Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dear Mr. Moon- This Is What I've Been Doing With My Time And Our Money Since You've Been Gone

Well, if I am a bit bi-polar, I sure do love the days when I'm feeling good.
Today was one of those days.
Jessie and I went to two plant nurseries and we let old August tag along because we kind of like him and although he still isn't house-trained, he's pretty good company.
That boy...
He's been kissed so many times in his young life that if you lean in to him, he'll plant those pretty little lips right on yours. Or your face. Whatever.
And he had a great day, being outside and seeing all of the pretty plants and flowers and getting compliments and swoons from ladies everywhere.

Here he is posing with the rare and endangered Farmosaurus. Wouldn't that dinosaur look good in my garden? Yes. Yes he would. 

Jessie has the fever to get her yard tidied up and more filled with good growing things and so we were on the hunt for bananas for her to plant as well as things for a butterfly garden. We went to the biggest local nursery and she bought various butterfly and hummingbird attractors but their bananas were a bit pricey so we saved that purchase for the next place we went.
I bought things too. I've been wanting to put something in next to one of the sheds on the property which gets quite a bit of sun, right next to the spirea. I had though I might want some different colored phlox than the ones I have growing everywhere or perhaps some pretty canna lilies but then I saw the roses and I just felt all dreamy and drifted around like a butterfly myself, sniffing this blossom and inhaling that one and I settled on a Louis Philippe which is an antique rose meaning it doesn't need all the pruning and fertilizing and pest control that newer hybrids do. Plus, this yard just doesn't seem suited to the more formal roses but rather to the blowsy, free-growing ones. I dug a hole and planted it and I surely hope it does well.

I intend to mulch it with a good layer of leaves and I watered it in good. 

Okay. So. A rose. No big deal. That's not mania, right? 
But then I saw a collection of succulents planted in various containers. For some reason, I've been drawn to the succulents recently in a big way and even bought three little ones at the Walmart when I was there a few days ago. 
But these- oh, be still my heart. 
So I had to buy this one.

I mean...I MEAN...what could I do?
And there was Jessie, not just being an enabler but an encourager. 
"Mama," she said. "Just buy it."
My children have always been the boss of me. This is just the way it is so I did buy it and there it is on my kitchen porch on top of a clay vase that I've never figured out a use for but it makes a pretty nice pedestal for that lovely hen and hopefully, will prevent my real chickens from pecking it to bits. 

We moved on to the next nursery where we got two banana plants for Jessie and I ended up buying two Coumbine baby plants that I wanted because they remind me of maiden hair fern, my favorite. I planted them on either side of the Buddha by Elvis's grave in the front yard in the rotting hollow log I've been planting things in for a few years. 

Buddha seems cool with that. Buddha seems cool with everything. 

I also bought a huge new porch plant that I've put in the pot where I just removed a split-leaf philodendron that I've been growing for about thirty years and which has given me countless babies to repot and/or pass on. I did not just throw that mother plant away of course. I am not heartless! It has grown so leggy and fragile lately but I've planted it in the real, true dirt and hope to be giving it a second life. We shall see. Meanwhile, the new plant looks very much like a split-leaf philodendron itself and may well be one but a smaller-leafed one. It just charmed the hell out of me. 

I promised Jessie that I'd split it up and give both her and Lily a piece of it but when I took it out of its plastic nursery pot it was way too pot bound for me to even consider doing that. Its roots are as tangled and twisted as the neurons in my brain and I am no surgeon. But I think that if I'm patient, it will eventually give me some of its new babies to share and I will. 

One thing I've learned over the years, not just from experience but from the words and advice of other gardeners is that gardens and yards take patience. You put in plants and hope they'll grow there and if they do, great! Plant more of the same in the same location if they please you. And if they don't thrive there, move them somewhere else where the light and soil requirements will be more suitable. Hopefully. It takes years to figure out this shit and I have no more understanding for people who just hire a service to come and landscape their yards than I do for people who hire interior decorators to set up their library. Every plant in my yard that I've put in has a memory, a story, a history. They all mean something to me. Ferns that were dug up in the woods when I first started walking in Lloyd which I planted and which have thrived. Camellias that we planted as mere twigs which are now taller than I am. Palms that I have bought and planted or were given to me. The phlox that my neighbor at my former house gave to me as babies, so tiny that their roots were hair-like. My darling Sue-Sue's day lilies. The azaleas I put in so long ago and which are now, finally thriving after surviving all the years of being pissed on by dogs too lazy or old to get more than a few feet away from the back door. Plants I've rooted, plants I've transplanted, plants I've bought. Plants I started and carried with me from decades ago. 
And there are so many things growing here that were here when I moved in. Not only the giant oaks and magnolias but a few roses, the tea olives, the bananas, the trillium, the tung trees, the azaleas which have probably bloomed here since before Christ lost his foreskin. 

