FOLK Magazine 2013 Journal Challenge: Mary, Mary, quite contrary, DOES your garden grow?

This week’s journal challenge is tough.  What do I intend to plant in my garden–what flowers, vegetables, herbs?  Research them and find out what grows best in my area. . .
Yeah, right.  What grows in my “garden” this year will be what I have already planted and what I will buy in pots.  Being a busy mom and schoolteacher throughout most of my adult life so far has left me little time and/or patience for gardening.  Now that I’m retired, I guess folks would expect me to join the local garden club and make my yard a candidate for “Yard of the Month.”  Sorry, guess again!

I do have a garden of sorts, though.  It is one flowerbed that spans the front length of my house and was planted with azaleas that come back every year, hopefully.  At least they usually do.  Last year I planted a hydrangea bush that never bloomed, but I have big hopes for this year.  It was a sprout from my mother’s bush, and she has glorious hydrangeas every year.  I have managed to kill the last two bushes she gave me, but this one has hung on through the summer and winter, so maybe it will survive and bloom this spring!

My azaleas in 2010
Another view of my azaleas in 2010
I had just added the edging and mulch.  It doesn’t look quite so neat any more!
On the high end of my porch is a huge lantana which takes over with its tiny yellow blooms. I also have lantana around my mailbox at the road (yes, road, not street) and another one in the corner of my backyard.
The only flowers that survive in my backyard because of my dogs are those I place around my deck in pots.  But I made a barrier around my lantana with old bicycle rims (actually my mom did the work while I was recovering from surgery last spring), and it has been effective against canine anointing so far!
(post about that lantana here)
That’s about it.  I will make a couple of trips to a nursery to buy my usual red geraniums in pots to add color to my front porch and back deck, and then I will buy some bedding flowers to place in pots around the deck. Then I plan to water those babies even when the temperatures are hot enough to fry an egg on asphalt. I feel an obligation to try to keep them alive after I spend hard-earned money getting them.  Plus, I can’t be upstaged by my mother next door, which will happen anyway. . .
I haven’t mentioned vegetables or herbs.  If I feel adventurous I might try growing tomatoes in a pot.  Last year a pumpkin vine started in my flowerbed but even with watering it didn’t make it.  As for herbs, Mom’s rosemary bush is plenty big to share if I can remember to go pinch off some when I cook.
That’s me, Ace Gardener.  Don’t feel sorry for me.  I’ll be soaking up the a/c frying my eggs in a skillet while the real gardeners are trying to get the dirt off their sweaty arms.
And I didn’t even mention my allergies. . .



AT HOME MONDAY: Remember that lantana?

Remember that day when I showed you how I (or my mother) planted a special lantana flowering plant in my backyard and bordered it with old bicycle rims?  My sister who now lives in Indiana sent it to me as a get well gift after my hysterectomy in May.  It started life in a plastic hanging basket and almost died before I was able to rescue it from my porch where the floral delivery van left it.

The Texas summer sun will scorch anything green if it isn’t tended to pretty quickly, but thanks to my wonderful mother it was transplanted into a less severe environment in one corner of my backyard.  Here is how it looked the day we planted it.

And here is how it looks today after three months of 
braving the heat and three Boston terriers!

Look at the colors in those beautiful blossoms.  The grass and pink metal flamingo haven’t faired as well. . .How are your outdoor plants doing right now?  

In Texas we call these days the “dog days of summer,” but even the dogs hate it.  The weatherman says there is a cold front coming next weekend.  I’ll believe it when I see it.  Tomorrow’s high?  The forecast is 100 degrees, and Labor Day is supposed to be the unofficial end of summer!  No one told Mother Nature, I guess.  I’ll just stay inside and take their word for it. . .

Stay cool!



AT HOME MONDAY: Autumn dreams. . .

Will autumn EVER get here?  As a former teacher,  I would never have said those words because they meant wishing for school to start!  Although I generally enjoyed returning to school every August, a few more weeks of vacation would have certainly been welcome. . .

Now, all I can think of is cooler temperatures with crisp nights and the possibility of going outdoors without becoming a sweaty, oily-faced, hair-drooping mess.  At least this summer hasn’t been as bad as the Summer of 2011 when Texas found itself in the drought of a century.  Yes, I realize that this century is still new, but last summer was HOT and DRY!  Lakes, rivers, and creeks dried up, trees died, and paint peeled.  I don’t remember reports of windshields breaking, though.  That really happened back in 1980, when the sliding glass doors on our one-bedroom apartment shattered with such a large crack that I thought someone was shooting at us!  Maybe windshields and sliding glass doors are made of tougher stuff these days.

I really despise the summer heat and will do almost anything to avoid being outdoors for very long, even curtailing my shopping.  Naturally I don’t spend any time in my yard after 9 a.m. or before 8 p.m.   As a result, the plants with such promise and beauty that I eagerly bought back in the spring begin to suffer when the temperatures climb above 90 degrees.  For some reason, they don’t survive very long without regular watering.  I have streamlined my flowers so that they can be watered from the backyard deck or the front porch without me having to stand there for more than 5 or 10 minutes at a time.   The faucet and hose for my deck plants is actually on the deck so that is pretty easy.  And with a soaker hose along my front porch, all I have to do is walk to the end of the porch, kneel down, and reach to turn on the faucet.

Too bad my soaker hose blew out.  The very nerve!  And this is my second one!  The first one blew out as well!  Do you think it might have happened because I leave them out all winter?  Who wants to dig out a soaker hose from among the mulch, fallen leaves, weeds and plants, lizards, beetles, spiders, and cat poop?  Less trouble to go buy another one every year or two.  Wonder if the hoses will eventually turn to mulch?

Why couldn’t the newer soaker hose have at least lasted through one more summer?  Now, in the hottest part of August, I am forced to stand outside for a half hour or more just to give my stupid azaleas their necessary drink.  (Don’t worry, they didn’t hear that.)  I didn’t realize the soaker hose wasn’t functioning until those poor azalea bushes began to turn brown and crispy.  I figured I better start watering if I don’t want to replace every single one of them next spring.

To add to my discombobulation, my mother’s lush and green flowers scornfully harken to mine from across the yard, leering in their abundant blossoms and full leaves.  They get water in abundance, even in the hottest weather, because my mother doesn’t mind the heat.  She gets cold if it dips below 85 outside.  Oh well, maybe if I give my plants a little pep talk next time I water, they won’t notice the Garden of Eden next door.  Even this poor hydrangea which would desperately love to produce flowers if it wasn’t concentrating so hard on getting a drink. . .

Can you see the dead cow skull?  No tumbleweeds, though. . .
And for all you plant activists:  don’t worry, I watered immediately.

My outdoor cat Lucy meows louder when its hot.  It isn’t her cup of tea, either.  Can you see the scowl on her face?  Wonder if the first freeze might be early this year?  We would both be much happier. . .

Ap ril