July 1st, 2006
Week 26: 6/25 – 7/1

garden week 26
2006-06-28. Last week’s rain and this week’s cooler temperatures made it a pleasure to be in the garden. Why can’t summer in Austin always be like this?

Dateline: 2006
This week I was drawn into the garden still fresh from last week’s rain. The lawn was gloriously green (I had to mow it for the third time in 7 days) and an earthy dampness rose from the mulched beds–as did clouds of mosquitoes. I didn’t have to water, so I was able to spend my time weeding, raking, and pruning. I cleaned up the entire upper bed in the meadow. I scraped up the old semi-decomposed pine bark mulch from the paths to mulch the beds and then put new mulch down on the paths.

garden week 26
2006-06-26. I still call this the upper meadow even though the buffalograss was shaded out long ago and I turned it into a flower bed. During the summer a combination of shade, high temperatures and low rainfall means there aren’t many flowers either!

Some people might complain that the bed looks bare now that the spring wildflowers are gone. But when the heat and humidity return, I dislike the cottage garden style. In the heat of summer the plants and I need room to pant. I consider this my Big Bend style.

Monday (6/26) night the temperature dropped to 60! After this year’s early high temperatures in the 100s, dropping down to a low in the 60s felt like the life-giving breath of fall. Garden and gardener revived.

While temperatures remained cooler, I tried to finish up the path project so that the gravel pile would be out of the way of the construction workers this week. Yes, I know I’ve been working on this since last October but three tons of gravel is a lot of rock for one little girl to shovel.

Speaking of constuction workers, I have two distinct types. The electrician sees only his work. He tramps through flower beds, snaps branches of my roses, gets muck on the new gravel paths, and lets bits of wire and staples fall into the beds where I’ll be digging on my hands and knees. Before he arrived I tried to prepare a path for him. I moved the rain barrel out of his way, cleared out the leaf mulch, and dug a trench for the conduit. In fact, I’ve always designed my foundation plantings so that there is space to get between the plants and the house in order to paint and do other maintenance. I have tried to steel myself for a little destruction in the face of new construction; I remained calm even when he dropped a ladder on a large potted aloe and shattered the pot. Still…

In sharp contrast, my handyman notices everything. He ferreted out the coffee scent on my lawns. He was intrigued with my banana plantation (and was rewarded with a banana plant to take home). He sees how I recycle everything: old fencing to border paths, chippings from my own fallen trees for mulch, the cement chips from the kitchen counter for drainage, even old plumbing fixtures for garden ornaments. He is aware and considerate of his surroundings.

Dateline: 2002
Rain, rain, and more rain. The rainbarrel was already full from the inch of rain we received last Wednesday and the rainlilies (Zephyranthes grandiflora) were trying to open, but it was raining when we went to bed Saturday night and still raining when we woke up Sunday morning. And now on Monday, it is still raining.

This soft rain is unusual for summer; instead we usually get short downpours from thunderstorms. It looks like winter outside, but it is delightfully warm and green.

I hope that the plants are building up their strength to face the dead heat of summer. Temperatures in the upper 90s usually start after July 4th.

by M Sinclair Stevens

One Response to post “Week 26: 6/25 – 7/1”

  1. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    I’m with you on two counts, Melissa. The cottage-garden style (like mine) is great in fall, winter, and spring, but it’s a beast in the summer. Mosquitoes lie in ambush in the rampant foliage, which often looks weedy and rank in the summer heat. I end up cutting everything back in early May and again in late July or early August just to keep the jungle under control.

    And don’t you treasure those rare handymen who actually see and work around your garden rather than trampling over it? I have found a painter like that, who managed to tiptoe his crew with ladders and paint buckets through my garden with nary a damaged plant. I was mightily impressed.