1. Spider and oxbloodsWell it appears that we have survived the summer and are headed into what will hopefully be a pleasant fall gardening season. If you’ve lived in Texas very long you realize that we have two “springs” here; one in the spring and one in the fall when we can grow most of the same crops again that we produced in the spring. Fall is actually our more important “spring” as it is the best time to plant all woody plants as well as spring blooming perennials. Always remember when it comes to planting trees and shrubs in Texas, fall is best, winter second best, spring third best, and summer the worst.

Just as spring renews our hearts and minds following bleak winters, fall does the same after desolate, depressing summers. Just the hint of cooler temperatures and drier air always fills my head and body with new projects and revived energy. They say El Niño will provide us with a wet fall and winter, but for now I’m making hay while the sun is shining. It’s still very dry, but thankfully a little shower brought out some of my beloved spider lilies and oxblood lilies. On the property here around the Emanis House I’ve naturalized hundreds if not thousands of red oxblood lilies and the common heirloom red spider lily. But across the road at “Miss Lou’s” old house I’m doing the same thing with pink and white spider lilies and rain lilies and all shades of pink oxblood lily seedlings I grew. Before I die I hope it will look like Monet sent a cloud down for me.

2. BarnOne might look at my old place here and think that I live here to save money, but it does take a lot to keep things restored and repaired. Any money left over after living expenses and retirement savings always goes back into my rustic rural ferme ornée. I’ve always told my good friend and master carpenter, Larry Shelton, that as long as I have money, it will go to him. I was born for beautification, conservation, preservation, and restoration.

Larry just finished a makeover, extension, and reroofing of my old barn and is now tackling my little hen house which was gradually rotting away. It used to be my Granny’s old car shed so I hate to not keep it up. It serves my laying hens well. It will be getting all new siding, a paint job, and a new roof. I’m currently down to six old hens and a borrowed rooster but hope to get some new stock soon. I’ve spent most of my life eating fresh yard eggs and would like to keep it that way!

3. Hen houseThe hen house attaches to my little chicken yard, fruit orchard, and rose garden, which is then attached to my larger vegetable garden and former Byzantine gladiolus patch. My crippled body has left my rose garden and fruit orchard in a very sad state of affairs. I’ve switched from peach trees to pomegranates to save on some labor but there’s no substituting for weeding around roses bushes. The chickens do pretty good weeding grasses but won’t touch careless weeds (amaranthus) or cockscomb its relative. I’m hoping the tall reseeding cockscomb will become the weed in there. At least it’s pretty!

I waited for several years to have a new double loop garden fence built and thankfully that got finished in August. While waiting for the spring rains to stop and the fence man to show up, I missed out on crops of sweet corn, peas, and okra. I would normally never plant peas after July 31, but I was desperate so I put in six rows on August 2. I planted two rows of purple hulls, two rows of black crowders, and two rows of my new Aggie Purple Cow I’m developing. Being from Africa they all grow fine while it’s hot but will stop growing and refuse to ripen once the nights start to cool. It will be close. Even if they don’t make, they are an excellent cover crop. I’ve had a tough time with aphids on them however. Sadly the fence man couldn’t manage to put the posts back in the exact same spots and made a royal mess of my rare Lycoris and Narcissus collection. It will take me years to get it sorted again. That’s OK, as my new fence is sturdy and beautiful. I hope to add a row of mustard greens just as soon as I know it will start raining again. Thank goodness for the new fence as my one developmental row of peas I was working on behind 4. Veggie gardenthe Masonic lodge was eaten by a young buck. I may just return the favor.

Other than a potential paint job on the old house, my final project this year is going to be a new rose garden behind the house. For years now it has been my crown tire kitchen parterre garden but I’ve been feeling guilty for not maximizing production and for not having more flowers. I do love flowers. Now with my new veggie garden fence and with the last of my gladiolus dug and moved, I will be able to ramp up vegetable production by using the tractor and tiller. My hand tilling and hoeing days are numbered. I will also move my five tire planters of asparagus into one row in the veggie garden and hope to be able to harvest half the row in the fall in the future. OK, I love flowers and asparagus.

5. Rose gardenI will put in one rectangular raised bed in my “rose” garden for special veggies like salad greens and such. I will also keep my narrow brick bed for cabbage and zinnias. With another hip replacement looming, these small beds might be my ONLY vegetable gardens one day! Plans are to make a hedge out of spray Cecile Brunner with a new arbor covered with Climbing Belinda’s Dream. So far it’s been too large and vigorous for every place I’ve grown it. She must have Belle of Portugal in her blood! I will keep my two blueberries back there and add several of my favorite roses including Enchantress, La Marne, and Veilchenblau. Old “Violet Blue” will go on a smaller arbor I hope to add.

Although the late Lynn Anderson never promised you a rose garden, I just did! I got to see her at the Gladewater Roundup Rodeo as a kid. That big head of hair looked like a golden silk blanket. My dad and brothers were cowboys. I was checking out the manure of course. It’s odd how we pick up bits and pieces of our personality and soul along the way. I’ll go to my grave loving old twangy country music and roses. Thanks Lynn. -Greg