Our poor garden is confused. It thinks it’s spring. Or perhaps it has simply decided to live each day to its fullest, without worrying about the future.
In southeast Texas, winter is pretty much a wonderful time to garden. Today, I spent a few hours weeding. I crawled in and out of flower beds without worrying overmuch about poison ivy, mosquitos, fire ants, or heatstroke. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and the temperature was in the mid-60’s. It was the first decent amount of time I’d spent out there since early December and it felt great.
At first, I was shocked by the size and abundance of dandelions. They usually wait until spring to really take off. While it’s true that it’s been a fairly mild winter so far, it’s still early January. We’re talking lots of dandelions. I don’t mind telling you that for a few moments I felt a little nonplussed, but the fragrance of the garden soon soothed my irritation. A brush with rosemary here, juniper there, then roses, alyssum, stock, thyme. . . It was wonderful. And then I saw them, a true sign of spring. But it’s too soon, isn’t it?
Snowflakes! Not the kind that fall from the sky, but those that break up through the soil. Leucojum Aestivum “Gravetye Giant” has proven to be wonderfully dependable and hardy. I have the bulbs growing thickly by now and intend to plant more. I only hope that they’ll keep blooming for a while.
What’s that saying? Hope springs eternal? Or is it spring hopes eternal? Does spring give us hope or does hope give us spring? Let us take a clue from the snowflakes.
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.