The gardener is OUT

Pink peony poppy, nepeta, and rose campion blooming out front
Pink peony poppy, nepeta, and rose campion blooming out front

Outside, that is. And I’m finding it harder than almost ever to come in and sit in front of the computer. — Unless it’s to crash out on the couch and watch Sherlock. I won’t bother apologizing because I’ve gone much longer than this between posts. Plus I can only imagine that you’re out in your garden as much as possible lately too.

I can credit a couple of factors, besides netflix, for being distracted from most social media (instagram excepted). The weather for one. So delicious. San Diego 70s with only a day or two, here and there, of horrendous humidity. But even then, it has only been sticky during work hours and all discomfort lifts with evening’s breezes.

Also, my garden is kind of pretty right now and I’ve loved hanging out on the porches gazing at it just as much as I’ve enjoyed making tweaks and adjustments to my view (i.e. weeding/editing). The tansy/feverfew is blooming away, and so is the evening primrose. Lupine seedpods are popping open like firecrackers. Poppies are poppy-ing. Berries are forming on the alternate-leaf dogwood and my roses — even the undead — are blooming. I’d say it doesn’t get any better than right now but I’m holding out for next week/month/August vacation/fall.

An evening view from the back deck
An evening view from the back deck

Are you outside right now too, falling in love all over again with your garden?

Nag and ye shall receive

I’d like to state for the record that I’m not a fan of nagging as a means to an end, a pastime or lifestyle. I don’t like the way my voice sounds when I wind (whined?) up to a full nag and I generally resent being on the receiving end. But I learned how to harness the power of the nag back when I was the tiny daughter of a smoker. My mother would tell you that all I had to do was send her “to the cornfields” with a certain sullen stare I perfected and she’d do my bidding. Not true – but I also know from years of experience that nagging, in whatever form, can put a lot of strain on a relationship. Z claims to need to be needled and while I’m not altogether happy to oblige, I am certainly capable.

Recent gentle reminders have resulted in the creation of the handsomest of garden ornaments. Last week Z brought home about $50 worth of lumber and by the middle of Saturday I was grinning ear to ear in the promise of shade under an arbor over the back porch/deck (built by a nagged-on Z last summer).

before. (ladders as plant supports were an ugly nudge toward arbor)under construction (and already decorated)Where gin & tonics live now. (plus beagle boxers and socks.)

I want to sit out there always. In the words of The Dude, “It really tied the room together, man.” The arbor only wants for a vine and because autumn clematis is in full bloom this minute around here, that’s what I’m considering. I might throw a native honeysuckle on too though – for the hummingbirds. Anybody have any other suggestions?

An hour a day

just sitting in the garden with a smiling dog at my feetI was talking with someone today who says she spends about an hour a day weeding her garden after work. I admire her dedication and am a little envious of her free time on the weekends. No doubt even a half an hour a day in this garden would be enough to keep the weeds more or less away but suddenly I can think of alternative uses for my time out there. For instance, on any given weekday evening, I might rather perform tasks that involve consumption of snacks and bevvies and perhaps even a little dozing and drooling if I’m feeling truly ambitious.fizzie bevvie in the garden

There have been days lately, evenings really, after work, when I could feel my garden beckon but I just couldn’t face it. What the hell? What’s the point of having a garden of my own if I avoid spending time in it? I have an evil tendency – call it a Puritan work ethic if you’re feeling particularly generous, an annoying character flaw if not – and it only allows for relaxation when the work is done. People with this particular dis-ease know, of course, that the work is never done. But I decided tonight, in a tectonic attitude shift, that the important thing about “an hour a day” is just that I spend it – doing/not doing something – in the garden.a blurry doze in the garden (or what's a chaise lounge for?)

Do you spend an hour a day in your garden?

Set in stone(dust)

line of demarcationI need to remember that permanence is pretty relative when it comes to anything in the garden (or blog). Digging sod to make garden beds is like setting up a new wordpress theme – one can always change it back – especially if one still has the pile of sod clods resting near the compost or a few hours to waste. Laying in stone dust and placing pavers has much more of a I-only-want-to-do-this-once sort of a feel to it.

tread carefullyBluestone dust is a pretty cool thing. I had no idea it was so attractive even just on its own and if I had known it was so cheap I probably would have used it to set in the busted concrete pavers in the front/sideyard garden. But those are staying put so far so, to be honest, I’m not regretting my somewhat lazier methods there. This weekend we hefted almost a yard of the dust into the backyard garden to set in slate roof tiles along the bed edges and future lawn/no lawn border.  I don’t recommend using roofing slates as edgers unless, like me, you happen to have picked up a slew of them for free. None of them are perfectly flat and they are all perfectly brittle so step a little sideways and they’ll flip back onto the lawn no matter how many (15) minutes I spent setting each one in just so. But who cares. For now they’re nice to look at and when they all break into bits, they’ll be easier to tread upon. From dust to dust…

Working on this project permanentifies my master plan in a much more tangible way and of course I’m second guessing every decision. But what fun would this tiny garden be if I didn’t want to constantly tweak the permanent parts of it? Do you make impermanent master plan decisions too?

Mid June vignettes

you see ladders, I see an arborI really really love my start-of-a-garden and have been so distracted by it that sometimes I stop whatever I’m doing and just walk around and gaze at it from different angles, touch leaves, admire the industry of spit bugs and think about which patch of grass to take out “next!”. frontyard garden - what the camera seesBut as much as I adore it all and think it’s beeeautiful – even the clashes – I find it very hard to photograph. Suddenly in pictures the ignorable periphery shows up crystal clear. I wish I could shoot what I really see – the garden without weeds, cars in the driveway or iridescent pinwheels and fourth of July banners over the hedge; the seedling trees and shrubs full grown, shading and screening; a rocking chair front porch and weathered shingles on the house; and my expansive view of the sunset sky rather than the actual pie slices between chain-link houses and construction zones. Someone really should invent a camera that deletes the coiled hose, coverts the ugly chaise into a funky antique with gracious proportions and paints the great white wall a lovely shade of celadon.

Until the Canon ESP is created and marketed at a reasonable price, closeups and vignettes will have to suffice for best illustrating what I love about my garden. Does your garden live up to your longshot camera view or do prefer taking closeups too?

'Quick Silver' Eleagnus and a bilious spirea - one of my favorite combospenstamon and filipendula - a clash of washoutsthornless blackberry. my mystery plantClematis 'Roguchi'

Many thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting yet another Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and for not barring the door to any of us who are always (un)fashionably late to the party.

Rosa mutabilis, Atlantic poppies and chives