Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two Month Count Down (Updated)

This is the first time I've let a month lapse without posting since I started blogging over a year ago. It's been a long, hot, miserable summer and I made one of the worse decisions, or when it's over perhaps I'll think it was the best thing in the long run to do...but right now it certainly seems like poor planing. 13 months ago I was asked to be on the Fall Master Gardener Tour, which is held every 18 months alternating Spring/Autumn. I was told that the theme was "Urban Wildlife Habitat Gardens" which mine is and was long before I got involved with TCMGA (Travis County Master Gardeners Association) or CAMN (Capital Area Master Naturalists) so I felt pretty confident and said "yes" without thinking on it a minute longer. I suppose I should have consulted the Farmers Almanac, Weather Channel or the greatest goddess ever...Mother Nature about the drought but I was, admittedly ecstatic about being asked I thought that it would be just the thing to get my bohonkus in gear to gets things done...hadn't thought about my youngest entering High School, my beloved Spouse amid his PhD. or my other daughter moving closer to her athletic goals... adding swimming and yes, triathlon to her pallet, and who can predict all the other minor tragedies and expenses life offers up regularly? Things at work got ever stressful, but that's another side of the story...I lost several plants, dozens of ornamental grasses and two mature trees, I was devastated and couldn't get the proper attention because the entire city is water stressed. Back to my yard...poor, poor pitiful thing. Randy, my day-trippin, blogger buddy and I took every opportunity we could find, to get out and scavenge object d'art and plant sales...Spouse works full time and is a full time student, so Randy and I do the shoppin'...I know, the ladies out there are going "why her?" Randy's a doll. Anyway, we started this shopping gig last year when we found out about the show (if you haven't guessed by now, Randy's garden is on the tour as well) and have been buying up plants as babies, when they're cheap 'cause we knows how to grow 'em big! Organically...of course. But, 100 degree plus weather is harder on the little fellows and so the carnage has been, well worse than the city garden and until recently I've been running around like Kali-ma and probably haven't been the easiest person to live with...(no comment from my family!)
What happened is both my girls got very sick and I threw my back out...probably because I stopped exercising...I couldn't keep up training for next years Danskin Triathlon and perform heroic garden feats...I chose gardening. Locked inside with the a/c must have brought me back to clear thinking because I realized that...well, who gives a shit? My garden was chosen before I created the to-do list from hell. I left teaching, a stressed out mess because any job I do eventually takes over my life because I'm in direct competition with the burnout rate is phenomenal. My record for staying in one place is 4 years. Gardening used to be my retreat into silence and it's become a 75x125' never ending nightmare of a project. I feel an unbelievable amount of guilt about watering, which has taken it's toll on my spirit. Working for WaterShed, I stuck to the guidelines...a few times I watered on the "off'" days because I missed my day for one reason or another...but never ran the sprinkler more than twice a week...and I make a supreme effort to finish the hand watering before 10am...nevertheless...had I not agreed to be on the tour...I'd have valiantly let things go, and intend to if this drought continues (El Nino...take me awwwwwaaayyyyy!) My neighbors on either side did just that so my yard looks like a water-wasters paradise. I commend them for doing that, though I worry about their property value, one of them tends to leave and it's a hard sell if you've lost your landscape.
The show is two months away, I'm bloggin' in the a/c, kids at school...Spouse at school (UT started back today) and a crew of workers painting my house and studio. Since I said yes to the tour, we've put up a raw cedar fence, had 8 cubic yards of Davey Mulch distributed, put in doors, windows and lighting on the studio, re-planted the NW corner of the yard, which we had let go fallow for two all of that is new (all that has survived, that is) finished half a dozen or so yard-art projects, planned yet another bamboo fence for a Japanese-style garden on the East side of the house, kept up with veggie planting, put in 6 trees and over a hundred 4" potted natives and adapted natives, removed several invasive species (they were here when I moved in and I still have a few left...) added 5 new beds of roses and companion plants...the roses were all gifts from friends (Thank you friends, you know who you are) built a fire-pit to replace our 3rd chiminea...we're pyromaniacs ya know, added two new gates, the green-gate in the photo above is one of them, both gifts from my dear friend Melvin, Thank you Melvin...added two solitary bee habitats and a screech owl home plus a few more birdbaths and birdhouses...I'm not going to tell you about the rest of the minor artwork and adjustments because you're probably asleep drooling on your keyboard by now anyway...but the minuscule tinkering and piddling about that tweaks the personality of your space is personal and if you are that interested...just come see it!
What is left is a long list that I will tackle once these boys pack up and move onto their next painting goes: top remaining beds with Sylvan Mulch from the Natural Gardener, on sale now until the 31st, re-do the crushed granite paths, hook up my new water-feature (no small task) plant the Japanese-style garden after surfacing with white rock mix, install flower boxes on studio, replace my big umbrella, purchase water barrels and finish guttering, have Spouse repair yet another fence...why all the fences? To protect my chickens from my Boston Terrorist who believes it's her sole purpose to relieve the world of chickens and squirrels. I'd also like to have the windows on the house professionally cleaned...I had it done once, very pricey but it took these two gals all day, the windows are double paned with screens and they took them apart, cleaned them and the screens put 'em back and my house was twice as light inside! I'd really love to have that done...oh yea, I'd like to do some gardening! There are a few remaining purchases, art projects to finish, painting to do, curtains in the studio to install...things like that.
Do you think I can get it done? We'll see.
The Master Gardener's Autumn Tour "Inside Austin Gardens 2009" is on October 24th from 9am-4pm. I must commend the TCMGA president Manda Rash and the tour's head planner Loretta Fisher for organizing what I think is a wonderful idea...and that is to feature standard Austin homes for the purpose of showing the public how even a small space can be turned into a Wild Life Habitat and thing of beauty... illustrating how anyone can garden! It's a small tour of 6 homes, but each home is having a series of talks and demonstrations throughout the day. In Crestview Neighborhood, there are two homes, mine at 1506 Dartmouth Avenue and the other at 1506 Justin Lane. Dartmouth Ave. residents, and Crestview Garden Listserve members can go to my garden for free and Justin Lane neighbors can attend Eleanor's garden. Otherwise, it's a $10 ticket for the daily event or $5 per garden...all proceeds going to the TCMGA. My house will host two programs at 9:30 & 10:30 & 1:30 Conscious Gardening with Rosalie Russel and 1:00 – 2:30 pm: Spice Up Your Landscape with Herbs by Vicki Blachman.
I'll be drinking heavily and sighing a lot.
You can find a full list of locations, demonstrations and talks on the TCMGA website or call 854.9600
Happy Gardening!


