About five years ago, my son got bitten by the horse bug. After watching a few of his lessons, I got on a horse for the first time in my life. Horses very quickly became a full blown obsession for us both, albeit severely limited by lack of budget (and my lack of athletic ability).
I always said that someday the right horse would find me, and very recently one did. Frankie (pictured above on our post lesson walk) is a Thoroughbred who retired from his big show career when his rider went off to college. He’s loving, honest, unflappable, and he still loves to jump. Riding is a dangerous sport and I can’t even describe what a blessing an older, experienced horse is for a novice adult rider like me. He’s taught me so much in such a short time.
The legendary trainer George Morris has said,
Somehow, we have to get back to the horses we have in this country. There are tens of thousands of horses out there. There are Gem Twists out there. The American Thoroughbred is the best sport horse in the world. I had two very early European mentors, Otto Heuckeroth at Ox Ridge, who was a great horseman, and Bertalan de Némethy. Both of those Europeans told me repeatedly, ‘George, the best horses in the world are these American Thoroughbred horses.’ I would like somehow in the next 25 years to see some people with deep pockets get back in that direction and utilize this internal resource.
I started out at a barn with a very large school horse program where I got to ride all kinds of horses: Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, Quarter Horses, Drafts, and Mustangs. No one works harder for you than a Thoroughbred. A Thoroughbred will give you everything and then he will give you his heart.
It’s a national tragedy that these very deserving horses have such uncertain futures once their racing careers have ended. Organizations like CANTER find new homes for retired racehorses. Many have gone on to successful show careers.
I was walking through my neighborhood just after dark, and here was Senecio cineraria ‘Dusty Miller’ just GLOWING in the dark. Every other plant was a dark shadow, and then here was this luminous white.
I don’t think I could do a full on moon garden because I like orange flowers way too much, but I may need some of these in pots on the deck to enjoy on a warm evening.
Here are some of the plants that are giving me winter color in my garden.
But first: my garden is a mess. We had zero, literally zero, rain the first thee months of our rainy season. Then, for about the past week, it’s been a camellia-smashing, leaves-and-branches-everywhere downpour.
In the spirit of a cup half-full, above is a Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinense ‘razzleberri’). In my yard these get part shade, twice weekly water during the dry season, and that’s about it. I’ve had them about ten years, and they haven’t needed a thing. You don’t even need to prune them. Unless you plant them in a too small space which I no longer do (new year’s gardening resolutions).
Below, aloe arborescens and aloe striata are starting to bloom which means hummingbirds! The aloe arborescens is in the back bed, where my dog loves to roll and dig. I plunked a very small plant in one of the holes she dug. It’s grown like crazy in the heavy clay soil and is completely dog-proof.
The aloe striata came in a 2″ succulent pot and has grown to almost 1.5 feet across. The one below is a division from the original plant. This is not an easy aloe to divide, and the leaves are quite fragile.
Hayrack window boxes are an English country staple. The addition of succulents here gives a modern rustic look and makes the whole business even more low maintenance. The coir liner holds water pretty well and can be easily replaced. Best of all, they won’t go out of style and they’re not hideously expensive. You can find some nice ones along with replacement liners here.
In this mix are Aloes for spiky forms, multiple echeveria varieties for fullness, aeoniums for height and some dwarf jade (also called elephant food or Portulacaria afra) spilling over the sides. Aeoniums are so versatile in size, color and form: some will grow long curving stems and branch, some will grow tall and lush, or you can break them off and replant them if you want to keep them short.