Dirt – The Final Chapter

The PlanAfter my wife passed away I stopped planting and neglected the yard. However, the project did not die. Plants have their own ideas. Once they take root they spread; despite our involvement; despite our control. The plants expanded everywhere. A dense layer of green leaves provided protection for smaller plants. Insects and slugs and frogs and reptiles hid beneath everything.

The cats displayed behavior problems. Two cats looking suspiciously like mine attacked a neighbor’s cat, lounging by her pool inside a screened lanai. The cats were also implicated in an attack of a little fluffy white dog (people in Florida have the wimpiest dogs), again, inside a lanai. A third attack of a cat sitting on a neighbor’s window sill (inside) called for action.

Curley Ginger or Spiral GingerI saw nothing else to do for neighborhood peace than to incarcerate my cats; indoors for life.

The outdoor population of birds and reptiles grew exponentially in a short time. I stepped outside the back door one sunny afternoon and a black racer zoomed across the yard. He stopped 30 feet from me, turned around, raised his head, holding a mouse or vole and shook his tail, like a rattle snake.

While pruning some low bushes on the side of the house an eight inch rattlesnake wound himself around my wrist, looking up at me accusingly for having disturbed him. (I took a deep breath and gently grasped him by the neck, unwound him, and let him go.)

Billbergia nutansThe untended plants thrived.

I discovered a duranta shrub amongst the jungle in our front yard when it bloomed its purplish flowers.

A curly ginger emerged from under the heavy ivy ground cover in the deep shade of the backyard. Unlike anything I had seen before. The flower emerges from a pinecone shaped bract.

A colorful billbergia nutans came as a complete surprise in the middle of February.

One, single Christmas caladium grew amongst a jungle of spider plants.

I cannot claim I did not know about the three night blooming cereus in pots. However, I did not know what they were. An ugly looking, not-quite-cactus, not-quite-anything plant. It never bloomed in Florida, but they moved with me and one bloomed a few years later.

Foxtail FernLittle appreciated was the foxtail fern in the front yard with abundant sun. I studied it: a variety of the asparagus fern. I wish I still owned on of those gems.

Our plants all participated in the re-junglization of a small part of Florida. The ivy leaped for a couple of years and the rest of the ground covers multiplied. The elephant ear and shrimp plants and fatsia all expanded way beyond our initial intent (I’m sure we had a plan!).

Christmas CaladiumI sold the house and moved. The new owners did not have time for a garden nor did they appreciate the uncontrolled, chaotic, jungle atmosphere.

They tore up the century plant garden and re-seeded the front lawn. They hired someone to tear down the pergola and take it to the dump. They bulldozed the jungle, cut down a few trees, dug a swimming pool, installed a fountain, and covered it with a lanai.

The contractors moved the dirt.

(About Dirt)

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