Posts Tagged With: Plants

Wild Ones and Volunteers

African Daisies still going bonkers in a few spots.

African Daisies still going bonkers in a few spots.

My wildflowers reach the end of their life cycle this month. MSH keeps insisting I just need to water them. To appease him, I have drenched the poor worn out plants with copious amounts of the precious resource, to no avail. Well, that’s not exactly true. The weeds appreciate the extra moisture and show their appreciation by growing a foot in a day, or at least it seems they do.

No, sad to say, my wildflowers have simply reached the stage in their life cycle where they produce seeds and then let the winds scatter their progeny willy-nilly. By time a healthy seed head appears, the plant itself has given its all, nearly five months from peeking out of the ground to now.

This seed head looks promising.

This seed head looks promising.

Now’s the part of the wildflower process where the hard work kicks in. If I want to share any of the seeds, which I like to, then I gather the puffs of seed heads into a bucket and distribute them into Ziploc bags. These little guys, African Daisies, will grow in almost any climate, even in a regular garden bed during late spring and summer, as long as they get the full sun.

It’s a little trickier gathering the California Poppy seeds. They form in long pods after the flower bloom ends. The seeds aren’t much bigger than a grain of sand. I gather the pods before they open and let them dry out in a container. When the seeds are ready the pod splits open on its own and releases the seeds where they fall to the bottom of the container.

The other much harder part of wildflowering in my rock covered desert landscape is that every plant must be plucked from the ground and disposed of. Usually I pull a few plants a day as they slowly die off, which isn’t too difficult. But this year, there are more plants than ever and we had a really hot patch of weather last week that sped up the process of end of life.

So I’m faced today with the task of cleaning up the dead and dying. It’s a little sad. The yard starts to look bare and desert-ish again. My flowerpots in the shade of the front porch provide my only color fix out there.

Yet in this undertaking (excuse the pun) I have hope, because hundreds or probably more like thousands, of seeds have fallen among the rocks and next years bloom looks promising.

I suppose what I love about wildflowers lies in their self-propagating properties. They voluntarily show up, without any work on my part.

If you aren’t familiar with gardening terms:

“a volunteer is a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a farmer or a gardener.” ~ Wikipedia

I once had a tree seed blow in and grow in the middle of a series of garden beds. Turns out it was a Brazilian Pepper Tree that grew very quickly. In a matter of three years I had a tall, full tree that provided shade for a south-facing kitchen window. Another time, in the middle of a compost pile, I had a cantaloupe vine grow that gave out the sweetest fruit I’d ever tasted.

Unplanned, yet perfect, colors in my garden.

Unplanned color in my garden.

All winter I had meant to plant vegetable seeds in the open spaces of my back yard flower bed; combine utility with beauty for a perfect combination. I set in a few tomato plants, but that’s all. The deliberate planting never happened. Life and death and illness took hold for a while and got in the way of my good intentions.

And yet, almost miraculously, my back yard flowerbed overflows with nearly all volunteers this spring. Some flowers simply survived the very mild winter, with only one night of below freezing temperatures covered by a sheet. The red Penstemon apparently throw out seeds because they’re spreading and blooming proficiently. A few Sunflower seeds planted themselves from last years batch and have made themselves comfy among the Romaine lettuce and Petunias. Marigolds reseeded themselves as well and threaten a yellow takeover once they start blooming. And Cosmos, with their feathery stalks have already flowered in neon pink, the children of last years few seeds I tried for the first time.

Looking out the back window provides a view of this unplanned but stunning flowerbed at all times of the day.

Not being in too much of a gardening disposition this past winter, I’ve been lucky to have so many plants volunteer to brighten my life. Sometimes, in spite of lack of attention, or maybe because of it, nature sends surprises to delight and lift and cheer.

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Categories: Gardening, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Life Gives You Snails, Make Escargot

Day seven of Mom’s new adventure. She’s working with several different kinds of rehabilitation therapists about four hours a day and then resting from the hard work of it all. She can walk with assistance. She’s speaking better everyday. Remembering names is sometimes a bit tricky for her. She has some right side vision neglect that they are working on. She still has her sense of humor and expresses gratitude and love to everyone who visits or helps her out in any way.

&&&&&

We lived in the Northwest for a few years once upon a time. Humid and cool, opulent with growing things. We picked wild blackberries, rock climbed, camped, collected shells in the too cold water below the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

Winters were mild, with a couple of rare days of snow. Summers were cool and cloudy.

English: Snail Perfect weather for snails to c...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perfect conditions for snails.

Yes, snails.

Slimy, slow-moving, bulbous shelled creatures of shadow and night.

They left trails of slime across the screens and sidewalks. And the destruction they left in a flower bed aggravated me to no end.

I tried a few remedies. Beer in a bowl, useless. Slug and snail bait, laughable. Salt, only if applied directly and mercilessly. I finally gave up planting flowers when I realized how addictive they seemed to snails.

I imagined the little slime balls after a night of debauchery in the flower beds, drunk on the nectar of blossoms and stems, fuzzy headed with the liquor of leaves and roots. I chose to stop enabling their habit and consequently stopped planting the hopeful pops of color in my garden.

That would teach them a lesson or two.

But no, it didn’t. They simply slimed the screens and sidewalks with more vehemence in search of their drug of choice. Finding no flowers to wreak havoc on, they slimed my yard more and more.