The older I get, the more I love this dirt, this yard, these plants. I'm not sure I've ever appreciated a spring as much as I am appreciating this one. And perhaps I've never appreciated the idea of the great gift of leaving beautiful growing things to survive me when I go. 
It's a bit like having grandchildren. You look at them and you realize that a bit of you will survive long after your death, just as I carry what my ancestors have given to me. 
We don't plant Live Oaks for ourselves. We plant them for those who will come after us. 

My grandchildren or someone else's. 

I remember talking to old Mrs. Miller when she was alive. The woman who lived across the street who had grown up in Lloyd and spent years in this house as a child.
"That yard has never looked better than it does now," she told me. 
I wish she could see it this spring. I think she would approve. 

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. Oh I needed this post and your advice: I want a shade tree for my backyard, where the window gets brutal hot sun and it's about 12-15 feet up or so. But I don't want to lose most of my yard (so no live oak or sycamore there), and I want deciduous so that gorgeous sunlight comes in during winter when it's needed. I'm thinking ginkgo. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  2. Lovely trip through your garden, old and new. I need to rescue a few of my potted plants too, but just bigger pots for them, no forever outside home :)

    Gardening is so good for the soul. And I'm sure Mrs. Miller would approve. Enjoy.

  3. NOLA- Well. I've never planted a ginkgo but I do love them. That might serve you well. Also think about a mulberry which grows super, super fast (as Gibson might say) and provides delicious berries for you and for the birds and which loses its leaves in winter. I would also just recommend going to a local, native nursery and telling them your needs and situation. They might be able to help you far more than I. You might even want to consider a tiny orchard of fruiting trees which suit your area. Can't go wrong with that!

  4. Mel- It's what sustains me- this planting and digging and planting some more. I swear. I love my porch plants in pots. When I bought that big one today, the lady who checked me out said, "You know this isn't cold hardy?" and I said with a sigh, "Yes. Just what I need - another porch plant." I'm a huge sucker.

  5. I feel like a slacker, I haven't planted anything new this year. If we weren't so far away I could have given Jessie banana trees, they are growing wild behind my fence. Gail

  6. What a lovely stroll thru the garden and update for Mr Moon. Look at all that little Gus is learning on these jaunts of yours. Maybe Hank will move into your wonderful house when you are gone and the garden will be kept in the family append then Gibson, etc...

  7. Gardening is such a joy to me and I love the history of my garden. I just bought a beautiful Mexican palm for my deck . I looked a site driving home with half of the Palm flowing gracefully out of the car window. At the moment I'm in love with plumeria or frangipani as it's known here. The scent Is divine. I just planted a lot of ginger plants, again the fragrance is beautiful. Sadly my very large clump of bananas became a site for flying fruit bats.

  8. Well, your kids were right. You HAD to buy that chicken. It is the most perfect thing for your yard! (I walked past a charity shop the other day with the coolest chicken-shaped casserole dish in the window, and I had the brief, insane thought that I should but it and mail it to you. And then I thought, that is completely CRAZY, to buy a cheap Made-in-China chicken dish from England to Florida! But maybe I should have.)

    I'm always intrigued by plants that pre-exist the current owners of their houses. You wonder how they got there. In our back garden, for example, we have an old camellia and a Japanese maple and lots of roses -- and I wonder, who planted them? How long ago?

  9. I steal most of my plants. I tuck them in and say, "Grow like you were stolen!" Seems to work pretty well (at least until i'm locked away and no one's around to tend them).

  10. oh same same here. we live such parallel lives in some ways which we have both noted. when we sold the city property, a place I lived in and nurtured for 40 years, most of what I moved were plants and brick pavers. oh god, truck load after truck load of brick pavers that lined every flower bed. I dug up banana trees, all the ginger, the yesterday-today-tomorrow, ferns, roses, shrimp plant, day lilies, amaryllis, iris, daffodils, beauty berry, red lilies, the mexican bird of paradise that took me and my grandson about an hour to get out, turk's cap, spider lilies, night blooming jasmine, the star of india, clumps of the early blooming little red lilies, and handfuls of the seed from the baby blue eyes, cuttings from the yellow angel trumpet, and more. and I did it all in the middle of summer.

  11. How wonderful it must be to put your hands in dirt in your own garden. This is what we miss, living in a city high rise. Planting beauty seems so restorative.

  12. Joanna, I was literally just sitting here looking at Mama's yard and thinking, "I am far too lazy to ever want to do this."

  13. You have way more energy than I do in the heat, Mary! I love your chicken with succulents. It's perfect for you.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.