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Showing posts with label plant names. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plant names. Show all posts

Saturday, August 8, 2015


 Joe added something important to our garden this week - a tree swing for Nora!  She has not yet been here to try it when it was cool enough to be out there.  106 - 108 degrees this week is forecast!  But it is almost mid August and we are looking forward to swinging and singing before long. We have a front porch swing that all of our granddaughters enjoy.  Recently, Maddie took her root beer float out to sit in that swing.
I remember the swing on my front porch when I was Maddie's age, and also the swings our little boys loved when they were growing up. There is magic in pumping your legs to swing higher and feeling the air rush past. There is such sweetness in remembering the calls to "Swing me higher, Daddy!" and "Please push me." I know our age is one of cell phones and tablets with online games and countless diversions that can be held in their hands, but I so want to offer our sweet girls the choices of spending time outdoors, finding beauty in nature, letting imaginations fill their stories with wonder. I want to encourage them to watch for the caterpillar and chrysalis and butterfly, and which plants are good for that. I hope they will make necklaces from 4 o'clock blooms, crowns from sticky weed, and make mud pies. I want them to love rubbing herbs in their fingers and knowing its name by the way it smells. I long for them to collect rocks and seeds, to feel the wonder of cool wet dew on bare feet,  and listen for cicadas in the trees in summertime. I want to enjoy eating watermelon and popsicles on the back porch with them, watching for bird nests, listening to birdsong, planting Morning Glories and Moonflowers, using a watering can to give the flowers a "shower."  And swinging.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Our Garden

April showers might have brought May flowers, but so far May is bringing record setting low temperatures. Here on the Gulf Coast of Texas, by this time we are usually working to keep cool instead of wrapping up to stay warm.  Yesterday another cold front literallty blew in.  Wind gusts took my patio umbrella up and away, and tree branches have been whipping so hard the new leaves are hanging on for dear life.  I put on my coat and did a quick walkabout to check for garden damage, and am pleased to say it is slight.  Here is a photo walk through!

As in the photo of above, our antique roses are thriving in the cooler temperature. The colors are intense.

             Petunias, not to be outdone by the roses, but they will never muster that kind of fragrance!

      Tuscan Kale and Swiss Chard - ornamental, but also edible. Organic gardeners, we can eat our        borders!  We already have tomatoes on the vines, and a big bed of hot peppers.

       These flowers make a tasty addition to salads.  Nasturtiums, a favorite in my herb garden.

Daylilies hold up their reputation of blooming in spite of temperature - but usually that is a reference to hot!

This amaryllis has had more blooms this year than anytime since I planted it.  

Look at the blooms on this Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow bush my friend Debbie gave to me.

Sweet little nosegays of Forget-Me-Nots

This pot of geraniums on the porch makes me smile.

There are tiny Meyer lemons, the Satsuma is blooming, and the fig tree bravely sports baby figs!

Post a comment and tell me what is greening and growing in your garden!   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beating Heart, Blooming Rose: A Story of Friendship

I love growing antique roses. Every time I tend mine or bring bouquets in to grace our kitchen table, I am reminded of the dear friend who first introduced me to “old roses.” I had never been much inspired to grow roses, appreciating the beauty of long stemmed hybrids, but avoiding their need for pampering. Marcia told me about robust roses that are so hardy they grow on old tumbled down homesites and along fences. Once I realized that each one had its own unique story and fragrance, I was hooked. I pored over catalogs, and planted Sombreuil, Mutabulis, Maggie, and Crepescule. My rose friends’ stories blend now with my friend Marcia’s story, and that of her husband, Bob.

Bob was crazy about Marcia. Marcia adored Bob. Her nickname was Moose, and she fancied cats and roses. The cats were a pair of vocal chocolate point Siamese named Mikhail and Nikita and were Bob and Marcia’s babies, but the roses were their passion.

Marcia had picked out her wedding dress and envisioned a wedding long before she found Bob when she was in her mid-thirties. During their pre-marital counseling sessions with Marcia’s pastor, Bob was asked what one thing he would change about her if he could. He said he would give her a healthy heart since she was born with a hole in her heart and developed Eisenmenger’s syndrome which meant her heart and lungs were unable to provide her with enough oxygen. That didn’t keep her from her photography business but it made keeping up with physical activity hard for her. It also didn’t keep her from loving Bob and planning a life with him.

After Bob heard Marcia say she always wanted a rose garden, he bought 80 acres of fertile South Texas Gulf Coast land to plant neither rice nor cotton, but thousands of rose bushes. They drew up plans, pored over catalogs, and began choosing roses. When the first 2000 rose plants arrived, Marcia directed the planting from her hospital bed. A group of us who called her friend went out to plant the roses with Bob’s help.

Two pacemakers later, she was placed on a heart transplant list. Finally, Bob and Marcia and the cats moved to Nashville, TN to be near Vanderbilt University Hospital while she waited what they thought would bea few months to receive a heart and lungs. I went out to their rose farm a few times to help pot cuttings as their plans to open a shop and nursery were postponed. Many of their family and friends did what they could to help maintain the plantings. Time dragged on over 2 years, with Marcia in and out of the hospital as her need became greater. Because the need for organs so far outweighs donors, Marcia once said “There’s just no ordering from the Land’s End catalogue.” That may have been a quip, but certainly not a joke. In order to increase awareness for organ donation, she allowed a reporter and photographer to follow her for 4 ½ months in the hospital, a story later published in the Nashville newspaper. In the series of articles, Marcia and Bob's love for each other and their deep faith dominated the story of their courage.

Bob worked from her hospital room and their apartment on his computer and was her chief encourager. One day he filled every pitcher, Styrofoam cup, and container he could find in her hospital room with Texas roses which he had flown to Tennessee. He brought Mikhail and Nikita for visits because she missed them so much. Her Dr. OK'd this when he found out how much it helped her.

The day came for Marcia's rare heart and double lung transplants in April 1999. Recovering, she returned to Texas with pink cheeks, a grin, and enough air to play her flute as well as honor a promise to a friend to be in her June wedding. In her absence, friends and family had planted, rooted, and tended endless cuttings and rose beds. Bob built her a house. Early on they had planned a gift shop, tea room, and wedding chapel for their antique rose nursery and display gardens named The Vintage Rosery. Together, now they worked side by side, nurturing roses, increasing public awareness of organ donation and organic gardening, and kept all the commitments involved in maintaining Marcia's health. Together, they prayed and played, keeping the dreams alive, celebrating the opening of their gardens only 2 years after her transplants. For the next 5 they grew their garden and introduced customers to roses.

On a brilliant fall day, a line of cars miles long drove through the arches at the Vintage Rosery past masses of climbing yellow Lady Banks and fragrant Madame Alfred Carriere drifts, along the beds of multicolored Mutabulis, Maggie and pink Duchesse de Brabant next to rows of Souvenir de La Malmaison. They passed by the stream with its covered bridge and saw a tiny chapel. As people got out of their cars, they walked by a charming yellow house with a kitchen garden and fragrant herbs lining paths. By the lakeside, they gathered to honor Marcia and celebrate her life.

The following month, a “For Sale” sign hung on the gate. Bob held a moving sale. Marcia’s mom helped him. I went, weeping as I bought some of Marcia’s herb and antique rose books. As friends and strangers walked through the house and gardens, they saw “Rose Bushes - $10.00 each”, “Garden Books - $5 each”, “Gardening Tools -$15”, “Cutting Baskets - $7” I miss my friend. But I see her when I walk among my roses.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Now You See Them, Now You Don't

Spring to Texans includes watching for the mounds of Bluebonnets which begin to beckon.  This year, the Bluebonnets have been both plentiful and beautiful, a result of the perfect combination of rain and temperature.  But they were 3 to 4 weeks  earlier than usual.  Before some folks  had made their way out the stretches of Texas road that are usually the best for photographing the spreading quilt of early wildflowers which include Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush, the showiest patches of them were already beginning to seed and fade. I have heard people say these lovely blooms, the Texas state flower, were the best this year they have ever seen.  The blanket of blue in this photograph was only a few miles away from my home, and just down the street from my son's house.  The developer of this neighborhood had the forethought and insight to sow bluebonnet seeds and avoid mowing them before they had a chance to bloom.  We might never have made it an hour's drive out to see the country bluebonnets, but these town flowers got the same result - Wow!

