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The Dog Days of Summer

Dotsey, Doreen and Woodrow bask beside and in the ephemeral pool.

It’s been raining a lot so we’ve been missing out on our afternoon rides.

This weekend we attempted to make up for lost time by spending several hours out and about in the golf cart.

The rain had motivated the cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) to make a skyward growth surge.  It towered to an impressive 10 feet and had begun to flower.

We drove around the bend and encountered an ephemeral pool.

I’m not sure why it’s there.  Maybe back in the day, someone parked a tractor in that spot.   Maybe cattle congregated there to feed.  I’ve always thought that its existence was due to some sort of agricultural disturbance.

Junebug and Doreen lounge in the water.

At any rate, the ephemeral pool only holds a few inches of water.  It holds the water long enough for a few frogs to raise a family.   But most importantly, it is a delightful vacation-land for our dogs.

We are in the midst of the dog days of Summer, after all.

In the days of yore, it was believed that July’s intense heat and all the maladies associated with it were a result of the rising and setting of Sirius, the Dog Star.  They called the period from July 3 to August 11 the Dog Days.

My pack used the ephemeral pool as an excuse to revel in their season.

Dotsey was the first to flop down and press her belly into the cool mud.

Junebug and Doreen lounged in the water.

Woody, Boona and B had a delightful time wading.

I took off my sandals and joined them.

A good time was had by all.


 


Sense of Place

I returned from a whirlwind trip to Texas a couple of days ago.  I had a grand time at the Lone Star Regional Native Plant Conference.  I also enjoyed staying with my friends Peter and Cassandra Loos at their home in Chireno.

The great thing about staying at someone’s house is that you really get to know them well.   I had plenty of unstructured time to explore the garden.  I was mentored in this venture by The Dude and Aletris.

The Dude, by the way, is the oldest boy of my dogs, Dotsie and B.  He is Junebug’s brother.  I was there when he was born and it delights me that he has such a happy home.  But… I digress – that’s enough about dog genealogy for now!

The Loos garden (where The Dude abides) has a very strong sense of place.  You could probably guess that it was in East Texas or the vicinity just by looking at the pictures.   The house is Cassandra’s family’s old home place.   Native plants from the region are planted throughout the landscape.  Some, like the black eyed Susans in the front yard, simply volunteered and were allowed to stay.

Aletris likes to hang in the front garden admiring the wildflowers.

Cassandra's windmill was sited with a pasture backdrop. This little vignette announces to visitors that "You're in Texas now!"

Peter collects petrified wood as well as plants.  He sets the big pieces vertically like small sculptures and uses small chunks to edge beds.

The Dude abides near a bed edged with petrified wood.

Pete procured several ceramic heads from our friend Marc Pastorek.  They are mounted on 4″x4″ posts covered with native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens).

This guy seems startled to find native wisteria twining through his nose. Do you blame him?

Pete has established a small prairie full of native Texas prairie plants.

Eastern Gamma Grass (Tripsicum dactyloides) blooms with other wildflowers in Pete's prairie.

I felt refreshed and invigorated by the time I spent in the Loos garden.  But… I was not inspired to rush home and try to make my garden look like Texas.

The beauty of this garden is that it fits perfectly into its surroundings and reflects the personalities of those who live there.  I wish the same for my own garden.


 

Out on an Explore

The dogs had a grand weekend with many romps along the nature trails.

Dotsie likes to pretend she's at the beach. She flops down and presses her belly against the cool dirt with her legs extended behind like flippers. From this vantage point she admires the scenery.

A Snowy Woods Romp

Woodrow Culvertson (a.k.a. Woody) had a fine romp in the snowy woods.

 I went out of town for a couple of days and almost missed our biggest snow of the winter.    I would have hated to miss the snow because of its beauty and rarity here in Mississippi.  But mostly I would have been bummed to miss the opportunity to take a snowy woods walk with my dogs. 

So… on returning home this afternoon,  I burst in the door, gave Richard a quick hug and “See ya later.”   I’m sure he could barely hear me because the dogs were gleefully yelping at the prospect of an adventure.  

We headed out into the winter wonderland.   After giving the garden a cursory inspection, we struck out for the nature trails.   I was soon grinning and snapping pictures. 

The dogs responded to my good mood by frolicking in the snow like puppies. Woody was particularly foolish and happy.  He ran through the woods like a wild thing pausing only to wallow in the snow.  His goofy behavior reminded me of a favorite quote.   As Samuel Butler once said, “The great pleasure  of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.”

Back to the Garden

A spent Professor Sargent camellia reminds me to "carpe diem".

For the past 26 years I, Gail Barton, a self professed flower fool, have been teaching Horticulture.

I consider myself fortunate to have collected a monthly check for doing something that I enjoy.  My salary has made it possible for me to buy the land that I love.

But I’m afraid that I’ve forgotten how to be a gardener.

Teaching about gardening in a public facility is entirely different from gardening on my own land.

During my tenure I’ve felt it necessary to stay in the closet.  I’ve never worn my real gardening clothes to work.   I’ve tallied the grades, calculated the percent of achievers I’ve produced. I’ve daydreamed of blossoms and bugs and dappled sunlight through many a faculty meeting

I have been a gardener of sorts when time permitted – a part timer.

I’ve been a hit it hard on the holidaze gardener

I’ve panicked at times to realize that I never got around to standing underneath the wild azaleas and breathing and now they’re gone for another year.

So what do I want to do when I retire?  I hope to become what I should have been all along – a gardener on my own land.

I want to finish projects, clear land, harvest veggies, pick flowers.

But mostly, I want to wander through my garden every day possible without thought or purpose.

Just gazing and inhaling the scented air.

I will be accompanied, of course, by a pack of happy dogs.

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