Earth Day


Native plants such as this wildflower can shine as brightly as any store-bought annual.


It’s Earth Day again. And the MSM and blogosphere are all geared up for chatter about the planet’s condition.

Thanks to some productive discussions I’ve had this week here in San Antonio, I’ve been thinking less about the total planet and more about how it’s time we concentrate our “save the world” efforts regionally.

This seems counter-intuitive given that it’s often a “me-me-me” mentality and attending greedy consumption of resources that has led to a lot of current problems. And yet a lot of us increasingly think that learning to respect and honor one’s region for it’s unique climate and character is central to improving planetary well-being. 

So how does one learn to honor one’s place, beginning with the garden?  

To start, we have to suspend our preconceptions about what we “should” plant as dictated by national publications and our television sets. I mean, isn’t it sort of creepy that the perfect wisteria growing on Wisteria Lane is fake? Yet how often do we let our mass culture dictate what we should grow in the garden?

I’m guilty of this. For years I’ve tried to plant pansies, because, well, I love everything about them. And I’ve always loved those old Victorian pansy paintings, one of which hangs in my mother’s dining room. In this location, they haven’t done so well in the ground. So, this year, determined to honor this particular micro-climate, I just got one small plant and put it in a pot, focusing my efforts in the front beds on more suitable plant material–most notably semi-succulents and a patch of larkspur. Thanks to a neighbor that wanted to get rid of the rock in her beds, we also added new rocks out front, cultivating an appreciation for one of earth’s more humble “fruits.”

Honestly, I like the end result better. The plants–the house even–seem more rooted here.

This particular yard has always veered toward a certain Texas Hill Country-esque vibe, but as the gardens age, I’m feeling more inclined to embrace that authentic spirit.  The return thus far has been a greater awareness of place, an increased sensitivity to seasonal changes particular to here.

On a related note, last week I posted this quote on the RW&G Facebook page:

“Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.” ~Marcelene Cox

Reader responses were overwhelming in agreement to a question about whether or not they agreed, and Christine made this comment:

Absolutely! It’s made me a weather addict! I follow the forecast like some follow the stock market.

Golly, that’s a great sentiment. If more people did just that, we’d likely move toward a greater sensitivity to the earth and her movements as a whole.

Maybe then Earth Day would become what it should have been all along… every day.


  1. Try switching your house over to rainwater, and see how obsessive you get about the weather! Regarding the pansies, I’m not trying to divert you from your new path, but just curious – were you trying to plant them in the spring? If so, that’s your problem. This is the major thing that pisses me off about nurseries, and the primary reason so many people are convinced that they have black thumbs! Throughout March and April they have their benches filled with pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, alyssum, etc. – all of which are cool weather plants here in the south. But when the average Joe comes in to buy some stuff to pretty up his front entry for summer, do they warn him that these will all crap out as soon as we hit the mid 80’s? Of course not! So, here in Texas, those things are best planted in fall, and enjoyed all winter. When they poop out, replace them with some bullet proof heat-lovers.

    • We usually plant pansies in late autumn, but I was lazy, so the token pansy plant didn’t go in until January.

      Don’t get me started on tulip pushers in Texas. =)

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