Sunday, October 08, 2006

Do You Do Yard Work?
Here is southern California, yard work is much the same as everywhere else, yet different. Yes, we are lucky to have flowers year round. I have no room for a veggie garden on this lot. We did grow basil and tomatoes in containers this year. That's it for a vegetable garden. The rest of the back yard has hanging baskets and roses and not much else except for perennial shrubs and trees that need pruning.
So, today, we tackled the front flower garden beds where there are a lot of perennials and not much room for me to put in bedding plants. The major problem is that the previous owner planted English ivy as a ground cover. It moves into the flower bed relentlessly, even though we beat it back severely. Today was one of those days.
The major times to garden in our area are fall and spring. People who don't live here think we have vegetable and flower gardens year round. Yes and no. Yes, something is always growing. Bougainvillea, for example. It is always glorious. We don't have any. In the summer months, people don't do much in the flower and vegetable gardens. It is much too hot to spend much time planting and weeding. We don't have the long daylit evenings, although it does usually cool off in the later evening, unlike in Texas or Missouri, for example. And, December through March, it is often wet and not advised to pack down the soil in the flower beds by tramping in them.
We do have some plants others would consider exotic. There is a huge flax with five or six foot long swordlike leaves. It is probably ten feet around and through. The leaves are tough and need cutting back. We had Alan helping with that. He hated it. Next to that, there is an enormous philodendron. It looks somewhat like I imagine a jungle plant would look with huge leaves and thick stems. It also needed cutting back. Don got out his electric hedge trimmers, Alan and I used the manual hedge trimmers and we tried some unsuccessful yanking.
At the back of the area I have claimed for bedding plants, the dreaded ivy had moved in. Don took his large gas-powered weed whip to it. He also had Alan lopping off some from the suckers from our ornamental cherry tree which our neighbor below does not want cut right back as she is concerned about the stability of the bank between us. Fair enough. We previously agreed that cutting them off to the height of her fence would be what she would like. I removed several overgrown plants, now around 3 feet high, which had been planted last spring at around 4 inches in height. Don got a shovel and removed a large plant I didn't plant, so someone before us did. This house had two previous owners. It was crowded up against a shrub that we keep trimmed in a box shape and to me spoiled the look. It doesn't flower, so I was happy to see it dug out. I cut back the two rose bushes I also didn't plant. They don't do well there because they get too much shade. I do like roses, however, so they stay. Next week, I plan to weed the front of the flower bed that is mostly invaded by grass and oxalis. By the end of October, I will put in pansies, petunias and whatever else I can find in the garden center that I enjoy. These are spring flowers in other climates. Here, they need the cooler temperatures of winter and they thrive then. One thing I am reminded of is that I hope I am not too late to get bulbs that need winter chilling. They appear in September in the revived garden centers that normally go more or less dormant in the summer. What we have to do here is rush out when we aren't thinking of them, simply because, I think, now is the time they are shipped to America for fall planting elsewhere. We don't put them in the ground, though, like we did when we lived in Canada. Nope. They go into the fridge. We need to get them now so we can get them potted up before we need the crisper space for Christmas. They need six to eight weeks in the fridge. We are beginning the second week in October, so I am late for this and hope I still find decent tulip bulbs. I just love to have them and ever since moving to this country 21 years ago, I have planted them in pots and usually have blooms in January and February. This is also the time to get iris roots. I must remember them.
That brings us to the flower bed outside of my study window. On the left side, there is about three feet of a lavender bush. Today, I let Don cut the height back and trim it up. The center is all dead wood. We hope it will grow and mask that mess. When the hummingbirds come, I hope there will be a new flower stalk from the flax. From it, over to the lavender, and then into the fountain, the hummingbirds flit and I get to watch the show when I am at my desk. In the front, there is a spindly potato bush. I don't care for it much, so I pruned it back severely. Behind it are the hydrangeas, which I do love. I do try to change them from pink to blue and this past year, I think, they only got to white. I was using coffee grounds for the needed acid. I will have to see what else I can do to manage that process.
Not many women here can be seen out in the yard. In fact, many men leave the yard work to the mow blow and go guys. We do get the front lawn mowed weekly. However, the yard work that comes along with enjoying the process of planting a flower garden is still something Don and I do together. I select the flowers but he loves roses and many other flowers and would cut them all and bring them inside and place them in vases if I didn't object. I would like to figure out how to have some small area as a cutting garden. Maybe at the next house.


Blogger Junosmom said...

I have some of that ivy, too. The previous owners planted it everywhere and I'm always pulling it up. Didn't know that about coffee grounds.

4:49 AM  

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