During the past week and through the weekend, I considered changing the name of this blog to “Garden Warrior”. I plot and plan. I work under dangerous conditions. I am frequently under assault. At times, I might drop everything and run for cover. I hope that I’m working towards the greater good.
And last week, I got taken by surprise, a flat bad thing in battle. I don’t know precisely how it even happened, did not see the enemy attack. Clearly, poison ivy is sneakier than one might anticipate. On the bright side, I don’t seem to be highly sensitive to it, just enough to be extremely uncomfortable for the first several days.
Yep, Garden Warrior totally fits. But I digress.
Let’s talk azaleas.
Our babies seem to be faring well so far. There was a bit of a hard time with availability close to home. Here in Texas, high summer is not the time to transplant them. But when I did find a nearby nursery with azaleas in stock, I found they had a lot. So very many, all different kinds, all mixed together, all baking in the sun. And they were priced to go.
At the time (just a few weeks ago), I knew very little about azaleas, which was ridiculous considering how much information there is out there. I had not done my research. What can I say? I was going on emotion. But I had my phone to look stuff up and I had a very basic idea of what I wanted: evergreen, extended bloom-time, and compact. Our garden space is small and some azalea varieties grow taller than me. That simply wouldn’t work.
And so it began. Several hours later – I'm not exaggerating – it took me hours -- I was the proud owner of 30 azaleas. The next day, after only a few additional hours, I was the owner of ten more. I think I will hold on telling you about the varieties I ended up with. The stories of the breeders are just too interesting to gloss over. So it looks like there will be one or two more azalea posts -- until bloom time, that is!
But I would like to mention, because of the lovely story and website, that in the U.S., azaleas were first planted outdoors at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina, by plantation owner Reverend John Grimké Drayton. If I tell you the story and do not send you to the website, I'm doing you no favor. Suffice to say that it’s a romantic story. Gardens and romance – a perfect combo for yours truly. I’ve never been to Magnolia Plantation, but it’s now on my list.
I plot and I plan. I work under dangerous conditions. I am frequently under assault. At times, I might drop everything and run for cover. I strive to work towards the greater good.
Gardening in southeast Texas can be brutal. Heat, humidity, and potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes are problems for more than half the year and a dangerous combination in summer. That’s to say nothing of fire ants and other biting, stinging insects. Snakes, too, although they only make a rare appearance in my little garden. Poison ivy and oak are common and birds sow both generously.
Despite some uncomfortable conditions, I feel very protective of the wild in my garden. It’s important to know friend from foe, for example, venomous from nonvenomous snakes. Even then, it’s often not necessary to engage.
As for the bugs, it is not fine with us to hurt the good with the bad. Pesticides are banned. So are herbicides. Our beds, whether food or ornamental, are organic. And while our garden isn’t entirely native, we do have plenty of native plants that please the local wildlife as well as ourselves.
While every garden is different, they all offer challenges, pleasures, time with nature. Much like people, they have their good days and bad days, high seasons and low; and they can all be fun and beautiful if you love them enough.