In the Garden: Survivors

Labour Day is here (take some time out from your barbecues to thank a union member, won’t you?) and with it, a return to my garden. I’ve been away for a bit and I was impressed to find large chunks of it still alive upon my return, despite, or perhaps because of, my ongoing neglect. (My landlords have been incredibly generous during my frequent absences this year when it comes to taking care of Loki and Leila as well of the garden, but because of the drought, I’ve specifically told them not to worry too much about the garden.)

An amaryllis, viewed from above.

My naked ladies are pretty much done, although there are a few stragglers. This one is just opening up, filling the air with its distinctive, spicy scent. I can’t quite explain the scent of naked ladies, and I can’t quite decide whether I like it, but there’s definitely a smell.

A young artichoke in a barrel.

And my artichoke is still going! I’m hoping to nurse it along until the rains come, when it will be on its own. I heart artichokes and the last time I tried to grow them, they were gophered — which is why I am using a container this time. Hopefully it will still be able to produce even with the more limited space for roots.

Tender sweet pea sprouts climbing up a barrel.

These perennial sweet peas have been charging along since I got them, and this pleases me immensely. I’ve really been slacking on basic garden maintenance lately and I was astounded to find new shoots when I cleared weeds in the middle of the month. Trimming the dead debris back, unsurprisingly, spurred these shoots to really get going, and they seem quite happy despite the fact that they’re getting almost no water (beyond a bit of sprayback from the edibles in the barrel next door).

A young rock rose, putting out new shoots.

Rock roses, of course, are well known for tolerating drought conditions, which is one reason I planted three of them. All three are doing okay, although they are growing slowly — they haven’t quite reached critical mass when it comes to taking off. Astoundingly, all three have also (so far) avoided the attentions of the deer despite the fact that I haven’t caged them. Fingers crossed that this trend continues, because I love rock roses, and I hate seeing plants in cages everywhere.

Three chard plants in a barrel.

Give it up for chard! These three are plugging along and the young, tender leaves are good eating. Mysteriously, the red chard is growing freakishly large in comparison with its companions (one is also red, and the other is white), but I’ll take what I can get. And start with it when the eating starts, before those leaves get any bigger. (I’ll also collect its seeds after it bolts, since it is clearly made of hardy stock.)

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about a lot of things, and there was something deeply anchoring about coming home to my garden in the afternoon, seeing the long, golden light spread across the dying grass, wandering around to see what was alive and what wasn’t. It reminded me why I live here, even though it’s hard sometimes, and remote, and far from most of my friends. It’s in part for this, this moment, admiring my chard and looking up to see the grass of the pasture and a line of trees instead of densely-packed, crowded houses.