To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow...

September 17, 2016  •  3 Comments

Thanks to the tornado... we have downsized from a two story home with soaring ceilings and light flooding into each room to a modest little cottage (as I call it), to end our days.  It is on one level with a living room, small dining area,  kitchen, bedroom, two baths, two computer rooms and a laundry room.  Just enough space... and not too much.  Oh... and did I forget to mention, a very small backyard with privacy fence?  This is the suburbs of Dallas, you know.
 

We are now in our 70's... a scary thought!  Where did the years go?  Life is different now.  Body parts ache that never ached before and I find that I tire more easily.  The hopes and dreams of younger days are gone.  Time is not on my side and I have come to see life differently.  I am thankful for each morning I can put my feet on the floor, stand up and enjoy the simple things in life.
 

But... I still need to "believe in tomorrow"!  I need something to look forward to.  I am not talking about expensive trips, or extravagant shopping forays, but simply, something to hold my interest on a daily basis.  I have become very frugal in my old age. 
 

The house we bought has a simple rustic stone path curving across the back and the side yard, behind an 8-foot privacy fence.  It is a shallow yard area with nothing planted and to the side of the house... a huge cottonwood tree.  Initially, I loved that tree until I found out that a cottonwood is one of the fastest growing trees and has menacing roots that had already infiltrated the foundation of the house.  Not good!  When the wind blew... the leaves sounded like the tinkling of rain, but I worried that the tree might fall on our house or the neighbor's house in a bad wind storm. It should have never been planted there.  It was a disaster waiting to happen... and I have had enough of disasters!  It was a spring day when I decided to eat lunch outside and found bits of "cotton" floating in the air, directly onto my lunch.  That's when I decided that the tree had to go!  Thanks to Danny and his crew from Arborworks, that tree became history in just a few hours!
 

My next plan was to have a flower garden.  This lousy clay soil is dreadful to dig in and there was no way I could physically do the digging, so I hired Covington's nursery to plant a Natchez crape myrtle and to dig a flowerbed along part of the pathway.  They amended the soil and dug me a proper garden... a lot of hard work in the heat of the unrelenting Texas sun and they did a marvelous job!
 

I watered the crape myrtle tree as instructed but suddenly, after a 107-degree day, the leaves were scorched and the tree looked to be dying.  So... was it transplant shock, and would it survive?  Very much like the tornado did to me... initial shock but then, a will to survive.  I did not give up hope and in a few weeks I saw some new green leaves emerging and even a few blooms and now the tree looks robust and healthy again!  Yes... to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow!
 

But wait... here is the problem.  I love nature.  I used to live in the country in New Jersey on nearly 3 wooded acres.  I loved it there!  It was quiet, peaceful and wildlife and wildflowers were outside my back door as well as a little brook and pond area.  Why did I ever move to Texas?  I still ask myself that on a daily basis!  I needed a bit of nature now, more than ever in my life, and I was determined to make my little flower garden my tiny oasis... my getaway... my escape.  I started planting a few perennials along with some annuals, things that I knew could survive the Texas scorching heat.  Summers are incredibly long and hot here and not all plants adapt and now, with the tree gone, I had no shade!  This would be a garden of trial and error.  A huge learning curve!
 

Did I have a plan?  No, not really... just flying by the seat of my pants.  If I liked it, it got planted, and very slowly my little garden was taking shape.  Those delphiniums that were so beautiful when planted, suddenly were looking sad as the summer heat wore on.  I do love blue in the garden, but was it a mistake to try to grow them here?  I don't know.  Only time will tell.  Some things lived and some things died.  My sunflowers that I planted from seed gave me great joy as they stood tall and faced the sun and I will definitely plant more next year.
 

