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In My Garden...

June 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


What may seem like a tiny garden that could be tamed in hours has become a major project.


In New Jersey, I loved to garden.  I would spend all day outside digging new flower beds, planting, dividing plants, building stone walls from the rocks that would protrude through the earth and transplanting the native ferns and jack-in-the pulpits that would grow wild on the property that was filled with cedar trees and wild dogwood.  Our cats, dogs and children played in and around the brook.  I did not hear cars or neighbors but only the birds chirping and the breeze rustling the leaves.  It was peaceful and it brought me great happiness.  And was there anything nicer than sitting on our screened deck in the evening and hearing the rain and feeling a cool breeze? 


And I loved the wildlife that visited my gardens... the birds, deer, bunnies, squirrels, possums, pheasants, my neighbor's guinea hens and peacocks, the bats and the skunk that I did my best to avoid.


My perennial garden was filled with plants from friends' gardens and I shared mine as well.  The backbone of my garden were plants from a couple I had met when on vacation in Vermont and Mrs. Smith sent home bits and pieces of her garden divided in little baggies with names attached.  And my favorite plant of all was the plumbago with fuzzy speckled leaves and the most delightful blue flowers and the plant formed huge round clumps.  Back then, I spent many happy hours in my greenhouse starting seedlings and tending my tropical plants.


 I now live in Texas.  This is my 26th year in Texas and you would think I would have adapted but I still long for beautiful Hunterdon County where I lived all my life. 

In Texas I have the black gumbo clay soil to contend with.  If it dries, it almost takes a pick ax to get through it.  Forget about soft dirt sifting through your fingers... this is more like clods of concrete.  We spend a small fortune just trying to put additives in the soil to loosen it enough to let roots push through in an attempt to live and survive.


And then there is the unrelenting heat of summer. The best times of the year are the months of April, May and October, but come June... the heat bears down, there is little rain and the temperatures soar into the triple digits, and all those beautiful plants that I planted in the spring begin to wither and die. Why has it taken me so long to learn to plant the tough native plants that seem to survive in spite of the challenges of Mother Nature?  Back east, life revolved around the seasons but here, not so much.  


The drought has forced us into water conservation as our lakes are drying up and now we can only water twice a month. Our trees have grown tall and tower over the house and provide shade, which is a good thing, but the roots suck the moisture out of the soil; therefore, much of my gardening is done in pots.  


An hour of gardening is about all I can do at one time as the sweat trickles down my face, my back starts to ache and I get progressively more lightheaded.  This is not fun!  So each day, I do just a little more. 


The deck on the back of the house needs to be replaced but that will wait until another year; thus, it has become what I like to call my "shabby chic" deck.  It is too hot to sit outside now and the mosquitos will eat you alive but come October, I will sit on the deck and remember my garden in New Jersey as it was preparing to go to sleep for the winter. 

My small backyard garden is enclosed by a privacy fence.  By the gate, next to the driveway, I grow herbs.  The Mexican workers come once a week to mow.  Three of them jump out of the truck with mower, weed wacker and a blower and within 10 minutes, they are done and then head to their next job.  They are efficient and hard workers and I appreciate the work they do.  


So... I go to the Dallas Arboretum to enjoy the beautiful flowers.  I make it a point to thank the gardeners for making "my garden" so beautiful, with no work required on my part! 



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