Puttering around in the garden…that sounds calming to many people. There are people who only wish for the time to tend flowers, grasses, succulents. I not only have the time, but I have plants. Over 235 varieties in my yard. I’ve learned so much Latin in the past year that I think you could drop me in to Rome 300 B.C. and I can have a wonderful conversation–provide it’s about gardening.
I live in an area with a very long growing season. I don’t need to overwinter things and considering how bad I am with tearing out long dead plants, that’s a good thing. Right now I’m tackling the front yard. Sigh. What a mess. A few weeks ago, I finally pulled up the grass along the sidewalk. The recent rains along with some tilling loosened up the soil enough to actually dig. Now, the shovel cuts through the soil like a hot knife on frozen ice cream.
I realized yesterday that it was the first day of winter. What? Wasn’t it just September? The problem (I have) with gardening here, is that gardening books tend to be generic. So, when the author writes, it’s more useful to someone in Missouri or Ohio. There’ll be a sentence that says, “This plant doesn’t do well in freezes.” What does that mean? Fine, it means what it says. However, when you live in LA, “freezes” is like 60 degrees. So you have to adjust. What can live in the full sun in Montana will burn up and die here. Plants than need shade in New Hampshire, need to be indoors in LA.
What has tripped me up recently is the, “in mild climates plant in fall”. Do I live in a mild climate? I think I do. But it can also reach 85 degrees in November If that’s too hot for the plant in Wyoming, shouldn’t I wait? And wait? And…uh…wait? So, I wait…and I just when I think it’s a great time to plant…it rains. And rains. Ah, winter in LA. All that free water falling from the sky and my plants are still in pots or packets.
Then I really get panicky. If I don’t get them in the ground right now, then they’ll miss out on all that free rain (saving my water bill), but they will get cold and maybe die. If I wait, it may be too hot for them to establish themselves (raising my water bill) and may get leafburn!
My solution was to just go for it.
Yesterday, I installed my plastic edger, which doubles as a conduit for drip irrigation. I had already planted the rose bush and the grasses, so all that went into the ground yesterday was some aloe, bacopa, a divided society garlic clump and the purple fountain grass. This morning, I went to town. I got in the pygmy date palm, the giant bird of paradise, greek oregano, gladiolas and iris bulbs, lamb’s ears, lime thyme, the cape honeysuckle and way too many seeds.
Besides the stupid rose bush I dug up, all the other plants I put in were drought tolerant or natives. Okay…I got a whole stand of tropicals going in, but I think I’ve devised a way to put them in and get them loads of water without killing my water bill. Then, doing it backwards again, we’ll put in a walkway. We were going to put a little patio in the front yard, but with the sideyard, backyard and front porch, I don’t think we need yet another place to lounge around.
Obviously, I’m more than a little tired. I really want to sleep, but my neighbor is having birthday party today (mariachis will be here!) and it starts in 45 min.