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Garden journal entry


March 25, 2017. Back in Pennsylvania, I had gravitated toward the pursuit of rock gardening in recent years. My rock garden grew larger every few years, and much of my seedstarting activity involved attempts to grow finnicky alpines. Pennsylvania is a land of rocks (through-hikers on the Appalachian trail often refer to it as "rocksylvania"), so even though our little rock garden may have been somewhat out of place in the mostly flat expanse of our front yard, it didn't seem out of context in the bigger picture – and nearly all of its rocks were ones I found locally, on the edges of farm fields or in debris piles at construction sites. In my own garden, I couldn't dig very much without hitting a variety of different rocks. Houston? Not so much. I'm more likely to find left-behind pieces of brick in my back yard digs than any significant rocks, and the landscape is so flat that a rock garden with any profile seems oddly incongruent. Out of despair, I allowed my NARGS membership to lapse, and worried that the humid heat would forever doom any further alpine gardening aspirations. But I decided to give it a shot anyway. Unlike my old rock garden, which I at least attempted to give a natural look, my new one is quite obviously human-constructed: I used left-over stones from the neighborhood being built up around us to define rough courses with intervening planting pockets. The soil is still primarily Houston clay, with some compost and sand mixed in. Hardly ideal, but over time I think I'll elevate the garden vertically, filling in with more rocks and better-draining soil. For now, I'm just glad to have any place to stick a few plants. I won't be growing finnicky alpines, either – that would just be a recipe for disappointment. Instead, I put the contents of a few pots of succulent houseplants (aloe, aeonium, gasteria) along with some surviving sedums from one of my hypertufa troughs into a few of the pockets. I'm pretty sure I'll find some plants that don't mind the conditions – maybe some penstemons, some alliums, anything not too prima-donna. So I think it's time to renew my NARGS membership...

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Last modified: September 09, 2009
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