Monday, January 10, 2011

On apples

Salvia 'Indigo Spires' on left,
Oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida) on top.

I’ve been having a great time cleaning in the garden. You know, cutting back plants, digging up unwanted volunteers, and neatening my outdoor space.  This really is a lovely time of year to be outside in Texas. I actually worked outside on Christmas Day – 42 degrees F., north wind blowing, and bright clear sunshine falling all about.

All this work soothes the part of my soul that craves order, I realized one day as I watched my nine-year-old daughter rearranging the spice drawer. Apparently the apple has not fallen far from this tree.

I really like imposing order on nature at this time of year. I am proud to look out over a bed, neat clumps of plants surrounded by fresh mulch, limestone rocks lining the beds visible again. Perhaps I’m soothed by the shades of brown coordinating so pleasantly.  Plus, all this cleaning up and pruning will result in a more beautiful garden next season.

Ah, order in my universe.

But there is a contradiction in my soul and garden.  In the growing season, I tolerate – nay, embrace – chaos in my yard. Volunteer plants need not fear me, for the most part. My lovelies sprawl out of their beds, seed out willy nilly into the yard, erupt through the boards of the porch, encroach on walkways, twine about potted plants, tumble over into heaps. When I mow my yard, I wander this way and that, avoiding wildflowers at all turns.

Yarrow, limestone and live oak leaves - lovely!
This, too, makes me happy.

My father, who is an urban gardener, is sometimes dismayed by the unruliness of my beds and yard. In his environment, order is de rigueur. Beds are neatly edged, and mulch provides a palette against which the well-behaved plants display their wares. A lush green lawn surrounds all.  It is lovely and I admire his artistry and hard work.

At this time of year, as I happily cut and clip, rake and shovel, and revel in the neatness of my garden, I realize maybe this apple didn’t fall so far from her tree, either.

Favorite spot in the garden today:

My favorite spot today is anything green, as it is a gray, dreary, cold day in Hays County. Specifically, my daughter and I are cheered when we see the spring green of oxalis, a.k.a. pink woods sorrel. It is not blooming yet, but is flourishing with the cool weather. Surely spring is not too far away!

We do have native oxalis growing on our property – a yellow weed (Oxalis Dillenii or O. stricta – not sure which) and a lovely deep pink (O. Drummondii). The one in my garden appears to be O. crassipes, which is native to Argentina (according to Perennial Garden Color, William Welch), and has pink blooms in springtime and fall. It does seed out gently, but is not a pest. It fades in the heat, but reappears in the fall.


  1. You make me realize how much I enjoy this cleaning time too. It really does give alot of satisfaction. But 42 is alittle too cool for me. I need 50s, but in TX that's still much of the winter.

  2. Well, I'm a big wienie, so normally 42 is too cool for me, also. Not sure what possessed me that day. Maybe I just needed to get out of the house!

  3. Yes, winter is a good time for us to get the garden in order, instead of hibernating in the house. I like to do some preparation work before the growing season too.

  4. Wooooooooooooooooooowwwwww!Mom,you've really outdone yourself this time!Brown is hardly anywhere in your beautiful garden.Plus, i agree, 42 degrees f. is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to cold.

  5. Very nice photos! I especially like the Yarrow, limestone, and Oak leaves. You are fortunate to have green things growing in January. Our high here in Wisconsin today was 9*F. Enjoy!

  6. @PP - Oh, my, that's cold! Please feel free to come visit my warm blog site anytime!

  7. @Paul - oh, but it is tempting to hibernate, isn't it?