Why am I bringing this up now? (Besides the fact that the weatherman keeps taunting us with a 20% chance of rain as if a deluge is likely any moment.)

Those slimy snails remind me of negative things; sadness, anger, hopelessness, frustration, meanness, selfishness.

Those emotions seem to leave a wake of slimy yuck behind them. I feel the aftereffects of aggravation long after the source of the emotion dissipates. Sadness lingers. Meanness replays itself over and over in a mental movie of hurt. And selfishness hovers like a skunk that passed by hours ago.

The residual effects of negative emotions stick like slime.

Negativity and pessimism act like addictive substances. One angry thought invites another until a whole room of anger buzzes and jabs. Anything in its wake takes a hit and comes up fighting. Slime trails wander everywhere.

Gross.

The cure?

French cooked snails

French cooked snails (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know. (We don’t get many snails here in the desert.)

Sunlight, maybe?

Heat, perhaps.

Escargot tastes delectable if done right. Saute’ in butter, add a bit of garlic, a pinch of fresh parsley. Mmmm. Some crusty french bread on the side.

Ah yes, there’s the ticket.

Yummy.

That’s no answer. I realize that.

Or is it? Try this one on for size:

When life gives you snails, make escargot. 

Laughter often sparks more laughter. I’m pretty sure that hope can be contagious. Smiles seem transmittable. Kindness often avalanches into more kindness. Determination to succeed, to overcome, to soldier forward feels healthier and happier.

Can I choose positive emotions over negative? Sure. Is it an easy choice? For some, yes. For others, not necessarily.

In the face of hardship, illness, unkindness, hurt, abuse, loss, suffering or setbacks, choosing the plus side takes audacity. It requires mettle to move forward, keep trying, be kind anyway, turn the other cheek, forgive, smile or to look at the alternate path as a new adventure.

Yes, I know. Not too many people like the idea of eating snails, no matter how wonderful a delicacy. But, you never know until you try if you’re gonna like ’em or not. Or maybe you don’t mind the slime trails and flower bed destruction. More power to you for being so resilient and easy-going.

Either way, life is full of surprises good and bad. How we weather those surprises, as gifts or troubles, makes all the difference.

Categories: Gardening, Nature, Outdoors, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Neon Purple Pansies Brighten a Bare Spot

Astounded at the depth of color with that little burst of sunshine in the center, I snapped this photo of some Pansies in my garden. There’s some slight variation in the purples, almost neon in some, bluer in a few others.

purple pansies

Nature always manages to surprise and delight me.

Lately I’ve watched as the seeds I planted a week ago push through the ground, transformed into minuscule green leaves. Amazing! I understand it, but I don’t.

I’m also never sure why some spots I plant turn green and flourish, while others remain a blank landscape of soil. That’s a mystery, too.

Pansies appear just as temperamental as seeds. Not four feet away from these beautifully abundant blooms, struggles a similar Pansy plant, barely managing to put out a couple of pale blooms, the foliage equally pale. Why is one thriving and the other just hanging on? Both plants are in the same bed, same soil, same watering schedule, same sunlight. I’m clueless.

I find it fascinating to see children from the same family, like these plants, respond to the same conditions with completely different results. So too, can people respond to troubles and challenges that seem the same, with vastly different results. Every seed, every person, every situation, varies in subtle ways. Combine those tiny variances and the resulting differences can become huge.

That’s what makes a garden so delightful; the different shades of colors, heights, hues, patterns, textures, not just between species but within the same plant family. Those combinations can complement and play off one another in a spectacular way.

Gardens and people, two of my favorite unpredictables in life. Never sure of what’s going to pop up next. Always some nurturing required and some love given back in return. Anticipation and hope in every single day.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Construction Phase Complete. Wildflowers Run Amok!

It’s happened.  My wildflowers bloomed!

It makes me smile to look out and see sunshine growing right outside my front door.

Right now it’s happy African Daisies.  Bursts of yellow and orange wash across the front yard.  A few more weeks will bring the soft velvety orange of California Poppies.

wildflowers springJust today I noticed the first shoots on my red yucca plants. These become beautiful sprays of stems filled with succulent reddish-orange flowers. Once these bloom Hummingbirds hang out near them like kids near candy shops.

There’s a very small patch of low growing purple Lantana smack in the middle of this nonconforming riot of color. It’s supposed to spread out into a four or five foot swath every spring and summer, but this one’s been anemic and barely manages its bits of purple.  Maybe I need to have a daily chat with it, encourage it along, and tell it a couple of jokes.

Just to kick it up a notch

I’ve also got some pots near the front door filled with fun pops of bright annuals. And there’s a fifteen-year-old Pothos plant which was once an indoor dweller, but now lives in the shade outdoors. It could use a trim and a fresh topping of soil, but otherwise it adds a nice cool green to the mix.

On the other hand

The back yard is a work in progress. I’m grateful that a brick wall surrounds it almost six feet high.  I’ve planted my vegetable gardens but those seeds are being stubborn about sprouting. And I’ve got a decorative raised bed that’s got its own little story which I won’t go into, but I could do a whole post on. It’s a tale of woe and aggravation. You’d be bored, trust me.

Nonetheless

Spring has sprung here in the desert. It’s a short-lived season of joy and jubilation before the blast of summer punches us full on.

I’m going to enjoy it while I can, every single day.

Categories: Gardening, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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