Monday, August 25, 2008

Saga of the sage

tzitzikas tzitzikas tzitzikas tzitzikasssssssssssssssssssss

Or so the Greeks transliterate the song of the cicadas, and if it's good enough for the Greeks, it works for me. The song is distant to the west where the sun is just sinking to the rooftops as I hand pull weeds from a small patch of earth at the base of the front porch. It's a rental, this house on Collins Avenue, so my Rule #1 was:

Do not plant anything in the yard! Use containers instead.
So I'm on my knees, ripping out handfuls of weed stubble left by Saturday's mowing and a few stringy remains of lawn grass, digging a hole in soil a lot better than I had expected to find and setting in a gallon-size Texas sage.
I can't really explain why I have such a liking for Texas sage, but I have planted this drought-tolerant sage of the desert in the last three residences Annie and I have shared. The first two plants, planted some four or five years ago over on Pennsylvania Road, are still there and well over five feet tall. They were gallon-size, too, when I set them in the ground.
Also known as purple sage and silverado sage, it originated in the Chihuahuan Desert's limestone shrublands of Northern Mexico, Southwest Texas and Southern New Mexico. Zane Gray fans, no doubt, are familiar with Riders of the Purple Sage published in 1912. It's the same plant.
Butterflies like visiting the delicate purple blossoms, and Annie does like her butterflies! So just a foot or so west of the sage I put in a second violation of Rule #1, a medium-sized starter plant of lantana. If I were going to create a butterfly garden but was limited to but one plant, that one plant would be lantana.
Two counts of planting in the ground notwithstanding, two or three specimens remain for setting out in pots. There's another, smaller lantana that I'll pot up and see how it goes. Then there are a couple of specimens of Mexican false heather which probably will need to spend the winter inside but will start out on the porch. You see, our neighbor lady to the east has a porch full of plants, and Annie is bound to have one, too!
Which, of course, means I get to collect, assemble and maintain Annie's mostly containerized butterfly & hummingbird garden while she gets to enjoy it and brag about it to her friends at work.
Kinda make a feller wonder just who's the real sidekick here, don't it?
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