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The Dearth

September 21, 2017

A day before the official beginning of fall in South Carolina, it’s inching up to 91 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also the start of a typically dry stretch of months, which came as a shock a year ago as our first fall here progressed. It had been a brutally hot summer. Even the locals said so, with record heat and weeks straight above 95.  You’d swear the humidity is topical though it is not. It is however a conveyor that turns 95, a tolerable temperature in the desert, into a skull-splitting pit-drenching burden of sweat for the pedestrian, and that’s just on the block and a half walk to school. We left Chicago at the end of June, not one day sooner than we had to, soaking up the new bright green and free downtown concerts of the city’s sweetest month.

They mean it there about Urbs in Horto. From the marquee Lurie and Chicago Botanic Gardens to the pocket prairie on 47th, wildflower fields along the lakeshore, rich city plantings, the kitchen garden at the church on our corner, the never ending project of the community garden, and our little patch of balcony and shade, the City in a Garden made the brute force change from rural to urban into something I could recognize. It never felt like home, but at least there were gardens.

Some record of this change is on Instagram. Blogging just hasn’t happened. I blame needing reading glasses and too small a screen, but the truth is, due to housing issues, there hasn’t been much to garden. Before we left Chi I met Amanda of Kiss My Aster at her talk at Lurie Garden’s plant sale. She’s super fun. Since my friend Craig’s Ellis Hollow blog is how I’d heard about her, I mentioned my own fallow blog. Microblog! she said, as a revival strategy. A year and a half later I’m already way too windy.

Here is the plant that is blooming outside the house we are renting. It looks cleome-ey but I don’t know what it is. There is also kudzu and a weedwhacker. Also a pecan tree raining down shit from several web worm colonies. In the maybe 4 months (or 12?) we will be in our own house, and there will be gardens. Awaiting in pots are two dwarf citrus trees, two gifted climbing roses, three native azaleas, four strange ferns, a prickly pear, a mangave, a found agave, and various sedums. In the ground on the property where we don’t currently live are a dwarf vitex, dwarf bay tree, yellow vining jessamine I had to have, and plants brought from Chi: anise hyssop (seeding madly), my son’s preschool-grown chives, Echinacea grown from seed collected in the 47th St overpass, and Amsonia grown from Lurie Garden seeds.

Plans have yet to be made for how it will all come together. A house needs to happen first. We have a dearth of plantable ground, and will perversely enjoy the dearth of humidity (fingers crossed the hurricanes stay out at sea). We’ve gained an amazing community of caring friends. I can’t wait to host them in our garden space someday, and tell some Carolina garden and travel stories here along the way. Stay tuned!


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