Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Hardscrabble Plantation of Benign Neglect

No garden, per se.

HAHA.  That doesn't mean a lack of PLANTS...

Just plants that love to grow, despite inattention from their owners.
Yes, they get SOME attention, mostly admiration.  And some water.  And a good start in life.
But they are survivor plants.
I will mention some below that, thankfully, have survived us.  Not meaning we're dead and they aren't.  But meaning they've survived because they are suited to this climate and they soldier on without a lot of attention.  Many of them are perennials.  Even choosing not to put in a tilled garden, or even so much as an official raised bed this year, we can still enjoy these greenies, many of which have edible uses, or even multiple uses beyond their already valuable existence.

Or maybe they are simply evidenceof our human weakness despite our best intentions when looking at mail order or in garden stores.

At any rate, we belong among our plants, even if they are the good-natured little green versions of latchkey kids.


Jack's home from his night shift and gently snoring in the other room.  I have time for a quick update.

He and I tamed the savage beast called Our Yard a couple days ago, but we seldom feel that need for the adjoining lot we also own...we let it stay fairly au naturel, since we're not in a manicured subdivision.  However, the general area IS manicured enough that we have to maintain our *ugh* lawn (one of the most worthless of inventions the world has ever known) since we (yeah yeah yeah, cue the same refrain...) are keeping it somewhat curb-appeal-ish for selling some day.  Maybe not too far down the road in time.   But anyway...

It's consistently warm...even HOT...enough to take inventory of what plants remain in the ranks of survivors this year.  We had several hard freezes this past winter, so there were casualties.  But from the looks of things at this point, here's an idea of the plant population other than bermuda and weeds:

1.  Gynura survived in pots, sheltered under shrubs and on back porch.  We're now at the point they're big enough (again) to make more cuttings to root (again).  Yay!

2.  About 12 clumps of moringa, and counting, all sprouting and growing gangbusters daily.   Time for some leaf harvest soon.  Again, yay!

3.  Two of the three guavas are back.   The nice big one may have bit the dust.   The gangly little sidekick sheltered next to the BU5GBM ( Big Ugly 5-Gallon Bucket Mountain whose days are numbered) made it.  (As did the one annually reappearing among the weed patch we refer to as our field)  This does not ensure the survival of the said BU5GBM, only that we've learned that clustering the sophomore trees and plants during winter is crucial to their endurance.

4.  One of the two languishing fig trees made it.  They were in pots for years, in a patch of what came to be overgrown who-knows-what, growing in symbiotic fashion (as all eyesores love to do) and indiscernable as anything but another big ol' clump of tall weeds.  I broke up the relationship, mowed down the rather woody weeds (well, Jack mowed them after I chopped them all to the ground) and repotted the one vigorous fig to a new location right up against a larger clump of moringa.  I'm hoping the shade works its wonders.  The other fig was down to a withered root, so it went composting...

5.  Both aloe veras stayed the course.

6.  Rosemary, check.

7.  Yerba Buena, by a nose.

8.  Loquat tree, check.  Make that loquat three...Jack installed two more.  He is a complete loquat enthusiast now.  They can take the freezes AND the heat.  And they produce fruit (only ours haven't yet...maybe next year).   And they're attractive.  He's in tree love.

Birthday acquisition of:

9.  1 mulberry tree (please survive, my friend)

10.  2 small plum trees (more like sticks with leaves...2 different varieties for pollination)

11.  A different kind of Gynura with purple backsides to the leaves, 1 pot

12.  And a sweet potato plant (I have to learn to grow these to be worth my salt as a southerner)

13.  2 non-stinging chaya plants, going strong!

OK, back to the other non-birthday plants that are happening...

14.  1 three year old chaya plant, the stinging kind, getting bigger every year

15.  1 jujube whose little upstarts multiply every spring, making it more of a jujube clump

16.  Several basic viburnum (not the fancy flowering kind) baby bushes Jack has been planting for windbreaks, screening

17.  2 survivor grapevines, no fruit

18.  1 confederate jasmine vine that did the Rebel Yell to me in a garden center recently

19.  2 new thryallis (golden shower) shrubs (yayyyy!!!!)

