What the Divas Did in 2004, Part 2


We’d had some problems with the scheduling but finally Karla set the date: “Hello Divas, since Donna & Buffy have something the following weekend, we’ll keep this Saturday. I was planning to do the walkway to my back yard in granite and work a little on the small terrace bed. Just bring the usual tools, including pruning tools. Glinda, please bring your [pole pruner] because I do have some tall photinias that need to go. Mindy, we’ll be okay w/o the tiller… things will probably still be wet unless we have a lot of sun between now and then. Looking forward to seeing you!”

DivasoftheDirt, mulch and graniteOnce again we started our garden day with a huge pile of garden supplies in the driveway – not mulch or soil this time, but a truckload of a local stone product called decomposed granite. Karla was ready to get rid of her mud track along the side of her house to the back, replacing it with a
packed granite path.

DivasoftheDirt, lattice

Before we started hauling granite, we were served a lavish breakfast. Occasionally one or the other of the Divas would make two versions of an entrée, leaving out the mushrooms on the part they’d serve to Sugar. Sugar always turned up her nose at anything in the fungi arena. [This is in no way the same as the fun guy arena, where Sugar is known as une connaisseuse.] Well, Sugar had deserted us, so the previously proscribed mushrooms ran rampant through the menus. Karla made us scrumptious mushroom quiches, serving them with great biscuits, and lots of fruit.

DivasoftheDirt, Donna and KarlaThe entire area that the path would traverse also needed a lot of work. Local gardeners have been seeing a lot of die-off in their redtip photinias, and this was happening to Karla’s hedge. An informed gardener would probably not choose to use Photinia now, but when you buy a previously owned home, you inherit lots of plants that were bought before their deficiencies became apparent. Who knows which of the current plants favored by the experts will surprise us with unforeseen problems? For now, we’ll just try to do the best with the hands we’ve been dealt in life.

Here is the side of the house, dead Photinias in view.
DivasoftheDirt, future path
We set to work to remove a couple of the dead photinias, clear the ground of old rotting timbers and general junk that was here when Karla bought this house in Northwest Austin, make a 40-foot long path of decomposed granite, and renew the flower beds in the terraced area. [All in one day, remember!] Creating that terrace had been an enormously satisfying project a couple of years ago. Some blue Plumbago auriculata plants had decided that one side of the patio was their personal domain. Later in the year they’d be a mass of pale blue and fresh green. In April, the Gaura was already sending pink wands waving in the wind. Karla had bought a ‘Forest Pansy’ Redbud. It was growing in a container, ready to be planted in the bed we’d made along the fence a couple of years ago. [Yeah – you’ve heard that name ‘Forest Pansy’ before, and you’ll hear it again!] Some Bulbine passed along by Sugar had grown and bloomed in its long loose bright yellow fashion, the Nandinas were thriving and some cannas were ready to bloom.
DivasoftheDirt, Wilma and KarlaWe started the preliminary work on the path and the terrace beds. Buffy and I were restless, feeling more in the mood for destruction rather than plant placement. We grubbed out the photinia roots [narrowly missing the barely covered wire for Karla’s cable TV], then sawed up the pruned off limbs, bagged and smashed and hauled junk out to the curb, while the other Divas dug, amended, planted and made the terrace beautiful. We all knew the big gravel-hauling job was coming up so we didn’t hesitate when Karla produced pimiento cheese, Sun chips, tarragon chicken salad, and Whole Foods cookies for lunch. Karla is so sweet that she even remembered the Dr Pepper for Donna and me – Wilma also turned out to be a Dr Pepper fan. After many, many wheelbarrow loads and lots of raking, the decomposed granite path was in shape, DivasoftheDirt, new path goodthe previous Photinia area was dug with a few perennials installed in it and the terrace was once again a beautiful place for Karla to escape and relax.

