Living in an apartment during this season of my life has way more benefits than pitfalls. But one thing I am really missing is gardening. I used to have hundreds of blooming plants. Colors abounded in pinks of every hue, yellows, deep purples, lilacs, oranges, blues and even whites. I miss my plants but they are in new homes all over Phoenix. I miss my wheelbarrel, shovel,porch swing, using my favorite hose, bees and even my invasive morning glory. But with a new season, comes new opportunites, and so, I am countingthe blessings of not having a high water bill, not pulling weeds and mowing grass. And so, each day for me is the first day of the rest of my life.
However. Isn't there always a however? I miss playing in the dirt.
My 1000 square foot apartment home is home to 11 house plants and my balcony holds 15 plants. Because I am an avid rooter, I decided that any dirt would do, so, today I grabbed a brand new bag of Miracle Grow Moisture Control and turned my kitchen counters into a temporary potting room. Every single rooter offered plants ready for soil and my box of clay pots came out of the storage room. No gloves needed: I wanted to touch the soil and let it clog my fingernails. I made a mess, but how fun it was! And what satisfaction to now have 14 more planters, both inside and out. I took three various spider plants to my neighbor and started new plants to root: next time my need for playing in the dirt hits, I'll be ready.
It was a good afternoon. A very good afternoon.
I experienced my first serious monsoon haboob on the balcony today. Born in Phoenix, I've seen hundreds of monsoon storms but few haboobs, which are intense walls of sand and dust that can go three thousand feet into the air. This was the Mama of all dust storms! Within seconds, the afternoon sky turned from sunny to dark and the haboob began rolling in.
By the time I ran inside to grab my camera, the sky was dusky blue and the wind was beginning to pick up. Reports of 60 mile an hour winds were on the TV so I snatched up my more delicate plants and took them inside while hoping the stronger ones, too heavy to carry quickly, would survive. Finally, I went back to the balcony to enjoy the storm...until the dust hit...and I couldn't get inside fast enough. A mouthful of that stuff is like sea salt scrubbing your teeth!
I watched for a long time through the glass doors and was amazed to see the dog park across from me become engulfed in dust and invisible to me. The haboob lasted about 20 minutes and then the rains came in a wonderful downpour! With "free" water for my plants, I rushed around, bringing them all back to the balcony so they could experience the cleansing rain too. I had been looking forward to this so much because not only do I adore rain, I have a metal carport cover and couldn't wait to hear the rain on the roof tops.
It sounded like music to my ears.
2005 brought so many changes to my life as I moved from a 2,800 sq feet home with a large back yard to 1,800 and then 1,200. All during my transition period from a great economy to the recession life style, I was gardening. About 85% of my plants were in containers so I could move pots as the Arizona sun created havoc on them. Now, in the summer of 2011, I have moved again after my last child moved out.... for possibly the last time for a while! I'm working part time, going to school full time and learning how to live a much simpler life style. But gardening will never be put aside for it is there that I find such peace and joy. Leasing a 2 bedroom/2 bath second floor apartment with 1000 sg feet has no yard gardening opportunities, but, I do have a small balcony that has a dozen plants flourishing.
Morning glories, spider plants, Arizona and African poinsettias, oxalis, air plants, a fern, three varieties of wandering jew, green onions and garden art share this small east-facing balcony. I added a hummingbird feeder so I am entertained all day long with their busy flights and fights. When fall arrives, I plan to hang baskets full of blooming flowers, because even with a covered balcony, the Arizona sun beats down and fries things quickly.
I'm learning that no matter what size of space you have been dealt, you can continue to enjoy the art of growing....you simply have to work differently. And with monsoon season here in Phoenix, I have the bonus of a perfect view of the clouds rolling in and the lightning displays that light up the sky!