Monday, June 6, 2011

Making the Bed - the Front Bed

Memorial Day weekend I did a day of spring cleaning on the upper decks. Not very interesting to write about, but satisfying. Here's the result.


These are the remaining graduates of the seed propagation efforts begun last fall and winter. Lupines, naked buckwheat, alum root, bush monkeyflower, seep monkeyflower, iris, thimbleberry, toyon. Golden yarrow.

I did put some plants into large pots though, semi-decoratively.

Well, OK, not that decoratively at all really, but I'm more interested in seeing how they grow. I'll work on my aesthetics - or get help - later!

This past weekend I intended to weed the kidney shaped bed in the south garden, which is burgeoning with the good the bad and the ugly, but instead found myself straightening up the front bed that's on the left as you approach the path that leads to the main door.


I had made a small planting there, of western bleeding heart and local iris, and put chicken wire around it (they're in the shade in the picture above and hard to see). I've really otherwise neglected this bed since I planted foothill penstemon in it three years ago: they were nice the first year, ratty the second year, then - didn't come back. I now realize it got too shady for them.

This time I think it's turned out better.


(Please mentally photoshop out the stray edging stone on the left there.) The two "Dark Star" ceanothus shrubs have really grown. They are maybe 5 feet high and wide now and between the two of them, 8 feet long. So it's pretty shady there now, and I hope the Heuchera micrantha - alum root - and the Eriogonum nudum - naked buckwheat - will do well there.

I was only going to scrabble at the small weeds. Then I decided to plant stuff. Then I started getting disgusted with the ugliness of the drip irrigation tubing. So I ripped it all off, like the skeleton of a fish, and hid it away behind the greenhouse to deal with another day. Then I decided to fix the crunched up corner of the stone path where Mr Rat backed over it with his pickup truck. I do like having the luxury to meander between tasks like this. (Duncan's saying, "It wasn't me!")


All the while, the chubby chestnut-backed chickadees (Poecile rufescens) were making their squeaky toy calls to each other and gobbling things with apparent glee in the trees nearby. (You can find out more about chickadees here.) This morning I went out to see if I could get a few snaps - the light wasn't so good but...







(I think the fluffing one whose back we see was a fledgling begging for food from mumma. It was following two adults around.)

Finally, I planted - a bunch of alum root (Heuchera micrantha):

And buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum):


And one bush monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus) in the least shady spot. These are all propagated from local seed. I put each in a swathe, the heuchera closer to the shade and the buckwheat around the edges where they get morning sun. I put liquid fence on them. I hope I don't regret leaving them without a rabbit fence at least.

I finished up the rock edging, too. I had just edged about a third of it, randomly here and there, thus expressing my indecision about edging it at all, which on this day vanished! The mound was looking a bit saggy, so I added some soil from a garbage can of local soil that's been hanging around for ages. A tribe of woodlice were living in it. I like woodlice - aka pill bugs - They're crustaceans, probably Armadillium vulgare I think. I don't think they do much harm, do they? They eat dead stuff - but they can also eat seedlings. So I didn't bother too much whether they came with the soil or stayed in their cosy home.

I also sprinkled on some organic fertilizer in unscientific amounts that I hope were not excessive. Most California natives don't like rich soil - you have to think about their natural environment and adjust the soil only as needed. But the soil in this bed contains a lot of mulch now, which is very low in nitrogen, so I figured a bit of a nitrogen boost wouldn't hurt. And I watered everything in well. Not that things weren't already pretty moist.

At Tassajara, when Town Mouse and I were on that wonderful birds and flowers of Tassajara workshop, I saw naked buckwheat with long, puffy green stems, like big straws, and I thought they were just different from the ones I've been propagating from local seed - but when I got back, lo and behold, mine were doing the same thing. Sporadic ones are shooting up these long naked stems - three, then again three, then again three. Of each set of three, one is small and two are larger - very interesting growth pattern.



I'm looking forward to seeing some little white puffballs of blossoms on the ends of these stalks, if we ever get any sun -- I can't believe that on Saturday June 4th we had a day long downpour! I've lived in California 30 years now, and this has never happened before. Things certainly are changing around here.

9 comments:

Eliza @ Appalachian Feet said...

Wow that is a LOT of things in pots to baby (and from here they sure look lush and healthy!)

Pill and sow bugs can be one of the worst pests in my garden, but only sometimes. I think it happens when they multiply beyond the decaying organic matter in my garden. Then they get hungry enough to eat entire plants. I've had people tell me that they're not the culprits... but it's hard to argue when you go out at night with a flashlight and there's the plant coated in them!

I still can't squish them... too many memories playing with them as a kid. :)

Your garden is completely gorgeous!

Christine said...

I love those days of fierce activity that seem more like flitting about from project to project. You feel rested, yet satisfied with the work done. I love the stone walkway leading up to the front door! And I just can't believe the burgeoning nursery slowly taking over! So exciting!

Country Mouse said...

Thanks, Eliza - course I don't show you the bit behind the greenhouse where I dumped the drip irrigation spaghetti! I have a hard time squishing most anything, myself.

Christine you said it really well, and I did feel rested and satisfied!

Sue Langley said...

Country Mouse, I LOVE days like this when you go from one thing to another at your whim. I usually get more done than when I have something i have to do I like all your propagation trays and pots. Would like to learn lots more about this, but all in good time. Right now I'm trying with sulfur flower and non native helichrysum.
My hubby prides himself on backing up skills, but when he squashed my bucket of succulents, he also said amazing, "It wasn't me" Did you see my post? hahaha

I like your fish skeleton description! And my gardener friend came over for a 'garden tour' and she was obsessively squishing all my 'bad' bugs, while we talked. I suppose I do that with friends' weeds.

Country Mouse said...

Sue - Tractor Man should meet Wood Rat indeed! Your post on succulents prompts me to ask if you have had much browsing on your succulents. I've been wondering what to plant in the nooks and crannies... Thanks for dropping in and appreciating my day of this then that then the other!

ZZ said...

I like the chickadees...they are cute!

Barbara said...

I think meandering from one project to another, changing your mind about things in the middle, and finally achieving resolve about something are all typical gardener behavior, and you describe it well. I like your heart-shaped stone-enclosed bed, too.

Jean said...

Isn't that the way it is - you get started doing one simple garden task and before you know it, you're ripping out this and that and you have a major garden project on your hands! It all looks good.

Country Mouse said...

Thanks for coming by - I enjoyed all your comments -- It's nice to be in the company of other gardeners - who understand! the joy of the purposeful meander - oh yes!