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Late Summer in the Garden

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Something finally brought me back to the blog after a rather frantic summer.  A picture of a weed.

velcro plantWell, most people call it a weed, but I consider it a wildflower.  It’s current popular name is velcro plant; it was formerly called stickleaf.  If you pull it up you will find out why.  It’s proper name is said to be Mentzelia.  This particularly fine specimen is growing at the edge of our pool deck.

Since I had the camera out, I looked around to see what else is currently showing off.  Here is my hummingbird bush.

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Like most of my garden, it is doing just fine being neglected.  Across the yard from this is my tallest grass plant.

p1010093.jpgWhat you see is the top half of the high wall that holds up the ground of the house behind us and a very little of the great mound of leaves which supports these feathery spikes of seed.  In the mornings small birds land on the seed heads and weigh them down.

I have never learned the proper name of this giant grass.  As for the hummingbird bush I have looked it up more than once, but don’t remember.  So much to learn, so much else to occupy the mind.

 

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Weaving the Terrain: Southwestern Poems

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Weaving the Terrain0001Weaving the Terrain is a large collection edited by David Meischen and Scott Wiggerman.  It contains 211 poems, by many poets—a minority of the contributors have supplied more than one poem.  The subject matter ranges across the southwestern states and over many themes.  There are plenty of roadrunners, vultures and coyotes, historical moments both familiar and lesser known, and a lot of sand.  There are personal stories as well, events that “just happen” to take place in a southwestern locale.

The full subtitle is 100-word southwestern poems.  This challenge, it turns out, can be met in many ways, by many shapes and styles.  Instead of the usual blurbs on the back cover, the comments are about the interesting project of fitting poems to this measure.  Every hyphen or article changed the word count.  That effort, however, rarely is visible in the finished product.P1010054

I have a poem in this collection.  It’s in the section called “Half-Lives Slowly Ticking” but is primarily about one of those lesser known historical moments, the feud between cattleman Oliver Lee and lawyer Albert Fountain.

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This book seems to me primarily a book for poets, those who will explore the shapes and guess at the choices of various poems.  But I think it might provide much interest to those who imagine the southwest but have never been there.  A gift for prospective visitors?  Dos Gatos Press managed to keep the price for 235 pages of poetry to a reasonable $19.95.P1010059

I’ve illustrated this report with a few native plants from my garden: apache plume, a cactus, and my mesquite tree.  The tree is just leafing out and that is considered a trustworthy sign that it is safe to put out tender annuals.  Frost is over.

Turn, turn, turn

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Another cross-quarter day, better known as Halloween.  I read somewhere that this is the third harvest, the others coming at Lammas (early August) and the equinox.  Maybe in Europe?  I don’t seem to have much to harvest this year.  In fact it is planting season for Swiss chard, the one vegetable I’ve succeeded in growing here.  But I do have flowers:

P1000985The chamisa and the butterfly bush are flaunting their yellow and red, and yes, fighting for space.  In the side yard the volunteer autumn sage is blooming again:

P1000987Fortunately, it doesn’t mind in the least that I never got around to deadheading the last set of blooms.  As the weather cools I hope to give the garden more attention.

In the summer I was fighting weeds with early morning forays with vinegar and salt.  It seems to work.  My front walk is quite well behaved.  Time to spend more energy on the other sides of the house.  Who was it who commented that something is always happening in a garden?

Late Summer Garden

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As I have mentioned before, I like volunteers in the garden.  A case of nature doing its thing.  But sometimes they get out of hand.  Last year I saw some grass leaves coming up, but wasn’t sure what grass it was.  This year, only its second, it looked like this:

P1000979It’s the child of the largest grass plant I have, shown here in the background, and much too big for the space.  I had to pay someone to take it out.  But I didn’t waste the plumes.

P1000980An elegant, filmy, look.  They lasted several days.  I also had some  desert globemallow getting out of bounds, so I brought some branches of that in too.

P1000982This bouquet was more short-lived, but pleasing while it lasted (I am partial to orange).  The globemallow is a short-lived perennial, but it seeds avidly.  I have quite a spread of it, third and fourth generation, I think.  One of the volunteers decided to lean toward my study window, giving me a bit of bloom to enjoy from my desk.

P1000983It is different every day as the individual flowers fade and new ones open.  I like it when a little of my garden can come inside for a bit – or at least “lean in.”

Photo and Poem

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Actually, the poem came first.  The photo is an illustration.  It shows approximately the view through the window by my desk, which inspired the poem.

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Rest

Rock walls bound my back yard,
the gray of weathered wood
or a sensible suit, the no-color
of dust on the long disused.
At first, planting my garden,
I thought the walls dull, conceived
a plan to paint their flat stones
southwest yellow or Mexican red.

My limited skill prevented me
from adding such loud color.
The company of a young tree,
tall grasses, suits this border;
I’d have ruined a place of rest,
the calm of gray without pretense.

 

One Day in Spring

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Not just on one day, but on one trip into the yard with the camera this past week, these different flowers all smiled at me, asking to have their picture taken.

P1000957Purple mat is a small flower which, this year, is here, there and everywhere in my yard, after some years of scarcity.

P1000954The iris came with the house.  That is, a few flat leaves showed up in unexpected places.  I’ve transplanted and fed them.  They seem to like being against the wall.  They take much more work than native flowers, and don’t last as long, but they were an accidental gift, so I keep caring for them.

P1000955No, these are not the same poppies I’ve shown before.  It’s a good year for them, they keep appearing in new spots.

With so little to smile at on the news these days, it’s a good thing we still have flowers.

Green in the Desert

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The monsoon rains have brought green to my back yard.

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Of course, with rains come roof problems.  We hope those are over for now.

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These are different greens from the shades we find in the northeast, but it is unquestionably green.

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