In between rain showers and sky-pounding thunder, I went out to explore and take some photographs. There is nothing prettier than a plant with raindrops etched across its surface. While walking around, the gravel crunching under my feet, I considered what to write about this morning. I’m in the midst of my fifth year of writing Red Dirt Ramblings. Plus, I already write regularly for Fiskars, Lowe’s, Oklahoma Gardener magazine and Proven Winners so there’s a lot of “me” out there. I don’t want to bore you.
One difference between writing this blog and writing for other publications and companies is that they have specified parameters, categories and content. There are also schedules, so I may be writing about vines and tools in the middle of winter.
RDR, on the other hand, is all about the “now.” The present, or indeed, what’s happening at any given moment.
Today, the lilacs are blooming in three stages. My original lilac, which my husband’s family called “French,” but which is probably Syringa vulgaris, and still my favorite, is at its end of bloom. The fragrant flowers have turned nearly white instead of brilliant purple, but they still smell exquisite. The nearly white blooms are a beautiful contrast to with my Canadian Explorer rose. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of that red rose, nearly twenty years old now. I’m sure I have record of its planting somewhere. Oddly, it often looks terrible in spring, but this year, it is outshining everything else.
It and the two ‘Old Blush’ roses, climbing and bush, are blooming with abandon. They, along with the lilacs could perfume an entire block. Sometimes, I’m sad I live so far out in the country. I’d like to live on a street where people still stroll down sidewalks and stop to smell the roses, but I don’t. In their cars, they sometimes slow down to see what’s going on in my yard. Most of the time they race by instead.
If they’re not careful, they may also race through their lives and miss it all. Or, worse yet, crash into something. There is a wicked curve just past my driveway heading out of our addition. I’ve seen two different drivers nearly lose their lives when they mixed alcohol with speed. One rode a motorcycle and now walks with crutches on a good day. The other rolled her car several times coming to rest in our lower pasture.
It’s good to slow down. It might even save your life.
Back to plants. The Korean ‘Miss Kim’ lilacs, Syringa pubescens subsp. patula, are just starting to bloom. My Chinese lilac, Syringa x chinensis, has already bloomed. Everything is early because of the fantastic spring weather we are having this year. I took this photo of ‘Miss Kim’ with Sambucus nigra ‘Eva,’ better known as Black Lace™ elderberry. I bought mine many years ago, and it has grown into a large shrub. It is a Proven Winners® plant, but I loved it long before I even knew what Proven Winners® was . . . let alone, worked for them. The interesting thing about this elderberry is that I almost killed it three times. I kept trying to nurture it, giving it the best of everything. When it was down to one stick, I sat down in the garden and pondered why it was dying. It finally occurred to me that it was an elderberry for pity’s sake, and all it wanted was some lean, well-drained soil. Bill and I had just built the tiered beds on the east side of the house, and we used soil in the top tier which was already there. It was sandy and not much good so I tried it. You see the results here. I’ve never amended that soil with much, and I grow all the plants which like their soil lean and mean there. The elderberry will grow larger and larger, and honestly, it is really too big for the space where I grow it. However, I just whack it back every spring after bloom to maintain its shape and size. I do the ‘Miss Kim’ lilacs the same way so that I don’t cut off next year’s blooms.
I would plant all of the plants I’ve listed again. They all have good plant habit. They are truly easy to grow, and each is beautiful in its own way. What are some of the plants you’ve grown which you would recommend to others? I’d love to hear. There’s always room here for another great plant here no matter how crowded things get.