Garden Notes

From 2003-2005 original site

A Cottage Garden | Tips on Gardening | Notes - 2003-2005 


November-December - What a challenging fall it has been. Writing & editing the infectious diseases book has been enormously consuming. Then the clinic situation changed and I became board chair. These situations + teaching and work at the clinic have been a huge overload & gardening has fallen by the wayside - along with church & other important parts of life. Now we are at least caught up with the writing & a clinic director is starting the 1st week of January.

About the garden: I have done nothing except for harvesting a few flowers - which is what prompts me to write. It is after Christmas and we still have roses! Fresh-cut Marie Pavié blooms & flowers in the house for Christmas! What a great rose this is. Old Blush is also blooming - for the first time as it appears in photographs. Flowers brighter, larger, more fragrant. I guess it took a year+ for the bush to reach its potential. Other roses also blooming sporadically. Sweet allysum continues the show. Maybe this all goes back to good soil preparation. I said somewhere else in here that I have never felt that I did too much preparation, and it really is true. Book scheduled to be finished in May. Then, NO MAS!!! I'm going to start taking it easy.

October - Here we are at the end of October (26th) & last hybrid roses of year fading in the vase - though a several old garden roses still blooming in the front yard. It has been a great year for gardening - we've had fresh cut flowers every day since March (see how to increase cut flower life in the Tips on Growing section at end of page). Next year I plan on more gardening as soon as the infectious diseases book is finished, probably in April. We should have good perennials next year when what I planted this year matures. Winter coming soon, so it will be time to waste time looking at seed catalogs - one of the best parts of gardening. See Park's Seeds at end of page. You'll be glad you did.

There is a wonderful yellow flower blooming in the back garden. Small, five petals, and leaves smell like tarragon. Strangest thing happened when I planted many of the flowers last spring: squirrels (I guess it was the squirrels) pulled up & scattered nearly all the sticks with names of plants on them. So I just don't know what many of the new ones are. The cypress vines played out and cut them back and pulled them down from over the front door. Today is the 2nd cool day of the year. At last. Photo: 9/03 Front porch - huge number of pixels or something in this image. Will readjust camera as don't know how to change after taken.

September - Roses are blooming out front - especially Katy Road Pink, Perle d'Or, Duchess de Brabant, & Mrs. Joseph Schwartz. The cypress vines on the porch are very vigorous, to say the least. They cover the front door (we use porch door to go in & out) and I should cut them back, but they are so beautiful & so huge. Numerous red flowers on the vines (also pink & white) have begun attracting hummingbirds. The other morning Leslie was out front to say good by to me on my way to work & a hummingbird was hovering just a few feet away. Leslie heard it peep! Now we're talking cool. I mean, how many people have ever heard a hummingbird peep? They also come to the Turk's cap at the side of Phyllis' house, so once again, we have hummingbirds visiting.

Going back to the question of cutting the vines back: Its the hummingbirds vs. the rigido neighbors with their 1950s just so trimmed bushes lined up like little soldiers. Hup 2 - 3 - 4. Yes Sir! No Sir! No Contest, Sir! Hummingbirds rule, Sir! Adolescent cardinals are coming to the back feeder every day. The female shivers her wings and peeps until the father or mother gives her some of the treasured abc seed. Its mid-September and it has begun cooling down & once again, the front is fragrant - though not as strong as in May & June. Got a heavy rain several days ago. A lush & beautiful time with a cool breeze blowing through the house. Feels so good - Feelin good again. I wanted you to see them all. I wished that you were there. It feels so good - Feelin good again.

August - About a month of no rain. Temp yesterday 109° & today 105°. Keeping water sources in front & back for birds, butterflies, & whatever. Earlier this year Judy McFarlane & Bets Anderson gave me help with means of attracting butterflies & it worked. Wildlife is great this year: its an adolescent jay extravaganza; scruffy adolescent sparrows all about; and every night we see an opossum or racoon - last night saw a baby opossum & a raccoon. Lizards (geckos?) everywhere outside and an occasional baby inside ... Leslie & I were in a government guesthouse on the Thai-Cambodian border near Khao-I-Dang in 1981 - lying on the mat on the floor watching as the lizards on the walls by the ceiling ate mosquitoes & listening to the artillery a couple of miles away (incoming, a little close for comfort). Leslie was cool with it & with the get-out plans. Cool wife. Go lizards.