19 1/2.  (oops, almost forgot)  2 tibouchina (not sure which variety) baby shrubs with gorgeous purple flowers

20.  1 clump asclepias (butterfly weed)

21.  2 recovering papayas

22.  1 clerodendrum (blue butterfly bush)

23.  Several walking stick kale babies

24.  1 ground orchid

25.  1 survivor Surinam cherry bush

26.  2 soapberry bush babies and several surviving transplants of same

27.  2 bushes whose names escape me, but hardy to sun and with nice foliage that flower dark blue-purple flowers

and drumrolll.......

after MUCH anticipation, more anticipation, and excited nailbiting, we have the privilege of being sent some

28.  Purple Leafed Tree Collards  (!!!!!), due to arrive any day now (soo soo excited!!!)


29.  We're finally putting in some Jerusalem artichokes in some of the more naturalized areas.

not to mention the

30.  Pentas, assorted, flowers

31.  Zinnias


32.  Ruellia Brittonia gone nuts (Mexican petunias, blue flowers), naturalized on the steep slope adjacent to the shed, along with some interspersed butterfly weed

33.  2 dwarf cavendish banana plants, hanging in there till we hopefully get a wet season

34.  1 Mystery volunteer squash vine climbing the walls and anything else in its way

That's about it...till there's more :)   And these are the things we have going while "we're not growing anything"...ha!

Oh...there is one patio tomato plant.  I would have to turn in my Girl Raised in the South card if I neglected to have at least one token tomato while the sun doth shine.

How grows your garden...or, like us, your "we're not growing anything this year" collection?  ;-)



Um...Garden Centers = My Kind of Crack

Recent (as of round trip to garden center and back now for a few minutes) plant additions:

2 Black Prince heirloom tomato starts (!!!!!)
2 Yellow Pear heirloom tomato starts (!!!)
2 German Johnson heirloom tomato starts (!!!)

and a cucumber vine of some variety

and two burgundy pentas starts

and a couple more butterfly weed starts

and a partridge in a pear tree...

:)  Robbyn

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Comfrey Demure

(click any picture to enlarge)

The Heat's On!

(click any pic to enlarge)
Volunteer mystery squash blooming and fruiting...

Butterfly weed making itself available for Monarch fly-bys and feasting...
Gynura procumbens cuttings sprouting...
Comfrey in bloom...
Confederate jasmine perfuming the air...
Jujube tree rapid new sucker growth...
Zinnias defying the heat with colorful impunity...
Birdbath surrounded by carpet of spring growth...
Grapes repositioned from buckets to trellis made of fencing sections turned upright...
The gorgeous proliferation of edible stinging chaya, back from the freezes once again...
Moringa cluster (left) as a nurse plant/semi-shade for the transplanted Brown Turkey Fig (right)...
The jujube...last year's thorny branches still not showing leaves, but new growth from the roots galore...
Sunflower seed escapees sprouting under the bird feeder...
Some flowers encouraged to naturalize...or is it we're lazy gardeners?  ;-)  We want those pollinators!
No trellis?  No problem...shrubbery will do just fine, ma'am... fruit this year, but we LOVE our loquats!
Pentas singing their siren song for the butterflies...
A couple of hardy blooming shrubs added here and there...can't remember the name of this one, but love the blooms!
Smaller mystery shrub, different type, with small jasmine-type purple blooms...
Jack's new favorite way of propagating moringa...sections of old branches stuck into the ground in the fall...voila, now it sprouts!
No shrub is safe from The Vine That Would Be King
Plum tree!!!   There's another variety near by...hope my baby plums make it...I love plum trees!
The ugliness that will later become another patch of moringa...even amidst the bermuda...
Porch the back is the ground orchid
Buckets o' babies
What's a picnic without some ants??  (this is said very sarcastically...we are overrun with the ants)
Ya take a chaya branch cutting, ya stick it in some potting soil...more edible shrubs on the way!
A sure sign the world renews itself and blooming things...and Passover!!  Next year in Jerusalem :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Old 45s

Yes, I'm of the generation that knows what the old 45s are.  And today, I'm the old 45 !!!!!  Older, and feeling very vinyl in this world of laser and digital and virtual and viral, and not wishing it otherwise. 

I painted my toenails, took the day off tomorrow, determined that today nothing would keep this smile off my face despite a big bleach splatter right across the whole right side of my new scrub top, waking up an hour early due to inadvertently re-setting the time on my alarm clock instead of setting the alarm, and drama drama drama on the job.  But the truck ran, the wipers worked even in a downpour, the house smelled like fresh baked banana bread, our clothes are clean, my dog loves me, my daughter phones for long talks, the AC works, and Jack still laughs at my really lame jokes and kisses me a lot.  And I got some really wonderful emails today from friends (thank you!)

We might do nothing special tomorrow, but even that will be something special if Jack and I can have it together.  The rains came today and there is an actual springlike cool outside tonight that is simply delicious!

