Thursday, June 15, 2006

Simple pleasures

As our season winds down, the knots in my stomach and muscles are beginning to relax. Sometimes spring consumes every aspect of our life, and we do not make time for exercise, relaxation, or personal interests. Gardening professionally, I assure you, is entirely different from gardening as a hobby. It's not always zen-like and therapeutic; there are more details to coordinate than meets the eye. Fortunately we love what we do...

So as we're preparing for our summer winding down I've begun to take time to look around. Literally. During the height of spring I'm focused on the road ahead of me but my mind is making to-do lists and checking off completed items. My mind races all day, into the night, and only now have I noticed changes around me. Things like, the new building being erected at Custer and Parker -- is that a Home Depot? I remember when I was a kid there was a grocery store where the World Gymnastics headquarters is located now. Hirsch's meats was just to the east of the Safeway store, then a drug store, Sassafras (women's clothing store), and the studio where I took dance lessons was upstairs and to the right. Upstairs and to the left was the chiropractor's office where my mom went for adjustments occasionally. Years later I worked for a company that set up office a few doors down from the dance studio which had changed ownership multiple times. Downstairs, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings went on all day and into the evening. Over 25 years I have been connected to products and services offered by various companies located in that shopping center.

Most of the center was demolished earlier this year -- in winter, maybe? I remember driving past that intersection at various stages of the tear-down. The old Woolco building, which eventually became Payless Cashways, Super 1 Foods and Rainbow Foods over the years, was gone. I felt a bit nostalgic, odd that a building I never really paid much attention would evoke such a feeling. So many changes have occurred over the years in our community and I guess part of me wondered where the time had gone. (I sound like an oldtimer.)

Anyway, another change I've noticed has brought me great satisfaction. Entrances and commons areas in many local subdivisions are rapidly transitioning to native and adaptable plantings. A popular plant this year seems to be Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea), which is native right here to the Blackland Prairie. Everywhere, I see spikes of blue. Gregg's Sage (Salvia greggii) has become popular among landscapers, especially as the availability of colors expands. Grasses -- the backbone of any landscape on the Blackland Prairie -- are popping up in these gardens, as well. Mostly there are several species of Miscanthus, a non-native but very adaptable. We'd like to see more Little Bluestem, Big Muhly and Gulf Muhly, to name a few, incorporated into these areas.

The deconstruction of the shopping center brought back memories of my childhood and its rebirth represents our community's ideas about 'progress.' Just as that intersection is getting a facelift, so are the HOA areas. They are progressing, they are using more and more native plants. In the midst of a drought and mandatory watering restrictions, it is imperative that we convert our landscapes to plants that will survive whatever nature throws at us. More people are beginning to understand this, and this, quite simply, pleases me.

No comments: