Mulch Better!

 The pile is smaller

Being a typical gardener, I went out many hours after dark in my pajamas to take a picture of a pile of composted wood shreddings.  I hate flash photography, but only because my flash pictures usually look terrible (example above).   Before hastening back indoors, I tried a flash shot of the bare Cercis branches. Interesting, sort of.  It looks more January-like than our January has looked so far. 
Cercis branches

I'm up late because everything hurts.  My back hurts, shoulders, knees, neck, toes, wrists.  Ow, ow, owwwww.  The hot bath helped, but not enough.  But the garden looks better and better.  I mulched like mad all weekend, gusty arid winds or not, stopping only to note that Aloe 'Fire Ranch' and Aloe greatheadii have the start of blooms.  

I Didn't notice this bloom emerging on Friday.  Love love love the red teeth on Aloe 'Fire Ranch':
Aloe 'Fire Ranch' bloom begins

Aloe greatheadii. This year's bloom looks more substantial.  Last year's flopped over, and I had to stake it so no one would step on it. 
Aloe greatheadii bloom
Does it hurt to bloom, O Aloe?  Or feel euphoric?
Do the bees crawling through your anthers
Does soil have flavor--bitter, salty, sweet?  
Does water sate?
Does the sun burn you as it does me or 
do you shiver when it is night?
I should love to ask you, Aloe.
I should love to hear your voice, undoubtedly coloratura.

Aloe greatheadii bloom

On Saturday night we watched "Bill Cunningham New York", which is a documentary about a man who has spent decades taking snapshots of people wearing interesting clothes in New York City.  He rides a bicycle everywhere (in New York City! at age 80!), doesn't care about food, money, or clothes (his own clothes, that is) and lives in a tiny space filled with filing cabinets filled with a detailed history of the fashion of the last thirty or so years.  "He who seeks beauty will find it," was something he said.  I thought long and hard about what he said regarding getting out there, being out there on the street looking and looking at what people wear:  “I let the street speak to me. There are no shortcuts…. It isn’t what I think, it’s what I see.”  You don't decide short skirts are a trend and then go out and take pictures only of short skirts.  You go out with no ideas at all, with a silent mind, and look. 

That's just as true of a garden as it is of fashion in New York City.  You look and look and look for hours and days, weeks, years, shutting your mind off, until the garden speaks.  Then you have to make sure you are listening. 


  1. Lovely photos and text dear Hoover, I often wonder how our plants feel in this unforgiving heat, they wilt to stop moisture loss, they turn the greyness of leaves towards the sun for protection but one does wonder at what point too much damage is done and if the plant can feel it.
    We had a hot dry wind today so I was out watering some of my more tender foliaged plants. Yes I am sure the garden speaks to us, I love my plants, they give me so much.
    I hope your aches and pains go away soon.
    xoxoxo ♡

  2. The first red-toothed Aloe photo is so pretty! Is that the 'Fire Ranch'? Beautiful!

  3. I really cannot believe you are moving 10 yards of mulch with a mere 5-gallon bucket. I assume it must be completely impractical for you to use a wheelbarrow(?)...your garden ought to be very, very grateful for your dedication. Right.

  4. That's a gorgeous looking aloe, well deserved poetry and photography focus! And I hope you're not too achy now :)

  5. @dianne, you are so right. Our plants give to us as we give to them.

    @Alan, yes 'Fire Ranch'. I clarified in the text. Thanks.

    @MulchMaid, I have a cart, but the bucket works better for me. There are a lot of obstacles, gates, slopes, and an ever-curious dog that make the cart less useful than it would be in flat, wide open space.

    @Mark & Gaz, the hot water heater and bathtub will get some steady use for the next few days!


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