The Daily Muse

A GardenJournal -- August 2002

Last Update: August 30

Our newly  lined walkway through the cypress allee.

August 5 - morning

What a generous summer we have enjoyed here in Austin! Another heavy rain fell two days ago and the garden is green, growing, and happy.

I have been nearly frantic preparing for a big garden tour that we we will be participating in. (The Garden Conservancy's "Open Days Tour" on Saturday, September 28.) There's nothing like expecting a few thousand guests to get you busy! In fact, I must apologize, I have been so busy working in the garden that I have had little time to write. I am hoping that all of that will change soon. I have a few more projects to complete before I declare the garden ready for company and then all I am going to do is keep my fingers crossed for more rain.

Last week, my big project was to line the walkway that passes through our bald cypress allee with cut limestone. I am thrilled with the result. One of the best garden design tips I have ever received came from Dylan Robertson, one of the design wizards from Big Red Sun Nursery and Landscaping, he told me that he always urges his clients to reinforce the lines of their gardens, to make them bold. Well, the line cutting through our allee defines one of the most critical "viewing corridors" of our garden, and I now feel that it is now adequately "reinforced." Thanks Dylan.

I promise to have more pictures soon, thanks for your patience. I hope to see you next month on the 28th!

August 7 - evening

As promised, new pictures. Enjoy!

From our roof, the pond is on lower left. Just above the pond is the space where our labyrinth will go. Victor is in the upper right corner watering his newly planted pumpkins. Our pathway infrastructure is pretty obvious from above.

The view towards "Possumhaw Hollow" from above.

The view over our wildflower and bulb beds towards our tool shed.

August 13 - morning

Still more rain. We received another shower over the weekend, and, as a result, our fall blooming bulbs are beginning to respond as if it were mid-September. This morning, I counted nearly a dozen oxblood lilies poking their flower spikes up through the mulch. The rain lilies are about to flower again as well. I can't believe that this is August in Texas!

The big news in the garden this week is that we have completed the lay-out for our labyrinth. After extensive negotiation between Victor and myself, we settled on using the 'Greek key' or meander pattern. (Victor wanted something more elaborate and I wanted to streamline the design, so the Greek key was our compromise.) I am very happy with the result. Now that the labyrinth is layed-out, using string and metal stakes, we can begin the work of actually installing the metal posts that will create the pattern in the decomposed granite. I chose hefty inch and a half square steel posts that should develop a rusted 'patina.' Now, all we need to do is lay them into the granite. I can't wait to get started.

Another new development will be a thorough "tweaking" of our front agave bed. As the summer developed, we realized that we used too many plants with  grassy textures. As a result, things are looking a little muddled. Our plan is to add a few more thick textured agaves and to remove some of the grassy plants. This should open the bed up and provide more contrast.

We will update with more photos soon! Thanks for visiting.

August 19 -morning

Yesterday, we installed our little 'meander' labyrinth. It is about 20 feet by 14 feet and fits beautifully into the site we had reserved for it. I am very pleased with the look of the metal posts set into the decomposed granite- it is very simple and precise looking, the smooth metal provides a strong contrast to the rough textured stone.

I have already walked the labyrinth many times, it takes about 48 steps to navigate- not enough to fall into deep meditation, but certainly enough to throw you off course when you find yourself driven by the flood of demands and distractions that our culture offers. So far, when I have walked though the labyrinth, I have thought about the meander as a symbol of a twisting and turning river. I have always been drawn to rivers, in fact, our cypress allee is another symbolic river. There is something about the always changing yet cyclical nature of flowing water that I find comforting. Whether it was the Hudson, that my brother and I would ride our bikes to when we were kids; or Big Cow Creek in the East Texas piney woods, my first spiritual home in Texas; or the cypress lined Frio of the Hill Country;  rivers and streams have always spoken very directly to my soul.

Today, I have tasks that will demand my attention, but this evening, when I return to the garden, I'll be sure to take those 48 steps into another stream.

The world is the wheel of God, turning round
And round with all living creatures upon its rim.
The world is the river of God,
Flowing from him and flowing back to him.


- Shvetashvatara Upanishad, translated by Eknath Easwaran

from Quotes, Volume Three

August 30 - morning

It feels like the first morning of autumn outside right now. Rain showers passed through the area yesterday breaking the heat of what had been the hottest week of the year (where we broke 100 degrees for the first time.) We missed out on the rain here, or, I should say, all but one minute of the rain- but I am glad to feel the freshness in the air. I have much to do today, so I have to rush off to work. Before I do, however, I will climb up onto the roof to take a few pictures of the labyrinth space and its new gate, a wrought iron arbor that we have just erected. I'll post the pictures soon!

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