Playing in dirt

That’s what I’ve been doing the past 3 days. As you may know, I have some of the hardest clay soil that has ever existed. The few worms that have managed to live down there look like they take steroids. The ants, and there are 5, 879, 340,000,000,000,000,000 of them, think my front yard is their personal city with all the cracks in that clay soil. Do you know what it does to a person, when you finally heave up that 80lbs 5in piece of “soil”, bend down to move it only to find it’s crawling with a million ants? I still feel itchy. I’ve been adding compost and gymsum and tilling the crap out of that all before I can plant.
This is what I have so far. That tall plant in the back, I did last week. If you’ve been to my house, you’ll recognize this plant at the one in that big box by the steps. I can’t believe it’s finally in the ground! I bought that back in March of last year along with most of the succulents in these photos.  It’s a Cordyline australis. I also have a red one in the back yard and just found out that two of my Spiny Spikers (my technical term) are also cordylines.

At the base of this along the walkway, I planted some canna bulbs, a guara and some seeds of something. Real gardeners make plot plans and put in markers of what they have. Real lazy gardeners–like yours truly–toss some seeds, hope they germinate AND survive, then play guessing games based on empty packets that haven’t been tossed. It’s fun. Really.

In the foreground is what I’ve mostly been working on since Monday. That stick thing off to the left is Pedilanthus coalcomanensis. It’s a really cool plant and just “re-discovered” in the deserts of Mexico. Don’t ask me how it wound up in a nursery in Glendale, but it did and I bought it. I had been moving this thing around the property for the past year, unable to find the perfect place for it. now I have. It’s has these red flower bracts that look like candle flames.

Behind that is a Senecio cylindricus. I have two of these things; this one and one in the backyard that has positively mutated. It gets pretty big and I hear that it flowers, though mine never has. In the front that thing with the tall flower spike is known as a paddle plant (kalanchoe). It already has an offset so I can’t wait to see what it looks like in midsummer. That flower spike is almost 2′ long and the flowers have a light, pretty smell. I think I’m going to cut the flower spike off soon.

In the front there you see a trailing rosemary I just got ($2.49!). I’m so in love with trailing rosemary, but I thought it was hilarious that the tag on the pot said, “No unauthorized propagation”. How the hell are they going to know (besides reading my blog) if I propagate it? Anyway…that plant gets about 3′ wide so it should be interesting in a few months.

Now all those plants don’t have been water needs. So, that means I had to toss in some water wasters for some strange reason. I planted some canna bulbs. I planted what just may be iris bulbs (I lost the label), so whatever those things were, it should be a nice surprise. I got some chamomile and lavender seeds on the edges along the walk. In side, I planted an asparagus root and some lime basil seeds. Just outside the edger I planted some forget-me-not seeds.

This is the planter that’s generally known as the litter box. Fucking cats. The dogs just poop on the grass outside the planter. And no. I don’t have any pets. I can’t wait for the day that I an demolish that planter, paint the house an redo the windows. Pray for me.

This situation has posed a problem as I detest your typical foundation plantings as they look boring and unnatural. This planter box is on the east side of my house, so for most of the year, it gets more shade than normal.

There’s the two rose bushes that have been there since the 60s if the lady down the street is to be believed (story goes that someone who used to live on the street gave everyone 5 rose bushes for Christmas back in ’64, which is why just about everyone on our street has the same 5 kinds of roses.) If those things got more sun, they’d probably be 8′ – 12′ tall like the ones across the street.  Most of the plants you see either were in my backyard and I moved them or divided them, or they’ve been sitting in pots for the last year.

From left to right, I planted an azalea formosa with an asparagus fern in front. This is one my new plants. On the other side of the rose bush is a gardenia vetchii, with lamb’s ears in front of that. There’s a turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) with another kind of gardenia on that. I put a papyrus near the steps just to see what it will do. I’ll probably divide one of my fiber optic grasses to plant up there too.  I also bought some pony packs of foxglove (digitalis) and some poppies (papaver)  and I got a few of them planted. Today, I’m going to toss random seeds in there to see what sprouts. Maybe I’ll bring some of the creeping thyme that is slowing taking over the back yard, to the front too.

