The other day I ran into an acquaintance who asked me if I was still gardening. I was rather caught off guard by her question. I have never thought that I would someday not garden. I'm not saying that it is like eating or breathing, I'm sure that I would still exist if I did not garden, but if given the choice to do it or not, I would always choose to do it, at least in some form or another. My friend had said that she had quit gardening because it was just too hard and time consuming and she had moved to a condo where she didn't have to worry about the yard. Before that she had a beautiful garden that was in fact - perfect. It had actually won awards. The first time I saw it she was standing in the front yard with a bottle of spray pesticide in each hand, issuing orders in crisp Spanish to her gardeners. Every bloom was blemish free, every leaf perfect, every blade of grass the exact same shade of green and the exact same height. I understand why she gave up the battle, because that's what it was for her, a battle, unfortunately.
This time of year the gardens start to look a little tired. Hot days of summer, too many distractions, not enough rain, there are lots of things working against me. But it is my passion and I know that I will get back to it in a while, when the grandkids are back in school and our vacation is over and the weather changes and our visitors all go home, it will still be waiting for me.
When I talk to someone that is just starting out with gardening for the first time and they are just learning the basics, I always take a big sigh because I know they are going to learn that gardening is hard, and frustrating, and they are going to learn a lot of lessons in the years ahead. I just hope they are doing it for the right reasons because it is also one of the most rewarding life-long loves they will ever encounter!
Sunday, July 20, 2014
This morning I found lots of things wrong in the gardens to take pictures of that will make good subjects for future posts, but today I'm just going to focus on one thing that is doing really well. My bronze fennel is lovely! I don't like the taste of fennel and don't ever harvest it. I don't really know why I planted it years ago back here when I put a vegetable garden in before I gave up and turned this area back over to the rabbits that rule the domain. Obviously the varmints feel the same way I do about fennel and so it lives on untouched, year after year. It is now about six feet tall and blooms profusely all summer with flowers that attract songbirds, butterflies and beneficial insects. The bronze foliage has reverted back to mostly green this time of year but it is light and feathery and pretty. I guess I really do like fennel after all - just not in my salad!
Friday, July 18, 2014
Monday, July 14, 2014
Because of our drought I do feel a bit of anguish over the front lawn most of the year and it is looking very shabby this summer due to reduced watering, but there are some things that you just need a grassy area for, and playing barefoot baseball with your cousins is one of them. We have our older grandkids stay with us during the summer and whenever they get rambunctious in the house the standing order is "out in the front yard with that!" They spend hours hitting the ball, running bases, planning schemes, collecting treasures, searching for eatables, watching butterflies, making up games, running through the sprinklers, learning to whistle, sharing secrets and a whole lot of others things that make up the memories of childhood summers. A grassy play area on a summer afternoon at your grandparents house is a wonderful rite of childhood, at least it will be for our grandchildren.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Last February I was complaining about these narrow little planters and how bare they looked in the winter along side of the weeping cedar. I think I vowed to plant something other than the 'Black and Blue ' salvia that has been there for the past few years and only looks good during the summer months. But as I look at it now, it really does look quite lovely, and since I never did get around to replacing it, I guess it will stay for another year! I do love the combination of the bright green foliage against the dark purple flowers and it is hard to get a color combination that doesn't clash with the house color when it is that close. I must remember my own advice that not everything looks great all the time and just let the tree take center stage in the winter months!
Thursday, July 3, 2014
I'm assuming everyone has a nostalgic flower that reminds them of their childhood and hollyhocks are mine. I've probably mentioned before (writing a blog on one subject for seven years it is hard not to repeat yourself) that when I was in kindergarten we lived at a lake in Michigan and hollyhocks grew wild there. We used to pull them apart and make hollyhock dolls out of them. Today when I see them growing all over SJC in the Mission and Old Town, I want to plant some because they grow so easily from seed, but I usually forget until it is too late. This year I actually bought a couple flats of three inch pots that I spotted in a nursery in the spring when I was there for something else. I brought them home and had my helper plant them. I put a flat of white ones in the Moonlight Garden and a flat of violet ones in the perennial garden. The ones in the Moonlight Garden have disappeared. I'm sure they are very tasty to hungry rabbits now that I think about it. A few of the ones in the perennial garden have survived and are blooming, but they are white! I probably should have been more specific about making sure they were planted along a fence or wall out of the way of dogs wandering through the beds sniffing down, well, whatever. And those that have survived are, of course, besieged with rust and mildew, the nemesis of the hollyhock. Some hollyhocks are annuals, some are biannuals and some are listed as perennials, and as we all know, that means little in Southern California where plants just do whatever they want as far as coming and going ( I still have pansies blooming from last fall) so I will try again. This time from seeds, in an out-of-the-way bed along a wall, away from where the bunnies roam. Doesn't it drive you crazy when you see plants growing in ditches that you can't get to grow in your own back yard?