Sunday, September 25, 2005

the front porch

sweet alyssum
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

I have to tell you that lately, just walking out onto the porch in the morning makes me very happy!

We live on a little half acre that is comprised of lousy soil. Hey, it's the desert and I don't expect too much. Our "top soil" is 1 1/2 inches deep of sand with the layer underneath being clay. Hard, solid clay. Lots of pebbles, small rocks and weird bugs, ants and cute bunnies that grown into jack rabbits.

The wind blows pretty much everyday, water is scarce, and unless you treat the soil (read: totally add new top soil with literally tons of new soil and fertilizers) not too much grows. Not even weeds on our little parcel.

Every year I sacrifice to the plant gods, throwing about $50.00 or so into the dirt and pray something pops up. I have treated tiny sections over the years, adding fertilizers, garden soil, all kinds of potions and homemade remedies from many different resources. My only success has been alyssum. I planted it the year we moved in and it flourished and reseeds itself and blooms all year. In the heat of the day the perfume is amazing and wafts into the house. yum.

There have been other successes on a strict on year time line - sunflowers, desert blooming succulents, marigolds, etc. but the only mainstay is my sweet alyssum.

Last year I took a chance and planted a wysteria up along side the post near the front door. It didn't die, but it didn't really take off either. #1 brought his puppy over during Thanksgiving and he ate the wysteria down to a nubbin. The nubbin grew pretty well over spring and now we have a "nice" little vine growing up the side of the post.

The week #5 graduated I also through some Morning glories into the ground near the other post on the porch. They took off and now cover the entire post on all sides and up to the roof. Every morning they bloom and it takes my breath away to see actual flowers growing right there on my sandy old dirt!

morning glory
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

the front porch
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

It may not look like much to you, but I just get a smile looking at it! If you look closely you can see the sand and river rocks. I have a few palms in pots that are getting new fronds (YES!) and mixed in with the alyssum is some mondo grass, one lonely little survivor from a pack of flowers I now forget the name of, and a few sprigs of rosemary. There a few more palms awaiting ground planting and the locust tree in the rear.

Poor mr. locust will be rooted out as he has a fondness for the septic system and needs to be relocated. Palms will take his place and then the rest of the property might have a chance to grab a few live plants. We are aiming to xeroscape because of the desert conditions, so there will be plenty of pathways, patios and only minimal plants that cannot thrive in drought conditions.

The desert environment and ecosystem has changed dramatically since we moved here 25 years ago. Now city folk have moved up, planted every imaginable plant and watered the hooie out of them. Putting in pools and water scapes also adds to the humidity and eventually will add to even more drought conditions as the air will push any and all clouds to the east and dump the water further out. This is happening already and it's sad.

I admit that if I were wealthy and had the wherewithal I too would have a pool, expansive lawns and lots of trees to try and keep the house shaded in this unbelievable heat. Inside though, I would still feel guilty, because I know better what the desert needs to remain healthy, and it ain't man made humidity and water. It does best on what Ma Nature provides.

add to sk*rt


Heather P. said...

Alyssum is the one that smells REALLY REALLY good, right? If it's the one I'm thinking of, then it's one of my favorite flowers. (I know, if it's really my favorite, I should know the name, but I always forget.) The flowers are so small and delicate, but that scent! oh!

s'mee said...

AMAZING! The scent is so pretty and the hotter it gets the more heady the perfume, so it's delicious on the porch!

I am so lucky that it grows and reseeds each year! I love the colours and the tiny little bouquets (top photo, dark,light, and white flowers that grow about 6 inches high bunches. lower photos show how it looks against the cement. It doesn't last long after cutting, but the blooms last forever on the live stem.)