Rosemary in retrospect

We gather plants as we've gathered others in our lives, animate and inanimate - cats, second hand dishes, repurposed glass jars, clothes, kitchen rags. Sometimes we seek out our plants, and sometimes the plants end up on our doorstep, plants that have been forsaken or orphaned, or are awaiting a fate that does not have space for their care. This post is about the former; orphaned plants in our home can form a post all on its own!

After the lemongrass, the second plant to go into the ground, from being a migrant just as we were, in pots, migrating with us, pots and roots and all, is one of two Rosemary plants. Her origins: I snipped cuttings out of her mother plant, a healthy bush I saw in a hotel garden parking lot in Atlanta, GA, in the summer of 2007. I placed several of the cuttings in a paper cup filled with water, snapped on the plastic lid, stuck the lot of it in my handbag, and drove back with it and my other half, to New York City. And there, at home in our tiny little apartment, we did our best to root the cuttings. Several died, but one or two took.

[caption id="attachment_188" align="alignnone" width="500"]The tiny Rosemary, with a much larger Meenbo. The tiny Rosemary, with a much larger Meenbo.[/caption]

Something out of nothing - a brand new, independent plant from its mother. It wasn't at all easy, loving plants as much as we do (and did), trying to keep them alive through all seasons, in front of just four windows that received only so much sunlight throughout the year. But we tracked that sunlight for our plants' sakes, as surely as our beloved felines tracked it for their enjoyment.

We moved the plants and their roots in their pots around, following the path of the sun. And, despite the harsh winters and the dry interiors and the ever-present threat of spider mites, most of our plants held on, survived, and some even thrived. So, placing Rosemary into the ground a few days ago was a momentous occasion. In 2011, she looked like this:

[caption id="attachment_190" align="alignnone" width="500"]Rosemary, Summer of 2011, on the window sill with lemon pickle curing, in NYC. Rosemary, Summer of 2011, on the window sill with lemon pickle curing, in NYC.[/caption]

And, before she went into the earth here at the Coahuila garden in Houston, she looked very stately, indeed:

[caption id="attachment_191" align="alignnone" width="500"]Rosemary, 2013 November. Rosemary, 2013 November.[/caption]

Ah, a cat is never far away from our garden.

[caption id="attachment_196" align="alignnone" width="500"]Kiki and the Rosemary Kiki and the Rosemary[/caption]

From what we read, Rosemary likes a well-draining, sandy-ish soil, and flowers throughout the winter and into spring here. We'd like to place as many useful plants in the front garden as we can get away with, so the hope is that she shall be the first of many.

In the ground, she suddenly looked so small, and somewhat vulnerable:


But she's been doing well, despite the freezing temperatures we've had recently. Rosemary, the second of our migrating plants to find her permanent home.


See you in Arcadia!

First harvest and November blooms

Mel Bartholomew, in his Square-Foot Gardening book, advises his readers to thin out seedlings before they grow too big. It makes perfect sense. However, I felt more than a twinge of guilt at the prospect. True, nothing in the plant world goes to waste: Mother Nature is incredibly efficient, amongst all her other superb qualities. Still, it seemed an illogical waste to me.

So, I hadn't been looking forward to thinning out the seedlings, until I discovered (rather brilliantly, I might add) that rather than letting the seedlings just return to the earth, I could eat them! share them with my better half! So, I set about snipping. It took a while. But it was worth it. Who knew that one, single, tiny sprout could provide such flavour and texture?

[caption id="attachment_155" align="alignnone" width="625"]Microgreens of cauliflower,  swiss chard, beets, cilantro, dill, lettuce, and more. Microgreens of cauliflower, swiss chard, beets, cilantro, dill, lettuce, and more.[/caption]

Nearly the size of microgreens. I ended up placing them in fresh salad rolls - the best way to have a salad: wrapped up in a little water-soaked skin and doused in some peanut sauce. And with all of that came an enormous sense of gratitude - that something so small could sustain beings so much larger, and clumsier, and non-photosynthesising as we are. Well, the garden is tended, the seedlings are small, but growing, and so we wait. And while we wait, here's what's blooming - or is about to bloom - in the back garden, in early November. Do click on the little pictures to yield larger ones:[gallery link="file" ids="171,169,168,167,165,164,160,159,157,110,112,161"]

We've been slow at getting the front sheltered garden going. There's a lot of hauling involved. But, it's coming along - this weekend will see to some work there.

Seedling roundup

The rain let up, both of us fixed to garden today, the sun was shining, and we had ourselves a few precious hours outside, working and pottering (he would say that he worked, while I pottered. Which wouldn't be exactly untrue...)

On Sunday it will be 2 weeks into our Winter Garden. Most of all the seeds sowed have sprung up, with the exception of some older seed stock I used with parsley and marigolds. Never mind - the extra space can be used to transfer some seedlings. Here's how things look, two weeks on:

[gallery link="file" ids="96,95,94,92,91,90,89,93,88"]


We also started to attend to some small gardening jobs we've been meaning to do for some time. For instance, we gave our lemongrass plant a permanent home in the ground, like so:

[caption id="attachment_83" align="alignnone" width="625"]Lemongrass, by the corner of the breezeway and garage. Lemongrass, by the corner of the breezeway and garage.[/caption]

And, we were finally able to return to working on the very first garden project we wanted to tackle after moving here - the front entryway garden.

We removed all of the Asparagus meyeri from the courtyard, and placed all plants in the front - for now. I'm a bit disheartened to know that this plant is considered invasive in some places. But they are rather beautiful plants, and for now, grace the shadier front garden bed. Before - and after:[gallery columns="2" ids="84,85"]

And I placed a Man From The East here, on some humble bricks, but He's an easy going fellow, so I know He'll be happy there. Thanks to my sister for leaving Ganesha behind.

[caption id="attachment_86" align="alignnone" width="625"]The Man from the East, bestowing all that's good. The Man from the East, bestowing all that's good.[/caption]

We'll be working on the entryway garden tomorrow and Sunday; more pictures to follow. I'd like to leave you with this lovely sight. Our parijata plant, Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, always flowers around this time of year, and has flourished mightily after moving down to Texas with us. This second bud emerged today:

[caption id="attachment_82" align="alignnone" width="625"]Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, with its coral-stemmed flower whose scent is so mysteriously spicy and honey-sweet. Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, with its coral-stemmed flower whose scent is so mysteriously spicy and honey-sweet.[/caption]

Sweet dreams to our beautiful, plant-filled world.