Thursday, January 04, 2007


Time to take a break from cheese and look at my other love, my little garden.
Green space is a cherished thing here in the city. I love my tiny plot o' land in front of my house. A few years ago, I tore out everything in the yard and started over. The only thing that remained was a dwarf gravenstein apple tree in the center of the yard. With the tree as a focal point, the rest of the garden is landscaped in California native plants. It is full of plants like irises, bunch grasses, elderberry, toyon, white sage, artemesia (mugwort), ceanothus (Calif. wild lilac), Calif. fuchsia, flannelbush, wild currants, and even a wild grape vine. For the past year I've been bugging my friend Mike, my landscaper about a few spots in the garden that need work. Mike helped me build my vision. If I did it, the garden would never be done, nor would it have a working irrigation system, nor be gopher-proof (gopher baskets around the roots,) nor weed-resistant (fabric weed barrier). I turned up the volume of my whining in October. Autumn is when you want to put plants in the ground, so the winter rains can help them take root and keep everyone happy. We finally went plant shopping on Tuesday.

We spent big bucks at Yerba Buena Nursery, a nursery specializing in California native plants. It is located in a wooded canyon on the west side of Woodside, in the hills of San Mateo County. Woodside is home to some very wealthy citizens who made their fortune in Silicon Valley. If they don't live in Atherton or Hillsboro, they live in Woodside. Neil Young and Larry Ellison (Oracle software) live in Woodside. Interspersed with the billionares are a few hold-outs from the radical 60's. The second growth redwood that crowd the canyons on the Peninsula also attracted hippies and nature lovers. Some of them are still there. Yerba Buena Nursery is located on an old farmstead on a Western facing slope of a hill, over the ridge from the craziness of Silicon Valley. Founded in 1960 on what was once a cattle ranch, the family run business has been devoted to selling native plants ever since. Their demonstration gardens alone are worth a visit. The gardens are overrun with birds, inects, and cats looking for an easy meal. We had a cat follow us around the nursery until she spied a gopher under a shrub. A minute later, she was happily playing/torturing the squealing rodent. She eventually ate it. Yum! Rodent control at its finest.

We came, we saw, we bought some plants. A lot of plants. I now have two magnificent manzanitas to go in the garden. Along with bush lupine, redwood sorrel, ferns, clamatis, achillea millefolium (pink yarrow), buckwheat, dudleya, and a myriad of countless beauties with long latin names that I've got to try to remember someday. Lot of plants to flower throughout the year and provide seeds and berries, too. I might need to add a few more plants, but I can fill in later. I want to get these things placed in the garden and then see what else I might need. I think I might want one more manzanita. I like the Louis Edmunds variety.

There will be light in the garden, as well as better drip irrigation. The path around the apple tree is being redone, too. A few hummingbirds have been giving Mike and his crew a suspicious eye because he's messing with their garden and their lavatera which is still blooming (it never quits). The lavatera (tree mallow) has been pruned way back, so now we can walk on the path again. The ceanothus is beginning to bloom right now, but they don't need to be touched. That will keep all of the neigborhood honeybees and bumblebees happy. I love the fact that my garden is providing a healthy habitat for local wildlife. This tiny patch of growth in the Sunset District is still teaming with life, and I've seen lots more, since I put in a garden full of native plants.

1 comment:

adriane said...

Very nice! Being an apartment dweller, myself, I must say that I envy your garden. It is quite lovely indeed!