When my wife and I purchased our home, it was newly built. Sitting on a rocky hill facing Comanche Peak, the beginning of the Texas hill country, it was the perfect size for us, and the view was beautiful. The exterior was dirt and rock, a clean slate for a landscaper/ artist. That is how I see myself these days; or did for a short while.
A railroad tie retaining wall was added and backfilled, then dirt for a backyard, then 4 pallets of grass, then more dirt, then a 12 yard load of 1 inch gravel, then 6 yards of decorative pea gravel and I wasn’t even close to installing plants. I should probably mention that I was going through radiation treatment for cancer at the time I was doing this task, and my wife Maureen was working as a nurse here in Granbury. I was trying to get as much done before the high dose radiation kicked my ass, and by some miracle, I succeeded and then collapsed for a few months to recover. The ordeal was only beginning.
Our intent was to install as little as possible, using gravel, rock and native Texas plants to save water and time. The less maintenance the better as you age, but, somewhere during the process, my OCD Artistic Creative gene kicked into full gear. I was helpless and my body went with the flow. There was no sleep; only nightmares of plants multiplying and gathering for a siege. I am the Alamo, the fauna is the army. Every waking hour was spent spreading gravel, digging holes, wrestling with unruly petulant plants and dangerous cactus. I was a slave to the land, and could see no reprieve. By this time, the radiation was taking it’s toll on my body. I looked like Betelgeuse on a good day.
My wife suggested counseling, so I called a local radio plant show, the Dirt Doctor. He told me I was a sick puppy and to sell the house and move or I was going to collapse and expire while holding my Craftsman shovel. He happened to know a guy that would give me a good price. Right?
I called my famous friend Dr. Wu. He suggested I come in for a series of acupuncture treatments and Chinese meditation to rid me of my plant based demons. Neither one did any good. I was still as possessed as Rasputin and the siege of the greenery advanced. I tried to ignore them. It didn’t work. The plants, still in their plastic pots, sent telepathic signals to my tortured brain. They were making a pod person of me so the landscaping could continue when I stroked out.
Six Chaste Trees, multiple cacti, Oleanders, Texas Sage, Lantana, flowers, more cactus, Agave’s, Salvia, more cactus, more gravel, rock retaining walls, 100 bags of top soil, large rock stacks and sculptures, bird feeders, Canna’s everywhere, stepping stones to nowhere in particular. A landscape vision out of control. And then, for no apparent reason, we constructed a raised garden using concrete block and 50 bags of soil. The garden didn’t do squat. A few tomato’s, some cucumbers and some okra. It’s back to H.E.B. for veggies.
More later, the remaining plants are knocking on my door and staring into my Ring Doorbell.