Anyway, in August in Texas blooming slows some. Graham Thomas (yellow rose planted for Leslie) just sent up one long shoot out of the bush with a great burst of bloom. Marie Pavié & Chrysler Imperial blooming off & on. Phlox just ended its best ever blooming here - maybe that had something to do with thinning (cutting) the plants back to 7-10 stalks/clump in the spring. I put some lythrum (purple loosestrife) in in June & its blooming very nicely. Zinnias giving great summer color of course. Asters, cannas, jewels of Ophar, etc. blooming. David has gone to college. An exciting time.

July - The front porch is perfumed with the scent of nicotiana & jasmine - the latter from Doan's - they said it would only last a year. Here we are more than a year later ... Some years ago I made bird feeding platforms from cedar and put one outside our bedroom window and the other outside the window closest to where I write. What a show! Right now, the juvenile birds are all about - especially sparrows and blue jays. We've seen some great interactions between young cardinals & their parents. The squirrels are really aggressive toward one another and the birds. A few days ago, a little mouse showed up on the bedroom feeder & has returned every day since. Coincidentally, I'm writing about infectious diseases - some of which are hosted by mice. Uh-oh.

People around the corner are working on a flower garden & despite the heat, making some progress. Nice to see young people doing this. Puts me in mind of how I learned about gardening. But first, there's something about spirit or genetics or something - my Grandmother was a gardener and some of my earliest & happiest memories are of her in relation to her garden. For me, gardening is at least in part, a fulfillment of self. Anyway, where I learned about gardening:

  • Reading Park's catalogs & assorted books (to me, Park's is the best catalog & print still better than net).
  • Looking at other people's gardens (not arboretum-type extravaganzas), & over the years, with ever more understanding of what I am seeing. Last month was in Washington DC, where there are some great and old gardens.
  • Talking with people - as often in neighborhoods as at nurseries (but see Nicholson-Hardie and North Haven below for knowledgeable people @ nurseries). What great help Nicholson-Hardie gave me with my first roses.

June - Roses bloomed sporadically all month and toward the end, several are about to burst into bloom (a good thing to say). Hollyhocks so huge that they were shading & crowding roses - and blooms waning, so cut them all back except one stalk/plant for seeds. Lots & lots of butterflies, so its the question of whether to spray the roses - which mostly are healthy except thrips are after some. Tomatoes, peppers, many herbs producing. Put in a bed between alley & back fence; had already planted some climbing roses on alley side of back fence (Peace, America, yellow Lady Banks, & white Lady Banks). Tomorrow, the front expands. Thinning iris, planting the many 1/2 price perennials from Redenta's. Finally got in an American Beauty ... there is a road, no simple highway. Photo: In front 5/7/03 - New Dawn and further back are digitalis (need to figure out how to take lower res photos).

May - In mid-May the "evening scented mix" of flower seeds I bought from Parks came into bloom. What a beautiful evening scent! By early May the roses were blooming with less profusion; just about gone in mid-May; and now in late May, some are coming back. Hollyhocks are spectacular - blooming & 6'-8' tall. Cecille Brunner bloomed first time.

April - The iris were spectacular during April. In mid-April the roses came fully into bloom. First to bloom was Old Blush, then Katy Road Pink, Perle d'Or, Marie Pavié, Gruss an Aachen, Zepherine Drouhin, & so on. Then the New Dawn on the arbor over the front sidewalk is in full bloom. In this second year, the New Dawn is blooming far more than in the first year. This is my first year to grow digitalis - lovely. Planted Cecille Brunner climbing rose at front corner of house.

Early spring 2003 I took out all the bushes in front and started over with Texas mountain laurel, old garden roses (climbing and bush), clematis, flowers, and herbs - these are all pretty small. The neighbors seem to like it, but to me the house looks kind of bare.



November - 11/24: After a cold day or two, blooms on Duchess de Brabant & Mrs. Joseph Schwartz won't open. Got front beds mostly weeded today. Used about 30 red jalepeños from garden (+ tomatillos, etc.) today to make the best salsa ever.

11/20: Old garden roses & "Earth Kind" roses in front are blooming wonderfully. The other evening I counted 16 bushes in bloom. In front, depending on the weather, we can sometimes smell the roses as soon as we walk outside in the morning or open the car door in the afternoon. In back, Chrysler Imperial, Gene Boerner, & Peace doing well. After a cold day or two, blooms on Duchess de Brabant & Mrs. Joseph Schwartz won't open.

Worked in the garden this afternoon - felt good. Pulled out many morning glory vines overgrown from next door neighbor + other weeds. Mexican marigold in full bloom in back garden - wonderful tarragon fragrance to leaves. One of the jalepeño bushes in the back garden is literally heavy with peppers. No mosquitos, so was able to sit in back garden. Would have been nice to have a blanket. Wouldn't that make a nice picture, sitting in the garden chair with a blanket over my knees. Not many birds for the past few weeks. Well, of course there are sparrows & pigeon, but no cardinals, blue jays, or other pretty or songful birds. Gone south, I suppose.

