2012 in review

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog in 2012 and especially everyone who commented on posts. I can’t believe my blog had 49,000 views! I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 49,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 11 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

I’ve been here before…

If I see more annoyed than distraught about my gardens impending doom it is because I have dealt with this before. The first garden I created was back in the early 90’s when I was living with my aunt in Ringwood, New Jersey. Initially we got rid of the lawn and covered it with wood chips (we were lawn haters back before it was cool and trendy) and put in two rows of rose bushes.  I learned about gardening and plants by visiting the New Jersey Botanical Garden at Skylands and reading lots of gardening books.  Bit by bit the garden grew.

As you can see above the garden had very humble beginnings. I didn’t really know what I was doing so I would just carve out beds and add plants that I liked.  The house was at the bottom of a small hill.

It wasn’t perfect but I think it was pretty good for a self-taught first time gardener. This garden lasted about seven years and then disaster struck. In the winter of 1998 we started having septic tank problems.  Because the property was situated on a large wooded slope the only place to put a new septic field was the front yard. Because it was winter we weren’t able to dig up and rescue any plants. I think I was also in denial at the amount of destruction that was about to take place. I remember being shocked one morning and seeing a gigantic back hoe and a six foot deep hole where my Peony collection had been the day before.

By the time the work was completed our front yard looked like the above photo. Everything was gone. Our house was no longer at the bottom of a hill. We were now level with the street.  We used to walk up steps to get to the front door but not any more. Of course I was distraught at the loss of all those plants, but on the other hand at this point I knew a lot more about gardening.  I had started taking continuing education classes at the New York Botanical Garden and I had learned so much from building my first garden. It would be kind of fun to start with a blank slate and use my new knowledge to build something smarter and better. We also had the crew use their back hoe to dig a big hole for a new pond. Something I wouldn’t have been able to do by hand. We had them make us a beautiful brick path with lighting.

In just two years my new garden was already much nicer than the old one.

Of course this garden didn’t really have a happy ending for too long. In the fall of 1999 I moved to Manhattan and my aunt sold the house and moved to Key Largo. The new home owners ripped out almost every single plant and put in a lawn. The only thing that survived were some Dicentra and Alliums that they missed because they were dormant when the lawn went in. Oh well. Lesson learned. If you leave behind a garden don’t go back. Never go back.

But I went to school and worked at some great botanical gardens. I became a horticulturist and created many more gardens, some my own, and some at the places I was working. I had already learned one important lesson though. Gardens are ephemeral. They change from one season to the next and if you move away it is unlikely the new home owners will keep everything the way you loved it. And sometimes, frustratingly, big construction projects will be necessary. In my first garden it was a new septic field, in my current garden it is the town converting from septic to sewers.

I still don’t know for sure when the work will begin but I am starting to make a mental catalog of what needs to be saved. Some things will go to the safety of my backyard and some may be potted up and saved or planted in clients gardens. But even when all the work is done I won’t get too attached to whatever garden I create because some day I will move again and start a new garden. Hopefully in a home that I own that I will live in for a long time.





Self Sown

Linaria reticulataGypsophila elegans 'Kermesina'Chrysanthemum paludosumGeranium pyrenaicum 'Bill Wallis'Nemophila menziesiiLayia platyglossa
Ursinia anthemoidesEschscholzia californicaSalvia sclareaClarkia rubicunda blasdaleiAgrostemma githagoScabiosa stellata
Gilia tricolor

Self Sown Seedlings, a set on Flickr.

So I talked to an inspector today about the sewer pipes that are going in and the news is not good.  While he was not one hundred percent certain it is likely that my garden is in fact going to mostly end up destroyed.

But lets pretend all that isn’t going to happen and instead enjoy pictures of all my little self sown seedlings that are popping up after our fall rains.

Click on the thumbnails to be brought to Flickr where I have labeled each seedling.  Wordpress has a new way to put images into a post and it is buggy as hell so until I either figure it out or they fix it I am going to have to just use Flickr thumbnails for my blog posts.

Lots of cool California natives and other neat mediterranean seedlings coming up. Lets just pretend that they aren’t all going to be destroyed by a backhoe some time in the near future.

Of Course

Anyone else come back late at night from a long trip and go out in the garden with a flashlight to check on everything? I got back from NYC last night and did just that.

I was excited to see that all the rain we got while I was away has been great for the garden.  All my plants seem to have grown while I was away and there are tons of seedlings coming up.

This morning I was greeted by a less friendly sight.

Before I left there was mention that the towns new sewer pipes might be going right through my yard and garden because I am in the right of way easement. See the yellow markings on the driveway and the flags through the garden?

Work has already begun in the field next door.


So I was thinking that the yellow flags meant that was where the new sewer line was going but then I looked closely and realized that they say “buried gas line”.  I’m hoping that means that they won’t be able to dig through my yard because the gas line goes through it.   What do you think?  Too optimistic of me?

If the flags do in fact indicate where they will be digging for sewers the entire garden will be demolished.  As you can see in the photo below this includes my big concrete pavers that Gabe and Victor laid out for me.

I asked one of the construction guys who parked on the street if he had any idea when the work was going to be done and he didn’t know. He thinks they are going another direction first so it may not be that soon. I dunno.  Not too excited about all this. My very first garden was destroyed because we needed a new septic tank and field. I don’t really want to go through that again.

In other very sad news I found out that my landlady passed away while I was in New York. She was battling lung cancer and the past six weeks or so had started to decline rapidly.  I had a feeling she may pass away while I was out of town. I missed the funeral too.  She was very sweet and I’ll miss her.  She was thrilled to have a gardener as a tenant and would come out and chat with me while I worked in the yard. Telling me stories of her husband (who passed away last year) and of the town. They lived here over 40 years.  The last I spoke to her daughter she said she would like to keep me on as a tenant but I haven’t seen her yet since returning home. If they are going to be digging through my yard at some point (a possible 45 or more days worth of construction which may block me from my own driveway) I’m not even sure I want to stay. Hopefully I’ll get some answers this week.








Away from the garden…

I’ve been in NYC visiting my family for Thanksgiving. Hopefully my garden is getting by without me. Looking at the weather report it seems Los Osos has had some rain so at least I don’t have to worry that anything is drying up.  Hopefully we’ll have lots of rain all winter so I can go to see wild flowers in the spring.

Before I left my little Frithia pulchra bloom finally opened.

https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8340/8235633336_f92fd6d70e_b.jpgThe flower is bigger than the plant (which isn’t very big)!

Some of my Conophytums had buds when I left so sadly I may miss them if they bloom while I am away but it is a good sign that they have recovered from their time on my shady patio in West Hollywood.

Last night I went to an alumni reunion for the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden.  It was really nice seeing friends and classmates that I hadn’t seen in a few years.

Back to California on Monday and hopefully some new projects and plants to post about! Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.