Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A season for surprises

I would never pretend to know the names of most of the plants growing here. My inability to recall which plant is what extends even to perennials I've personally planted here over the past several decades.  In my defense, there are a lot of plant possibilities to consider for the varying microclimates that can occur on even a mid-sized suburban plot, especially as you get a little further away from the center of town.  In these hills just south and west of Austin, there exists every planting and growing situation you can imagine.

Coming into the game a blank slate, as I began to try gardening here I had a very steep learning curve.  Figuring out what might work versus what was out of the question required a methodical approach.  I used nothing of the sort, wandering through each nursery and big box store willy-nilly, drawn to whatever looked best that day.  I read every identification and "requirements" tag and once purchased, completely ignored most of them.

If something was pretty I got one.  Sometimes more than one.  I bought a lot of plants that died.  A whole lot.  Was it any wonder I needed to forget?  Time passed and I grew more philosophical about my losses.  A few plant names I'd somehow always known and eventually I learned a few more. It got to the point where I could remember what to call Verbena without having to scrape too hard.
Some plants, small trees especially, have always been here and I either mis-identified them (you are shocked - I know!) or I simply never took the time to learn their name.  These little roughleaf dogwoods out back were persistently referred to for years as "you know, those bushes out back that aren't altheas".
So it was no surprise really, or at least it should not have been, when my daughter mentioned she thought the fruit on the small tree in front of where she parks is really pretty this year.  "Fruit?" I asked.  "What fruit?  Fruit where? What small tree!?".  So she took me out to see.
She is right.  The fruit on this small tree IS really pretty this year.  More remarkably, this is the first time any of us ever noticed ANY fruit on this tree. I'd never really looked closely at it, not once. All this time I'd idly assumed it was just another yaupon growing up under the live oaks.
Not even close.  This is a slightly sun starved specimen of Diospyros texana, the Texas persimmon.  I never noticed any flowers on this little tree (Next year! Next year I'll pay attention!) but the fruit are hard to ignore.
Can you imagine I had this beauty right under my nose all this time and never noticed it before?  Me neither.
Perhaps I garden too much with my head down and focus kept narrowed.  Clearly I need to look up and around more often and pay better attention to more than just the task at hand.


debra said...

I am so jealous!!!!! You have a persimmon in your YARD and it is a female. o.O The flowers smell really nice. I -think- they bloomed around April on this side of the city. I confess to multiple plant-i-cides. Switching gears and understanding that heat could be the enemy instead of cold required a real paradigm shift. I did the same thing when I first moved here: wandered through big box stores and nurseries and bought a lot of things on impulse. Sure I read the tags but I didn't really understand the property's micro-climates, soil and season changes. I have to admit that even 10+ years later I am still learning. Happily. =)

Tina said...

Those Texas persimmon are funny that way. They're inconspicuous, until you notice just how absolutely beautiful they are. I don't have any in my own garden, but there were scads of them at the Green Garden at ZBG--I quite fell in love. The bark, that form, those (apparently) delicious fruits--all make for a most lovely, lovely tree. And to your point--I think one can't be a true gardener until some (maybe a lot) of plants have died, due to ignorance and lots of lessons learned. You, my friend, are not alone!

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Honestly I'd be jealous too, if the trowel were in the other hand. I am thrilled to bits and keep going out to stand and grin at it. If trees experienced annoyance this one probably would be.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: You are so reassuring. Do you teach? You seem so patient and encouraging.

I did a little off-blog work today, getting multiples of various bloomers in beds to attract more/better butterfly attention. It will probably provide a design boost as well. I ignore that more than I need to - I CAN figure out attractive configurations if I take the time to plan. I mostly just don't...