Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pruning my physical and mental gardens.

Rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) in front.
I’ve been tidying the flowerbeds and yard this past week.

It had crossed my mind in recent years that some of this work need not be done by hand, though of course that is the most peaceful way to accomplish the task. However, as my gardening time is limited this year, on Sunday I gassed up and restrung the weed eater and took the tops off of zexmenia, dried out grasses (trying to avoid the little bluestem), blue mistflower, live oak seedlings and anything else in my path.

Yes, it’s faster, and yes, it’s less peaceful.

I’ve trimmed by hand, also, cutting back the lantanas, flame acanthus and autumn sage. There is more to be done, and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.

Narcissus (Narcissus tazetta italicus) with
Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) behind.
I really enjoy this time of year in the garden. Removing brown, shrubby, messy foliage and leaving behind bristling clumps (a.k.a. dormant plants), variegated brown mulch, and small sprigs of green poking their heads up here and there is rewarding. After cutting back a large area of new gold lantana, I discovered the narcissus bulbs planted a few months ago have come to life, with leaves several inches high. Big smile.

I can see clearly the limestone outlines of the beds, rocks painstakingly collected and arranged. Later in the year, plants will spill exuberantly out of the beds obscuring those borders.

I wish I could enter my mind and clear it as effortlessly.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if one could prune the mental deadwood away?
(One would have to use hand clippers; a weed eater would be entirely too ruthless for this job, and the noise would echo off the inside of one’s skull.)

The sticks you see are new gold lantana (Lantana 'New Gold').
Cutting back the deadwood exposed violets (Viola missouriensis -
I think) and oxblood lily foliage (Rhodophiala bifida),

Imagine cutting away dead limbs of imagined insults, useless worries, baseless grudges, unpleasant memories. Imagine leaving only useful knowledge,   hopeful plans and lovely memories, in a clean, organized and peaceful mental garden. Imagine hauling all that ugly stuff far away to decay.

Imagine a brain like a Zen garden.

Stepford wives probably had Zen garden brains.

All that ugly, unpleasant stuff contributes to who I am, of course. The trick is to encourage that stuff to compost internally and enrich my little brain. To keep it from poking and prodding here and there, interfering with healthy, positive thoughts.

When next I am working on cleaning the garden, I think I’ll visualize tidying my mind, also. I won’t try to clear-cut either one, but will prune and neaten as necessary to encourage beautiful growth.

I know this works in the garden. We’ll see if it works in my head, as well.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My daughter's view of nature

Tree frog found when we were cutting drought-felled trees.
My daughter (age 11) has been roaming the great outdoors with a digital camera in hand over the past several months. She likes getting very close to her subjects, and she's gotten some nice shots. I like that she is outdoors exploring nature up close and personal!

Silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea) (above and below)



Ashe juniper berry.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

Wood-sorrel (Oxalis drummondii).
Since so many of these are foliage shots, I am linking to Pam at Digging's Foliage Follow-up meme. Foliage is an excellent thing to focus a camera lens on at this time of year, when blooms are few and far between.

We hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

GBBD: A day late and many blooms short.

Lantana montevidensis
As usual, I am posting for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day a day late, and this time it’s many blooms short, too.

Yesterday was very cold and gray, and I chose to stay inside near the woodstove. The lighting was terrible for photography, I told myself.

Today is still cold but quite beautiful and sunny, so I set out in search of blooms. They were sparse. I guess that’s to be expected in the winter, especially in a drought year.

Last week I saw a lone prairie fleabane bloom, but found none today. I’d hoped to see a wood sorrel blooming, but alas, it is too early. The only wildflower even attempting a bloom was a thistle I’ve yet to identify, because it is pesky and I don’t like it. No identification.

White trailing lantana.

The only other blooms were in my garden and on my porch:  trailing lantana. A freeze nipped the white awhile back, but it continued blooming. It is quite striking with its white blooms and blackened leaves. The purple lantana grows in pots by my south-facing front door, where it has been just warm enough to weather the light freezes we’ve received so far.

That’s all I’ve got.

You should visit May Dreams Gardens, host of GBBD, because I’m sure flowers are blooming somewhere in the world, and her site will lead you to them!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Here comes the sun.

After two weeks or so of cold, gray, drizzly weather, followed by a nice rain, the sun has emerged!

One of my favorite parts of winter:  the little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) turns rust! I did not realize this grass grows nationwide, and throughout much of Canada.
I bet it's lovely against a white backdrop . . .
Sickness engulfed my household over the holiday break. Day after day of that Oregonian weather did not help matters. I would go off the deep end if I had to put up with such weather for months on end. Apparently I live in the right geographical state for maintaining a healthy mental state.

Some thistle - this is likely its prettiest phase.
Spider web adorned with moisture.

But a bountiful rain (a relative term) over the last two days has led to a beautiful day, with everything looking fresh and clean and sparkly. My sense of well-being is directly related to the amount of sunshine I’m exposed to, so I’m feeling pretty good right now!

I have always just called this nolina 
(Nolina lindheimeriana), but it has a really fun
common name:  Devil's shoestring!

This morning I ventured out with the camera to see the sights and enjoy the sun and cool breeze. I was astonished to find a single wildflower in bloom, took pictures of drops of water beading on leaves, checked on the bluebonnet seedlings (yes, they have germinated!), listened to a few ecstatic birds, and thoroughly enjoyed communing with nature.

Winter is not over, of course. More rain is forecast for this weekend along with a “polar” cold front, as a weatherman termed it. Of course “polar” in Central Texas does not mean the same thing as it does in Alaska. Perhaps we will get a freeze out of it, perhaps not.  My daughter might feel moved to wear her boots rather than her preferred footwear:  flip-flops.  Or not.

The Texas redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) is so confused.
It normally blooms in March, but it misunderstood the recent warm weather!
I hope wherever you are the day is as gorgeous as it is here, and you get to spend some time enjoying it!

Plains or prairie fleabane
(Erigeron modestus) -
the first wildflower
of the year!

Prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida - left) and
bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis).