Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Garden – Part 3

February 8, 2009

Yesterday would have been a perfect day to work in the garden but I was incarcerated in a training meeting all day. By the time I arrived home, the sun was going down. Today, the morning started out beautifully. However, it became the kind of day that makes us hide in El Paso. By noon, the clouds were scudding across the sky. It became grey and blustery with the wind carrying dust and grit from the mountains across the border in Mexico. I had been enjoying the back yard. Today was laundry day and the t-shirts and towels were snapping over our garden plot as the wind picked up. I should have known, the animals told me. Our wolfy-looking dog was hiding in her house and there were no birds, not even our friend the mockingbird. They knew that the weather was changing. After peeling down to summer-wear, now I pull an alpaca sweater over my head before dashing out to get the laundry off the line.

So today instead of soaking up the sun in my back yard, I am gazing out the window at a gloomy day, a rarity in El Paso. We count on the bright sun so much of the year that we never seem quite prepared for the occasional rain. The bottle brush is tossing in the wind. Within a few weeks its fire-engine red blossoms will be ready to burst open. The rose leaves are appearing, the iris has returned from its brief winter sleep and the chaste trees are covered with buds. The mimosa rattles like dry bones keeping last year’s pods a little longer. The winds will eventually tear the pods away to grow little mimosas elsewhere.

The acacia tree is leafing out. We need to put a supporting strap around the multiple trunks. Last fall we had to remove a major branch that grew too heavy with the brown pods that stain our driveway. The tree was never pruned properly and now it is paying the price with unhealthy branches. Insects always find the weakest point and the tree bleeds sap where they are worrying it.

The acacia is even more tenacious than the non-native mimosa. I am always amazed at the fecundity of desert plants. The majority of my friends have one to two children, perhaps three. The acacia is prepared to spread its seed to all corners with thousands upon thousands of brown bean-like seeds. How many will actually germinate? Three or four, even one hundred are a tiny proportion to what it produces every year. I hope the wind blows to the west when it is time for the acacia to fly. The tiny seedlings are much hardier than any garden vegetable. A tiny plant only an inch above the ground requires pliers to pull up. The tenacious roots will have already dug deep seeking any moisture before the delicate lace-like leaves appear above ground.

Tonight will be cold.


Melanie Dylan Fox said...

I am fascinated by the mimosa trees here. They are so aesthetically pleasing, but I just keep thinking about how they don't truly *belong* here. I spend a lot of time thinking about non-natives and invasives, since that's all I seem to notice anymore :-(

P. Stover said...

The mimosas are beautiful when they bloom and they have adapted so well to our desert climate. We have other non-natives such as rosemary, other herbs, an olive tree and some others, but we try to choose non-invasive plants. And I find I cannot bring myself to uproot or destroy a healthy thriving plant or tree even if it doesn't belong!