DivasoftheDirt, terrace viewKarla wrote us, “My yard is so beautiful. I just find myself standing at the door, window, and when it stops raining long enough, on the patio admiring how wonderful it looks. I am so eager to get some work done on the front bed, but the weekend was all rainy. I won't complain too much because I remember last year this time, I had no rain. I got more bedding plants out and got about 1/2 of the front bed weeded, composted and mulched yesterday afternoon after work. I still haven't looked for something tall and thin for along the chain link fence where the red tips were, so let me know if you see something that I have to have!!”DivasoftheDirt, karla and annie


2004 was shaping up to be one of the rainiest on record, and Annie spent some time wondering whether we could come, “Divas, As I sit here … it is pouring rain, with the forecast for heavy rain on Friday. The prediction for Saturday at this point is just 20%, so hopefully it will not be a wash.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, also Mindy's Mom. I will need the creative, artistic minds of everyone to help me with my garden design. Plan on bringing tools for making new beds and rearranging some other stuff. Maybe even bring a rain poncho or boots!! “

Although the real Martha Stewart is in trouble and sentenced to prison, we have our own domestic goddess, Annie, safe in North Austin. As always, her house is like a haven of civilization in an ever more ugly world. What a charming table setting for the breakfast! She presented us with a casserole composed of bagels, eggs & bacon, fruit, and an heirloom apple cake. We also had the chance to welcome Mindy’ mother, Lillian, who was spending some time at her daughter’s home. One look at these two women sitting next to each other revealed the secret of Mindy’s beautiful complexion. You have to inherit it, I guess!

Some of Annie’s wishes were that we redo the front bed, a previous Diva project.
(Ed:Here's a picture from October 2003)
DivasoftheDirt, flower bed
At that time we’d divided and reset a lot of Shasta daisies, which unfortunately were thriving at the expense of the rest of the plants. The Shastas were throwing off the proportions of the planting. Annie also wanted to try some perennials in one section of the parkway, replacing the grass, which was refusing to grow in that area. There is a crepe myrtle at the center of the bed, so we decided to leave a few daisies at the back, behind the myrtle, with the less pushy plants like the penstemon and santolina in the front. The new parkway bed is small now, but it will be interesting to see what it all looks like by next spring.
DivasoftheDirt, new bedsAnnie also had an idea for a new bed next to the front porch, which would make a floral statement in the entrance area. She had a few miniature crepe myrtles there, kept as a low hedge, but wanted a more sweeping and graciously shaped flowerbed. Everyone got to work with clippers, shovels, forks, trowels and weeders, Some overhanging branches made everyone duck and weave, trying to traverse with their tools from the cars to the door, so tree pruning was included in the scope of this renewal project. We were working hard, but did we really deserve a second cake? Apparently Annie thought we did, because the lunch featured tuna salad, a cold guacamole soup and the second cake – a luscious lemon one this time.

The front entrance garden would have peach cannas and assorted interesting perennials. I’ve probably mentioned some of Annie’s plants in other years. Besides the multiplying Shasta daisies she grows Salvia leucantha [Mexican bush sage], Leguminosae scuttelaris suffrutescens [a native pink skullcap], Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), Vitex agnus-castus [chaste tree], Rosemaries, a white-flowering Plumbago, and Rose-of-Sharon.

Annie finds unusual and exotic plants in unexpected places – then convinces them that it is okay to live in Texas. One of her newer pets is an Oxypetalum Caeruleum "Heaven Born", also known as a "Tweedia". It is a wonderful shade of blue. And she was the first to find another beautiful plant, long before Skip Richter recommended it as the Plant of the Week on the Central Texas Gardening Shaw on KLRU. Here is her gorgeous Philippine violet [Barleria cristata]:DivasoftheDirt, philippine violet“Divas, Last night after you all left, I went and got more compost and some root stimulator. This morning I watered everything and did some more work. I cannot express enough my gratitude to everyone for the hard work, dedication, and creative landscaping on my yard. I am so excited
about what you all did. Can't wait to see how it will mature. I love the English county garden and having LESS of those daisies!! Wilma, we missed you. You missed out on a wonderful transformation. THANK YOU AGAIN DIVAS!!” was Annie’s response to her garden day.

