My Aging Lavender

As lavender bushes get older, they get leggy, a quality that is desirable in supermodels but not in plants.  The plants get woody, also. Woody and leggy are roughly the same idea: most of each branch or stalk loses its leaves and blooms, and grows naked and gnarled. The branch is not dead – there is still life at the top, as lovely and fragrant as ever. The onset of this condition can be delayed with the right care and grooming but it cannot be prevented.

Many a gardener removes a plant when it gets like this and I considered doing so yesterday. The aged lavender is right at the start of my front walkway – who wants to see a long-in-the-tooth mass of twisted branches? But I couldn’t bring myself to chop. After all, there is all that fresh growth at the end of each branch. And as I pruned away the dead stuff, I grew fond of the intricate twists of naked branches. Finding the right spot to clip, to extricate a dead branch from among the still living ones, was as satisfying as solving a complicated puzzle.

I now see those gnarled and interwoven branches as beautiful, also, in a very different way than the dusky leaves or their enveloping fragrance. The flowers are gorgeous but the twisted bare branches tell so much about how the lavender has grown and changed through its life. I hope I get many more years with this plant!

An Ode to Dirt

In between rainstorms, I just took the dog for a walk and it is so clean and fresh outside – it smells like dirt!

Dirt has always been important to me.  Dirt is being outdoors. Dirt is gardening, and the thrill of a plant thriving (okay, sometimes simply surviving) in my domain. Dirt is geology field trips, and reading the landscape to glimpse the history of the planet. Dirt is many happy childhood hours between the roots of the backyard tree, where I was determined to dig to China.

Dirt should not be confused with dust, however, which is a housekeeping annoyance.