Tag Archives: water

Xerophytes

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manzanita

 

Xerophytes are plants that are xerophilous, which means they have special features that enable them to survive in very dry environments. One of my favorite xerophytes is the Bristlecone Pine, which I wrote about some years ago, calling them Gnarly Patriarchs.

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gnarly patriarch

Some of the plants in my home landscape are considered to be xerophilous, though to maintain a xeriscape such as I have it is not necessary to have nothing but xerophytes. A xeriscape, in addition to featuring drought-tolerant plants, uses deep mulches and other means of conserving water besides those that are built into the plants themselves.

In a patch by my driveway, enclosed on all sides by concrete, Mexican Evening Primrose blooms and thrives all summer with a little water once a month or so. It thrives so well that such an enclosed space as it lives in here is usually the best spot for this plant, unless you are okay with it taking over the whole garden.

Mexican Evening Primrose
Mexican Evening Primrose

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The picture at right is of warrigal or New Zealand Spinach, an edible green, growing alongside a yellow mystery flower, both of which I consider quite xerophilous, as they lived in my back yard for months last summer with no water, and never so much as wilted.

That root xeros comes from the Greek, for dry. My current project is to incorporate more of these unthirsty friends into a plan for my front yard, and I hope to have them planted by the fall.

 

 

Garden tour with figs.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mrs. J lately. She has been involved in my life in so many ways for over 30 years now, from the time when we became neighbors in the neighborhood where neither of us lives any longer. I hadn’t seen her since my husband’s funeral, and was glad when she phoned today.GLP1010502crp

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oaks and olives

Mrs. J has always loved plants, and soon after we met she was taking horticulture classes and learning the botanical names for everything. When we planted a rock garden at our old house she helped us choose the plants, including at least two that I want to plant in my new back yard garden, a Mugo Pine and a Pineapple Guava. Many plants that I love remind me of this friend.

Mrs. J became a realtor and helped us sell that old house and buy this one. She advised us to plant the Sweet Olive bush that has been a joy to me and which I am now nursing back to health from drought. She was the first person I knew to use manzanita bushes in a residential landscape, planting sixteen of them in her front yard across the street.

Usually we see each other once a year for the triple-birthday celebration we have with another friend; the three of us lived on the same street for a couple of years, back when our babies were coming along regularly. We all love gardening and we discovered that we all were born within a four-day period in the same year. We started taking turns preparing birthday lunches for each other, and have celebrated 30 of them so far.

Today is Labor Day, a special day that we never have celebrated together. Mrs. J was surprised to find herself without pressing obligations on this holiday, so she phoned me. I also was without pressing obligations, and as we began to talk about my back yard project we came up with the idea that I might travel the half hour to her place to get a garden tour. I soon was off on a country drive.

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The sort of grouping we both like.

That route made me very nostalgic and weepy. Our family has been driving these roads for 42 years now, and much of our history took place at one end or the other of this winding hilly road through oaks and golden hills, which Mr. Glad also drove back and forth to work for 20+ years.

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fig with zinnias

The pictures above are of the stretch of road a mile or two from our old house, where our family would take walks or bike rides. Back then there was no yellow line down the middle; that line seems to me to pretend that the road is always wide enough for two cars.

Over the years Mrs. J has designed landscapes and houses in several places. Currently she lives by a creek and has space and resources to use many of the ideas she’s been collecting her life long.  When we went out her front door we soon found ourselves by her beautiful fig tree that had several fruits ready to eat right then. We ate and they were sweet and juicy. Did I tell you I am going to have a fig tree in my garden?

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dogwood

 

Dogwoods are a species I don’t plan to have, but Mrs. J loves them and has varieties from all over. They get enough shade from the tall oaks by the creek. This might be the Korean one.

 

 

She went up north to Corning, CA and bought an olive tree that is 100 years old. It had been pruned a few months earlier to prepare it for transplanting; now it has been given a spot where it can leaf out and enjoy its new and more temperate home.

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Olive trees don’t need as much water as you might think. Mrs. J had to remove some ornamentals from under another olive tree because the irrigation of them was too much for the tree. In another place, where an emitter is leaking, she cleverly made use of the extra water to plant a clump of horsetail grass.

