Monday, November 13, 2017

Resilient

As long as I have "painted" landscapes with native plants, I am still in awe of their durability and fortitude against perils in nature. Wildlife, weather events, and even other plants pose constant threats to their survival, yet they continue to reach toward the sun and "bloom where they are planted." Here in the Coastal Bend we wage a constant war against leaf cutter ants, mosquitoes, and other biting pests, and exotic-invasives, such as peppertree and guinea grass. Leaf cutters, specifically, chomp on plants indescriminately; they eat natives, adaptables, and exotics alike. But surprisingly their feast does not kill the plants (usually). Denuded, plants trudge on and simply cover themselves with new leaves, new blooms, or new berries. Native plants appear particularly resistant to the mawing, and sometimes it seems as if they thrust their fists into the air in protest. You will not defeat me, Ants, they say.

At least, I imagine that is what these resilient plants would say if I could speak their language. I might not hear their words, exactly, but I do "get" their need to be planted somewhere they will get just the right amount of sunlight or water, or the proper range of temperatures, or in the right soil. Like my foliar friends, I have preferences, too. For instance, I loathe cold weather and therefore live in the Southern US. I also prefer Texas to the other states where I have lived, so I live in south Texas. I prefer beaches and coastal prairies with pockets of forests. I live in Texas' Coastal Bend where I have plenty of sunshine and sand, saltwater and salty breeze, rolling prairies of bluestem and wildflowers, live oaks and redbays. The Bend is the birdiest place in the US, and I am delighted daily by the diversity of winged residents. This area is also part of the migratory path for a number of hummingbirds and butterflies -- two of my favorite visitors to my garden. Winters are often warm, and I have not suffered snow in many years. Aside from having only two seasons (Inferno and two weeks of winter), The Bend is my paradise. Living here has cultivated my creativity and brought me the happiest (and also the most challenging) years of my life.

Each day, our little slice of paradise shows improvement. There is still plenty of water to pump to our neighbor's pond every day. Every. Single. Day. (Yes I am typing this with a hint of frustration.) But it's fine, it will all be fine. Someday! I often find plants that had been moved to higher ground (but not high enough for the likes of Harvey) and are alive. They have been buried under downed limbs and stripped leaves from our beloved live oaks. Without consistent irrigation or touches from human hands, these survivors are barely hanging on. Some were submerged under water, some were toppled over in flowing water and are brown on one side. Their appearance is a little off , but like the rest of us here in The Bend they will resume their loveliness, in time. Recently I have begun making plans for giving them permanent homes here at Sage Hollow in our demonstration gardens, which must be started over anyway. Clean up continues, repairs and rebuilding continues. And, like the plants we choose to share our life with, we continue to persevere. Our family and the families of our crew are resilient.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Harveyed



Two months ago today, Hurricane Harvey stormed ashore in Port Aransas and Rockport, severely damaging those communities as well as Aransas Pass, Fulton, Bayside, Refugio, and others. We have posted regularly about this on our Facebook page (https:www.facebook.com/nativedavecom), but this is the first mention on our blog. I guess I didn't want to put something so emotionally and physically taxing on this platform. But I think I need to at least share a bit of the details of our life and work these past two months. The pic above was taken a couple of days after Harvey. This was our nursery. Greenhouse, potting area, hoophouse, and gardens were completely destroyed. I mean, nothing looks the same. Nothing looks salvageable, save a few plants here and there that were miraculously spared falling trees and tornadic blasts. Harvey and his little twister friends did quite a number on our beloved nursery: hurricane-force winds and tornadoes collapsed all the structures and excessive rainfall (approximately 3ft!!!) flooded almost the entire property.
Our home was not spared, sadly. This is our front porch overlooking what should be our yard. Our home was built on 3ft stilts. Look closely at the photo: there is water inside the house. At one point, the water was 2-3ft deep INSIDE THE HOUSE...and flowing. That means that this part of the front yard was around 5ft deep.

The pic on the right shows a front view of our home. You can see the roof is peeled back like a can of sardines. Surprisingly, the walls were intact as were all but one window which is not one that opens and closes, anyway. And it was only cracked not shattered. We plan to simply fill the cracks with a lovely color to "heal" the wounds left by the storm.

A lot has happened in these two months. Each day we make tiny steps toward resuming normalcy. It has been difficult to watch our community collectively grieve. It has been bad, really bad. This will take a long while. However, for the most part, we are working together to build a better future for our community.