(Ed: later in summer 2004 this photo was taken of Annie's Texas Mountain Laurel with Salvia leucantha and caladium in bloom at the base. )

DivasoftheDirt, Tx mountain laurel

Mindy sent out a note in June, inviting us to participate in a completely new kind of project.

“…Saturday's goal is to do only projects in the shade. I would still like to focus on deckscaping and calling on the wisdom and support of the divas to help me determine what is salvageable and appropriate for my deck area and how to arrange it. I also need to have cushions and pillows made for the deck furniture and would like to ask opinions on that… will see you all on Saturday at 8 a.m.”

We headed out toward Dripping Springs, sure that this would be an interesting day! We began with a lovely breakfast, featuring a specialty of the Beaumont area. There is a kind of shrub called Mayhaw that grows along the coast and Mindy served us biscuits with a jelly made of this fruit. It didn’t seem that special at first, but by the last bite of the first biscuit, I became addicted to Mayhaw jelly. Here is Mindy’s delectable casserole recipe. She has had constant requests for the recipe. When we see a dish that is so substantial appearing on the breakfast table, we feel warned that there will be a lot of work to do!


This recipe makes 12 servings when cut into squares. Allow about 25 minutes for preparation time; the baking and standing time is about 50 minutes.

8 frozen, prepared hash brown patties [get the gently pre-browned, 9 per package kind]

12 ounces shredded mozzarella or Swiss cheese

12 ounces shredded Colby/Jack cheese

6 ounces canned, sliced mushrooms, drained [or get the fresh ones and slice & sauté them yourself]

2 tablespoons margarine or butter

1/3 cup chopped green onions [you can add more if you want]

Half of a medium red bell pepper, chopped [or just throw the whole pepper in]

8 ounces ham, julienned, or 8 ounces sausage, cooked and crumbled [Mindy probably throws the whole pound in here, too]

1 cup of milk or half & half [as if lowfat milk would make any difference at this point!]

One teaspoon dry mustard [do not even think about skipping this ingredient]

2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped

12 eggs, beaten [or use a low-cholesterol egg substitute – yeah, right!!!]

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place cheese in large bowl and toss to combine.
3. Spray a 9 X13 inch glass casserole with non-stick spray.
4. Layer one: arrange 8 hash brown patties in the bottom of the pan. [Freeze the extra one in a zipper bag.]
5. Layer two: evenly spread half of the cheese blend.
6. In a medium skillet, cook together green onions and peppers until tender. If mushrooms are fresh, cook them, too, otherwise add them once peppers and onions begin to soften.
7. Layer three: arrange sautéed vegetables evenly over cheese.
8. Layer four: arrange ham or sausage evenly over vegetables.
9. Layer five: spread the second half of the cheese blend over meat.
10. In a large bowl, use whisk to blend half & half, parsley & eggs together.
11. Layer six: pour egg mixture over the top of the cheese.
12. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until set and beginning to brown.
13. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
14. Cut into squares and serve.

To make ahead of time, follow the recipe through to layer five, then cover and refrigerate the casserole overnight. Next morning prepare the egg mixture and finish the recipe, but allow a little extra baking time since the ingredients will all be cold.

If you make this recipe 8 times, you'll have 8 hash brown patties in that zipper bag, and then you can make it for the ninth time. This recipe is not just popular with the Divas - guys love it! And it's great as a do-ahead recipe for a holiday morning, served with fruit and croissants.

We’d done some major planting at Mindy’s house in previous years, so we checked out the progress in those beds. Some things were doing great, but the deer had nipped some shrubs here and there. They leave her red-flowering native plants alone – one nicknamed ‘stinky sage’ is actually Texas Red Betony, a Stachys like Lamb’s Ear. Another is Malvaviscus arboreus called Turk’s cap, or sometimes Wax Mallow. Mindy has a shady, protected area by the front door, and the stone house wall is clothed in Ficus pumila, the creeping fig vine. Her cannas grow in this area, too.

On Mindy’s day, Donna was gone on a much needed vacation trip, and Buffy was present, but not in full form. She was over the worst of a bad bout of bronchitis, but was not able to do anything that would set off a coughing fit.

