I have certainly known cats who got frayed around the edges when their owners were absent for a few days, and were only knitted whole again when the owners returned. So I'm not endorsing the following New Yorker-ish sentiment. I'm just repeating it, as something heard years ago that came back to me in the Adirondack chair this week: Dogs aren't the only animals who suffer when their owners leave; cats, too, go through a difficult phase of adjustment...as they divvy up the space formerly thought of as yours.
Now that the older plants in the garden are well-established, the new ones have begun to "take," and I'm irrigating less, the three other elements seem to be divvying up the space formerly thought of as water's. Earth... The ants continue piling it up in heaps, in all of the gravel beds. Those beds are expanding in the sunny areas in any case, as I plant more drought-lovers that prefer poor soil and rocky mulches. Fire... the sun is taking a toll now on the more delicate greenery as we top the 90°F mark, even as it brings the warm season grasses and Mediterranean and high desert plants to life. Anything that makes it through the coming baptism of heat and light without water to quench it is a garden stalwart indeed.
Air. I've been trying to foster a greater sense of airiness in this small, walled space—to get away from the dense layering of wetter, eastern gardens (even using xeric plants) and allow the plants (and me) more room to breathe.
|Silky thread grass (Nassella tenuissima), desert olive (Forestiera neomexicana), and prairie flax (Linum lewisii)|
The more I learn to know and love plants adapted to the desert, the lighter the textures in the garden become. I'm beginning to have hopes for my strategy of low ground covers (if they ever fill in) with a few taller, airier things that have space to move freely in the wind
and to toss a little sunlight around while they're at it.
It's taken me almost five years to re-invent the wheel (not that I'm done yet); the planting style I'm aiming for is one more or less recommended in my favorite books on New Mexico gardening, though not in so many words. It took a while, though, for a particular set of garden dreams to vacate my brain, and then a while longer to divvy up the mental space that formerly belonged to them and make new ideas at home there.
I've never felt so much like a cat.