From the Producer 2/23

Although we got but a bit of rain last Saturday, the noise was certainly fun! Mainly, the brief deluge softened up the soil for pulling weeds. Even trace moisture excites them so much that overnight they grow big enough for us to see them. I’m sure there’s a significant life lesson here, but for now, the main one: pull now while you can grab them without a backhoe. Since I respect their mission, I promise them renewed life by scattering them around to nourish the soil that nourished them. (They’ll be covered by new mulch in a few weeks). By the way, don’t forget the pliers’ trick: I get the household pair all muddy, but they do the trick in pulling out stubborn (small) tree seedlings.

Clean up is almost finished. I did leave a few straggly lantanas, since they refuse to give up their purple flowers. As nature’s creatures come out into the sun like we do, I hate to deny anyone their fast food. Bees are populating the oxalis and rosemary like crazy, and I know that a confused butterfly is about to show up.

But everything else is cut back, clean, ready to start over. Well, except for the shrimp plants. I still wouldn’t touch any semi-hardy for a few more weeks. I’m eyeing gingers to move, along with the cycad, plumbagos and one Agave celseii. Not yet, say wise ones who know that the freeze party isn’t over.

I’m so glad I got tough with the silver germanders in nandina-ville a few weeks ago. They are fluffing up like crazy, along with the salvia greggiis. One eager beaver liked his haircut so much that he’s already blooming.

In a moment of delirium, I cut the climbing Buff Beauty rose near the house/den window to the ground. It was looking too pathetic. From experience, I know that this will send out rich new growth, even if I sacrifice spring’s blooms. I shaped the other climbers and the Mutabilis  rose that was growing into the 7’ tall mountain laurel I started from seed. I scratched in their fertilizer with an extra dose of Epsom salts. While I was at it, I threw some of it into the pot housing the Satsuma orange.

A tip I just got from horticulturist/author/plant expert Scott Ogden: to add nitrogen to lawn/beds, hit up the feed stores for alfalfa pellets sold for rabbit food. Cheap fertilizer. Will do. Don’t do it if you have rabbits.

And when I hit the feed store, I’m going to pick up raw peanuts for the lettuce bed. Great summer nitrogen cover crop for next year’s lettuce, and by golly, you even get peanuts!

The garden budget is already a joke. This always happens, so my rule is “no credit card.” But online, what else can you do, so without even a moment of regret, I went to and ordered two Agave celsii tricolor. When Tom and I saw this latest addition to the Yucca Do catalog, we both drooled. They will be perfect, just perfect, in the crape myrtle bed, to join the celsiis already there. A few weeks ago, I’d moved my Knock Out rose to a sunnier spot in that bed. Against the celsiis, it will be glorious! I added an artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ beyond the rose to highlight it, and added one to the distant left to replace the one that drowned last summer. But it had survived many years, so it was worth another try.

I moved my Ella Mae agapanthus to the back of that bed (hoping to add white Dianella there, as well). The Philippine violets are showing new leaves already, and some of the columbines I thought I’d lost are reappearing.

In place of the Ella Maes in the side garden, I got a 1-gallon Amaryllis johnsonii and separated the bulbs to line the path. They were so entrenched in their pot that I brought out my trusty serrated knife and just cut the pot off them.

I know I sound like a scratched CD, but I’m just too excited about the new look in nandina-ville. In the morning, sunlight hits one butterfly iris from the side, making it glow. The columbine I added nearby was so inspired. And yahoosers! A zexmenia that I thought was annihilated in the plumbing project has returned! If you want a tough plant, you can’t beat that one.

Also in front, where I moved the straggling rose, I’m considering a shrimp plant for a dose of different form/texture behind and between a Lindheimer muhly and a cenizo. I was going to add another butterfly iris to balance the other two, but I think the shrimp plant will make a nice contrast, and bring in a bit of background color that attracts hummingbirds.

On cenizo, I’m toying with getting one for photinia-ville, if the moved rose doesn’t make it. A compact version would work just fine with the thryallis-to-come nearby. It wouldn’t shield the windows from burglars, since I’m planting far out, but it would hide the air conditioner and be a break from looking at the neighbor’s garage. On planting far out, I simply love having the foundation path clear! I’ve been hauling the hose back and forth on my new little path instead of wandering all through the yard. And when I get around to washing the windows, I can just waltz right up to them.

But alas, my Yucca pallidas for nandina-ville will have to wait. It’s frustrating to finally make a plant decision and then discover that they can’t be had. But waiting for plants to show up in nurseries is sort of like waiting for plants to grow. In our adult lives, patience and anticipation easily get lost in the drive to “get things done.” Gardening reminds us that life isn’t always for “this minute” but for the hours we’ll appreciate in the future.

Until next week,