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Archive for July 3rd, 2005

Exhausted (Gardening in Mid-Day Sun)

Sunday, July 3rd, 2005

I went to June’s Garden Sunday morning. It is absolutely beautiful. It’s mostly perennials, many of them blooming right now, with strategically-placed huge pots of dark red geraniums. Absolutely beautiful.

woman in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa wrapped against the sunI was there 2 hours. First she invited me to sit on her great-grandmother’s white wicker porch swing (June is over 80 herself, and this swing looks new). We chatted a while, and then I got a tour, and then we got out the shovel.

She sent me home with seven different types of plants. I got 3 small dill plants (I could eat dill on every single lunch or dinner meal and never get tired of it), and six other perennial or self-seeding plant types. The ones I remember are Feverfew and field Daisies, which are both white with yellow centers but very different structures. She also gave me what seemed like a huge yellow blooming flower, and a plant with purple bell-shaped flowers, and a plant that has white leaves but which is not lamb’s ears. She didn’t know names of the yellow or purple flowers. The purple flowers originally came from the home where her great-grandmother had the porch swing, if I have the story right.

woman in Mombasa, Kenya Africa wrapped against the sunBrian was gone all day so I did my own physical labor today. I know I can do this sort of thing, I was single a long time and did a lot of things back then that pushed my body past where it enjoyed the experience. Brian is quite cheerful while digging holes for me these days, and I gratefully accept his assistance. However, today I was alone and I rose to the challenge.

I dug six holes in the back yard, between our walkway and driveway, about 3 feet from the sidewalk. This is about the only part of our yard that gets sunshine most of the day. Only about a week ago I decided I wanted to have a sun garden so here I am already!

I don’t enjoy digging, do not like being dirty, do not like soil under my fingernails. It was hot and my sun hat kept falling off so I just finally got a rayon wrap (the kind they sell to cover a swimsuit, but I wear them as a summer shawl often) and wrapped it over my head, shoulders and upper arms. It made a difference against that strong, hot sun, and was pretty comfortable. (Women had this look often in midday in Africa.) It created me an instant sunscreen, and it kept my head from being so hot from the sun.

It was only 84F degrees, which is a temperature I adore when sitting still in the shade of the porch. However, when I was moving 40lb bags of composted manure and digging holes in a packed-soil yard (in full sun), it seemed very hot to me.

Anyway, now I have planted the dill with the other dill and parsley, and I have planted the 6 new decorative plants in their new homes. Cross fingers for me, friends. I really would like these plants to be happy here.

I’ve never had very good luck planting things in our soil. I do fine, actually very well, with planting things in containers, as you’ve seen before here. But our soil is a problem, I believe, and many smaller plants do not make it, or they take a good 3 years to survive being planted here. I’ve lost several plants the first year, and I have one plant (a bleeding heart) that was blooming and beautiful the first season but it’s down to a few leaves that don’t die but don’t thrive, either.

So today I dug holes deeper than necessary and wider than necessary. I mixed a combination of reasonably-dark soil from the yard, potting soil, composted manure (it looks like very dark soil, is not smelly at all but has a lot of nutrition for plants and holds moisture well) and peat moss for drainage. I put that mixture in all the six holes and then planted the transplants in with that mixture around and on top of the roots I was given.

I really, really, really want this to go well! I watered like crazy today, several times (I’ve learned that the first time, water does not get all the way down through new plantings to the deeper roots). Tomorrow I’ll water a few times as well. Then I’ve been advised that many plants do best if you only water every other day, because they grow longer roots under less than perfect conditions, looking for water further from the plant stem.

I wish I had photos of June’s garden for you, it is magnificent. My new garden looks like a few sticks coming up out of the grass right now. Thank goodness at least my tomato plant is happy and the climbing wild roses, although fading in the light/heat, are still colorful and abundant. I will enjoy each phase of summer as it arrives.

It’s so late I’m not going to post a photo now. Perhaps I’ll add photos when I awaken tomorrow, perhaps not. I hope those who have holiday weekends are spending more time with loved ones than reading blogs, anyway!

Late update (noon Sunday): Photos of women in Africa, wrapped in fabric (as I did yesterday) to protect them from near-equator sun. First in Kenya, a woman on the street in Mombasa. (Sorry for the bad photo, she was moving and I was in a moving car. She’s too pretty to pass up, blurry or not.) It was blistering hot there, in the 90s F (the only place on our trip where we were actually hot), and yet all those layers do protect a person against the direct sun.

Next is a woman on the street in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This white wrap is a very commonly-worn gauzy cotton traditional wrap. Notice the decorative trim at the bottom of the fabric over her left arm. See close-up examples of this handwoven trim at my January 30 blog entry. Also notice she’s wearing this traditional item over modern/western clothing, a very common sight in this city. You can see how strong the sun is in this photo, notice the hard-edged shadows. She has her wallet over her face to shade her eyes from the sun.

I bought myself a wrap like this and it’s amazing! It reflects midday sun, it’s good sunscreen, it’s a good windbreaker, it is soft and either cool or warm as needed. Handspun, handwoven cotton with synthetic edging. Incredible workmanship and for a token price (once you pay for a plane ticket, that is).

OK, so I thought I’d give you pictures of flowers. These women are more beautiful than the wilty flowers in my yard, trust me!