit, it is a little confusing, however, trying to figure out when green tomatoes are ripe!


Well, I have to take one more walk around the garden before I head off for the day. Here's to a good rain, and a great harvest. Happy Fathers Day to all of you dads!


June 19 - morning


The Pond
Cellophane wings beating against the heavy summer air,
back and forth, all day long, the blue dragonflies
chase one another across the pond- their tails turned up like
neon scimitars poised for a thrust that never seems to come.
Occasionally, a truce is called, and they settle into place
on opposite sides of the pickerel rush, momentarily oblivious
to their war. Twice their size, the red dragonfly idles in the sun.
From time to time it leaves its perch to challenge the silhouette
hanging from the iris blade, its spent skin, as if it were a
bad memory rising from the green depths of the pond.
Below the surface, the fish school together- a current of gold
slipping between the lily pads, each aware of its place in the stream.
My reflection circles them all. Drawn to the water that both mirrors
and obscures- I lose my place for a moment- hovering
between a world of obligations and idleness on cellophane wings.
June 23 - morning
There was a hint of coolness when I took my first walk around the garden this morning,  despite the fact that this is the first official  week of summer. However, the sun is already rising over the treetops and the comfort of my pre-dawn walk will soon be little more than a faint memory.
The afternoons have been brutally hot, but that has not stopped me from  continuing the work of "editing" different sections of the garden. This week I removed two fruit trees that we had planted last year. They were impulse buys and did not fit into the grand scheme. Removing them opens up the large circular planting at the end of our cypress allee, allowing more sun in for the perennial beds. I have already planted some Mexican bush sages (Salvia leucantha) in the  spots vacated by the trees. These large perennials feature gray green foliage and long spikes of fuzzy purple and white flowers that should contrast nicely with our black eyed susans (Rudbeckia fulgida "Goldstrum") and tawny daylilies.
Over the years, I have found that it is not hard for me to be rather fearless (some might say ruthless) when it comes to editing out plants that aren't working with the garden's overall design, or  those that simply aren't producing (whether that implies desired growth, fruit, or flowers.) I find that if I don't do this editing, my eyes trip over these plants every time I see them- they ruin my vision of what should or could be. Garden plans don't have to be followed to the letter, in fact they shouldn't be, but when something really throws them out of whack I think it is better to let the plan be your guide. I am excited to have recovered what is actually a very important part of my original vision for the garden this week. I know it is hard to control those impulse buys, but you'll save money in the long run if you do. And besides, you won't be called a ruthless plant murderer when it comes time to correct your mistakes.
June 30 - afternoon
As I write this, it is pouring outside. We have received nearly five inches (12.7 centimeters) of rain in the last day and a half. Once again, Texas has proven itself to be the land of perpetual drought punctuated by the occasional flood. June is usually a dry month, but we have received at least eight inches of rain so far, 25% of our average annual total. The month has just a few hours left in it, but the way it is raining right now, we may add another inch or two to that total.
Our garden is holding up well considering the shock of going from one extreme to another. I had just finished moving a truckload of mulch into the garden before the latest series of storms- another is arriving tomorrow and I now find myself in the very unusual position of hoping that the rain will let up so I can spread it. I actually enjoy the labor involved in mulching the garden. I wish I had done it in winter when I the perennials are dormant and I wouldn't have to be so careful about working it in around the flowering plants, but, so it goes.
The chickadees are making quite a fuss outside the window, they seem to be enjoying the rain immensely. I saw five of them at one of our feeders earlier today. We also seem to be very popular with the house finches, titmice, cardinals, jays, Carolina wrens, and several species of doves. I saw a hawk fly low over the garden the other evening, and yesterday morning Victor and I listened to an owl calling from one of our tree tops.  Because of the water and food that we provide, and the growing amount of cover, we are seeing a much larger number of birds compared to last year. They see me so often in the garden that they appear rather fearless- allowing me to get very close before flying off. I look forward to their cheery company in the hot summer months ahead.
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