After last summer, I really thought I'd never garden or post on this blog again. A story in the Statesman real estate section mentioned a woman who was selling her house to move to North Carolina, because she wanted to be able to garden. I hear you, lady.
But let's face it, gardening is an addiction. Five inches of rain and a flush of rosebuds, and I've got that monkey on my back all over again. Pouring hundreds of dollars into antique roses, lambskin pruning gloves, and whatever newfangled soaker hose they've got to sell me. My yard in Brentwood did not even get a mild freeze; so in combination with the rain, things are looking lush. I have petunias that actually wintered over. It has been interesting to see how my newly-installed backyard garden survived the summer. The clear winners were silver germander, lorapetalum and yellow columbine. The losers were spireas—which all died early in the summer— and the berkeley sedge. It's not dead, but I kind of wish it were.
And on the south fence, all the salvias, plumbago and turk's cap are happily thriving. In the kidney-bean-shaped bed in the way back, I've put in more germanders since they seem so happy in the shady soil situation back there. Converting the backyard to gravel is working out well. Zeke has stayed to his paths. I haven't had to water or mow. After the twice-a-year liveoak leaf-drop I have to blow the gravel. I know people hate leafblowers but they are the most practical tool in cleaning up gravel.
Meanwhile in the front yard, the big excitment is the bloom spike on one of the softleaf yuccas. I've had this plant for 10 years now, moving its pups from Rollingwood to my new house. Never has it EVER bloomed.
My neighbor cleared out some of his overgrowth resulting in a new patch of sun on my side yard into which I've introduced a little-leaf cordia. I saw this plant blooming in the middle of last summer's nonstop 100 degree days. It's a kind of scrawny thing with a demented growth habit—all sharp angles and jutting stems—but it has stunning snow white flowers. It has blue-gray foliage and looks alot like its Texas olive cousin.
After 10 years gardening on solid rock in Rollingwood, I moved into a 40's cottage in the North Loop area spring 2007. The little postage stamp yard is black clay and no one had ever dug a single flower bed. After visiting Key West a few years ago, I came back inspired by the little frame cottages, white painted railings, and rustling palm leaves. So the plan is: desert tropical cottage garden.