Sunday, May 25, 2014

How My Garden Has Progressed in Two Years Since 2012

First Ladybug I've Seen This Year on Catmint Plant
I'm back in the garden now.This morning was typical because it held a surprise for me -- this first ladybug I've seen this year. Something new is always happening in my garden, but I only know if I keep my eyes open for it.  I keep my camera handy to record anything I want to remember.

2012 and early 2013 were not good gardening years for me. I was caught up in freelance writing on Squidoo and HubPages, and I was also building up my Zazzle stores. I simply did not have time to do much gardening. I had inherited a house from my mother in Paso Robles, California in 2006 and in 2013 I decided I had to do something with the front yard there. My mother had done nothing with it in the almost ten years she lived there, and there were a few green shrubs and not much else.

The city of Paso Robles was getting stricter about water rationing in landscaping, so I knew if I were going to makeover the garden, I'd better use drought resistant plants.  I began my project just about this time in 2013. By then I had started writing for Bubblews, so I started a Garden Journal there. Every time I did something new to my garden or when changes such as a plant starting to bloom for the first time occurred,  I reported it, with photos, in a Garden Journal post. Unfortunately Bubblews removed almost all the photos from our posts in a big update to the site, and last year Bubblews quit. Except for my written back-ups and saved photos in a different place, all those visual journal posts are gone. From now on, I'll be keeping my gardening journal here again.

Is that garden now a showpiece? Definitely not. It will always be a work in progress and there will always be surprises. I write about it because I know there are many hobby gardeners like me who like to get ideas from ordinary gardeners like themselves and see what works and what doesn't in other gardens. I have learned new techniques and gotten many hints from those who have commented on my gardening posts at Bubblews. But now I want to bring some of those gardening posts back here to Blogger.

I have two garden areas -- one in Templeton, California, and one in Paso Robles. Both are very close to being in Sunset's Zone 16 (USDA Zone 9). We have hot dry summers, and sometimes have temperatures in the triple digits in May or October.  Our winters normally have lows ranging from 25 degrees down to 17 degrees F but a couple of the last twenty winters had temperatures down to 12 degrees F. This was cold enough to kill almost everything above ground on my gazanias. Fortunately, they regrew when temperatures warmed up again. Our summers are hot and dry in the daytime, but usually cool down when the sun sets.

Grapes and oak trees flourish here, so the Paso Robles and Templeton Gap areas are home to many vineyards. Olive trees also do well. Drought resistant public plantings include a lot of lavender, yarrow, artemisia, sages, rosemary. and santolina. I have grown all of these, and once established, they need little care. I find I can learn a lot about what to plant by seeing what the businesses use in their drought-resistant landscapes.

Flowers that work well for me year after year include irises, calendula, and daffodils. These are also plants that gophers tend to stay away from. Herbs also work well in my gardens and add summer color. The photo above shows the first ladybug I've seen all year nestled in my catmint, which grows in a pot in my flower bed closest to the house. It will be blooming soon. I also grow oregano, thyme, basil, cilantro, catmint, spearmint, sages, clary sage, mullein, monarda, borage,  hyssop, wormwood, rue, tansy, parsley.

So far my pansies I planted in winter and the petunias I planted last year are still blooming. That surprised me, since they usually don't last so long. My hyssop started to bloom about a week ago. So did my Chomley Farren carnations. They are a deep pink with lavender markings. I will try to show you the photos in future posts.

Spanish sage in bloom April 25, 2014, next to yellow pansies. Lamb's ear is in front of pansies. Godetia is just starting to bloom in foreground. Back right is rue next to a volunteer gopher plant. Behind all is jasmine.

My Spanish lavender blooms are dying down now after blooming last month. My Spanish sage is still going, though my jasmine, which is starting to spread and bloom is trying to bury it. I need to give that jasmine a haircut. My wild watermelon sage is still blooming red in my side bed, and my Fruity Teucrium, a germander, is producing purple flowers that look good in the middle of my spreading tansy. My small Windy City Rose is also in bloom, as is the light blue scabiosa I planted last year. I will show individual photos of these in future posts.  They are growing in other flower beds.

What is your favorite drought-resistant plant?
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