October - 10/29: Garden is back to life. Earlier in the year planted Autumn Damask, a rose dating back to the Roman Empire. Don't think it will bloom this year. Eucalyptus tree in corner of garden by front porch is doing very well - about 6 feet tall now. Basil growing rampantly: one pot more than enough for several cups of pesto - here we go.

A hot summer: Actually every summer in Texas is hot. With age & exhaustion from writing the infectious diseases book, it is taking me awhile to recover from summer's heat. In September the roses are more or less dormant (but leggy & poorly leafed), waiting for the cooler weather of mid/late October to bloom again. My plan this year, when the weather cools, is to dig in Rohde's odorous & excremental fertilizer & cover with leaves. I wonder sometimes what people think when they see me pull up in front of their homes & pick up bags of dead leaves. Thanks, ya'll. This year I've gotten away with doing little in terms of soil prep because so much done the year before. But I don't think I can let it slide again.

Memorial Day 2004: The war is over when the warriors are dead - a quote (from an unknown source) that pretty much tells the story. Except, you know, not even then. War is the ultimate manifestation of the law of karma. There is no better way out of that law or cycle than through Jesus Christ.

Earlier I was looking out my front window at a hollyhock whose seed came from Monet's garden - and listening to a recording of Albert Schweitzer playing Bach fugues on the organ. Good times.

April - 4/30: Walking out the back door there is first the fragrance of honeysuckle, nearing the garden there is nicotiana, next Confederate jasmine, & finally the roses & a little sweet allysum. It's quite a walk & the fragrance at least as lovely as the scented mix out front last year. Photo: Through the gate to the back garden evening of 4/30/04. Felicia in front, nicotiana to the left, and another Felicia mixed with New Dawn in the back. Pink roses are Gene Boerner, bright red is Fragrant Cloud, and pink buds are Tiffany. Tall plants against fence are chaste tree (Vitex).

4/26: I really get it about farmer's almanacs - you never know when you need to know something like when to expect the fireflies (below). Or what time the mockingbirds are singing - around 8 pm. The mockingbird at the end of the street is singing his little heart out most mornings when I walk Buddy. In front tonight, Leslie's pooping mockingbird is on Phyllis's sign & our arch/trellis singing. How do I know he's Leslie's pooping bird? Because I saw him do it. He poops on Leslie's car a lot more than mine - Ha! How is it that she has such a bird? She just does, I guess. American Beauty (1875) blooming first time today - a beautiful glowing crimson, with large, fragrant blooms. New Dawn, front & back starting to bloom. Laura down the street stopped by & said she didn't remember the New Dawn blossoms being as pretty last year. They were not. Differences in roses between the 1st & 2nd years is significant. Most are more floriferous, with bigger blooms & more fragrant this 2nd year vs. the 1st year.

4/22: Tonight, I saw my first fireflies of the year. A good thing to see. Years ago, Leslie & I were visiting our friend Jeff & his wife, Renee in Oklahoma, near Tulsa. It was a warm spring night, humid, very still, and the fireflies came out many more than I had ever seen before just sparkling everywhere; and it got really still, fireflies everywhere & a wind came up, rain off & on & one tornado, then another & another - for hours. We were in a little wood shack, truly, somewhere in the woods & after awhile, went to sleep. Read the next day that in that area, there were many tornados & more than 50 people killed. The garden, front & back, has truly burst into bloom. Today cut the first Climbing America. Felicia has 2-3 blooms; Marie Pavié, Fragrant Cloud, Gene Boerner, Chrysler Imperial, Sweet Surrender blooming. Peace on the alley side is blooming & a couple of days ago the passiflora began its remarkable blooms (signifying the Passion of the Christ). Flowering nicotiana is perfuming the front & back & in front ... roses ... jasmine about to bloom

Everything from here up is most recent 1st; after this it's all month-by-month. Here we are on the 1st day of April. Every day another rose starts blooming. For more than a week we've had rose blooms inside - mostly OGRs floating in a stemmed candy dish from my Grandmother & Mother. So far, Archduke Charles is the most fragrant. If this year is like last year, we'll have flowers in the house for another 8 months. In the evening around 9:30 the garden is fragrant now. I think it's the allysum & roses mostly, maybe a little of what I think is rocket. The old China rose on one porch railing has many blooms. This is the first our Zepherine Drouhin has bloomed. Beautiful & fragrant! Last week I finished revising a chapter on spiritual care in terminal illness & this week, a chapter on cachexia (Greek kakos, meaning bad & hexis, meaning condition). About 10 chapters to go for infectious diseases. Operating at a pretty efficient level, though tending to go days without writing & of course, feeling bad about that. Never before felt so oppressed by writing obligations. Living for the future right now. I figure by the time Redenta's has the half-price sale (in June - I know, thanks to noting it in 2003 - part of the value of this page. Uh-oh, they never did it - just a coupon for 25% off) I'll be through with writing. Got $100 burning a hole in my pocket & headed for Redenta's in June.

