Zanthan Gardens meadow

April 5th, 2008

Friday dawned with a heavy downpour. So much for the promise of fine Texas weather that we used to lure all the northerners and midwesterners down for Spring Fling. Pam/Digging had arranged for the four of us to visit the beautiful gardens of Jenny Stocker. Go see her photos. They’re amazing. As was the garden. As was Jenny.

The official start of Spring Fling, our dinner party at Matt’s El Rancho, felt like a giant family reunion, even though this was the first time most of us garden bloggers had ever met. And yet we knew each other. For years we’ve shared the daily joys and sometime tribulations of our gardens. Talk immediately turned to weather, soil, seeds started, plants failed, and plans realized. Although we spoke the same gardening language, we often did so with different accents. Some say to-may-to; others to-mah-to. (Lirope? Basil? Crinum? Cercis?) Carol spoke botanical Latin while Annie held firm to the ecclesiastical pronunciation of her youth. And let’s not even mention my inability to pronounce the name of any rose I grow; they’re all French.

Being bloggers as well as gardeners, most of our conversations included references to each other’s posts, all that accumulated detail that made us feel like old friends–old friends who in many cases had never seen the other’s face, or knew the other’s real name, or occupation.

Gardening has always had a tradition of friendship through correspondence. One of the most famous, between Elizabeth Lawrence and Katherine White almost did not survive their meeting in person. Among the garden bloggers, however, I sense an immediate comraderie. This experience is so beyond what any of us envisioned when Pam tossed the idea out at us last December.

I’m running on pure adrenaline right now. Must dash off for the real beginning of Spring Fling.

Zanthan Gardens Wild
The baby blue eyes took over the back border, smothering everything in their path. I find them beautiful in their own right and let them have their way.

March 28th, 2008
The Weed Garden, My Garden Wild

At Diana’s yesterday, with Bonnie and Pam, stuffing welcome packets for the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling, I realized how comparatively few garden plants I have in my garden. I decided I’d better set expectations for any Spring Fling visitors who are stopping by before Friday’s dinner at Matt’s El Rancho. (Anyone on the Friday dinner list is invited. Let me know if you need directions.)

Noted Austin landscape architect, Ivan Spaller said of me and my garden, “[She] spends her days toiling away in a weed-infested garden…”

And so I do. My garden is big and my budget is small. So I rely heavily on weeds to fill in the empty spaces.

Zanthan Gardens Wild
Visitors are often drawn to the bright fleshy leaves of the false dayflowers, Commelinantia anomala, only to recognize them close up and say in disappointment, “Oh. It’s that.” But I love how fresh and crisp the foliage looks and who can resist a flower with a face like this?
Commelinantia anomala

I also rely heavily on the false dayflower’s cousin, the spiderwort. It was in full bloom when I first saw this house and, in part, is what made me fall in love with this place. I try to confine it to the mini-woods but it insists on popping up in the meadow, the lawn, and the vegetable garden.
Commelinantia anomala

The cilantro, which I grow to eat, has taken over the meadow. It bloomed a month before the larkspur this year and makes an excellent filler.
Zanthan Gardens Wild

I do manage my garden of weeds, edit it. In order to give it some semblance of a garden, I think it’s important to clump like weeds together–a drift of cilantro, or baby blue eyes, or spiderwort. I will pull the lone larkspur out of a clump of Love-in-a-mist. I transplant self-sown plants where I want them rather than where they’ve come up. Imposed order is what differentiates the garden from nature. And yet, in a wild garden one must have a light touch. I was made very happy when two different people asked me if my violas had self-sown (no) because they were not planted in the typical straight lines of bedding out plants.

Zanthan Gardens Wild

I think I’ve always been guided, unwittingly, by a poem I wrote when I was seventeen–before I ever imagined myself a gardener.

I am a garden wild;
Growing thriving,
Reaching leafy green tentacles
In curious search.
I am, they say, haphazard, untamed,
Existing most improperly
in a world full of gardeners.