Backyard Path

     When we had the backyard landscaped from nothing but dirt to rock and desert trees and plants, we had a path put in.  It follows the rectangular shape of the yard all the way around.  It is so much easier to enjoy all plants, bushes and trees by walking near them on this path of crushed granite instead of walking on the rock.  The path is also lined with solar lights, and I enjoy the soft glow from them at night.  Sometimes I take my daily walk on this path instead of around the neighborhood.  Today I checked out my trees, bushes and plants.  The nectarine tree has buds and a few blossoms, all the sissoo trees are growing new leaves that were damaged by frost, and the two chitalpa trees are leafing out.  I found two hibiscus that have a few green leaves, but nothing on the rest of them yet.  And several of the fourteen bougainvilleas are just starting to show leaves at he base.  The weeds have no trouble growing through the rock that is spread as a base all over the yard.  The weeds and rock.  That's desert landscaping.

Flower Garden Flourishing

pansies and petunias
     Things are booming in the flower garden.  The strawflowers and gallardia that suddenly reappeared in the last few weeks are covered with blossoms.  The pansies and petunias I planted last fall are blooming away.  I have annual flower seeds which I planted this week:  dwarf zinnias, marigolds, blue dianthus, white zinnias, red zinnias, and cosmos.  I have never planted dianthus from seed.  Egads, the seeds are microscopic!  It took such finesse to handle them.  I held them tight in my palm and plucked a few at a time to plant because there was a slight breeze.  They are difficult to plant because they are hard to handle and disappear into the soil.  You don't know where you left off when you take your eyes off the furrow you are planting in to pick a few more from your palm.  You have to guess at the place you stopped when you drop more seeds.  We'll see how they grow.  There is now a rapid pace to spring.  Everyday another plant seems to burst into bloom.  What will I find tomorrow?

Backyard landscape

unlandscaped back yard
     After moving here last spring, our backyard was nothing but bare dirt for months.  In June we had the back yard landscaped, and I put in a flower garden.  This was mid-June, mind you, and it was 108 to 110 degrees daily.  My husband put up a tent for me to work under, so I wouldn't be burnt to a crisp, and so that I would be able to stay out there planting for more than five minutes.  I planted what was being sold at that time:  Mexican heather, vinca, celosia, gallardia, strawflower.  Most either died back or stopped flowering after a month or two, except the vinca and celosia.  The frosts of fall and winter put a stop to those.  When I examined my
putting in the flower garden
garden a week ago, the Mexican heather is green-
ing up, and all the vinca plants that I thought died
have green leaves growing on the brown stems. 
The gallardia and strawflowers have suddenly re-
appeared and are budding.  Last spring I bought flowering bulbs (daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips) that are sold in pots at the grocery store.  When they died back, I stored them in the garage all summer in the 110 degree heat and planted them this fall.  Almost all are coming up!


flowering plum tree
     Ah, March 1.  Meteorological spring! The promise of more and more light every day and warmer temperatures.  I live for this time of the year .  It's finally warm today.  Can't quite thin my vegetable seedlings.  They are still too small.  I walked around the yard to check things out.  The purple flowering plum tree has blossoms, but nothing on the nectarine tree yet.  The orange and grapefruit trees are ok, but the lime tree is not looking good.  It has lost half its leaves from the 26 degree weather we had a few weeks ago.  I bundled it from top to bottom in old sheets and bungee cords.  But the wind was howling with 30 mph gusts.It tore the sheet open  and almost pulled them out from under the cords.  So I filled my jacket pocket with safety pins from my sewing box.  With frozen fingers I pinned the sheets from top to bottom and wrapped three bungee cords around each tree. I figured if that didn't hold, I didn't have another solution.  I'm sure professional growers have better solutions.  But I am an amateur, first-time citrus grower.  I barely got everything covered before nightfall.  But maybe that wasn't enough.

Birds and morning glories

bush morning glory
     I heard birdsong today for the first time.  Seems so late here.  Where have all the songbirds been?  Of course the mourning doves are back in full force with their somber, distressing and irritating cry.  Ditto for the grackles.  I don't hear much from the songbirds because there are so few of them.  They are far outnumbered by the doves and grackles.
     Just noticed my bush morning glories have burst into bloom!  I have several sprinkled throughout the back yard.  

Yard and Garden Check

square foot garden
     It still hasn't warmed up.  Going to be 52 for the high tomorrow.  Been below normal for two weeks.  But good news!  My vegetable garden is coming up! So far lettuce, radishes, chard, and spinach have come up.  I also see tiny green leave sat the base of most of my lantana.  Not a hint of anything growing on the hibiscus or the bougainvillea.  The couple of hard freezes we had turned all the leaves and flowers brown on them.  The bougainvillea will probably be all right, but the hibiscus, don't know.

Flowers and Vegetables


purple pansies

       After wrestling with this desert climate for a year (this climate is formidable!), I am beginning to learn what flowers and plants do well here.  I went to Lowe's.  That's the only "garden center" around here.  They had a so-so selection of spring plants.  Nothing that would compare to the real garden centers back east, because not a lot of showy annuals grow here even with irrigation.  When the temperature hits 100 or more and stays that way for 120 days most flowers give up.  I purchased purple and yellow pansies.  The pansies will do well until  mid-April.  The petunias I bought will stop flowering in June.  I got some soil to put in a vegetable garden.  My husband built me a raised bed to plant my vegetable seeds.  I will plant spinach, chard, lettuce, radishes, carrots and later put in tomato and pepper plants. A salad garden.  I will plant the first seeds today.  Maybe nurturing some seedlings will provide some anchoring to this place.

Sense of Place

Virginia flower garden

     I've lost my sense of place.  I finally figured it out.  Since moving here last spring, I no longer belong to where I came from, but don't belong where I am now.  My heart is having difficulty embracing this dry, dusty, semi-rural area in the desert southwest.  I really miss the green, humid mid-Atlantic.  Oh, to see real trees with leaves as large as my hand.  I was thinking about my old home and yard yesterday.  I could picture where every piece of furniture was in every room, all the pictures and photos on the walls, the curtains on the windows.  I mentally walked around the yard and saw every flower and bush I ever planted:  the helleborus, the 200 daffodils, the brunnera with its heart-shaped leaves and delicate blue flowers, the pink and white azalea bushes, the climbing hydrangea on the back fence, the nandina bushes with their colorful red berries, the aromatic summersweet, my David Austin and Knockout roses, pink coneflowers, black-eyed susans, my purple clematis and midnight salvia, hardy geraniums, the blue periwinkle around the base of the oak tree, the golden arborvitae and American boxwood bushes, the cherry tree in the front yard and the holly bushes in the back yard.  I miss the green grass and all the flowering and leafing.  I am a displaced person.