Rufus is 72 years old and Jasmine is 68, they have been married for over 40 years and are retired. Thirty years ago they bought a home that was in an area traversed by a creek. About five years after they bought it many of the houses, in the neighborhood, were declared unlivable because the creek bed was encroaching on the back yards to the point that foundations were becoming unstable. The city bought many of these houses, tore them down, and allowed the properties to revert back to nature. Fortunately theirs was far enough from the creek that it escaped this condemnation and their entire yard, back and front, has become an outdoor space of indescribable beauty.
The back yard was difficult to mow because of the slope down to the creek and for years they hired professional yard persons to maintain it. They stopped that fifteen years ago and Jasmine would go out in the afternoons and chop down the tall indigenous grasses. Now it is covered with an indigenous growth of short grasses called Hairy Grama and Buffalo Grass. The back yard is liberally sprinkled with an abundance of Texas’ state flower, the Bluebonnet and its companion, the Indian Paintbrush. Interspersed in this panorama are small indigenous sunflowers, daisies, pansies, begonias, wild onions and mushrooms. As you approach the house from the rear there is mowed Bermuda grass and an assortment of flower beds, pots, troughs, hanging utensils that contain a cornucopia of flowers and herbs. The landscape proximal to the house continues around to its front. The shadows from a giant pecan tree, near the Northeast corner of the house, falls on beds of Hibiscus, Roses, Violets and Buttercups. Beginning halfway around both sides and encircling the entire front are these flowers and the herbs that Jasmine cultivates and uses everyday in her cooking, preparation, and serving of food. The herbs include Rosemary, Mint, Oregano, Basil, Parsley, Chives, Tarragon, Sage, Lemon Zest and Lavender.
When I visited with her about this assignment she was sitting in the back yard with her 97 year old mother who has an Alzheimer’s like dementia. Jasmine was pruning and watering and they were talking. Jasmine said, “I had no idea of the therapeutic value of just sitting here and working in this yard when I first started it. The whole yard is my garden, it is so relaxing and soothing to me. It seems to have that same effect on my mother