Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spring Garden Journal

I'm feeling wistful about parting with my fledgling flower garden for the entire summer.  When I return to Jordan in September it will likely be weedy, overgrown, and dusty. Hopefully, it will be alive. Since I knew that we wouldn't be in Jordan this summer I added only a couple of herbs to my garden this spring; everything else was planted in the fall, and most of the plants were brought with me from our Amman garden when we moved to Mafraq last September.

Thanks to Dear Husband, who brought in dirt and manure when we moved last fall, my new garden is doing well and some of my plants are thriving better in Mafraq than they were in Amman.  I take numerous turns in my flower garden each day (is that a new leaf I see?!) and here is what I've been enjoying--and anticipating.

This first picture was taken in April and shows my Spanish lavender at it's peak. I found this lavender, a rare find in Jordan, in a garden store last summer. The proprietor told me it was an English lavender.  Once it bloomed this spring, I identified it as Spanish.

Spanish lavender
I collected my small harvest of Hidcote lavender this morning.  This is an English lavender. I love it for its intense blue-violet color and the strong fragrance of the flowers.

Hidcote lavender

My ever-blooming French lavender is the workhorse lavender of my garden, blooming most of the year round and starting easily from clippings. All six of my bushes were started from one bush I bought in the Galilee region about seven years ago--that one is was left in Amman.

French lavender

My first coneflower bloomed this week..

Coneflowers and Coreopsis
...with many more flowers on the way. I thankful I got to see one bloom, at least.

 Some more anticipation: these are coneflower plants I grew from seeds in colors "Sunset" and "Sunrise".  I think. Not the typical purple, anyway. I really hope they make it.  Dear Husband laid meters and meters of drip hoses and these plants will hopefully be watered twice weekly by a very garden savvy and diligent friend while we are away.

New coneflower plants
Below is an odd bird which bloomed this week.  I started it from seed and it is supposed to be a yellow coneflower. It will be interesting to see if it changes from it's present form/color and if all the plants (seven) have the same color flower.  I may not know this year as this is the only bloom so far.

Prairie coneflower
My irises bloomed at Easter, but I thought the foliage looked so pretty this morning that I photographed it. It reminds me of lattice work.  All these irises and this many again, on the other side of the garden, were started from one bulb I found in a garden scrap pile.

And speaking of multiplying plants, I am quite proud of this little border (on the other side of the walk, too) of purple lilies.  I brought about seven of these lilies up from Amman, but when I decided to line the walk with them last fall, I set about separating them. One careful separating session yielded the present twenty-eight drought resistant (it seems) lilies. They should bloom all summer.

The Malva I began from seed grows so easily and quickly.  It is beautiful, but unfortunately, all seven of my plants are aphid infested. some heavily.  The lady bugs are having a feast but they can't eat fast enough.  Leaves are curling and browning and I expect I'll have to start over with these next year when I have some time to put into pest management.  Really lovely, plants though.  I'm glad I tried them. I think they grow to about six feet.

Dear Husband planted two honeysuckles last fall and they are both now to the top of the pipes that we are attempting to cover.  Notice the rock hanging from the string--that is the clever way to get the plants up and over the top!

I brought this Russian sage up from Amman, where it was stunted, growing next to an overgrown lantana bush. It seems very happy in its new home and has already grown more in one partial Mafraq season than it did in four or five years in Amman.  I'm glad I brought it!  I love Russian sage and after purchasing this one, I have never again seen it in Jordan. That's how things go in garden stores around here. Russian sage is perfect for the arid climate and needs little water, so they really should be grown here. So far I've been unsuccessful at propagating it.

Russian sage, not quite in bloom
The basil is now big enough for pinching off...

...as is the thyme and oregano.

Thyme and Oregano
Unfortunately, I somehow discarded the picture I took of our pomegranate tree in full bloom.  All my years living in the Middle East and I somehow have missed enjoying such a site.  Below is picture of just one of the blooms, but imagine a tree full of them.  From afar it looked a little like the tree was full of small red roses. I don't know what the fruit will be like, but even as an ornamental, this tree is such a beautiful way to welcome spring.  It grows right in front of our sun porch window and I could hardly read there when it was in full bloom, so distracted was I by it's beauty!

Pomegranate blossom
I will enjoy the beauty of my mom's garden this summer, and I anticipate visiting lavender farms in Sequim, Washington, but I will miss my garden this summer--grow well, little garden!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wildflowers of Jordan 2013 Wall Calendar

My third wall calendar, Wildlowers of Jordan 2013 , is now available for purchase in Jordan, and as I'll be bring some to the US with me in a couple of weeks, it will soon be available there. Please email if you would like to purchase one: desertmom 88 @ gmail .com (without spaces).

Yes, it is ironic that I, a person who is perpetually running behind, would print and sell a 2013 calendar in May, but there is a good reason why I do this: most of my calendars are purchased by people who give them as gifts when they travel from Jordan to the States of Europe during the summer months.

 JD 5 in Jordan
$8 in the US + $2 shipping
Quantity discounts available

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Flowering Jordan Calendar~May

Iris Nigricans 
Black Iris
Jordan's National Flower

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Grandma Dorothy

One of the people I was most looking forward to spending time with this summer was my Grandma Dorthy. I knew that any time I had would her would be a bonus; at 93 my dear Grandma had Alzheimer's Disease, and though she was still active, she was steadily growing more and more frail. Her caregivers said that she could go at any time, or live a year or more. I was hoping for the latter, but God in his infinite wisdom, knew best for Grandma, and for all of us. Grandma Dorothy died in her sleep on Friday, May 1st. I am grateful to God for her peaceful passing and that she was able to be active to end.

Grandma Dorthy was happiest when she was "doing" and that didn't change in her last years of life--perhaps it even intensified. She loved being with people and serving them. At the nursing home, where she lived the last several months of her life, she blessed the other folks by wheeling them around (never mind that she, herself, weighed under 90 pounds!), sweeping the floors, and my mom tells me, Grandma was the "official napkin folder".

Four Generations

I'm not sure how far back this preference went, but for as long as I can remember, Grandma didn't like to have her picture taken. For years she would look away so that it was almost impossible to take her picture. Thankfully, she softened about this during the past couple of years and my friend, Val, was able to take this four generation picture at Oldest Daughter's graduation reception four years ago.

And, I am SO thankful for the tenacity of Tayta, who determined to get a couple of shots of Grandma the last time we were in Idaho, two years ago. I think they are perfect and they are just how I remember Grandma, enjoying life, and enjoying time with people.

I grew up in the west, but Grandma lived her entire life in the midwest, primarily South Bend, Indiana, where she grew up the youngest in a large French Canadian Catholic family. Though I didn't see her much during my childhood, I do have many sweet memories of being loved by her:

~I remember her thoughtfulness and generosity: though her means were very limited, she carefully saved through the year, contributing to a Christmas Club account each month so that she could send money for Christmas gifts each year. And at every birthday came a Hallmark card with a crisp twenty and five dollar bill in it--not a check, but cash. I also learned about gratefulness from Grandma as a prompt thank-you note for her gifts was expected!

~I remember her annual trips to visit us. One year she brought frog legs with her--a midwest delicacy, I gather--and  prepared them for us, sauted in white wine and butter. That is the only time I've ever eaten frog legs.

~I remember the crystal door knobs in her old house when we once went to visit at Christmas. I thought they looked like diamonds. Oh, how I wanted to live in a house with doorknobs like that!

~I remember her morning glories.

~I remember her buying San Francisco Sourdough bread to take back to Indiana with her.

~I remember the tins of cookies she sent at Christmas, the See's Candy, and the Buckeye's--we still make those, from her recipe, every Christmas.

~I remember her visit to Jordan, made when she was 80 years old. She loved the country and the people. When the merchant in the gold store offered her the traditional Arab coffee, she asked, "Is it Folgers?"

~I remember how she said the word pretty: purrdy!

~I remember her the smell of her perfume (White Shoulders and Shalimar) and her lipstick--she was a lip-kisser.

~I remember that she loved me.

Grandma moved to Idaho about five years ago, to live and be cared for by my parents.  Her short term memory was in noticeable decline, and though there were some hard times of adjustment for both her and my parents, she really did grow sweeter in her last months and years. She loved to go to church each Sunday, loved the singing, loved the sermon, and I do believe she loved Jesus.

I am diminished by Grandma's passing, but not without hope as our loving God has translated her life into a better language, his hand being in every translation. I will miss her.

Dorothy Marie Morris 1919-2012