April and May are months that I often don’t remember when reflecting back at the end of the year. Spring is such a busy season. When I was raising children, and when I was working as a school librarian, these months rushed past in the haste towards summer break. As a gardener, Spring is one season when I turn into one of those Garden Designers London and since it is also the season of intense growth of both weeds and desirables, insects and increasing dryness, and for me and so many others, the inevitable allergies that keep me out of the garden for days. So I thought I’d post photos of my gardens as they stand today, in the middle of April, on threshold of Summer.
I’ll start at my front door and work downhill. The walkway to the front door is lined with purple lantana and a mixture of red geraniums, honeysuckle, butterfly bush and Double Delight rose. It is being enjoyed by my very silly old dog General Mischief, who just realized that I was going to let him into the house. He looks a bit like a vampire dog in this photo, though!
By my front door I have a collection of miscellaneous plants, as most people do. Two staghorn ferns given me by my mother have attached themselves in a very satisfactory way to the chain link fence. There is also a dark red ivy geranium, needlepoint ivy, some bulbs just out of bloom, a traveling (or Egyptian) onion (it’s seeds are bulbets grown on the flower) that my brother gave to me, and some sedums. When I water here I usually disturb a Pacific Chorus Frog or two. I’ve thinned and weeded and replanted this collection, but there are always more that magically appear.
The front yard pond is full of algae, but that is all right for the moment. I don’t want a crystal clear pond; I want habitat. Because of the clear blobs of frog spawn and wriggling tadpoles hiding from the hungry mouths of the mosquito fish I keep the algae until it is no longer inhabited. Waterlilies (even the monster one! Look at other posts for an explaination) are blooming with last weekend’s sudden heat. In the foreground are Jewel Mix nasturiums with heirloom tuberoses emerging, a grey mound of lamb’s ear which has begun to pop up where I don’t expect it, and rosemary by the bird feeders. Our kitchen table has the view of the feeders, and it is from this yard that we count birds seasonally for Cornell University’s Project Feederwatch. Oh, and try not to focus on the weeds, please.
Along my driveway is a Lady Banksia rose that has taken off, along with a bush mallow, a Hidcote lavender, and a late daffodil. Farther along the driveway (not shown) is a Pride of Madera (I love that name!) that is going gangbusters, a small liquidamber, rockrose, a mixture of natives and incidental plants such as a tomato that survived the winter, a Joseph’s Coat rose, and an established pine tree with a crow’s nest at the top. There are other roses and plants here, too, like a prostrate pyracantha for berries, a white carpet rose, native milkweed for the Monarch butterflies (perennial ones; the annuals are usually gone by the time the butterflies migrate here), an apricot penstamon, aloe vera, and probably the kitchen sink, too, if I root around long enough. I love tinkering around with this mess of plants, seeing what will grow and trying new combinations.
In my raised vegetable beds the peas have been producing well. The shorter ones had been nibbled by crows as they were emerging, but after I put a rubber snake amongst them, the nibbling stopped. Potatoes are nearing harvest time, and I’ve already snuck out a few new potatoes and they were very good. Sometimes I’ve had potatoes with brown fiber in them and a bitter taste; no doubt due to irregular watering and soil problems. I worked hard on improving my soil and giving it a boost with natural fertilizers from Gardens Alive. There are so many peas in the garden because I planted all my old packets so that the roots will set nitrogen in the soil.
I also have growing carrots, broccoli, cilantro, parsley, endive, salad mix, parsnip, strawberries, blueberries, breadseed poppies, horseradish, asparagus, bush beans, fava beans, a yellow tomato and a red slicing tomato, garlic, shallots, red and white onions, Swiss chard, leeks, collards and basil. Most are just small guys right now.
This is a view of the middle of my property, from the lower end up.
This is the palm tree walkway as it stands now.