Native Son: February 15, 2018

So…it all started when I agreed to do an overnight road trip to Beaumont to give a program to the Magnolia Garden Club. I hoped the trip would provide fodder for this article, even if it pushed me past my usual deadline. People always seem to like my road trip articles, but this time, my brain seems to have gotten lost in The Big Thicket.

Wildlife still abounds at Shangri La Gardens.


The fast pace of the trip was complicated further by an almost sleepless night, but fortunately, a morning visit to the Temple of Java and an almost literal baptism in the dark waters of the Coffee River brought me back enough to appreciate the amazing group of ladies who came to hear my talk, “Peace, Love, & Milagros.”

Blind-writing while driving notebook.

So…the bottom line to all of this is that I had to write the meat of this article while driving back home. I do this by writing into an open notebook on the seat beside me…without looking at it. This time, my blind-scribbled notes were more legible than usual, but my constantly-ringing cell phone de-railed my train of thought time and time again. By the time I got to Weatherford, I had not one, but four different articles started… only one of which has anything to do with a road trip.

I throw myself on the mercy of the reader….

Driving across Texas from Weatherford to Beaumont is like slowly studying a core sample of different ecosystems…with a Buc-ee’s in the middle. Changes in native vegetation distinctly mark the changes in soil types, and these distinctions are then blurred by the effect of increasing amounts of annual rainfall as you go southeast. Of note were the already full bar ditches and the pounding rain as I left the Golden Triangle area…and my bone dry and cob-webbed rain gauge when I arrived back in Weatherford.

Left photo: The bottle trees at Shangri La Gardens made it through torrential rains unscathed. Right photo: In spite of massive flood damage (48 inches of rain in two days!), beauty can still be found at Beaumont Botanical Gardens.


Continued Below


Questions That Occur to Me Without Warning
Why did the giant rolling stone ball simply vanish when Indiana Jones dove out of the cave in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Why does a push broom actually work much better when you pull it?

Why is an avocado perfectly ripe for only about 33 seconds?

At this very moment, ninety-nine miles to the east, insomniac Neil Sperry is shuffling up and down the hallway in his home…wondering, “Why can’t Chamblee ever hit a deadline?”

Why is it that I can’t get on the Homegrown Tomato Obsession train? (I mean, they’re good, but I just don’t hear a symphony playing Vivaldi and have visions of Bo Derrick running on the beach when I bite into one.)

Why are 33,000 Texas homegrown tomato gardeners irritated with me now? And they’re all thinking, “He just never had a good one.”

Why is it that only sunflower seed packets have enough seeds?

Why do seafood restaurants always give you twice as much cocktail sauce as you need, and only half the tartar sauce?

How is that the most ornery, streetwise tomcat can be instantly hypnotized by popping the top of a cat food can?

Gold Medal Winners of the
2018 Winter Texas Gardening Olympics
50 Yard Wheelbarrow Dash, Crash, & Smash—Greg Grant
Twist & Shout Meniscus Tear 200—Steven Chamblee
Mulch Sack Back Crack 400—Laura Miller
Hornet Nest Tree Flee Solo—Steve Houser
Freestyle Windy-Day Frost Cloth Installation—Heather Thormahlen-Molik
Sprinkler Head Trip, Slip, & Flip—Neil Sperry
Greenbriar Arm Shred—Steve Chaney
Fire Ant 500—Jennifer Wang
Poison Ivy Downhill Run—Leslie Halleck
Rose Pruning Fingertip Snip—Steve Huddleston
Rattlesnake Encounter High Jump–John Begnaud


Proposed Amendments to the “I promise to love, honor, and cherish you as long as we both shall live” Wedding Vows

Man: I reserve the right to leave the toilet seat up.
Woman: I reserve the right to purchase a new pair of shoes each time I find the seat up.

Man: I reserve the right not to comment on your new $200 hairdo. You know, the one that you keep complaining about.
Woman: I reserve the right to constantly comment on that $6 haircut you got on the Super Snippers haircut truck.

Man: I shall retain the right to talk politics first thing in the morning.
Woman: I reserve the right to ignore you until after I’ve had my morning coffee.

Man: I reserve the right to never, under any circumstances, allow you to paint my fingernails and/or toenails.
Woman: I reserve the right to employ my hot friends Jennifer and Tatiana to paint your fingernails and/or toenails.

Man: I reserve the right to try wildly experimental things in the bedroom.
Woman: Fine…just let me know when you are finished.

So what’s the life lesson I’ve learned from all of this?
I’m thinking, “Turn off the phone…and perhaps I should see a psychiatrist.”


I need a road trip! Let me know if you’d like me to come and speak to your group sometime. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and you know I like to go just about anywhere. No city too big; no town to small. Just send me an e-mail at and we’ll work something out.

Come out and see me at Chandor Gardens! Located in the heart of Weatherford’s Historic District, Chandor Gardens is the perfect place to get away and enjoy the simple pleasures of life that can only be found in gardens. Call 817-613-1700 or visit for details.

Posted by Steven Chamblee
Back To Top