While You Were Away

I swing between elation and despondency upon returning from an absence to be confronted by a garden that obviously carried on beautifully while I was away.

Bravo, everyone is alive and thriving vs. sniffle, I am clearly superfluous.

As usual, I overstate the case just a bit. I was away for only a week, and rain arrived while I was gone. Never a threat of frost. A garden that couldn’t survive for a week in such cushy conditions is less a garden and more an intensive care unit for plants.

But still, it is surprising how quickly my tenuous ownership of the garden cedes to other creatures, like this guy cheekily casting his web now in high-traffic areas.


And what on earth was making those strange snuffling sounds in the creeping fig-covered wall?
No doubt animals who had taken up residence in my absence and were now beating a hasty retreat upon my return. Yes, that must be what it is.
A red-tailed hawk landed in one of the garden’s trees this morning. Never has this happened before. Evie the white cat must have been under raptor surveillance while I was away.

Unseen tempests caused cannas to crash and Solanum pyracantha and golden tansy to cling to each other for support.


Echium gentianoides ‘Tajinaste’ opened its first flowers with no one to pay the slightest attention to this momentous event.


(If a flower blooms in a garden, and no one is around to see it, is it still a garden? Hmmm…)


The “end of times” rain we had, as the son who remained behind for classes described it, scrubbed the agaves clean of the accumulated grit of summer.
Velvety Agave attenuata ‘Kara’s Stripes’ (who I’ve mistakenly referred to on the blog as’ Kara’s Choice.’)


The medio-picta agave was due for some rainy spa treatment after a recent pruning for work on the house.


‘Yellow Gem’ anigozanthos hoisted five flower scapes.


Which prompted me to appreciate the inadvertently brilliant choice of planting the orangey-gold Libertia peregrinans at the kangaroo paws’ base.
(Which prompted me to race to the nursery and buy another pot of libertia to emphasize this newly intentional pairing.)


The oddity from the pea family, Amicia zygomeris, planted a couple weeks ago, put on lots of fresh growth.


The ‘Campfire’ crassula burst into bloom, but what happened to the smoldering leaves?


The trailing crassula, C. sarmentosa, suspended from a height of 4 feet, is nearly touching the ground.



So nice of you all to carry on without me. (But how dare you!)

This entry was posted in agaves, woody lilies, creatures, Plant Portraits and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to While You Were Away

  1. Ryan Miller says:

    those all look great. echium and solanum… two big objects of zone envy for me (in zone 8)

    I know the feeling of being a bit dismayed when your garden thrives without you, or languishes despite your undivided attention.

  2. Kathy says:

    Seen another way Denise, brilliant choices by the designer/installer/maintenance dudette allow the garden to survive a week of abandonment..
    say, a piece of that C. sarmentosa didn’t happen to break off did it ???

  3. Sheila says:

    Isn’t it amazing how different our gardens look when we return after a brief trip? A vacation is always good for a gardener because it allows us to see our gardens with fresh eyes!

  4. Well if your garden can do fine without you, you’ve done a good job! Love the pics too.

  5. Grace says:

    Ah, what a week may bring forth! Look at that creepy spider. Ee gads. I guess as long as you can SEE it you know it’s not crawling down your back. 🙂 I LOVE, LOVE Kara’s Agave attenuata. If only she weren’t so particular about her temperature specifications. You know what my hubby calls rain? FREE WATER! 🙂

  6. Les says:

    If it were not for having to tend to drought threatened plants, I would nearly be superflous. Other than some occasional watering I just show up at transition time to pull some out and put others in with a little prunning. People walking by always comment about how much work it much take, to which I reply it doesn’t, especially compared to raising a healthy crop of boring fescue for a lawn.

  7. Good for you that your garden is just fine without you! I think everyone should take a few weeks off now and then to see what thrives, and what doesn’t. It seem we tend to think our gardens are low-maintenance, but when it comes right down to it they’re usually not as low as we think! Your garden is truly stunning – thanks for the tour!

  8. Denise says:

    Thanks for your comments.
    Kathy, I’ve got a little rooted piece of that crassula set aside for you.
    Sheila, it is like getting a brand new pair of eyes when returning from a trip.
    RG, there’s lots of ways I could tighten things up, like losing some of the pots. Otherwise, I’d be in good shape.
    Grace, I’m glad I caught my mistake with Kara’s name. What a beauty she is.
    Les, it never seems like work to me either.
    Rebecca, I love to travel but hate leaving the garden!

  9. David says:

    Wow! You have such cool plants. I loved that spider shot as well. The agaves are stunning. I’ve never seen that first one before.
    All the best and glad you are getting rains.
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *