Al Steenson is our powerhouse Gandy Civic Association president who brings me countless bags of leaves each spring.. he came by today to chat a while, get caught up, ask a plant ID question...his wife Ellie loves roses so I took him to see the 'Lamarque' climbing rose in the newly revamped west bed hugging my home...I am SO pleased to see not only the marigold and hot pepper seedlings settling in nicely, I ALREADY have TEENSY seedlings of "Giant Green Callalloo" popping up! If all goes well in a week or less the soybeans will pop up between them. I was his VP for four terms and so we know each other well and get along wonderfully,(he good naturedly teases me about being a stoner space cadet homo) and he has radically changed his landscape just off Oklahoma to 100% grassless with deep mulch, horse poop and groundcovers I've turned him onto. Last year I turned them onto "Iron Clay" cow pea, this year I will start them a "Giant Green Callalloo" in a 1 gallon pot. He was hospitalized with severe pneumonia some months back and has thankfully given up his pipe....he stopped cigarettes quite a few years ago. He is 76 and amazes all with his energy levels and passionate dedication to south Tampa. Cracker is enamored with him and vice versa, they were so cute today....he and Ellie are classic "dog people" and lost a beloved dog of 14 years not long after I lost Sweety at 14. Al last year used carpet, cardboard and DEEP mulch to expand around the original landscape beds I put in a number of years ago to virtually wipe out all turf in front of the civic association building, and installed a clever frugal in ground waterline to service the small ornamentals garden I created around the flagpole a few years back and love the low care perennials I based the garden on. Like me he remembers the 60s and early 70s when south Tampa was often TOO wet and so has become a huge fan of both free tree mulch and the pesticide-free poop from the stables at Ballast Point Park. He is eager to cover the VAST expanses of chain link fence on three sides of our very large lot and so I am going to start a number of seedlings of two kinds of passion fruit vines I was given seeds of by Rare Fruit Council members.
I can't think of the last time that I have been so excited about an upcoming summer gardening season.....I marvel to think of the new crops I've learned of and acquired from friends, found on my own via my usual obsessive sleuthing, plus have purchased at Twilight Market and gotten at fun seed and plant swap potlucks and gatherings. I'd love it if we could get one or two tropical depressions over Florida monthly, plus a good RAINY monsoon season so these and other crops, plus my new roses, can have lush conditions.