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Agave Plant in Big Bend by Ruth Calvo

You probably are aware of it, but this year has been boom times for xeriscaping.   The landscaping that cuts back to minimal use of water is a longtime feature of desert areas.   Right now I’m looking out the front windows at it, as well.  When towns’ water sources are drying up in the west, and drowning in the east, the lawn just isn’t worth a fortune in landscaping.

Some plants that I love that are part of a dry land lawn are agave, crepe myrtle, cactus, especially cholla – and in desert areas, you will see lawns designed in sand and rock.  It may strike you as odd the first time you encounter it, but makes much more sense than struggling to look like New England at the expense of your environment.  I visited a home that had many cactus in pots on the stairs, and when it sprinkled the homeowners ran out to bring in their prized cactus before they drowned.

While it’s been drier than usual in the middle of the country, it’s always been desert west of here, and I enjoy the plateaus in reds and golds as much as I do the eastern forests.   Making a home where you live is a big part of sensible land management, it would seem.  Of course, in New England, I love to see the mossy rock paths and dense flowering plants that I could never have here.   My friends in the really wet areas have seen those drown, as well.

Of course, we keep bird baths here with cool water replenished, for the brave feathered souls that keep nesting around us all year long.    I have cardinals and chickadees, as well as wrens, all year.    A neighbor has a full fountain, that flows with constant falls through a few rocks, something I really love to see.

Deliberately Bent Tree Limb by Blind Grasshopper

This year has been a big one for trees dying off in my small hometown.  I notice that where the trees have been cut to leave big wooden remains, there has been a creative use of the remaining stumps as  planters.

What have you done with dry or wet conditions, and any loss of your plants that has happened.   Have you ever tried to grow cactus, or moss?   What xeriscaping or wetland methods have you used?

A wonderful design for trees that I see occasionally in our western area is pulling down a growing sapling limb, to keep it as a marker reminiscent of tribal customs.   The ‘post oak’ was a marker along the trail in our early days, and there is one in a nearby wildlife refuge that dates back to its use by native tribes.

Rocks are a part of my garden areas that I treasure.   Some I picked up in Missouri have small geodes all through them, and a few from Maryland are large and almost gem-like quartz.   A few here were dug up when some pipe was laid a few years back, and have tiny fossilized shells sprinkled in them.   We have fossils here, from the Jurassic sea that covered the area then, and many people here have decorated with them.   My father used large fossilized snails, called ammonites,  to make a path in the back yard of my childhood home, where they still are.  I have a few small metal garden snails in weathered verdigris here, as well.

What decorations do you like to put in your gardens?    Do you have something that’s been in your family for ages?

I do hope you’re getting through this difficult summer without too much pain, something that’s the exception rather than the rule from all accounts I am getting.

Please share your gardening ideas and heritage with us.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.