The Daily Muse

Thoughts from an Austin Garden  -- August 2007


Last update: August 29


Our new "Tex-zen" garden.


August 6 - morning


Strange, it feels as if we have just gone through our first week of summer and here it is - August! Our day time temperatures are slowly climbing back up to what would be normal for this time of year and we haven't had rain (that measured more than a tenth of an inch) in over a week. Despite that, the ground is still saturated in many places in the garden. I spent the weekend working on a variety of projects, including the construction of a Japanese styled dry garden that will serve as a platform for a new garden lantern and perhaps a birdbath. It seems I have chosen  the right week to garden with rocks. I have been counting the casualties from the monsoon-like weather of July and they seem to be limited to a few herbs and one agave. That is a price I am willing to pay for not having to water for over a month.


Things are quiet otherwise, I have been working through this summer trying to line up the financial backing and institutional support for a new series on spirituality for PBS. I hope to have some breaking news on that front soon! Cheers.


August 13 - morning


Despite the heat and dyness the garden is still looking very lush. This shot was from last Friday and shows the Tex-zen garden in progress to the left.


The heat this past weekend was brutal, but it did not stop me from completing my latest project - a Texas-styled Zen (Tex-zen) garden. The design for this was improvised, I intended to follow the classic Japanese formula of creating rock islands or mountains surrounded by raked gravel. But, the gravel choices at the stone-yard were all too large, the finest course gravel they had was about twice the size that works best for raking (about 8 - 10 mm.) Also, I was hesitant to add yet another kind of surface cover to our mix of river stones, decomposed granite, crushed granite, mulch, and recycled glass. So, I opted to repeat the river stone motif as the base of the garden. The real inspiration came when I saw some sandstone slabs that reminded me of the canyons and mesa of the Desert Southwest, places like Canyon de Chelly. So, instead of Japanese mountains my Tex-zen garden features three mesas. Here are the results...


Just completed and rinsed off. The "cow skull" in the foreground is part of cedar stump. The blue basin repeats our blue color theme and echoes our blue glass circle.
























That's a piece of  Hill Country "holey" stone is behind the basin. Does it look like a bird skull to you?


August 23 - morning


A zebra butterfly on a Tithonia or Mexican sunflower- we have many of these rare visitors this year.


I must apologize for being so neglectful about updating my blog this month - I am blaming it on the summer doldrums. The weather has been extremely muggy, but fortunately a few stray showers have popped up and kept things looking relatively fresh. (Last week's tropical storm left us with over an inch of rain.) The good news is that I have been very vigilant about the garden. I have been at war with the spurge and have been relentless about weeding, as a result, the garden is looking pretty darn good for August. Sometimes the joys of gardening are very humble, and this month I am taking pleasure from a few weed-free patches of earth.


This autumn will bring about some big changes in our garden - two of our most colorful planting beds will be undergoing significant make-overs. Our "conehead" bed of purple cone-flowers, black-eyed susans, and coreopsis is now too shady to support significant blooming from these species. (Our cypress trees and a bigtooth maple that border that bed are approaching 35 feet in height!) This area will be converted to ferns and gingers - a change that I think will be very exciting. The other area up for renewal is our "conversation room." This planting bed was hit hard by the monsoon of early summer and we lost all of our lavenders, most of our thyme, and a few other assorted herbs and succulents. I think we will try replanting a few herbs in this bed and start to fill in with a few more shade tolerant species as well since this area is also close to the cypress allee.

We'll wait until late September to start making these changes.


Hope all is well with you, Cheers to the dog days!


This little guy looks almost noble, doesn't he?


August 29 - evening


Lycoris in the evening light.


The sky is swirling with low black and gray clouds and a few sheets of rain have just swept through the garden - so August seems to be ending the way that this summer started, on a wet note.


Not much to report except that I'd like to let my local visitors know that my program Emerging Voices, Emerging Church will repeat next Wednesday, September the fifth on KLRU (at 7 P.M..) The show features Bishop John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, Barbara Brown Taylor, Richard Rohr,  Joan Chittister, and John Dominic Crossan - all leaders of thought and change within the Christian Church. The program caused quite a sensation when it premiered last spring, so if you missed it, I hope you'll tune in to listen to these provocative yet gentle souls.


Here are a few new pics from the garden...


Tithonia or Mexican sunflower.



Our Tex-zen garden with cedar-stump cow skull.



























Another view.




And another - our three mesas or hills.



Limestone bird skull.







A wasp with its prey, a spider. Part of the cycle...


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