There was some weed grubbing to do – the entrance path was overgrown, and a great deal of Bermuda grass had invaded the area next to the barbecue smoker. Annie and Karla went after the bermuda, which is a major pain in many of our gardens, and I tackled the weedy path. Mindy and Wilma dragged furniture and plants off the deck and patio, sorting the plants by size, condition and their needs for sun or shade, and keeping the thirstiest ones separate. Some plants needed water, which was dipped from a rainwater barrel. There were small herbs and culinary plants like garlic chives, flower, some hydrangeas and large pots with cool stuff like Plumeria [Frangipani in Hawaii] and a Star Jasmine.

Once the space was cleared and swept, we would have the pleasure of reassembling all the elements in a new and hopefully better design. The next part was so much fun! Who could resist a combination of gardening and decorating?

Buffy sat in a deck chair, surrounded by bags of soil and amendments. Plants in need of repotting were brought over to her. We tried various arrangements for the deck furniture, making areas for conversation and solitary sitting, and had some of the chairs face the pond. Tiny lizards made an appearance on shrubs near the pond – concerned whether our project would impact their life here in paradise. Mindy had all kinds of rocks and interesting stuff in the yard, like a stone bench that was not doing much out back. It was dismantled and the sections hauled up to the deck, where it became the center of a group of containers, adding weight to the grouping, and raising some plants to add height.

Mindy wanted more unity in the look of the containers, so Karla appointed herself in charge of making white and grey plastic look like terra cotta, with the help of some art store spray paint. Once the larger pots were in place, the smaller ones needed to be situated where they would do well.

Some very serious thinking was going on as the Divas wandered around, containered plants in hand, trying to find the "perfect spot". Mindy liked the results as well as we liked the process!

“a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone for all the hard work on the June deckscaping project. Warren and I just love it!! Of course I've been watering like mad to keep everything alive at this point in the season. I sent a few pix to Mom after the project was done and she loved the results. Big Green Hugs to everyone!”
(Ed: If there are any copies of those pix you sent to your mom still around - they'd sure dress up this post, Mindy!)


It was time for our first meeting at Wilma’s home, “Are you ready for some refreshing digging (in someone else's yard)?? Next Saturday we'll be at my house (see attached map) and I really hope the mornings continue to be as cool as they have been! We'll be totally rebuilding one bed, and also aerating, composting, and mulching the existing beds. Don't worry, the property is quite small... Just bring your garden claws, shovels, wheelbarrows, and appetites! Does any one want the 12" x 21' of dwarf mondo grass covering the bed we'll rip out? See you next Saturday.”

The directions were pretty good, and we easily found our way up to Round Rock to Wilma’s area. But Buffy, Karla & I arrived just a tad late. We couldn’t help it – one of the families in Wilma’s neighborhood was hosting a garage sale, and from the street we noticed a few items of furniture displayed among the knickknacks and clothes. Who among us could pass furniture without a look? We pulled over and checked out the merchandise spread out over the driveway. One medium-size vintage table apparently had Buffy’s name written on it in invisible ink. – That table was soon tucked in the back of her van among the garden tools.

Back in the van, we were watching for the right house number, but that was totally unnecessary! There was no question as to which house belonged to our newest Diva – the driveway contained a huge pile of various soil components and mulch. In most neighborhoods the delivery of amendments is equivalent to putting a sign in the driveway: SOMETHING BIG WILL BE HAPPENING HERE! This pile was already drawing attention from passers-by.
DivasoftheDirt, mulch pile
From the size of the mulch pile it was obvious we’d need sustenance, and we were glad to see that Wilma had an heirloom family recipe called “Cheesy Breakfast” ready for us. It is simply lovely breakfast dish with eggs and English muffins, a traditional family recipe. She also served a local treat in honor of Donna - a gigantic, chocolate frosted TEXAS donut, the specialty of the local Round Rock Donut Company. This was better than a birthday cake – it was a birthday donut for Donna, and very appropriate, since Donna was celebrating a nice Round

Wilma’s house is not new, but there is very little in her yard that she did not plant or transplant. She’s only been there a couple of years, but has softened the wooden fence along the back with fragrant honeysuckle vines, and made beds with lots of annuals and perennials including various salvias, Rudbeckia, Tecoma stans [usually called Esperanza or Yellowbells], some daylilies and iris, and she is having remarkably good success with the charming Rosa mutabilis and another rose, the famed "Souvenier de la Malmaison". Like Mindy, Wilma has a rain barrel, keeping a
goldfish inside so that mosquito larvae would not be a problem.

