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Alas, I have been delinquent with my posts. Life just got in the way. Since this spring has been busy, I have been able to put my “lazy gardener” skills to the test. I have not even had time to do a complete garden survey – that sounds way too official, a stroll around the garden is more accurate – but things are looking pretty and feeling peaceful.

Truthfully, I have done a bit of work around garden, most of it in the edible, non-native end of things. I planted tomatoes and did a typically discombobulated job of staking them. I set up an automated irrigation system in preparation for three weeks away. I am happy to report that it worked fine. I planted hot peppers and herbs, and continue to harvest blueberries and strawberries from container-grown plants.


No pesticides used growing these strawberries!

Little is needed for the native plants since most have been growing in the garden for years. The biggest late spring job was cleaning up the spent wildflowers. This, however, is a lesson about annual wildflowers and not native plants in general. If you are truly lazy but require a level of neatness in the garden, these may not be for you. The beauty of the bloom, though, makes the cleanup worthwhile for me.

I mowed the cool-season bunch grass with an electric mower. It worked pretty well.

The weeds are minimal in my dry garden. Petty spurge and oxalis are on the wane, while spotted spurge in just making its appearance. My method of weeding is: a little bit here and a little bit there. Rarely do I make it out to the garage without a bend down to pull something out. My goal, though, is to remove weeds early before they go to seed. The woodland garden gets more irrigation but a thick layer of organic mulch makes weeding easy. Even in these areas, there are few weeds and I try to get them before they get out of control.

As far as pruning goes, I cut back stems of the grape vine (Vitis ‘Roger’s Red) as they start to clamber over neighboring trees and shrubs, again preempting a massive overgrowth. The path to the woodland garden was nearly impassable until I cut back the mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana), the golden currant (Ribes aureum), and the San Diego sedge (Carex spissa). The spiny fuchsia-flowering gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) is being confined to its space by judicious pruning.

Cut back a few branches of toyon, mugwort, currant, and sedge so the way into the woodland garden is clear.

But the main work in the summer garden goes on in my head. I stroll the garden thinking about what comes next. Which patch of grass will cease to exist? How can I make the backyard garden under the avocado tree look more interesting? Where can I plant an island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii)? I just gotta have one of those!

Island bush poppy growing in the Communities at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. I have seen this shrub growing beautifully in full sun, part shade, heavy soil and light. The biggest challenge is planting it. Apparently the roots are brittle and need to be handled very gently. Once in, though, it is quite durable.

The lawn-reduction program continues. The front parkway is being weaned from irrigation. I haven’t watered it since last summer – especially since I found out that a sprinkler head is broken. There are two large sweet gum trees, with dense, shallow roots, in the 75 foot long strip. I am hoping that their roots have traveled under the sidewalk into the front yard so the change in irrigation will not be too much of a problem. Certainly it will be hard to grow anything under them. Maybe I won’t grow anything under them. At this point I really do not know what will follow. I am thinking about rocks, maybe gravel, possibly organic mulch. A few patches of bunch grasses, though nothing as massive as deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens).


Stay tuned for a more educational post about summer maintenance in a southern California native plant garden.

9 thoughts on “Summertime

  1. sima

    Barbara,<br />Is your entire edible garden in pots? I haven&#39;t had much luck with potted veggies—even patio tomatoes don&#39;t seem to do well for me. Is there a secret to container gardening?

  2. You know the round, sticky balls the sweet gums drop? I use them to surround tomatoes and other things that snails and slugs love to eat.<br /><br />Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island<br /><br />P.S. Secret to container gardening for Sima…care. Water deeply, mulch, fertilize with a natural fertilizer, no chemicals. I grow EVERYTHING in pots, food, natives,

  3. sima

    Can I plant heirloom tomatoes in pots?

  4. Hi Sima. I have grown tomatoes in pots. I usually do the smaller ones – patio and cherries. You certainly can do heirloom. Some tomato varieties are bred for pots meaning they don&#39;t get quite as big and rambling. These are usually determinate form (don&#39;t just keep growing and vining).<br /><br />I&#39;ve had mixed success but I think it is because I really don&#39;t have enough sun.<br />

  5. Hi Sharon. Thanks for the comment. I really should use those sweetgum balls to protect my plants from snails and slugs! Since it has gotten warmer they have been less problematic but I will remember to collect them and see how it works during the spring.

  6. Check out this link on making tomato cages from bamboo:<br /><br /><br />I am so going to do this. My tomato-staking is a joke!

  7. good to hear that island bush poppy is durable. i planted one and it looks SO happy. i managed not to hurt the roots. yipee!!<br /><br />as for tomatoes…am i supposed to clip out all extraneous &#39;branches?&#39;

  8. Hi Natalie. I ain&#39;t no expert on tomatoes! But I found this great video which makes me want to run out into the yard and prune my tomatoes right now, in the dark.<br /><br />Check it out!<br /><br />Anyone else have comments on this?

  9. Hey nice blog! Looks like you live in a very nice place. Some great photos here too!

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