'A garden is always a series of losses set against triumphs, like life itself.'
As I've worked in my own spaces to take advantage of rain softened soil and cooler temperatures, I've been considering what my own losses and triumphs have looked like this past year. Though it often felt like a year filled with battles and losses, there were indeed some bright spots.
As a starting point, I'm counting it as a huge improvement overall that I've made good progress in recognizing what I can and cannot pull off given the particularities of our sun/shade ratio and water access here.
For instance? While I would love a large water feature, in our climate I must keep in mind the cost of evaporation that a long water sluice such as the one pictured below would suffer (this is from a garden in the San Francisco Bay area, not known for their heat/drought issues). I also know to resist the temptation of complacency after our mild winter last year and realistically consider how large an area of succulents I am willing to cover against the possibility of hard winter freezes, which are predicted to be on tap for 2014.
|But I can have this:|
|This triangular area lies between two large beds I routinely cover during freezes. The pots will be easily removed to the greenhouse or garage either one.|
|Gulf Fritillary caterpillar feasting on Maypop vine leaves|
|Bambi here is fond of 5-6 varieties out front (and many more I've sequestered to the back behind tall fencing).|
I've been particularly mule-headed in this realm, having made the same dumb mistake several times over. My first misstep was with horsetail reed (Equisetum hyemale). I followed that up with the injudicious use of asian jasmine which in my situation qualifies as invasive because it sure enough spreads everywhere I don't want it and roots too deeply to easily pull out. Most recently I topped off my layer cake of perilous plantings with the use of the tall variety of Mexican Petunia, Ruellia nudiflora, in both pink and purple.
|I know where the "rue" in Ruellia is derived. The tall variety, though offering up lovely pink and purple blooms in late summertime, is quite invasive by anybody's reckoning.|
|I spent hours digging Ruellia out here and have hours to go as I've barely taken one-third of them out. They've dominated several salvias, out competing fleabane (Erigeron strigosus) and obedient plant (Physotegia virginiana) alike.|
|I recently sent this mini-harvest home with my son who is a professional chef. Lemongrass stalks, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, Kafir lime leaves and Mexican tarragon.|
Perhaps a final victory I'll claim for 2013 is the fact that despite significant challenges, I have not completely lost my sense of humor when it comes to our garden spaces. The careful observer will note the juxtaposition of a modern version of a bottle tree in the upper middle of the photo above, decked out with the requisite blue bottles. Moving down and to the right please note its companion planting, a bottle brush tree, located in the lower corner of the shot. It's my version of a garden pun and it pleases me no end.
On balance, I'm giving this year in the garden a check mark in the "more gains than losses" column. I've learned some hard lessons (the only kind I seem to run up against unfortunately) but I'm putting them all to good use.
I'm gardening smarter every season, so with a little cooperation from the weather, I'm looking forward to next year potentially being the best ever. I sure hope you'll come along for the ride - good bad or indifferent - I'm looking forward to sharing it here with you.