DivasoftheDirt, place for camelliasOur biggest task for this day was a really big one - digging down two feet deep next to the front walk, completely removing the existing soil, in preparation for Wilma’s dream project - a row of espaliered camellias. This area looked like an archeological dig after some hours went past. No old coins or precious pottery turned up, but the amount of soil that comes out of an excavation always seems to be twice as much as you could imagine!

Wilma didn’t actually have the camellias yet, but she would be ready for them after we refilled the future garden with a special camellia blend. This special soil was mixed from the huge piles in the driveway, using a discarded kiddy pool as a big mixing bowl. Wilma’s lunch was delicious – she served ‘Fiesta Chicken’ and ‘Mexicali Salad’, saying the recipe came from an Austin Junior League cookbook called Necessities and Temptations.

During our day in Round Rock, we also worked on the two corners of the back yard, which is enclosed with a wooden fence. Wilma had made beds along the front sidewalk. The beds were fairly new, but some of the plants were growing too well! They were hanging into the walkway, jostling each other for space, and needed to be divided or transplanted. In one corner of the back, we combined the extra plants with some existing shrubs. In the other corner, there were a lot of wild morning glories that needed to be removed, and some pruning and weeding.DivasoftheDirt, corner plantingWe did run into some trouble along the back fence – Mindy noticed that a vine growing in the area behind the wooden fence bore the dreaded 3 leaves of poison ivy. A spate of garden tool scrubbing and hand washing followed, but it was too late. Annie and Donna soon had itchy spots on their hands, and after 48 hours it was apparent I had been kneeling and digging right in the roots of that hidden vine. I now know too much about Toxicodendron!

DivasoftheDirt, group
We received this email from Wilma: ” This side of my fence…looks fantastic! This misty, cold, morning I caught quite a few morning glories trying to grow up under the honeysuckle.
They're gone, now! The "new" bed [In the left back corner] looks fabulous... mealy blue sage just carrying on as if it had never moved…the [excavation site] has sunk down a bit, It rained three days in a row… soon after y'all left! So now everything's blooming and perky, thanks to the DIVAS!! I appreciate all the hard, sweaty work you put in! Can't wait until winter, when I can email you a picture of the vines starting up the espalier.”


During the summer, Ozz and I had moved from our hilltop house in deer country, to a house with an enclosed yard, in the same Northwest Austin area where Karla lives. [Actually, our floor plans are pretty similar, too.] We’d spent 5 years installing deerproof landscaping at the previous house, had grown a few tomatoes in a wire cage, and had managed to accumulate nearly 100 pots on the protected deck. [Darling Diva Annie had helped move an awful lot of those containers!] Now we were ready to make a real vegetable garden and use the small trees, flowering shrubs, herbs and perennials in the pots to landscape our new home grounds.

We also had to thin out the existing crepe myrtles. There were more than 20 crepe myrtles on our small lot, and those getting enough sun to flower displayed only one color - an intense deep pink. The myrtles had seeded along the house foundations and were growing in every area where the soil was exposed. Although we liked crepe myrtles, this quantity was actually making the air in the garden look pink. We would let some of them stay, but many would have to go!

I was so glad to have the Divas’ help to renew the front of the house. Tiny struggling nandinas surrounded a dying abelia and crepe myrtles and roses tried to grow in semi-shade. There were no flowers in the beds, but the liriope edging and boxwood were doing okay under the tall trees.

