Sometimes I wish...

...I were a restoration gardener. Reading Country Mouse's post yesterday about finding the Lupinus hirsutissimus really made me happy. Just imagine helping nature along up there in the coastal hills. How peaceful.

Take me, in contrast. I spent last weekend starting to get the garden ready for the garden tour. Now, you'd think that means planting attractive annuals, maybe rearranging a planter or two, snipping off a few dead flowers...The reality is different. What people look for is a tidy garden, and the first step in making the garden tidy is to clean up the paths and dry creek beds.

I have a lot of dry creek bed, both in the back and in the front. In the back, I also have the neighbor's redwood trees dropping branches, and the bark on the mounds gets washed into the creek during the rains. The result is this:

Part of me says that's fine. But the other part says "Town Mouse, you don't go to a job interview in torn jeans, and you don't show your garden with really messy dry creek beds." So I got down on my knees for several hours and moved around the rocks, collected redwood twigs and bark, and disposed of a few slugs (so that's where they live!).

Better. Even if we have another storm, the worst is taken care of. Next come the edges of the paths, which look like this right now.

Fortunately, this will be an easier job, so I can wait to sweep there until we're a little closer to tour day. I'll also have to sweep the square pavers, which are dirty, and remove the worst of the weeds (I hope to get some of that vinegar weed control for the dandelion). Here's a paver picture with bonus Towhee. 

And I'll have to remove the avocado that the squirrel brought by and placed on the arbor. Don't ask me why, I'm not a squirrel. I'm a mouse.

There's also the DG patio, to sweep and rake, and I have to oil the IPE benches. Would a restoration gardener do that? No, but a suburban gardener would.

But, in the end, when I look around and see the birds visiting, the fountains splashing, and all the plants looking happy after the winter rain, maybe it's not so bad. When I look away from the redwood twigs and see the big picture, I feel lucky. And suddenly I hear the birds, and the wind in the tree, and I'm just happy to be outside. 

P.S. Before tour day, I'll also go back to North Coast Gardening's "Four Secrets to a FAST Garden Makeover" and put on some final touches. And then, I'll cross my fingers for sunshine!


Sheila said…
I too am getting ready for a garden tour in a couple months. More than tidying up for me! I need to edit and add!
Town Mouse, we have a lot of dry creek beds here too. Well, sometimes, during a storm, they're raging torrents. Not my favorite task in spring to clear them all out again either. However, it is rather satisfying at the end of the day, when the eye is no longer distracted by redwood duff, and you can simply appreciate the plants, and the birds in the garden. I'm sure those touring your garden will appreciate it too!
Christine said…
It looks pretty gorgeous already! Your Salvia spathacea really shines, and I think the avocado was rather artfully placed. Perhaps the squirrels are creating a hanging/air garden?
Christine B. said…
My tour happens in early August. I have a bunch of things that need dividing, some fence touchups, and some debris to clear from the gravel. So true about the little details making a huge difference on tour day. I have four months to think of the perfect dessert to serve at the tour...hmmm.

Best wishes for some great weather on your big day.

Christine in Alaska
patientgardener said…
is your dry river bed natural or a man made feature? It does look nice and tidy. Hope your tour day goes well
Kimberly said…
So much work to be done, but your garden, and you, will reap the benefits. Just stock on the Advil! :)
Town Mouse said…
Ah Sheila, I'm glad I'm so close that major changes are not an option.

Christine, dessert? I wish I lived in Alaska, I'd go to Garden Tours every week. We don't even offer water ;-> Well, it is a free tour.

Patientgardener: Nothing is natural where I live. It's the suburbs. Even 1/4 of the soil was carted in when we filled the pool ;-> It's Country Mouse who has a more natural environment.

Everyone: Has Google lost the ability for counting? I see 6 comments, and it says 4 comments under the post... Very odd. I thought they used computers.
Can you explain the whole dry creek thing to me? I'm native Marylander, and am baffled by this particular garden feature. What purpose does this serve, running down the middle of a yard in the middle of Oakland?

I mean, I understand what an arroyo is, in the middle of the desert. But in a housing development???

Please understand that I'm not being critical with this question. I'm not judging. I'm merely confused.
Noelle said…
I am sure that everyone will enjoy your garden. I completely understand about wanting to clean out the rock - I do wish it were easier to do.
Gail said…
I was looking around my garden at all the pots, wheel barrel, perennial shovels, spades, etc laying on the ground and thought well, this is it; this is my garden, it's a working garden. But when the gardenbloggers who said they would be in town and want to visit...get here...It will be tidy!

Your garden looks wonderful to me...Love the dry creek!

Town Mouse said…
Lisa and Rob, great question. The short answer is: When done right, the water collects in the dry creek and goes into the ground onsite instead of into the gutter and the bay.

That said, it's usually done as an ornamental feature and adds structure to the garden. Maybe I'll do a post on it, thanks for that question!
debsgarden said…
Well, I wish I was coming on that tour. I am sure you will have everything looking perfect.