July 8th, 2004
Jungle Fever

photo Our Jungle
2004-07-07. I’d placed a stone path here at the bottom of the hill next to the garage and interplanted it with monkey grass to slow down the runoff during heavy rains. What had once been a gravelly desert landscape is overrun with vines this year.

Returned from San Francisco to find a jungle. Flying between Houston and Austin, I saw swollen rivers brown with runoff and sheets of standing water in the fields. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this green in July. It had rained through last Thursday and the temperatures continue in the low 90s; that is quite temperate for us this time of year. Compared with the dry, cool air of San Francisco, though, arriving in Austin was like stepping into a sauna.

For anyone new to Austin gardening, this is not typical July weather. Most years we have drought. In response you plant with desert plants. Then we have a year like this and they rot. So you think, “I’ll plant replace those with tropicals.” Then the drought returns and they shrivel even when you provide copious amounts of supplemental water.

photo Our Jungle
2004-07-09. Zanthan Gardens. Canna, banana, oleander, hyacinth bean vine, and datura overgrow two rose bushes and other smaller plants which I’ll need to move out of the “tropical” bed.

My newly restored paths (washed out from heavy rains in early June) held up. The day before we left, we had some large limbs trimmed from the cedar elms in front, where they were entangled in the electrical wires. On my request, TreeMasters left the huge pile of wood chips. So, I’m happily restoring the rest of the paths and mulching beds. I carry off cart full after cart full and the pile seems just as big. Wouldn’t that be a lovely enchantment? a pile of mulch that never diminishes, always providing as much as you needed, whenever you needed it?

by M Sinclair Stevens

2 Responses to post “Jungle Fever”

  1. From marthachick (Austin, TX):

    Glad you’re posting again. I’d missed reading your journal! The photo is gorgeous, and I’m with you on the magic mulch pile. I’m about to get some wood chips delivered myself, if I can stand moving them in this sauna!

  2. From Kathy (New York):

    Not only a magic mulch pile, but a magic manure pile as well. How about a compost pile that turns itself?