I’m just interested in seeing how this will all play out. I hear the turk’s cap can get pretty big with a lot of sun, but I just want it to cover just enough of my window sill so I won’t have to think about it for a while. Basically I’m hoping the shadiness of the part of the property stalls the growth. The gardenias need the shade and they get about 4′ tall, and wide. Oh, crap. I think I planted some dahlias in there. Oh well, we’ll see what shows up. (Isn’t it exciting?)

This planter should be interesting in a few months. You see the flowering maple (abutilon), it’s so pretty now that the ants and aphids have been murderized (“I killed them! I killed them all! Even the younglings!”) and the new growth has really taken off. That stick behind it is my naked Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’). Stop staring at it perv! I just transplanted her from the back yard, hoping that she’ll get just enough sun here, but not too much that her leaves burn. I’m still not sure how much pruning I want to do on this tree. It’s such a common tree that giving it some architectural structure just may make it interesting, but then that means I’ll have to pay attention to it.

Got another asparagus fern in there, the datura metel is there (the stick in the foreground) and sending out new growth already. Behind it, I planted an orange thorn, which besides making it more exciting to navigate the stairs nearby, also gives up edible orange berries in the summer/fall. I hear birds like it, so I just may have to get a scarecrow. Don’t worry, in keeping with the Spanish Mission style of my house, it’ll most like be a Dia de los Muertos sorta thing.

Now, I’ve wasted my entire morning blogging about my garden, when I could have been out there devising more ways to stop the idiot mailman from traipsing across my lawn. I’m thinking of a sand pit, where he falls into the clay soil and I’ll have the ants go at him. Okay, I won’t really do it. I’ll most likely just put up fencing.


4 thoughts on “Playing in dirt

  1. Momma-

    Try some moth balls in the litter box. The cats often don’t like the smell. It doesn’t always work but it’s worth a try. I ended up having to put rocks in that were too heavy for them to dig into!!!

    The yard is looking lovely. Maybe you could get a small toll sign that says cats and mailmen please use the sidewalk!!!

    Again-beautiful work!


  2. Hey you got a new picture! It looks good. Did you cut your hair?

    Thanks for the tip. If I had money, I’d probably be willing to pay the drunks down the street to sit on my front step and scare away the cats. And mailman.

    Do you know when I started working on my garden, my mailman had the nerve to whine at me? He said, “Oh man, why are you putting plants all over? Then I’ll have to walk down to the sidewalk.” OMG! And? I said, “Well, that is why God invented sidewalks.”

    So far, I’ve been super-passive aggressive about it (this man does bring me checks and both my grandfathers adn two aunts were mail carriers.). I’ve put some rather spiny spikey plants near where he walks across the grass. I’m thinking if we get a lot more work soon, then I’ll buy a bajillion barrel cactus and use those to deter him and the cats.

    As for the cats, I forgot to mention that I put hardware cloth under the mulching, so they won’t be digging there any more. I just need to find a way to keep all the animals off my property.


  3. Have you tried a pellet gun?


    Seriously though-I had a cat that was killing the baby birds in my tree. Not my cat but a neighborhood lurker. I finally started sitting in the garage with a super soaker or the hose and soaking him every time I saw him anywhere near my house. it only took about a week!

    Yeah-new picture new hair cut! thanks for the compliment


  4. I’ve tried everything. I’ve use the bleach/lemon/cayenne pepper thing, forks sticking out of the ground, one of those noise things…nothing’s worked, but the noise thing drove all the neighborhood dogs crazy. 3 of the neighborhood cats used my back yard as a nap spot. On my pillows! It’s like they know I’m allergic. I’ve tried using the water hose on them, but they just scoot away.


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