 

The creek has never been so low, she said; I was surprised that it still had any water at all. In a few months this stream could turn into a torrent. That is our hope and prayer.

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We are watered by mystical streams.

“Today the whole creation is watered by mystical streams.”THP1120160crp

This was one of the lines from the rich 7th-century composition of Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem, which was among the readings of Theophany and the Great Blessing of Water that we heard yesterday. More than ever before, I experienced the feast as a shining of The Light of the World and the refreshment of The Living Water, partly because of words like this in the service.

The quantity of verbal expression of various aspects of our faith is really overwhelming, and I can only process what seems to be a small fragment, each time when the different feasts roll around again.

First we celebrated Divine Liturgy in our “big church.” I had the same experience as last week, in the way the morning sun streamed down through a high window and hit me in the face. This time I wasn’t completely blinded; if I squinted just so, the candles and lamps flickering around the church appeared, for those few minutes, as they might outdoors on a foggy night, perhaps carried by worshipers in a procession of the “Feast of Lights.”

It happens that a photo was posted to our parish Facebook page, taken by someone who was there that day last week, and it shows the church with the bright beam that angled across the altar and nave and fell on me. Mr. Glad said, “You need to find another place to stand,” and I answered, “Oh, no, I like it when that happens.” Actually, I don’t often get to be in that place.TH ray of sunlight 1-2-15crp Both times I was on the left in front of a pillar. On Theophany, when the light was coming in the chandeliers were also being set swinging nearby; we were singing a hymn, and the sweetest incense was beautifying the air to honor the Lord.

After Liturgy we processed to the “little church” for The Blessing of Water, accompanied by the bells and singing together. The service opens with:

THP1120222light and water 15“The voice of the Lord upon the waters cries out, saying, ‘Come all of you, receive the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of the fear of God, of Christ who has appeared.’”

We heard multiple readings from Isaiah such as, “Ho, everyone that thirsts: come ye to the water.”

And more images from the exuberant service of blessing:

The land and the sea have divided between them the joy of the Lord….

King of all, you accepted also to be baptized in the Jordan by the hand of a servant, so that, having sanctified the nature of the waters, you, the sinless one, might make a way for our rebirth through water and Spirit and re-establish us in our original freedom.

The Jordan turned back and the mountains leapt as they saw God in thetheophany light and water pouring 15 flesh, and the clouds uttered their voice, marveling at what had come to pass, seeing Light from Light, true God from true God, the Master’s festival today in Jordan; seeing him drowning the death from disobedience, the goad of error and the bond of Hell in Jordan and granting the Baptism of salvation to the world.

On the home front, Theophany was the day Mr. Glad wanted to take down the Christmas tree. I resisted that idea for a long time, though I tried not to reveal my stubbornness. We had an easier time getting it out than we’d had installing it.

This morning coming downstairs I was startled by the bare space where the tree had been, but I quickly thought of how we have entered the season of house blessings, when by prayer and faith we will receive much more than we have lost — indeed, a different order of gifts, the “mystical streams” that are so hard to capture in words but impart the very Light of Christ Himself.

Christ Himself told us about these realities, as we read in the Gospel of John, when he said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’….whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

This is the best way to enter a new year.

Rainyness

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Just hours after my last post, my prayer for rain, showers did fall on us. I knew that there had been a weatherman’s chance of that in addition to our hope. P.G., as the Irish say, Please God, there will be a dampening in those places that need it most, to retard the incendiary possibilities!

When I drew the blinds this morning, a hummingbird was feeding at the Mexican Bush Sage, but when I went to get my camera he must have gone home and got the message that it’s too wet right now for that, because he never would come back. But he will, and a passel of relations with him, because they love this sage.

I’ve been wanting to take a picture of our bush that is humongous this summer. It only came into full bloom within the last week or so, but it will keep going until Christmas and beyond. It’s a plant whose stems must be cut to the ground every winter, and then this happens! Without being irrigated, I might say. Not long ago I included it here in a list of drought-tolerant plants.

So thankful for a rainy day, even if it doesn’t register on the rain gauge. A friend is bringing Indian food for lunch today – and doesn’t that sound perfect?

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