White ibis

White ibis
Ibis

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Universial Language of Flowers

I recently spent a Friday morning watering my friend Natalie's garden before bringing her dog back with me to the refuge for a weekend of babysitting. Natalie lives in Galveston, which is heading for one of the hottest and driest summers of record, so I planed to thoroughly water all of her garden to hold it until she finished helping her college daughter change apartments.


Part of Natalie's front yard.

I started watering at dawn and was in the side yard and almost finished  when a little Mexican lady came to the fence and called "Lady".  I thought she was one of the tamale ladies I've met while working in Natalie's front yard (they drive around the neighborhood in a beat-up car and honk and stop where they see people outside) so went to see what she wanted. She said "I no English".  Then she started talking in Spanish and gesturing that she wanted one of each color of zinnea - red, yellow, and white - from Natalie's garden.  I told her one momento - I'll get some scissors - and mimed cutting.  She nodded and I gathered up scissors and added water to a  plastic gi'me cup and went back out and cut her a bouquet of flowers with her exclaiming all the while. She immediately picked up a spent head.  I told her "no I'd give her better ones". But she mimed picking the seeds and planting them so she looked for heads with seeds while I finished picking the fresh zinnias.


Two varieties of red zinnias with yellow bells in the background

Then I cut a branch of lantana and pulled most of the leaves of of it and mimed planting it. She eagerly said "yes, yes", and we added it to her cup of water and flowers.  I also gave her a cutting of Turk's cap which I again mimed planting.



Yellow double zinnia

She thanked me profusely in two languages and walked away, leaving me with a happy feeling from getting to share my love of plants with another person who also loves them.


I love the yellow centers in this zinnia

 It's been awhile since I've been able to share plants. But when I first lived in Houston, my neighbor and I decided to garden the median strip between our two driveways together.  Whenever I needed to wack something back, she made me make cuttings of the prunings because otherwise she felt like the cuttings were dying babies. Then whenever someone stopped to admire our gardens, we would offer them rooted cuttings. It was a great way to get to know our neighbors in a city where people mostly drive in and out of their neighborhoods and don't know the people who live around them.


A blue salvia that is a beautiful conterpoint to Natalie's apricot house

Sorry that I'm so far behind on posting.  But my tour is coming to a close here and I'm busy making arrangements to visit friends and relatives before starting another tour. I'll have a lot to write about soon. And I'm busy trying to get the new trees at Anahuac NWR in a state  such that the next watering person can find them.  I'm spending a few hours each day cutting baccharis from near them and hauling a mulch to the ones that still need it so they can survive longer between waterings. Pray for a tropical storm or small hurricane to come our way. We could use about twenty or more inches of water right now.