I have the last two chapters left of the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series to curl up with beside my unconscious and slightly-snoring hubby.  And plenty of South African Red Rooibos tea to inhale (it smells wonderful) and savor.  My house is halfway clean, which percentage-wise means I'm 100% content relaxing in it if the lights are low (ha!)  

One of my clients is well cared-for, but frighteningly lonely and anxious.  She weighs on my mind a lot.  Today, we decided to begin a project.  Each time we're together, we'll write some of her memoirs.  Maybe paper and pen can anchor in words some of the parts of herself she fears she is losing.

"One day at a time, one moment at a time..."  I say those words aloud, but I think I need to hear them as much as she does. 

How quickly those days and moments have added up to the number 45.   

Memory is the only precision instrument needed for instant replay.
And like those songs on the scratchy, comfortable vinyls,  the sound can get stuck repeating in the darnedest places.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Doggit !!

Dear Dog,

I hope you enjoyed your impromptu picnic.  Or maybe it was a Progressive Dinner?

I don't recommend ripping through black plastic only to be rewarded by the day-old juices left in the wrapper from the previously raw turkey.  But taste is subjective.

I hope the fist-sized lump of week-old rye bread satisfied.

And the tin can lids...well, a little.

And the fact that you enjoyed it in SO MANY DIFFERENT SETTINGS....the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the hallway, the bedroom. one can say you aren't well traveled.

I didn't have to stomp my foot, raise my voice, or even scowl.  You have THAT kind of intuition...we are on a finely-tuned wavelength.  You have ESP.  You greeted me at the door as I arrived home, and then promptly put yourself in Time Out in the back bathroom.

My silence was eloquent.  Your artistic flair was evident all across the white tile floor.  Yes...I was...floored.

I've had my two cups of red tea, and I'm calm.  Calm after cleaning up my floor that only yesterday I had mopped and shined.  No, really, I'm not upset.  Not at all upset about the concept of smearage being smeared smearily allll across it.  (Remember how much I LOVE to clean floors...)

You're truly irresistible.  Yes you are, oh you have determined your Time Out is over, and you're back with your halo repositioned, as if nothing ever happened.   Yes, yes you are!

You look at me with hopeful eyes, thinking there is further food fun in store for you, though I have to say I do remember very well what the contents of the trash was before you became the Canine Garbage Recycler.  Your brown eyes may try to work their magic, but I'm strong, even stalwart, at the moment.  Your taste is questionable, but I have no doubts... you are replete.


P.S.  If you have a relapse, a moment of intestinal deja-vu... along the lines of daring to lick the frozen flagpole, going where eagles dare,  crossing through No Man's Land just for the thrill of the chase...

Knock yourself out.

I already took the trash out and changed the liner.  The two used teabags I just discarded there are for your sole enjoyment. 

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Not gone

...just working, sleeping, eating, working, sleeping, eating.

Shall get back here somewhere in between one of those!

My numbers change in two days.  I'm aging fast.

I'm stumping for a fun day to the ECHO global test farm, to see what multi-purpose edible plants we can discover ...and adopt!  Shall take camera if so.  If not, I shall bore everyone again with pics of all the dormant plants that have sprung back to life in the near-90s heat we're having now.

Update, news, pics, and final giveaway soon.  Till then, I'm embracing my Inner Geezer and getting actual sleep at night instead of staying up at the keyboard.  The job is going well and I'm good and tired by evening.  Sleeping the sleep of the somewhat mischeivous-yet-fairly innocent...

Doesn't make for exciting blog text, but I have a few subjects up my sleeve for some stolen moments here...

1.  Rooibos, aka, Bush Tea
2.  Purple Leaf Tree Collards
3.  Jack's new propagation technique (even more Benign Neglect as successful growing, ha!)
4.  The removal of The Pole Thing
5.  The alien concept of The Dishwasher
6.  I Can See All Floor Surfaces Now (or Cleaning for Passover:  the good, the bad, the cathartic)
7.  OMGosh It's Almost Passover and we have to Hurry Up And Eat the Leaven
8.  Working With the Elderly is SO VERY COOL At Times
9.  Fat Dog, or Vet Confirms Some Animals Have No OFF Switch
10.  Disgruntled Dog, or Mom Has Me on Gulag Rations
11.  Eating The Actual Plants We've Now Spent Several Years Writing About

And so on.

I'll be back between hasty pre-Passover cleaning  and guilty pleasure occasional OLD Hulu back-episodes of Hell's Kitchen.   And any in the series of Number One Ladies Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith I can keep unstocking from my local public library. In which plump women are not termed Fat, but rather, Traditionally Built.

Maybe this summer, what with the heat and everything, I'll manage to become less traditionally-built ;-) 

It's for now, sleep.