Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Decorating Gourds and Planting by the Old Pond

“Here among the mountains, the pinions of thought should be strong, and one should see the errors of men from calmer height of love and wisdom.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

After coffee this morning, we went to the neighborhood hobby shop and paid $18 for a wood burning kit. What I mainly wanted was the wood burning part, and I probably won’t play around with the nicely stenciled designs on balsa wood that can be glued together to make a CD holder. The gourd I plan to make into a head, needs to have a face. You can see the pre-cut gourd on the table at the far right, with a small basket inside the open braincase. A nice project to keep me cool inside on a three-digit July day. And certainly less heavy lifting than those big fat rocks yesterday.

Adjacent to one of the largest boulders in my yard, is the spot I recently cleared and replaced a more inviting border of seat-sized rocks. it’s easy to imagine it as a miniature mountain, and to reflect on my errors about gardening. I’ve moved the rocks, raked the dirt, and temporarily placed some potted Bird of Paradise plants removed from the front door garden where the shishi odoshi might someday go. But what is my short term plan for this spot?

No sooner had I cleared out the space next to the old pond, than I spent the evening looking through bulb catalogs at tulips, peonies and other completely unsustainable plants that would look lovely in that spot. As Goethe said, “misunderstandings and neglect occasion more mischief in the world than even malice and wickedness.” Such a misunderstanding of my soil and climate conditions could cost me hundreds of dollars, and hours of time, and leave me with perhaps a single season of bloom before nature reclaimed the spot. I have certainly gardened like that in the past; frequently with predictable results, and often worse than intentional malice or wickedness.

So, I need to see this spot from the calmer heights of wisdom, or at least rationality. What this spot needs is not so much plants that will thrive under neglect, as plants that will survive in the dry shade without undue attention. I’ve got some different salvias I flower pots that would look good there and would probably appreciate the loose sandy soil. In the past year or two, I have just begun to move carefully nurtured plants from the controlled environment of pots and containers to the real ground – what there is of it between decomposing granite boulders.

The objective is for me not to misunderstand my plants. Rather than trying to change the environment to fit their needs, I need to look for a home that suits their disposition. It seems to be the height of love and wisdom to chose a plant that suits the conditions as they really are – not among the mountains, but in this case,in the calm, dry shade.

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