And then I had a brilliant idea of planting some sweet potato vine to help fill out the garden and give it a pop of chartreuse color.  But... would they survive in the heat and sun?  I planted a few, and then planted a few more.  They not only survived but proliferated.  They were running rampant and trying to strangle the plants that were already there.  A couple times a week I would go out and clip them back and filled half a garbage bin on a weekly basis with the trimmings.  Yikes!  What had I done?  I sure made myself a lot more work and if I stood in one spot for any length of time, they might even strangle me!!
 

Each morning I start my day with my little black pug, Mollie Sue at my side, and we sit quietly in the garden together.  Living here is not like living in the country.  There is constant noise!  I have to tune out the drone of air conditioners, cars going by, dogs barking, children playing, planes flying overhead and the sound of sirens in the distance.  This is the price you pay for the convenience of shopping close-by, medical care nearly on your doorstep, and being close to family.  So many trade offs!
 

But suddenly, my attention is on the birds coming to the feeders... purple finches, cardinals, doves (Eurasian collared doves, white winged doves and mourning doves) and an occasional blue jay.
 

 And then unexpectedly I will see a shadow fly by and see a butterfly flitting amongst the flowers or a dragonfly perching on top of a stem. 
 

 How excited I was when I discovered a little green lizard.  I named him "Andy" Anole and before long there was another and I named her "Andrea" Anole.  And now, there are babies.  The one I call "Anatole" Anole and I have not yet named the other one. I sit and talk to them and they sit quietly as I ramble on. 
 

We play a game called "Spin the Lizard".  Here's the technique...
 

"Anatole" tries to hide in amongst the flowers in the hanging basket.. 
I am holding my camera and macro lens with my right hand.
My left hand is beneath the basket giving it a gentle spin.
"Anatole" pops his head up.
I stop the spinning basket and take a photo.
 

He hides... and we do it again!
Now, that's CrAzY!
 

                          
 

I have had a similar experience with a mourning dove that comes each evening and sits with me and does not seem the least bit afraid.  He will come within arm's reach and we have a one-sided conversation but he will occasionally cock his head as though he is listening to me.  I have named him Lucky.  The one day he visited in the afternoon and was not about to let me out the back gate to pick up my grandson from school.  He would not budge until finally he saw me opening the gate and he took off.
 

And then there is the garden clown.  I call him "Quirrel".  He is a bit skittish but will go through all kinds of antics to get to the bird feeder and devour all the sunflower seeds.  And when he sees me... there is no time for small talk.  He takes off and climbs the fence holding on with his sharp little claws.
 

As I sit in my little cottage garden, I have my camera in my hands to document the activity in my urban oasis.  My biggest surprise came when I was shooting the fritillary caterpillars on the passionflower vine.  I was using my macro lens and concentrating on getting the caterpillar in focus and when I put the photo on the screen of the computer, there was a huge surprise!  Near the caterpillar was the one-and-only Andy Anole!  I shrieked with joy when I saw him and could not believe that he was right there and I never saw him as I was taking the photo. 
 

Honestly!  Photography is better than therapy!  It just keeps me happy.
 

It seems that each day there is a new adventure.  I look forward to my time spent in the garden and it has given me reason to believe in tomorrow!.       I invite you to come into my garden, sit for a while, smell the flowers and watch as the wildlife in my garden plays out.  There is never a boring day, but sometimes you must take the time to look a bit more closely for the beauty and drama as it unfolds. 
 

Yes... to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow!          
 


 

             
 


Comments

Lee Hatfield(non-registered)
So glad you have your beautiful oasis in the middle of the metroplex! Great place for all the flora, fauna & you! If each of us can provide a place for the birds, bees & butterflies, we can help offset all the local destruction of habitat that's being done in the name of progress & development! Hugs!
Donna(non-registered)
Lovely posting and garden! I have been enjoying your occasional pic on FB but am glad to read the story of your urban oasis! Enjoy today and tomorrow Fay!
Annette Wadsworth(non-registered)
Fay, you take such beautiful pictures! I enjoy all of your heartfelt stories as well. Looks like you are making a fine new start. When you have a moment, I hope you will share your new address. Miss you!
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