Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Random Thoughts on Gardening

For years I have been a rather avid gardener. Between clippings from various plants and the leaves from 11 live oaks, I create an abundance of debris. I generally try to compost these materials, as the compost is very beneficial for my beds and lawn. I have seen significant improvements where I use the compost.

Just to be clear, I don't compost in order to save the planet. I compost in order to save my yard. Or more specifically, in order to produce healthy plants so that I can enjoy pretty flowers, a lush lawn, and tasty vegetables.

Last winter's freeze took a real toll on my landscaping. My tropicals died back to the ground, and many just plain died. I lost several hibiscus, and those that survived have not bloomed all year. My rubber tree--which once stood about 30 foot tall--not comes in at a paltry 3 feet. But the vines, such as Rangoon Creeper and Star Jasmine--have come storming back with a vengeance.

We had our best tomato and cucumber crops ever, which I attribute to the compost I added to the garden in the spring. And our antique roses produced more flowers than in the past. To some extent, these successes help make up for the lack of hibiscus, which bloom almost year round.

Gardening can be a time consuming hobby. Pruning, fertilizing, planting, watering, and other tasks must be performed regularly. But it is also rewarding. We almost always have multiple plants in bloom, including azaleas, sages, jasmine, roses, hibiscus, and more. These plants attract butterflies, which flitter around the yard most of the year, as well as hummingbirds, cardinals, blue jays, and on several occasions, wild parakeets.

Our pond is also a source of ongoing effort and pleasure. Home to a number of koi and goldfish, it regularly attracts toads who enjoy mating on its fringes. I could live with the toads, given the fact that they eat mosquitoes and other nasty insects, but their nocturnal mating ritual involves an ear piercing noise that makes it almost impossible to sleep. I have on many occasions been forced to disrupt their mating in order to sleep. (That alone makes for an interesting story.)

I am sometimes amazed at what we have created in our back yard. It is a miniature wildlife sanctuary. But its purpose is to provide pleasure to human life.

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