Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Vernal Ritual/Spring Thing

Today is the first day of spring, 2007, but make that the first full day of spring. The season actually started at 8:07 last night, EDT, 7:07 CDT, you get the idea. It wasn't even dark yesterday evening, when spring started, but most calendars and websites picked today as the first day of spring. Close enough.

In honor of all things green, I planted three trees today to make up for the struggling magnolia I cut down Monday evening. Magnolias are native to east Texas, but really they're just not at home west of I-45, and they seem really out of place anywhere west of I-35.

My grandmother had planted that magnolia back in the late 50s or 60s. She'd grown up just a little east of where, decades later, I-45 would replace the old dirt trail between Dallas and Houston, along Chambers Creek east of Corsicana. But she really loved the South, as in the Deep South, even the long, lost "Gone With the Wind", "To Kill a Mockingbird" South. She was still wistful for the Confederacy, and she took many opportunities to extend the myth that a relative of ours had been the flag-bearer for Robert E. Lee, and actually that may be true, I'm not sure. My fiesty and at times ferocious grandmother even had more of a soft, southern, old-fashioned accent, not the Texas twang you might think. She had southern airs.

Well, the magnolia in the front yard was symbolic of the South she'd left behind. But it suffered mightily in droughts and often turned crispy brown during the summer. A few dry summers back, I'd had to give it a drastic and unappealing trim. And with things only getting hotter in this neighborhood of the solar system, I decided it was time to go with the flow and plant natives, species truly at home here. Our human legacies linger, but nature rules.

Of all the trees in the Hill Country, the elegant madrone is my favorite. Its slender, smooth-ish trunk and limbs are like dunes, like skin, sort of like crepe murtles, but in its crooks and crevices burnished with rosy and even orange-ish tones. Lovely, worthy of long and longing looks.

But second favorite is the evergreen, always green mountain laurel, with its thick, richly green and waxy leaves and huge clusters of fragrant purple blossoms every spring. Like the madrone, it's a slow grower, but it's all quality time.

I can highly recommend going native, getting your spade and your hands down in the moist, dark dirt. And then sit back, relax, and watch the green grow.


At 3/22/2007 5:42 PM, Blogger John Curry copyright 2005 said...

Watch that Madrone closely. It doesn't like direct sunlight and it doesn't like to have it's roots wet. I spent three years trying to grow one and when I finally got one through the first season. My neighbor cut down a tree and thinking to myself I had better get cover for that madrone. I was a day late and a dollar short. It crisped up in one day. The joke about madrones is that if you want one plant it on a shady peice of limestone and don't water it. Man are the high maintenecne but they are in my opinion the most spectacular of trees native to west Texas.

Most often you will find the sapplings underneath a juniper which provices the shade protection and drainage. Kind of ironic one of the most exotic and sought after trees uses one of the most hated trees for a nursury plant.

lawrence I no longer have your email, comp problems, send me your info when you get the chance mine is the same.


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