A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Friday, March 18, 2016

Texas Mountain Laurel

As soon as I opened the back door I could smell it. It smells just like grape Kool-Aid. It drifted up from the pasture over the whole back yard.

Our Texas Mountain Laurel had finally bloomed! We've had it for 20 years or so and most years it never blooms. When it does it's only a couple of tiny blooms and you have to stick your nose up on them to smell it. This year it's covered with the beautiful purple clusters of flowers. They drape like those of wisteria.

I had walked down the hill where it's planted a few days ago. Buzzards had been flying low over that area for a couple of days. I suspected there was a dead animal but I didn't find one. I was, however, surprised to see the mountain laurel covered with flower buds!

We originally planted it in what is now our front yard. After 4 or 5 years we decided it wasn't going to do well there so Rick moved it down the hill in hopes of it being better suited to the soil, or lack of, that it liked. Still all these years it has looked puny. Several times we thought about cutting it down just because it was annoying to see them in Kerrville, Austin, and Fredericksburg looking so huge and covered with blooms and ours looking half dead.

A few years ago the longhorns attacked it, presumably looking for grass growing up under it, and broke half the branches off. We don't prune it into tree shape since any little tree trunks are tempting to a buck as a place to rub their antlers in the Fall. So it's just a big shrub, and not all that big for its age.

Every Spring is different here and that's the wonderfulness of it. You quickly learn to treasure little things and things you realize you may never see again. Like the Clark's Nutcracker I saw in 1994, a bird rarely seen in our area, and not seen by us since. Or the year the native verbena covered the ground in a blanket of purple.

Or this week when we had over 4" of rain and the draw behind the house has been flowing ever since. In the afternoon and evening you can hear the frogs down there. They spend most of their lives waiting on rain and emerge when the water flows to lay eggs and sing the night away.

You enjoy the pink blooms covering the old peach tree more because each year may be its last. We had two and lost one in the bad drought of 2011. Rick was going to cut this surviving one down and let the shoots below the graft grow to see what we would get. But I didn't have the heart to cut it down so I cut the new shoots off and the old tree has been covered with beautiful blooms.

So I guess the moral of this story is this - never give up. Not on the old sad looking things you love that seem to be down for the count, not on the little frogs and toads that wait for months on end for rain, and not on yourself. There may yet be another glorious Spring ahead. And when it comes, grab your boots and don't let it pass unnoticed. It might never come again.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Ryo. We are having a beautiful Spring so far!

  2. Nice post, glad you are getting some rain. I'm not giving up hope that we'll someday have our place in the hill country.