Monday, August 28, 2006

Back to the garden

About six weeks ago we moved into the new space added in our backyard and I rediscovered my garden. Before we built the addition, the only real view of the garden was from the carport. I could catch a few glimpses from inside the house, depending on the time of year and how overgrown various plants were, from the kitchen window and from the dining room, looking through the screened porch. Now the new sitting room opens onto a covered porch and, from there, directly into the upstairs garden.

Since January the garden had been hidden by piles of construction debris and building materials. The hose bib in the upstairs backyard was demolished along with the old garage apartment and the long hose disappeared at the same time. I managed a few times to pull the short hose from the downstairs hose bib up and over the wall and watered the closest plants but mainly the garden was ignored. Despite the dry spring, it handled the lack of attention better than I had hoped. Fortunately, the builders were more careful than I expected. Even the plants along their path around the corner of the new building and into the yard were only slightly damaged. The Pride of Barbados and the yellow bells were shoved around a bit but are blooming as wildly as ever in these hot August days. Even more miraculously the mallow plant with the silvery leaves and pinkish salmon flowers that I bought at Big Red Sun a few years ago survived being stepped on, crushed again and again, covered in piles of plywood. A few branches broke off but it has recovered and is still blooming.

Once the water was turned on I started sprinkling, more than in past summers, both because I hadn't watered all spring so I felt justified in splurging on water and money and because the garden is such a bigger part of our life now. I've spent some time pulling weeds -- damn that Bermuda grass!! -- and pruning a few things. The only plant that had to be cut back completely was the Jerusalem sage, which suffered some kind of heat stroke and never recovered even with deep watering. A stub of it remains with a few forlorn leaves. I'll wait and see what happens when -- if? -- the temperatures drops one of these days. That spot is directly on axis with the big sliding door in the sitting room so I want something dramatic there and the J. sage just wasn't cutting it. Maybe I'll move it? To the new space at the left side of the far back bed?

Today I pruned the volunteer chile pequin out of the Old Blush rose which is blooming — tiny pitiful blooms — despite the heat. I fertilized all three roses — it and the Climbing Pinkie on the steel teepee and the one-year-old Maggie — last week with Lauren's favorite Rabbit Hill Rose Food. They all look okay. The Mexican bush sage and the St. John's Wort are crowding Maggie, though. I think the St. John's Wort is going to have to go or be moved this fall.

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