Blessed by Dionysus

Zinfandel grape start

My son gave me starts of his Zinfandel and Shiraz grapes last March. I popped the twigs into soil and kept them well watered. It takes months before my grape starts usually show leaves so I am happy to see this much growth this season.

Shiraz with white grapes

Using filtered sun along the deck rail, I sheltered the twigs from the strongest Idaho summer heat. The white table grapes I started last summer grew enough to give shade this summer and even produced sweet fruit. See what I mean when you look in the back ground in this photo. Shiraz starts are small but healthy in the foreground pot while white table grapes vine among the rail posts in the background between the south sun and the pot.

Shiraz grape starts Genoa Basil and Verbena mark north and south. Two tiny Shiraz starts mark east and west. I’m not sure this is true companion planting, but they all seem friendly enough living together. I wanted the pot to look pretty and tasty while waiting for the twigs to sprout leaves.

Zinfandel grape start 2

The Zinfandel start is so big now, I moved it into morning sun. Only one of three twigs produced leaves so far. Happy Genoa Basil and a first year Milkweed keep this grape company. I had to move the Milkweed here after one of our German Shepherds, Ozette, dug in its pot to hide her ball. She’s attracted to some deck pots more than others.

Zinfandel grape shadow closejpgI love the dancing shadow the new Zinfandel casts when I have my first cup of coffee.

lizard molting

This morning I sat with a “Western Fence Lizard” hiding in the shade of the Zinfandel planter. I wonder what it was named before fences came to the West. It looked like it was growing a new tail. I’ve seen plenty of them do that here. But look closer. It’s molting! What a sleek new dark mantle it’s putting on for autumn.

white grapes full shot

I planted 4 white grape starts last summer below the deck, hoping they would eventually grow tall enough to shade our deck and the two lower rows of south facing windows. A year later it looks like I can start constructing the arbor.

hidden grapes

I’m thrilled to find sweet grapes in the first year!

white grape twigs in sunflowers

Here’s a great example of non-companion planting. These white grape twigs were planted last spring. Look closely on the left and you’ll see the stump of a huge volunteer Mammoth Sunflower. This spot is directly beneath my bird feeder dishes; you can see them in a previous photo on the deck rail. Here’s proof that certain plants cannot grow near Sunflowers or in soil where sunflower seed husks have accumulated. Why not? 

grape on camel bells

Grape vines will be fun to arrange among camel bells and hanging plants. Notice the smokey mountains in the background? This is a relatively smoke free morning considering the wildfires in our region.


I feel like I’ve been blessed by Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine (agriculture), and Greek Theater. The annual Greek festival in his honor held contests for early playwrights. This mask lives in my garden. I’m using it this week for a mask making workshop for the Greek Tragedy I am directing this fall for children’s theater. Yeah, some kid gets to die on stage! He’s gonna love that!

Many of the best plants in my garden, like these grape varieties, aren’t planned. And they turn out the best! Like artichokes, but that’s food for a future post.


14 thoughts on “Blessed by Dionysus”

    1. Thanks, Amber. For many years this was our summer home. I left in hot late August to go back to the coast to teach. Now we live here full time (mostly) and we have focused on planting for SHADE as we have no shade trees. Grapes seem to love it here.


    1. Thanks, Mouse. I found the mask at a yard sale years ago and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. Seems to appropriate to hang among the grape vines. And besides directing plays, I think it’s time to write some originals. I’ve adapted stories over the years for kids and with kids. You have some interesting stories that might make good scripts. Think about it.


      1. I’m thinking of using myths from cultures other than the common Greek & Roman. I can send you some samples I wrote from Salish and Plains tribes about the sky and animals. They were performed in the 3rd grade Artist in Residence program.

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