Glory's Garden

All the world's a garden, you know, and we are mere flowers within it. Come, I'll show you!

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My Peeps!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Awesome gardening relatives

Mami with her Morning Glories
I have fantastic relatives. Want to know why? Well, even if you don't I'll tell you anyway. Because most of them love to garden. It's like growing things is in their blood!
I went to visit some of them, my relations I mean, on Long Island after Tom finished his leak testing job on the fancy yacht. They always seem thoroughly delighted to see us, which is a continual surprise to me. You'd think they actually liked us or something!
My uncle Julio in his hay day
Anyway, my uncle Julio who is retired now, never lacks for something to do. He grows your typical Dominican vegetable garden. What is the typical Dominican Vegetable garden? Well, aren't you curious today! 
Every proper Dominican veggie patch has auyama, which is a type of winter squash we use in Dominican beans. Since auyama seeds are hard to come by unless you grow some and save the seeds--hmm, I ought to ask Uncle Julio for a few seeds. Great idea!-- I substitute pumpkin. They are very similar in taste if not in appearance. 
Other things growing in a Dominican Garden are cilantro, leaf lettuce, bell peppers, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, beans, jalapenos, tomatoes --cherry, plum and beefsteak types--, peppermint, lemon grass, spearmint and oregano. My uncle Julio, not to be totally typical also grows his own tobacco. Really, he does! He showed us the large, brown leaves drying inside his shed. 
I asked him-- like a silly person who hates all tobacco products because they make my Tommy sneeze so terribly--what he was going to do with it. Make cigars, of course! It seems it's a usual thing for him and his sons, my cousins Julio Jr, Richie and possibly even Michael, the NY city cop, to sit around and roll cigars just like the Cubans do! Isn't that amazing??? I sure think so!
He also had in the corner of his yard a fig tree which he lamented hadn't produced fruit until this year. It kept dying down to the ground because of the unusually harsh winters they had been getting for the past few years. I showed him a trick he could used to keep the trunk alive during very cold temperatures using dried leaves as insulation. Although he looked skeptical, I think he may just try it.
Julio's wife, Maggie, has pretty flowers all over the yard, too. She had the most astonishing tree rose I had ever seen! It was well over a Glory tall and the blossoms were sunset colors all swirled together. Absolutely stunning! There was a gorgeous Mandevilla vine with large bright reddish pink flowers, many of your typical annuals, a huge pot of basil, a Blue Hydrangea grandeflora and a few lovely variegated Soloman's seal plants along the backyard fence.
I squealed over the lovely mountain of basil growing in a huge terracotta pot. I just love the scent and adore the flavor. I told him I was going to take some, so I pulled off a few sprigs which he scoffed at.
"We can't use all that and since you like it so much, have it all!" he said as he snapped bunches and bunches. By the time he was done I had an armful.
Next, I ask for a sprig of peppermint. The last time we came during the growing season he had given me spearmint which I love and still have growing...well, all sorts of places... the lawn, the rock wall, in with the shrubs. It just shows up where I least expect it. I always have spearmint and always remember my dear uncle Julio was the one who gave it to me.
So he yanks out an entire plant of peppermint and stuffs it into a bag for me. "Grows like weeds," he says. 
 So far so good. Then I admire the variegated Soloman's seal and I ask if it could grow from a cutting. He shrugs and says he doesn't know but he grabs his machete--the only tool a proper Dominican gardener ever uses--and he digs out several tubers. 
"There, now you'll never know if it grows from cuttings," he says grinning at me.
Did I not tell you I have wonderful relatives? Glory came home a most happy person.

4 comments:

  1. The variegated Soloman's seal is not a plant I've heard of before but it is something I'm definitely thinking of adding to some shaded areas I have. I guess it's alright to leave the leaves from the tree in amoung the plant in the fall?

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  2. Indeed it is especially in the shade garden which requires a humous rich environment and leaves decaying naturally provides that.

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  3. Glory, what a great post! I thoroughly enjoyed this. It was great reading, interesting, and informative as well as being funny. You just keep getting better !!! By the way, what method do YOU use to keep a "trunk" alive in very cold temperatures? Time is of the essence this season ":)

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  4. I will work on a post showing exactly how this is done. Raymond,m are you becoming my biggest fan? ;-)

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