The Daily Muse

A GardenJournal -- September 2002

Last Update: September 27

The "meander" labyrinth just after installation

September 3 - morning

Yesterday, a good friend took me to his secret place- an undeveloped bit of Hill Country on the grounds of his employer's high tech campus. Just a few hundred yards from a building holding the most sophisticated equipment imaginable, he has created a trail that leads through a dense cedar and oak thicket. We were searching for "holey" limestone, the so-called honeycomb rock that you find scattered throughout the hills. He knew that I love using these stones as accents in my garden and wanted to show me some that he had found. As we walked through the cedars I was struck by the effort he had made creating the trail and by his intimate knowledge of the area. He told me of his encounters with deer and other wildlife, including a long "stare down"  with a fox in one of the grassy clearings we passed through.

As we walked, I imagined him escaping to this place in the middle of the day. He called it his meditation place, and I knew that it must be meaningful to him- that the sense of isolation and shelter offered by this little spot of wilderness were powerful tonics to an otherwise hectic  life.

Eventually, we came upon the cache of holey stone, and it was a good one. My excitement was contained only by the fact that I  knew that any stone I collected had to be carried out. That did not stop me, though, from hauling out several outstanding (and rather heavy) specimens. Today, they are proud new additions to my garden.

I feel honored to have been asked on this little expedition. By taking me to his private retreat, my friend was revealing to me a little bit of his soul. Now, whenever I think of him, I will find it hard not to imagine him alone with the fox- two pairs of eyes meeting in a clearing surrounded by sheltering trees.

The path through our composite and bulb beds

September 8 - morning

Waves of thunder showers, the remnants of a tropical storm, are sweeping over our area. The rain broke what had been our longest stretch of hot and dry days this summer. Yesterday, we recorded just over two inches of rain and more is expected today. Appropriately enough, our "hurricane lilies" and other fall blooming bulbs are all responding. I have the sense that the worst of summer is now behind us, that the long slow transition to autumn has begun. (Believe me, I am knocking on wood!)

Some of our oxblood lilies were pink!

This week we repaired a window in our bedroom that now provides a critical link to the garden from within our home. The window sits on axis with our hallway and can be seen from the very front of the house. When I designed the garden, I started with that "view corridor" in mind. The only problem was that a very decrepit old window unit air conditioner blocked about half of the view- it was a terrible eyesore both from within the house and from the garden. Now, that is history, and I can stand in my lving room and look down our hallway and see our pond, arbor, labyrinth, and other garden features all framed by our restored window. When I teach my garden design classes I always talk about the importance of connecting your interior and exterior living spaces, and now, finally, I have connected mine.

The "long view" with our pond and labyrinth

September 16 - morning

A gentle rain is falling and the weather has cooled down with the passing of the first front of the season. In a few days the autumn equinox will mark our passage into my favorite season.

This past weekend was a busy one for me- I overhauled the primary flower bed in our back garden, removing a plant that had engulfed it. Dicliptera, or "king's spear," is a good plant for this region, but one that seems to grow to the size of the bed in which it is planted. When I first bought a few plants last year, the label said it reached a height of eight inches. That year, I planted some in a bed with our amaryllis, where it grew to two feet, burying everything else. This year, I tried again- thinking its orange flowers would make a nice contrast to the purples, yellows and whites of our composite flower bed. What was I thinking? We suffered the same result, but this year, at a different height- in the watered expanse of the composite flower bed the dicliptera grew as high as four feet. So, once more into the "tweak." After much work, order has been restored. I felt like an archeologist unearthing the remains of my initial vision for the composite flower beds. I kept discovering coreopsis and echinacea that had somehow survived beneath the fuzzy expanse of dicliptera leaves.

Once again, I have learned the lesson that it is better to stick with the "plan" and trust my original vision. Next year, I will attempt to add one or two dwarf tithonias to the bed. They are composites, unlike the dicliptera, and they are blazingly, defiantly ORANGE. They are also supposed to grow no more than two-three feet tall..... Gardens do grow on wishful thinking!

The allee with potted agaves

Another view from our roof

September 20 - evening

I thought that the graphic below would be interesting for those curious about our "meander" labyrinth. This animated gif (or illustration for those not into techno talk) starts with the classic Greek key pattern, also known as a meander, and then arcs out to form a classic labyrinth. Pretty cool!

September 27 - morning

It is early in the morning the day before the big "Open Days" tour of our garden. I will be very busy doing all the last minute things you do when you are expecting a thousand house guests! I just wanted to post a quick note that says how much we are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. When I close every Central Texas Gardener television program, I say "I'll see you in the garden." Well, this time, I mean it! Come on out and enjoy the day with us. (Brochures and tickets for the tour are available at Gardens on 35th St. and The Natural Gardener.)

Continue to October 2002

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