cat said...

hey..that's quite the list! i am definitely going to try and make the tour. i'd love to see all the work you've done as well as attend the lectures..:)

if you need help with window cleaning, i know a great company here in town.

it's actually my brother and his friend's company, but they've been in business for a few years here in austin and really do a great job...

hopefully that can be one item you can check off your list! good luck with the rest and hopefully i'll meet you on the tour! :)

Pam/Digging said...

Good god, Cheryl. I'm amazed by the number of projects (house and garden) you've undertaken in preparation. I'm sure it will all look great (love the bottle fence), and I hope to see it in October.

The Curious Holts said...

Girl, girl, girl. That damn list made me TIRED and cranky FOR you. Your yard is insanely gorgeous, drought or not, tour or not, paint job(!) or not. Just know that everyone on the tour is feeling this same panic. I stopped by Eleanor's and she had the same "deer in the headlights" look on her face and that was a month ago! I can't waiiiiit to sit in your yard and take it all in.

ConsciousGardener said...

Thanks Cat, I'll check out their estimate!

Please come!

Lancashire rose said...

Phew! That was a long read and I was beginning to feel that you were going to come out with- I'm not doing it!!! Of course not. I just think it is exciting for you both and look forward to coming. One thing that comes out of a tour is that you really do get busy and you have done, and I'm sure improved your garden no end- and I'm sure the wildlife appreciate it. We have done several tours, including the MG last year, and I have to say it is nerve racking coming up to the day but in the end we had a fabulous time. The day dawned perfectly and hundreds of people came and we just had a ball. Even my non gardening husband loved every minute. After it was over we all got together to party in the evening and congratulate ourselves.
See you on the day and look forward to meeting you.

Bob said...

You have a job? I've been reading your blog since you had a blog and with all the projects you do and organizations you help, I just assumed you were retired. You are a working machine, albeit, a tired machine. I am impressed beyond belief. Here's hoping you get it all done. If you don't, I don't think anyone will notice with all the other nice things you have already done.

ConsciousGardener said...

Jenny, I went to your garden last year on the is lovely beyond belief!

Thank you Bob! You are sweet, please come see my garden...Randy and I probably won't make it up to GeorgeTown until after the show...but we want to see your place and have lunch!

Bonnie said...

First, may I take you out for a drink? Good lord, I know you must be stressed, since I am too and my garden is NOT on any tour. I can't imagine having that in the back of my head as I watch my grass turn brown, then the ashen gray of death.

Second, you are awesome! I can not wait to see your yard. Let me know if I can help in any way. From manual labor to just good old-fashioned hand-holding.

ConsciousGardener said...

I'd love to have a drink with you about Margarita's at Enciladas Y Mas? You can hold my hand and I can try to remember what 'romance' was like before I became the nazi-gardener! HaHa! I'm having to re-do the trim color on the house because it was just tooo..garish so it'll be another day with the I decided to have them stain the deck...which will be one less thing on MY list!

Bouncer said...

I'm worn out just reading your last post, sitting in my "air conditioned cubicle, with the carbon ribbon rides..."

Found your blog thru Randy's, found his thru Pam Penick's. I love reading about y'all's crawls, shopping eating & drinking. Look forward to seeing your work in progress at the tour! - Ben

ChrisG said...

HI Cheryl - At the MG meeting last night, I signed up to work your yard in the garden tour. I'm impressed with the work that you do - and looking forward to seeing the results. I'm also putting in a 'japanese style' section of my garden - Hope you can give me some ideas on this.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cheryl,

I enjoyed your garden today. Thanks for all the work in getting it ready. It was the one garden on the list that I wanted to be sure to see. I've posted about it on my blog, which is not a garden blog per se, but never-the-less, you can link to it at:

Best regards, Laura

ConsciousGardener said...

Thank you for visiting my garden and writing such a glowing review!
Next time, be sure to introduce yourself!