I’d lost my heart years ago to the ‘Forest Pansy’ variety of redbud when it was featured on the Victory Garden on PBS -possibly back in the late 1980’s. I couldn’t plant it then - too tender for northern Illinois. I’d watched these trees appear in Karla’s yard, and Donna’s too – now I would get a chance to grow one. Mindy could not make the garden date on Saturday, but she and Buffy came for a pre-planning session during the week, new Texas landscaping book in hand, and we figured out what could be accomplished on Saturday.
DivasoftheDirt,dig up sun plantsSaturday came, and the Divas arrived one by one. After breakfast enchiladas, they set to work digging and amending the beds along the front of the house. In the photo they are making a new woodland area – after the unbelievable speedy removal of an 11 foot-tall crepe myrtle, several spindly roses, the nearly leafless Abelia, strange weeds and dwarfed Indian Hawthornes. The Divas dug in wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of cotton burr compost, turkey compost and decomposed granite (Ozz hauled it from the u-dig section of a local place called Garden-Ville.)

The dug-up abelia was severely pruned and then potted. Donna adopted the bed under a window – transplanting into it a few of the better nandinas and a nice Sago palm that had been in a deck pot. Buffy, Annie and Karla worked on the woodland bed, planting a Callicarpa Americana [Beautyberry shrub], Rhodophiala bifida [Oxblood lilies], snowflake bulbs, yellow Texas columbines & Thalia daffodils. Garden guru Scott Ogden recommends a hard-to-find Tazetta daffodil called ‘Grand Primo’ for the Austin area. At the Anderson Mill Gardeners open house & plant sale, held at the replica Anderson Mill & Museum, I had found some ‘Grand Primo’ bulbs. They went into the new bed. The Divas left a space for the Forest Pansy redbud, bought the next day at Kimas Tejas Nursery near Bastrop.

For lunch we had Chicago style beef & pepper sandwiches and an old-fashioned cream-cheese frosted carrot cake for Karla’s birthday. There was more garden work, including the removal of more stunted shrubs and the redigging of two beds near the front steps, which Wilma decided
was her territory. She planted my Amarcrinum there. These bulbs [one from Plant Delights and the other from the Men’s Garden Club of Austin] had been living in containers for years, not very happily. DivasoftheDirt, platycodon inAnnie dealt with a triangular bed where the house meets the drive, digging and
amending it, then releasing some white and blue Balloonflowers [Platycodon grandiflora] and a reseeding kind of Coral salvia from their pots. My specialty turned out to be taking photos and falling off the porch.

Many of our Diva garden days wind up with an excursion to the Red Barn Nursery on Pond Springs Road. This day was no exception – although the parking turned out to be trickier than usual. This was Pumpkin Fest weekend, with hoards of kids added to the usual mix of gardeners and browsers. We had some ‘Pumpkin Bucks’ to spend, and we found lots to entice us – including fabulous Chrysanthemums, Lavender asters, Michelia figo [also called Banana Shrub], Camellia, and Aucuba ‘Gold dust’, a cool evergreen plant.
DivasoftheDirt, forest pansy done
The next week, Ozz & I dug up three more of the crepe myrtles. These were a more manageable size, about 6 feet tall, and the ground was accessible. This time we proceeded carefully, keeping the roots as intact as possible. Wilma appeared with her van, and hauled them away to her own yard, where they would have a chance to be attractive and useful as a screen along her back fence. We planted the Forest Pansy, and the miniature Woodland glade was a reality.

“Hi Divas, Thanks again for the fantastic work you did on Saturday. Your removal of the inappropriately placed sun-loving plants, pruning, digging, composting and lots of planting changed everything for the better! It was also incredibly valuable to have all of you see our new homegrounds, and make comments and suggestions; you noticed things that we missed, had great ideas, and were so very inspiring!” Glinda

2004 Holi-Diva Day

That was the last of our work projects for the year, but we set the date for another important meeting while we ate the beef sandwiches- our annual Christmas party.

