Monday, June 08, 2009


In the weeks between Mindy's March garden day and Buffy's April date we in Austin experienced a Weather Event. On March 25th hailstorms pummeled parts of Austin setting records for the amount of damage. I took a video of the hailstorm and put it on YouTube and the photo above is from Sophia. The storm's path was erratic! Mindy and Diva-Annie escaped unscathed, but the other five Divas had been hit pretty hard.

Some of us would need new roofs and skylights. Karla was in the middle of traffic and Sophia was also on the road when the hail hit - it was terrifying to be inside a car as hail smashed their windshields, pounded the cars and turned the road to slippery slush. Our windshields were intact, but neither Buffy nor I could save our cars from being hammered. Mattie missed being in the middle of the storm by mere minutes. In addition to our homes and vehicles, we gardeners we were distressed to see our evergreens, perennials, annuals and trees get trashed - Sophia & I lost our newly-planted tomato gardens.

So we had to take some time out of Buffy's garden day to check out the demolished windshields, broken trim and actual hail potholes on the car bodies as we marveled at the power of ice the size of golfballs falling from the sky.

Buffy's garden is well established so it seemed unlikely we'd be removing turf but renewing beds and pruning existing trees and replacing plants that had failed or disappeared in the Texas weather fell under normal spring maintenance. The hearty breakfast of Italian sausage, Rosemary Strata with Sundried Tomatoes, Rosemary-Currant Muffins, Blackberry Muffins, Hash Browns should have been a clue that Buffy wanted us to work - she even tried to get our creative juices flowing with a drink called Brain Juice.

The Hellstrip that had been our project in 2007 was looking bedraggled, needing cleanup and replacement plants. Buffy likes natural stones set in as edging for areas like this - when she told us "I'd like to Rock this Bed" the phrase was perfect to describe what the Divas have done in so many of our gardens. Buffy had collected a quantity of fist to grapefruit-sized rocks for that task. Back in 2002 we'd removed the turf to encircle a small grove of trees in the front of Buffy's house into a large mixed border featuring native and adapted plants. Each year on her annual garden day we'd do some pruning and weeding and renew the plants.

Being part of the cycle in our friends' gardens, revisiting previous project and sharing the effects of time and weather on what we've done together, is part of the fun. We're invested in each other's gardens, sometimes getting quite emotionally involved with the results!

As usual, Buffy had bought a variety of plants. Even though we'd never get all of them planted in one day it was fun to see the variety - Buffy has a soft spot for Four-Nerved Daisy and it appears that the newish 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia was irresistible. We intended to also tend to the secret garden beds and the long shady bed along the side fence in the back garden but as we split up and began working we kept in mind that the most important part of the project as far as Buffy was concerned was to complete the Entrance bed outside the gate. The photo above from October shows how much we'd been able to do with this bed at Buffy's last garden day. Now it was time to move forward with the renovation.

The Texas sage was whacked back even further and given another chance and the viburnum left in place, but other plants were overgrown, exhausted and out of shape. Buffy had an entirely new design in mind once the soil was renewed - she would give gardenias a try.

Lunch was delicious - flavorful Greek turkey-meatballs served in pita bread with Red Pepper-Leek Soup and assorted crunchy potato chips.
Diva-Annie looks comfortable in the shade but in reality she was under the thorny, rambunctious 'Mermaid' rose, so beautiful, but so uncontrollable. That ground was littered with pieces of vicious rose cane out to get her if she wasn't vigilant.
By the time we left the Hell Strip was a parkway garden once again and according to Buffy's plan the Divas had Rocked the Bed. This is a very popular look in our Divas of the Dirt gardens - these rocks may not be as formal or glamorous as cut stone, but we can usually get them at no cost and they look as if they belong here in our Central Texas cottage gardens.

The Entrance Bed was planted, mulched and ready to bloom - glad we could help, Buffy! We'll hope for a follow-up post with some photos of the new bed as it becomes established.

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