Jake and I finally moved into the apartment in the house next door in early March. The entire back yard was a neglected child with tangled hair and dirty features – that is, overgrown bushes, patchy grass and dirt, and too-many-to-count small oak tree sprouts. Jake’s eye had that gleam again, the one I hadn’t seen since we finished the gardens surrounding the inn. My sons have jokingly stated that whenever Jake finishes a garden he starts to look around for a new home. Apparently that’s pretty close to the truth.
He began digging up the yard in February and discovered under 7 inches of dirt a brick walkway! For a bit, the walkway took away the jarring pile of dirt with clumps of weeds and strands of St. Augustine grass sprouting from it, and Jake’s job kept him far too busy to finish the garden. Another spurt of activity in mid-March had him building the perimeter of the planting bed, and early April saw the drip irrigation system installed not just in the raised bed but around the entire yard! For the next week the dirt got a regular watering as did the new planting beds he created around shrubs and against the brick wall that separates this property from the Inn.
The third weekend in April the landscape changed – there were rows of tomato plants, heirloom reds, big boys, better boys, cherry and sweet 100’s – mmmm, I can almost taste them now. Two blueberry bushes are in a row filled with sage, Gerber daisies, and two peonies. Another row is full of green beans, basil, and sage that is capped off with another Gerber daisy plant. The outside row, nearest the street, has two citronella plants and a smattering of old fashioned lilies that we found growing under our recycle container! The final row, nearest the brick path, has two citronella plants, a variety of peppers, and dill.
A week later the tomato plants had grown so much that Jake put up an A-frame staking system with natural jute twine. The garden has been sprayed with only organic chemicals to control insects and fungus, and is fed Miracle Grow approximately once a month. Today, I walked the rows and grabbed a few pictures – I could not believe how large the tomato plants were getting. To my surprise, there are not just a whole lot of flowers on the plants, but the sweet 100 blossoms had set!
There is also an area where the survivors of this winter’s frost have been recuperating. Many have made their way back to the inn where they have taken up sentry duty near the front steps, or pool duty surrounding the loungers with splashes of color. Alas, there are still a few in this lonely little spot that are struggling to survive, still clinging to life, pushing up bits of green here and there.
There is one plant that Jake and I refuse to give up on – a ficus tree named Dave. Dave was a tiny braided ficus when he was given to us seven years ago in memory of Jake’s dad. He has traveled crosscounty in the back of U-Haul trailer barely dropping a leaf. He settled into the new home in Jacksonville, soaking up sun and shade alike and growing, putting on height and thick lush leaves. He accepted the move to Savannah and took up residence on the patio next to our little abode, and thrived. This past winter’s freeze devastated him – all his leaves fell off (as did Dave’s hair during chemo), his limbs became weak, and now we can barely find a pulse. But we are not done with Dave just yet, not this time. I talk to him every day, encourage him to dig in, grow deeper, and come back, we need him. Jake visits him every weekend and trims the dead wood away, always encouraged when he finds green.
So save a thought for Dave’s survival and I will plan to update this blog as things grow. We’ll share gardening tips, and eventually share recipes showcasing our produce! — Teresa Jacobson, Azalea Inn and Gardens