I was interested to note that I wrote my last blog on the last day of February this year. Like many things during the pandemic there has been a lull. Soon after writing that blog, when the country shut down, I remember how scary things felt, with so little known about the virus and constantly conflicting messaging from the White House; one didn’t know where things might end up. The only saving grace here in Texas was that numbers were very small and one hoped, naively as it turned out, that this state might not be impacted too much at all. Now, three months later, Texas is a hotspot, suffering almost the highest daily infection rates in the country, and the Governor, who had decided that early May was the time to open up (but with no enforced wearing of face masks or social distancing), is closing things down again, and again, things feels scary.
One hates to mention some personal positives of a quiet few months, when so many in the country are suffering terribly. The bright side on the horizon is that the deep underlying issues in this country – gross economic equality, racism and millions still without healthcare – have been brought fully to the fore, and that a complete change in governance following the election in November will, at last, begin to address them.
The weather here in San Antonio has been quite lovely during June. Generally, the hottest times of the year are from noon to six pm during July, August and the first half of September, but with the recent improvements Mike has made to the back yard it will be more pleasant to sit outside. In the front yard, Mike, with the help of Mattie’s boyfriend, has removed the St Augustine grass and we are in the process of replacing it with pea gravel. A lot of greenery/vegetation in the yard still remains due to the two large beds of Asian ivy ground cover out there, as well as a large flower bed around the huge live oak and several smaller trees we planted. But the grass – a non-native variety popular in San Antonio in the 1960s when housing began to spring up in the wealthier north of the city – only looks nice in summer with a ton of water on it and the right amount of shade.
Shade here means light dappled shade whereas back in the UK, for me at least, it meant deep shade. Consequently, when first planting up the yard, it took me a while to work out why some new plants were expiring after only a few months when they were in spots with hardly any sun at all! Now, after some gardening mishaps, I feel pleased with the appearance of both front and back yards (though I say it myself). Nearly every plant growing is a native Texas one, apart from the odd zinnia or two and a soft peach David Austin rose, which actually was grown in Tyler in east Texas. I remember my surprise on finding out that David Austin roses, based in Wolverhampton where my family lived for many years, had a subsidiary here in Texas. Not all David Austin Roses are available here, of course, only those suitable for the various north American climates. We have a Texas native rose, a light crimson in colour, growing alongside the peach one. There are in fact many varieties of Texas roses, most of which are very hardy, and they grow beautifully in shade – dappled shade, of course!