Saturday, January 24, 2004

St. Augustine grass blog.

My brother Jay writes: "I can't be sure, but I think that the broad-bladed grass you mentioned [January 20] is probably St. Augustine grass. It wouldn't surprise me if were named for the town in Florida, but I don't know that. It grows well in Houston and San Antonio and it will grow in Dallas, too, but is subject to damage if it stays too cold for too long.

"I have some in my yard, mixed with other varieties of grass and assorted other plants (as far as I'm concerned if it's green and cut to a uniform length, it's a lawn). Ten or twelve years ago we had a protracted cold spell -- ten or twelve days when it didn't get above freezing, with a record-tying low one night, I recall, of 1 or 2 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. It killed most of the St. Augustine. That spring it was as thin as a eunuch's beard, but some strands survived, and over the course of two or three years, it came back.

"Thinking of the Intracoastal Waterway, our grandfather was involved in the construction of the first Mansfield Cut through Padre Island. The Cut connects the Laguna Madre (and the Intracoastal Waterway) to the Gulf of Mexico, and allows access to Port Mansfield. I can recall visiting when he and grandmother were staying in Port Mansfield so he could be closer to the job site.

"He had a share, at least, in a patent for some sort of concrete device that was used in the construction of protective breakwaters for the Cut. I can recall seeing two or three small-scale models for them in his house, at least one in use as a doorstop. You may remember seeing them too. [I don't.] The device was, in effect, four thick, blunt arms joined together in the center, and projecting at angles so that one arm would always be pointing up while the other three acted as a base. The models were about six or eight inches high. I gather that the ones for use were several feet high and proportionately heavy. The exact reason behind the design I never learned; my guess -- and that's all it is -- is that they were supposed to lock together and form a strong bond without the expense and weight of a solid wall.

"Of course, the first cut through Padre Island -- the one he worked on -- was destroyed by storms shortly after it was finished in 1957. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rebuilt it shortly thereafter. Whether this has anything to do with the construction of the breakwaters I don't know.”



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