We try to take turns being the hostess at Christmas, and Annie, Karla & I were all hoping to have a turn. Annie was an original member of the Divas of the Dirt, but had never had a chance to hold the Holiday party at her place. We thought that Annie should have priority if her schedule allowed; Karla & I had joined the Divas about the same time in 2001, and would be the backups. After a few weeks, both Annie & Karla had to drop off the list, leaving me thrilled to be the hostess. Having the Divas here for the holidays somehow transformed our ‘new’ house into our home.

As usual, we divided up the menu into categories and each of us brought part of the feast.

The announced menu was as follows:

The traditional Poinsettia cocktail, a combination of cranberry juice and champagne, along with “Mom’s Creamy Green Jello & Pecans” on curly lettuce, and butterflake rolls came from Mindy;

Appetizer - Pepperoni & pecan spread on crackers; by Karla;

Salad – Mandarin Orange salad with sweet sour dressing; by Wilma;

Entrée- Hill Country Beef Rouladen stuffed with dill pickles; by Glinda;

Vegetable – Special sweet Potatoes with a yummy crunchy topping; by Donna;

Potatoes Anna, in an iron skillet, by Buffy.

Vegetable We did a surprise switch for the next entry, saying that Annie would bring a new and different dessert, but in reality Annie brought a lovely Olive Garden-style minestrone and roasted asparagus.

The dessert was actually the traditional Amaretto Bread Pudding with a pint of sauce, brought in person by special surprise guest Sugar. It was fun to have her back for the day with all the Divas.

The 11th of December presented us with gorgeous weather in Central Texas. We decided to take the drinks and hors d’oeuvres out to the patio.

Since this is Austin, the patio is strung with little Christmas lights that will stay up all year. They didn’t have to be plugged in that afternoon - we enjoyed the pepperoni spread and sipped our cocktails in bright sunshine.
DivasoftheDirt, Xmas bistro
We came back inside for the rest of the meal, and laughed our way through all the courses, as the stories came from every side. All the Divas can cook, and everything was delicious!

The grab bag game followed, with each person in turn deciding whether to ‘steal’ from the previously opened gifts, or find out what is in one of the unopened packages. The gifts are supposed to have a garden theme, and these certainly did:

A beautiful calendar and stationery featuring an Impressionist garden theme, won by the artistic Donna

A pocket wall hanger for garden gear, with a handy soil scoop, scooped by Wilma

Two large wreaths, one of them loaded with festive red berries, acquired by Mindy

A metal nightlight sculpted in the form of a dragonfly, now glowing at Annie’s house

A metal hummingbird weathervane & floral file folders, borne home by Buffy

A birdhouse in the shape of a hat, (it was even in a pretty hatbox) that now hangs on Glinda’s fence

And the most stolen item of the day – a jeweled-wire tabletop Christmas tree from Smith & Hawken, which went home with Karla.
DivasoftheDirt, Glinda table
2004 was filled with things that don’t belong on this garden page. Like those of all women, the daily lives of the Divas bounced around from glee to grief, from tranquility to exhaustion, from boredom to exhilaration. There were bike rides, books, breastfeeding, bowling & Bunco. Some Divas relax after work by hunting down antiques, some are passionate about movies, some need to hear live music and keep up with football games, some are first in line when new restaurants open their doors, while others run the Motorola Half-Marathon. [Go Mindy!] There were graduations, concerts, family gatherings, charity events, high school reunions, church functions and conferences and some romance.

Some of us traveled to Chicago, Kentucky, or Las Vegas, California, Minneapolis, Hawaii and all around the country while others just explored the Austin area;

Some, like homing pigeons, headed east to Houston & Beaumont, or south to San Antonio.

One Diva won national recognition for excellence in her field. [Yea Annie!] Several Divas changed jobs, one changed her address, and one [we’re not telling] Diva had 2 fender-benders in the same day! Many of us had to deal with illness within our family circles, feel the day-to-day
wonders of raising the next generation, care for the previous generation, and hardest of all, some experienced the death of people they loved.
DivasoftheDirt, 2004 groupWe may have begun as gardening associates, but as we work together & we share these joys and cares with our fellow Divas, we are becoming friends for life.

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