Photo: At the SW corner of the house: Old Blush (pink, 2002), Don Juan (red, 2003), Mrs. Jos. Schwartz (white, barely visible, 2003), & Belinda's Dream (buds only, foreground). There is some Texas mountain laural between roses, nicotiana in front, & lemon grass lower right corner of pic. Can see only one leaf of a hollyhock - the seed from Monet's garden. That's Jay's & Mary's porch. Coolest things:

  • Last week put up two little signs inviting people to linger & enjoy the flowers. The young couple across the street took it as an invitation & this evening the Mom & children, Jolly, Robbie, & Sophia, were hanging out in our yard.
  • Our next door neighbor, Scott started a garden. He has tomatoes, day lily (blooming), strawberries, & rosemary. Puts me in mind of when I started. Borrowed a tiller. Unfortunately it had rained & I found out what it means to say, "Too wet to plow" - I just compacted the soil. My first efforts came down to a couple of potted plants & a garden of found perennials out front at 6014 LaVista. Got a couple of ducklings from Leslie's friend, Huey, who had us believe that the ducks would eat insects. Well, they trampled the seedlings they didn't eat & I had to catch insects for them to eat. I guess they imprinted on one another so they always seemed confused. The ducks never did develop a taste for bugs & eventually they moved to Turtle Creek. See tips on growing on cottage garden home page.

March - Spring is here! Old Blush is blooming, both the climber on the front porch and the older bush at the corner of the house. All the plants made it through the winter in the little "greenhouse" [4'x4'x8'] that I move to the side of the house, cover in plastic (can roll back in warmer weather), & heat with a light bulb. Rosemary has been blooming for > month - lovely, small blue flowers. Texas mountain laural blooming first time - purple, orchid, fragrant. In February I planted some new roses in back: Tropicana & Just Joey; in front I planted The Fairy & Iceberg [pots]. Many of the perennials I planted last year & the year before are starting to emerge. Here come the iris - Happy Springtime! The garden is in pretty good shape. Work on the book last fall & this spring has meant I did not cultivate as I would like. Still, I think the work done over the past several years will carry the garden through this year. I'm really looking forward to cutting way back on writing & related in this coming year. I took off the last four days of spring break & it was good - gardening; cooking outside; made the yearly run to Doan's (bought a desert rose plant & some hosta at a good price); and a trip to Walnut & Jupiter & the best pho shop - living the good life!

January - Hi Kathryn, Just thinking about old garden roses, and what has grown best for me so far here in Dallas: Marie Pavié (pale pink/white), of course. Felicia (pink, small) rambles & flowers very fragrant. Katy Road Pink (guess) not exactly OGR, but same spirit - same for Perle d'Or (peach). Hermosa (crimson/pink) looks like it will be good. Lady Banks (yellow, white) is great once-blooming climber.



June, July & August - Spent Part of May, all of June, and part of July in Southeast Asia. Came home to overgrown and in some cases pretty leggy garden. Nothing lost though. Thank you Leslie! Will get back to this page in a few weeks.

May - This afternoon, the 7th, I saw my first mosquito. Evenings of peace in the garden. Oh lost! I don't think so. I'm already full of cuts, scratches, & rashes - a few bites won't make much difference. And there is always repellent. Speaking of which, catch this latest (5/2/2005) from CDC: Other effective repellents (in addition to DEET-based) are those containing picaridin, also known as KBR 3023, which may be comparable with DEET products of similar concentration. Repellents containing picardin are widely available in Europe, Australia, Latin America and Asia. Oil of lemon eucalyptus, also known as p-menthane 3,8-diol or PMD, may provide protection time similar to low concentration DEET products. Pardon the change in writing style - it's from infectious diseases book - which, I should add is so close. Last week rec'd 1st 25% page proofs. After a little work on HIV/AIDS chapter my part will be finished as it is less than two weeks before (Photo: Buddy in the garden in the evening) ... before ...

