10 October 2011

Rain is the New Snow

Our neighbor, who is the mother of three little girls, said that yesterday in recognition of the fact that we haven't had a real rain in Austin since June. Two-year-olds likely have no concept of what rain is, and older kids have probably forgotten.

But let's back up. This weekend, I had just two things on the agenda. (1) Saturday I planned to plant some of the lamb's ears and sedums I bought a few weeks ago, and (2) I was registered to run a half-marathon Sunday morning. I invited the oldest of the neighbor girls to help me with the planting (she's been my apprentice before, and she thinks it's fun!). She was so excited about it that she was thrilled when her family's trip to the beach was canceled (due to a chance of rain on the coast) because it meant that she got to help in the garden. When I went to pick her up, with a chance of rain in Austin's forecast as well, her mom mentioned that our drought has elevated rain to a celebratory occasion for kids. For adults, too, I added, thinking about the last time we had a bit of rain and how I relished standing out in it.

So we put in some time in my backyard, and I planted three new lamb's ears and replaced one that didn't survive the summer. Here are the three:

(When I plant, I follow the conventional wisdom to dig a hole as deep as the pot and twice as wide, but I separate out what I remove from the hole into two spare pots. The top layer of good soil (that we trucked/bobcatted in earlier this year) goes in one pot, and the underlayer of rock-hard clay soil goes in another. After I put the new plant in the hole, I only use the good soil to fill in around it, keeping the bad dirt separate so I can throw it away. The pots of dirt in the picture are all bad dirt that I need to dispose of.)

My neighbor friend helped with watering the plants once I put them in, but mostly she worked on something a little different:

Steve and I bought these ceramic bunnies a while back with the intention of tucking them in among the plants. When I suggested that my little friend get started on the first one, she apparently had a different artistic vision. She wasn't too into actually gardening, but that's okay. We had a nice time together (and she even took that picture herself).

And just hours after we finished up, this happened (here's where I show you that I'm not above asking you to turn your head -- or your monitor -- to watch this because I couldn't figure out how to rotate a video):

And then there was TONS more rain Sunday morning (an inch and a half total, I think) -- so much that the half marathon I was very much on the fence about running was canceled. (I frankly couldn't have been happier.) The drought has turned every person in Austin into a weirdo who can't stop talking about needing rain...or, now, how great it was to finally get some. So hooray for that.

After (sort of) preparing to run a half marathon, I found myself with a whole day with no plans. It rained pretty consistently in the morning, and when it finally stopped, Steve and I walked down to the nearby creek to see how much water was flowing. After a summer of zero rain and zero water in the creek, we were delighted to see it raging. And somehow, seeing all of the rain (and expecting more later in the day, although it never came), we were inspired to do more planting. We picked up four little pots of Italian parsley (the bunnies' favorite) with plans to put them in a planter in the kitchen, but only three of them fit, so we had to divide them between two planters.

The second one, in front, is a bunny planter we picked up at Tuesday Morning a while back, just because it was so adorable. There's a teeny-tiny bunny trying to climb into it -- what could be cuter than that?!

And then, since we were on a bit of a roll, we finally got to planting some Italian parsley seeds we picked up forever ago. We googled around for tips, which led us to soak the seeds in warm water before planting them, and although we didn't want to use all of our seeds at once, we now have over fifty Italian parsley plants hopefully working hard to break out of their shells. We'll know if it was successful in a couple of weeks.

Oh, and in one final weekend gardening move, we relocated one of the ceramic bunnies to its rightful spot among the lantana in the backyard.

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