Sunday, September 14, 2008

No Canned Salmon for Us

Well, we did have the fondue yesterday as planned, but nothing else went according to forecast. It was overcast all day, and we got a warm but vigorous wind, but as for rain, 50-mile-per-hour gusts, flooding, and other signs of the apocalypse--we got bupkes. I spent the entire day sitting on my front porch with my laptop, watching radar images of Ike slowly moving up, up, then over, over and away. Once--while I was turning on the irrigation system to water our drought-stricken plants--I felt a few tiny prickles that might have been rain drops. And that was it.

Filling up the upstairs tub with water was definitely overkill.

And the canned turkey? Matt suggested that if we'd been starving for 4 days, it probably would have tasted great. I'm not so sure. It's canned in water, so it has a bloated, gelatinous quality, rather like a drowned corpse. And it smells like cat food. We dipped a couple of pieces in the fondue, chewed reluctantly, and then Matt said, "Isn't there some leftover sausage in the fridge?"

Hurricane survival kit, now downgraded to all-purpose apocalypse survival kit. We'll be feeding the canned turkey to Po.

Fortunately, my Houston relatives fared nearly as well as we did. Mom & Dad's house sprang a leak, and there was some other less significant damage, but no flooding or tornadoes or downed trees or anything. And Mattchew & Bianca's brand-new house was fine. It has tons of windows that they had no time to board up, having closed on the house on Friday. Happily, these were unscathed.

Today was actually rather lovely up here in Elgin. A bit warm, but a nice breeze all day, deep blue September skies, and I finally did some stuff that needed to be done, which is rather satisfying. In defense of procrastination, I have to point out that finally doing these things wouldn't have been nearly as gratifying if I hadn't initially put them off until they weighed guiltily on my mind.

I planted a very lovely dark purple passionflower vine that we got from Grumpy Dave (the guy who runs Garden of the Ancients, this hippie commune-cum-nursery in northeast Austin, has a unique approach to customer service. He doesn't seem to get the rhythms of ordinary conversation, but, boy, get him started on the IRS--which he considers "treasonous"--or the outrages committed by cops, or the conspiray to silence Ron Paul, and he sure becomes voluble! And very, very indignant.)

This looks rather like the vine I bought from GD--I think it's Passiflora incarnata.

Anyway, I bought a particularly pretty, very dark purple passionflower from them. And now it's in the rose garden.

Here's why:

Distressingly huge empty blank space on our western wall

Our western wall looks all barren and mis-proportioned. It needs some sort of tall thing to join it to the ground. Hopefully, the 'Little Gem' magnolia at the front corner will grow in and take the edge off the edge, and the passionflower in the middle will make it all nicely tied together. Hopefully.

I also planted some dianthus by the front door in the two tiny little spots that I reserve for annuals. Not a big fan of annuals, generally, but I do make an exception for dianthus, especially dark red ones.

And I bought a couple more bags of decomposed granite to finish off the very end of the sidewalk. Happily, most of the stones do seem to have settled over time. The whole thing actually feels fairly solid. So apparently no special rock-settling skills are required after all.

I weeded the bur oak bed and gave it some more mulch. We didn't put any weed barrier down under that bed, and the bermudagrass has been popping up through the existing mulch like a fondue fork cuts through cheese (mmm... fondue...). However, it also has a bunch of oxblood lilies coming up. The yard had random OLs plopped in the middle of the lawn, in the shade bed, under the bananas--not good places for them. So last year we dug some up (and boy, was that ever a chore) and transplanted them. Huzzah for oxblood lilies!

The pioneers of our colony of oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida)

I also gave a little mulchly love to our two most abused saplings: our Eve's necklace (Sophora affinis) and our pistache (Pistacia texensis--I think). While we were cherishing and mollycoddling the new baldcypress and magnolia and the invalid pear, these two scrawny orphans managed to cling to life with very little help from us whatsoever. As a reward, they each got an entire bag of fresh mulch to help fight back the ravenous bermudagrass.

And I sprayed Immunox. Credit to the toxic stuff: it seems to have staved off death (once again) for 'Wild Blue Yonder', which is not only alive, but even blooming the right color--a deep, jewel-tone magenta with a white eye. While it was out, I also spritzed 'New Dawn,' 'Autumn Damask,' 'The Fairy,' 'Lichterloh,' 'Belinda's Dream,' 'Mystery Pink Globes,' 'Mystery Red Pillar,' and 'Buff Beauty.' I don't think any of them really needed it (except the Red Pillar, which has a lesion I don't like the looks of), but it's been a rough year. They don't need black spot--let alone Horrid Fungus--on top of the general droughtly misery.

I also sprayed our 'Moonglow' Asian pear. There are some signs of infection right at my most recent cuts (I don't think I have to tell you that I dipped my pruners in alcohol between each cut, so I know the infection didn't spread that way). I'm hoping to control the problem with chemicals, since pruning is obviously not working for me. I'll continue spraying 'Moonglow' and WBY for the rest of the growing season. There is a point, however, at which they are both going to have to grow a pair and starting fighting off pathogens themselves. I'm hoping that by spring they'll both have stronger root systems, and that this will do the trick. As you know, I put great faith in root health.

In fact, I should probably look for some good root fertilizer for the entire garden this fall. Something nice and organic and yummy for the soil, ideally.


Anonymous said...

All Grumpy Dave needs in the way of provocation is "Hi," or if you're really daring, "How are ya?" I was so bold once, and got an hour lecture on the merits of Ron Paul. BUT, if you pay Grumpy Dave in either gold or silver, you'll get a 15% discount!

Oh, and Ike is a PUNK.


Katie said...

But Dave's his plants are so happy. I'm wondering if he tells them a different story than he tells humans! Buy something from that unnamed nursery in Pflugerville and you'll understand what root bound really means. But Dave's plants always take off well.

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