The Executive Producer and I took a field trip today. We drove over to Somerville, about 80 minutes from Katy, to fulfill my promise to my longtime friends Jeff and Laura that I would design and implement a butterfly and hummingbird garden for them at their cozy cabin in the woods. It was a beautiful day in the heart of Texas, sunny and mild. While the EP and I were wending our way along the country roads, Jeff and Laura and their work crew (aka their sons, Matt & Sam) toiled to remove the Bermuda grass and weeds that covered the area designated as garden.
By the time we arrived, the bed was roughed out and we were ready to begin the next phase of the process. While Jeff and Phil headed into Brenham to purchase compost, irrigation supplies and whatever else they deemed necessary, Laura and I took the back road from Somerville to Independence, home of the Antique Rose Emporium. This time last year, the fields along that road were blanketed in bluebonnets, a beautiful and welcome sight that was not repeated this year. Until then, I hadn't fully appreciated just how bad drought conditions are throughout Texas. Washington County is in extreme to exceptional drought; my corner of Katy is rated severe and bordering on extreme. The entire state of Texas is in at least a moderate state of drought. The governor of Texas designated this weekend as a time for citizens of all faiths and beliefs to offer prayers for rain. That's been my most fervent prayer for months now.
Despite the drought, there were still beautiful blooms to be seen at ARE, although they were less bountiful than in years past. Given the high winds we experienced today, it's a miracle that any blooms were able to stay in place. We managed to stay upright and were successful in our mission to purchase a Butterfly Rose, 'Mutabilis', and a 'Peggy Martin' climbing rose that I hope will cover the chain link fence. While we were there, I went ahead and purchased a 'Mutabilis' to replace the one in my rose bed that died, and a long-desired Climbing Pinkie for my back fence. Now I'm wishing I'd also bought a Peggy Martin for the split rail fence in the rose bed! An Agastache 'Purple Haze' jumped on my wagon as I made my way to check out. Funny how those plants know which wagon to choose!
On the way back to the cabin, we stopped at Discount Trees on Highway 36 to see what they might have on my wish list for Jeff & Laura's new garden. We had already decided to wait until fall to purchase and install a Mexican Plum in the bed, to give it a better chance of survival. We did find a 'Bubba' Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) and a Texas/Mexican Olive (Cordia boissieri), both of which should be able to handle being planted in such adverse conditions. A helpful Discount Trees employee was able to fit those into the back seat of the car and we headed back to the cabin to unload, after which we deemed it time for a lunch break. If you're in the Somerville area, we can highly recommend The Point, where the burgers are scrumptious and the pies are homemade. (I could have eaten a bowl or two of the owner's meringue all by itself.)
Back at the cabin after lunch, we unloaded and spread 18 bags of soil and compost. As promised, all I had to do was specify where the plants should be placed; Laura and her guys did all the digging, with assistance as needed from the Executive Producer. I did fluff roots and nestle the roses and trees/shrubs into the soil with words of encouragement. We relocated a Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana) and a Sweet Almond Verbena (Aloysia virginiana) to the bed from elsewhere on the property. With all plants thoroughly watered and settling into their new homes, the supervisor and crew relaxed with a refreshing adult beverage and admired the results of our labors.
All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend Earth Day: in the company of good friends who so generously share their country cabin with us, make each visit a pleasure, and give me the opportunity to share my love of plants with them. I'm looking forward to adding more plants to their garden and being there with them to enjoy the winged visitors those plants will bring!