I Don’t Know What Happened

As you may have noticed, The Unruly Gardener site has a new look. I was fortunate enough to be able to consult with a professional, and he spent ninety minutes patiently tutoring me in the magic of WordPress. I learned as much as my superannuated brain could hold in one session, but a few details remain elusive.

Today, for example, the draft I’m working on does not match the look of the “preview,” so I have no idea what the published post will look like. I apologize for my ongoing blogdensity, and only mention these details because I wouldn’t want you to think I work in a constant state of inebriety.

That’s not even the “I Don’t Know What Happened” I meant to talk about. What I meant to talk about was an episode that demonstrates the unpredictable and yet totally predictable outcome of an Unruly Gardener’s visit to a nursery in early spring.

I know, I’ll blame the two oldest grands. It was this last Friday morning, and they were still on Spring Break, so they were spending the day with their Dad and had no need for me to kidsit. Then there was the 7 a.m. appointment for the Prius’s 25K checkup. If I was going to be out and about that early, why not make an early visit to The Natural Gardener (http://www.naturalgardeneraustin.com/)?

If I must place blame on some aspect of my own otherwise impeccable personality, let me blame the fact that I can never quite believe my plants are really going to grow. Perennials that freeze to the ground leave me in a state of anxious distrust, and a new flowerbed often doesn’t looks like it will amount to anything at all.

Example: three years ago the sidewalk garden began with a stretch of weeds that had seen noDSCN0109 attention other than occasional mowing for at least two years prior to our arrival. The drought had by that time cranked itself up to genuine “scorched earth” status. Floyd rented a tiller and set to chopping up what looked like dried brown plaster. The mind casts a merciful veil, but I’m pretty sure I worked a yard or two of compost into that crumbly mess.

The plants went in at the intervals indicated on their labels. DSCN0587For once, the Unruly Gardener was following directions. Things looked promising but sparse. Lacking a reasonable quotient of common sense, to fill in all those sad empty spaces, Yours Truly threw in a bag of assorted wildflower seeds from Native American Seed (https://www.seedsource.com/), a resource you should really know about. I had used their seeds before, but somehow managed to forget that they have a roughly 200% germination rate, if such a thing is possible. It doesn’t seem possible.

Evidently it can happen. DSC_0171If I say that one of my dumb flaws as a gardener is a persistent failure to allow myself space to step between plants, is that like someone accusing themselves of workaholism during a job interview? As I said the other day, weeds happen. It’s a lot kinder to an aging back to leave room to step in and remove them.

Well, there I go again: starting off on the wrong confession.

What I wanted to talk about was what happened at The Natural Gardener two days ago just because I was up and about early and didn’t have Travis with me. (It’s not that they don’t love Travis out there; they do. But it’s easier to choose plants and push a nursery cart of steadily increasing weight over gravel paths when you don’t have a dog on a leash to manage.)

I don’t know what happened. All I know is, my early spring garden had been looking a little sparse to me. We’ve had a very challenging winter. So I was wandering around, thinking about nothing in particular but envisioning much larger empty spaces than reality seems to support. At the nursery, as you know, there are always some plants you’ve never tried before, or new varieties you haven’t seen (the two new Blanket Flowers, for instance, are “Fanfare Blaze” and “Mesa Yellow,” rather than the usual yellow and orange Gaillardia). With one thing and another, some two hundred dollars later…

It took the rest of the day to find spaces for everyone, but Travis and I managed. Then I decided I really ought to label the new kids, because I inevitably forget DSC_0044what the heck they are and then find myself in the embarrassing position of being unable to name names when passersby inquire. Hmm, I tell them. Well, I think that’s a sage? 

I didn’t really feel like venturing into retail world again, so I made little flags with white duct tape and satay skewers from the tofu satay with peanut sauce that I love to order from Sap’s over on Westgate Boulevard (http://www.sapsthai.com/) .

What did I plant DSC_0042besides pincushion flower, whose purple blossoms dry into brown pincushion-looking objects? I’m already looking forward to showing you their progress this coming season. Here’s as much of the list as I can remember:

Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) – 2
Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) – 2
Brazilian Bachelor’s Button (Centratherum intermedium) – 1
Lion’s Tail (Leonotis leonurus) – 2
Mexican Firebush (Hamelia patens) – 1
Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum superbum) – 1
Mexican Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) – 1
Four-Nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa) – 2
Perennial Geranium (Pelagonium sidoides) – 1
Gaillardia (Gaillardia grandiflora) – 2
Gopher Plant (Euphorbia lathyris) – 2
Orange Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) – 2

Oh, and there were the half dozen little numbers I picked upDSC_0009 because my favorite pot of succulents had been left out during the last freeze and turned, predictably, to mush. They’d lived for years in an old aluminum roasting pan that had belonged to Floyd’s late aunt Villa Belle, and I wanted to refill that pan. So, succulents.

And a couple of bags of compost. And a few items for a new herb garden. Not the full-sun herb garden, but the one in the steel planter with the cage in which I was supposed to grow tomatoes (the cage is to keep out rodents). Well, it was in full sun for tomatoes, but when I had the good sense to give up trying to grow tomatoes we moved it to the other side of the yard where it doesn’t get enough sun for tomatoes. All it had going were two kale plants and one scented geranium.

Should be a perfect place for herbs that can’t tolerate full sun:

Italian flat leaf parsley – 2
Mint – 2 kinds
Lemon balm – 2
Purple sage – 1

The full sun herb garden is full, so I don’t know where I’m going to put the six pots of basil.

I don’t know what happened.

2 thoughts on “I Don’t Know What Happened

  1. Ed Parsons says:

    Well, Dr Sis, your technically chalanged brother seems to be ready to join the 21st century. Looks like my next step will be to join (GASP!) Facebook. Much love, Bro

    • I am deeply impressed. Hope you enjoy the blog, and Facebook is a great place to get lots of birthday wishes. Oh, I forgot. You are too old to want birthday wishes.

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