Friday, September 14, 2012


Written by Glinda for the Divas of the Dirt Blog 

On this warm March garden day, Mattie set her table with a special collection of dishes from her sister Patti. The dishes arrived piece by piece, traveling from country to country and from state to state. The result was sentimental as well as spectacular, crowned by a centerpiece of beautiful, densely-petaled roses in an unusual color. Mattie and Mindy said they were Rio roses, but Rio seems to be the grower rather than the variety.  

Egg & vegetable fritattas were almost ready to serve with sides of guacamole, turkey bacon, juice and fruit salad with grapes.

 Topping the menu was Blueberry French Toast, a dish with a personal connection for Mattie: 
The recipe came from Panache -  a beautiful cookbook that Mattie's niece helped to create for a hospital fundraising project  Link to Panache Cookbook

The temperatures were already warm when we went out to hear about the day's project and check out the plants we'd use. Mattie had chosen two roses, 'Julia Child' and 'Cinco de Mayo' along with a bronzy-red crepe myrtle, a good-sized pomegranate with developing fruit, silver ponyfoot, yellow lantana, gaillardia/blanket flower, bicolor sage, white Gaura, Salvia 'May Night' and tropical Butterfly weed/Asclepias currasavica. Passalong plants brought by the Divas included a huge clump of Setcreasia/Purple heart, White iris, Peach iris, Mexican mint marigold, a big sack of Salvia 'Black & Blue', White Salvia coccinea, and a small clump of Blue Mistflower (botanically either Conoclinium greggii or Eupatorium greggii )

A front yard with one tall tree trunk centered in an empty square of thirsty grass was not working for Mattie! The canopy on the tree had been raised so high that instead of connecting the house and garden and lessening the impact of the street, the trunk added a harsh vertical bar to the landscape. Our project would be to add a shorter, leafy tree - the new pomegranate-  to anchor a new border with a mix of plants. 

For the second part of the project we would add another bed where the lot met the curb. Making grass grow in a spot like this takes a lot of water! Mattie would rather use this precious resource on plants for birds and butterflies.

The Divas of the Dirt used a garden hose to lay out the long kidney shaped bed, with much discussion by Buffy, Sugar, Karla and Mindy as to where that line should go!

The tiller is always handy to dig up the bed and mix in amendments but Mattie had another job for it - rather than simply moving it along, she held it down in one spot, harnessing the power to excavate large holes for the pomegranate tree, the crepe myrtles and the shrub roses.

Diva-Annie took on a separate task - removing the stones that filled a bed near the entry. Mattie had plans for that bed and Annie's work would get it ready. Things were progressing.

We hadn't realized how large the project would be or exactly what we'd be doing... we needed a lot more compost! We needed rakes! We needed compost & soil sifters! Since Buffy had already planned on a quick trip to take her son to work, she offered to make a tool & supply run. I felt about 100-years old that morning, so volunteered myself as her assistant.

While the rest of the Divas soldiered on in the 90°F heat we went off on our hunter-gatherer mission. We picked up tools from Buffy's house, stopped for more at my house, made a third stop at Sophia's and then headed to Countryside for bags of Revitalizer Compost. A special sale brought in customers and long lines. Eventually Buffy moved her vehicle to the loading area and we stacked bag after bag in the back.

We returned to Mattie's house, sure that with that compost the plants would have a better chance of survival and that the tools would make it easier to get the borders in shape. It was amazing how much progress had been made already. Some plants from existing borders were transplanted into the new bed, and the plants in containers were set in all over the garden.

By late afternoon everyone was delighted to hear that lunch was ready. We deserted the Dirt for the Dining room.

 Mattie had a second feast ready for us - delicious tomato-basil soup

Crab cake salad with garlic toast

and Cherry Cobbler with Bluebell Ice cream.

Can you see a dog in this photo? Barbie is a sweetie but she's so alert and responsive every Diva Day that most photos have been blurs! Maybe next month.

After we went back outside, the project moved toward completion- stones were sifted out, amendments mixed in, edges cut and recut. We paid careful attention to placing the plants where they'd not only look good but would have a chance at survival - Texas summers are brutal.
Long slow deep handwatering settled them in and mulch gave the borders a finished look, held in moisture and insulated the roots against the heat.

The large pomegranate border looked pretty cool!

The curb bed was going to be a knockout once it got going! Better give that native Blue Mist plant plenty of room!

And Mattie's plan for attracting wildlife was already working - check out the dragonfly that appeared like magic!

A few months later Mattie sent this photo of that tiny piece of Blue Mist plant - now very happy, greatly expanded in size, and spangled with Queen butterflies.

Written by Glinda for the Divas of the Dirt Blog

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for saying hello!