I Sense a Theme in This Garden

I suspect that whenever our neighbors see me walking around with a shovel, they just start pre-emptively rolling their eyes, because it must be no good.

This is what I worked on this afternoon: the latest trench in my grand irrigation plan. This one will go along the back of the house, turn at the Asian pears, back to the peaches and nectarines, and then over to the apples. I'm going to have two, maybe three pipes in this trench, so it needs to be fairly deep. Goldie was helping. Sort of.

New irrigation trench

The thing with our sand is that when it dries out, it turns very hard. So I had to soak it first, and then wait for the water to work its way in. While I was doing that, I dealt with this little problem: fireblight in one of the Asian pears. The only way to deal with fireblight in the tree is to cut off the infected branches below the bad wood, disinfecting your pruners as you go. Then you throw away the material, wash thoroughly, and change your clothes before you go near another plant that is susceptible to fireblight.

Asian pears with fireblight

I'm hopeful that we got it all, but if it is a persistent problem, I will cut that tree down and replace it.

In other tree news, last weekend I planted my variegated weeping willow. This is a natural dwarf tree, usually only about 6 feet tall. I've staked it with a birdfeeder, because I want it to get taller. It's in the side yard behind the fence, and I'd like it to help screen the back yard a bit from the street.

Variegated willow

As you can see, our neighbor's downspout empties onto our side lawn there (this is technically illegal, by the way, but I really am not fussed about it) and I thought the willow would help suck up water from that during the winter. Not that we've had a flooding problem since I regraded in the fall.

(The pot next to the willow contains a fig of unknown type and two Coast Live Oaks. I'm going to break those apart and give the oaks to a friend and repot the fig. In my copious spare time.)

In other garden news, the dahlias have started blooming.


And the tomatoes are coming along nicely, although they need more water (part of the motivation behind working on the irrigation system). We did lose one (Marvel Stripe), but nine tomato plants is probably plenty for three adults.


Oh, and my front garden is, like, explosive. The rose hedge is all in bloom, and the ground under it is littered with pink petals. What looks like it might be intentional ground cover inside the curve there is actually a small lawn of uncontrolled weeds.

Rose hedge

And the natives garden is lush and pinkish right now, because May is the height of our native plant blooming season.

Native plants

I love how the taller plants in the back make the transition in height from the sidewalk to the rose bed. The only thing I can't quite figure out is why the Eden rose on the arbor insists upon growing right to the front rather then in the middle. I must get better at tying that little bugger up there more firmly or it will fall on a visitor.

Native plants

Noel told me a neighbor walking by complained about not being able to get anything to grow and marveled at my flowers. My secret is compost. Lots of it. Every year. It's not a great secret, and some plants do not care for it, but on the whole it works pretty well. Better than synthetic fertilizers because it adds material to the soil that holds moisture and encourages root development. Also, when people ask you how you make such a lush garden, you can say, "The secret is poop."

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posted by ayse on 05/12/07



I find your gardening very encouraging because you started with such a, well, blank slate. Our post-contractors yard has left us bits of concrete all over and patches of exposed subsoil throughout the lawn and former planting beds - and when I say subsoil, I mean the hard red clay that underlies everything here. It's very plant-resistant, ugly, and depressing stuff, but when I look at what you've grown in the formerly dead and compacted soil that was underneath concrete I feel so much better!

Just beautiful! I especially love the pink as it's a favorite of mine :) I had a question for you - do those tomato ladders really work? I tried the spiral stakes last year (I'm a sucker for cool/cute) and found they worked much better for my lillies than they do for tomatoes.


Keri, I'm not sure about the tomato ladders. I usually just sort of let tomatoes flop all over the place, but I decided to give it a try. I think the idea is that you prune the branches back to one set of leaves to encourage a more vertical growth.

Check back in July for pictures of tipped-over ladders and flopped tomato plants. :)

Thanks - I think I might buy some anyway. I'll just buy some sweet peas or clematis and use them for that if they don't work!


Also, I wanted to say how much I love the cleome in your garden! Just beautiful.


Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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