¡David, my friend Jeff, & I depart for SE Asia for two months! To Hong Kong - Bangkok - Hue & into the countryside to go where we were before - Hoi An - Saigon - Phnom Penh - Battambang - Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) - Bangkok - and until today, Burma - but 11 people killed in bombing in Yangon so the country likely closed to outsiders for the horror show - we'll see what next. In some places like Saigon & Phnom Penh we'll stay for about 2 days & in others, Hue & Battambang, for example, longer. In part, it's an integration trip: Jeff & I back to the battlefields & David to Cambodia for 1st time. And in part, a trip to see what unfolds - and in Asia, something always does.

This is my 5th trip to SE Asia. I remember as a child wanting to be there - wanting to be in Mandalay. And when I finally was, with Leslie, it was as magical as I had imagined. It's also a very tough environment - lots of suffering - everything manifest, now. My friend & colleague, Lance was over yesterday & told me a lot about his recent journeys inside Cambodia & about Saboras, a Cambodian NGO that he works with. Really helpful. A good guy.

Last night the fireflies were in full light. The roses are magnificant & it is pretty magical here, too. Oh man, I'm going to miss Leslie. She is the best traveling companion. David is a good traveling companion, too. Mother's Day is tomorrow. We're giving Leslie a photograph of herself from an article in the Baylor Magazine. Unusual to give someone a picture of themselves, but this one so perfectly captures the essence of Leslie that giving it to her is a way of giving her herself & it is, I think, a very powerful affirmation. Caption reads, "TENDER MERCIES." True.

April - Billy Gray came over today (4/6) and installed a fan on the front porch and a switch to turn the dark-activated security light off and on. This means we'll be able to sit in comfort on the front porch & watch the world go by in the dark, if we choose. Cindy & her sweetheart up the street have what amounts to a living room on their front porch & it looks pretty good to be out there so much. Stoop life in Old East Dallas!

Mid-April & the fragrance of nicotiana fills the air around the front porch after dark. Don Juan, Cécile Brunner, & Old Blush combine at the corner of the house for a rich display. Thrips starting to take a toll on some of the blooms of Madam Jos. Schwartz & Duchese de Brabant in front. The back garden is beautiful & peaceful. Leslie wore a red rose in her hair today. Photo: Front early April/late March before Cécile Brunner adds its small pink blooms to the corner of the house. First firefly seen 4/19. There is a cottonwood tree around the corner - a tree few people plant anymore because of the "cotton" that drifts down for maybe about a month. But the tree is an elegant one, tall-trunked & shapely - and, when a breeze is blowing, the heart-shaped leaves rustle like the leaves of no other tree.

End of April & New Dawn is in full bloom on the arbor in front. Every year, more beautiful. We (Tao, Carrie, & I) are in the final stages (>95% final edit done) of infectious diseases book. No más for me. The two books, one after the other, pretty much did me in.

March - Here we go. Weather warm most days. Heidi up the street is moving. She is a good neighbor and nobody wants to see her leave. She'll live nearby, but, you know, this is a real loss for her & us. Truly, life is what happens when you have other plans.

3/11 - Planted jalepeños today. Heidi gave me some mourning brides (scabiosa), daisies, and a start on the kind of red-flowered woody salvia that grows so well around here. It's good to have so many plants from so many people (Mary & Jay Gorman, Heidi, Don Lambert, Hong Nguyen, Filomena, Laura, the people who live near Shirin, Mitta Angell, Chuck Maxey, others). Old Blush blooming strong & here comes Lady Banks (in the alley).

End of the month & Don Juan in full bloom; Madam Jos. Schwartz, Zepherine Drouhin, Duchese de Brabant close to full bloom. Felicia and Marie Pavié starting. Each year it seems the blooms a little larger. I'm completely out of room for roses (50+ in front & back), so of course I bought a couple more: Another Cécile Brunner ("sweetheart rose") & Ducher, a white China rose - planted in pots so I can keep between the rows in the garden. Autumn Damask bloomed for the first time on 3/30. Wonderful strong fragrance from a soft, pink flower with the shortest of stems ... floating on water in a crystal bowl. Some references say this rose is "before 1819" and some say it dates from Roman Empire. I'm going with the latter, of course.

February - At about mid-month began hearing the mockingbirds in the morning around 6 when walking Buddy. Jolly, Rob, Robbie, & Sophia from across the street moved. This is a loss! End of month & Old Blush starting to bloom.

January - Nothing happening gardening-wise except Stephanie Allen told me she had already pruned & of course she was right. Spring is balmy & new leaves starting to grow on roses, so yes, I also pruned.