It is traditional to take pictures when the Bluebonnets are in full bloom.  Here are a few we took while Maddie and Jordann were visiting a couple of weeks ago!  The Bluebonnets are almost gone, but the little girls are coming back for Easter! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Together, Alone

I enjoy participating in an online reading group.  We take turns leading a book each month.  For July, I am moderating discussion questions for this book.  I bought the book and Susan signed it at a Story Circle Network conference in Austin shortly after it was published.  During my second reading, Together, Alone draws me once again to examine the power of place in my own story.

Monday, June 6, 2011

8 Ball Squash

I was only recently introduced to a new vegetable.  I have been eating different kinds of squash all my life, but who knew there was a zucchini called 8 Ball?  Named for its perfectly round shape, this squash can of course be cooked like any of the other summer squash.  However, it is beautifully designed to be stuffed.  I admit this is a little more trouble than slicing and steaming.  But the results were pretty enough to photograph, and tasty enough to write down the recipe.  I took a short cut by purchasing a frozen risotto with asparagus and mushrooms from the local supermarket, but it would be even better with a rice mixture made from scratch.
The old idiom "behind the 8 Ball" definitely does not apply to this dish!

                                                        Stuffed 8 Ball Squash

2 Medium to large 8 Ball Zucchini
1 package frozen risotto mix (I used Asparagus and Mushroom risotto from HEB)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup sliced Kalimata olives
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tablespoon butter

Slice off tops of squash, scoop out centers, but do not discard.  Melt butter in saute pan, add mashed up squash centers.  Cook, stirring to break up the squash, for 3 minutes.  Add risotto mix, nuts and olives, and stir to mix. Add parmesan, mix, and stuff squash shells, pressing down then mounding stuffing slightly.  If desired, use the squash tops which were trimmed off  to perch on top like little hats.

Note:  Instead of the prepared risotto mixture, use cooked rice to which you can add grated cheese, raisins, chopped green onion, herbs, and nuts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Palette of Tomatoes

A favorite gardening project, growing tomatoes has taken wings the last couple of years.  Not only are we growing more tomatoes, but most of them are heirloom varieties.  I am intrigued with being part of  sharing history and story.  Heirloom vegetables are grown from seeds passed down by many generations in a family and shared.  Last year, our family voted one heirloom our all time favorite.  It is one of the very first known "black", or deep dusky rose colored tomatoes, and is called Cherokee Purple. It was named in 1990 by. Craig LeHoullier  , who received seeds of an unnamed cultivar in the mail from J. D. Green of Tennessee. Mr. Green indicated that the "purple" tomato  was given by the Cherokee Indians to his neighbor "100 years ago".

We love the color and taste of this tomato, and enjoy thinking about others who have liked it enough for over 100 years to share it with others and save the seeds.  We have at least 2 dozen tomato plants.  Some of the other heirlooms are named Black Plum, Brown Berry, and Purple Russian.  Did I hear you say you thought tomatoes were red?

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Is Your Name?

It is a cool cloudy day following our rains yesterday, so I planted the pepper plants Joe and I bought a few days ago. 19 of them!! Green and yellow Bells, Gypsies, Anchos, Habaneros, Cayennes, Mucho Nachos (giant jalapenos)  and Chili Pequins (tiny, but 8 times hotter than a jalapeno)...all levels of the Scoville scale.  We already have tomatoes setting fruit.  I like planting heirloom varieties.  This year we put in Paul Robesons, Tliacolula Pinks, Black Cherries, Money Makers, Cherokee Purples and Juliettes.  The only hybrid plant I put in is a Better Bush.  It may give me a more predictable harvest but I love the different shapes and colors of the heirlooms.  Truth be told,  I love the names, too.  Whether it is a rose or a vegetable, the name calls me first.