Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hello Secret Garden!

If you've been following my blog, you know that I had to spend the weekend breaking down my side garden due to the landlord wanting to pave over it.  Well, where there's a will, there's a way.  Here's what has happened in the past 24 hours.

Let's start with some images of of the side garden I had to give up....

Here I had plants and flowers planted in the ground and not just in containers.  There is a huge Autumn Fern, Hollyhocks. Morning Glory, Day Lily, Yarrow, Butterfly Milkweed... and more.
Here is the herb bed my husband built for me in 2012.  It was full of Lemon Balm, Lovage, Sage, Feverfew, Valerian, St. John's Wort, Chamomile, Thyme, Parsley and there were a bunch of new seedlings sprouting up... not sure what they would have been.

Fast forward to Saturday morning... I woke up at 5:30 am to begin, "Project Save the Garden".  This is me in the herb bed looking miserable.  From here I salvaged the Valerian and the Feverfew.  Outside the herb bed I had a beautiful Rosemary which I also had to dig out.
Below is a view through a bunch of wilted Morning Glory after we cut the vines.  At this point the garden was just a heap of plants (mostly Summer annuals that were almost ready to be retired anyway which I pulled to save the pots.)

I should note that in this post I'm only discussing work we did to the side garden.  We also needed to reorganize the entire front garden and push all of the potted roses back closer to the house so that they won't be damaged by the bulldozers and construction.  A lot of blood and sweat was literally shed due to the size of the bushes and the thorns.  I will save those photos for another time, but needless to say, it was a full day's work in the hot sun, but we were determined to get the job done.

So... After setting aside everything I had salvaged and deciding on what to keep and what to sacrifice, the only question left was... Where the hell was I going to put everything????

The resolution:
Friday night I asked my husband about our small outdoor patio which you can only enter through the living room.  It is completely private and for the past 2 years, we haven't used it for anything other then a storage space for some of his old work things.  Since he hadn't used any of it for the past 2 years, he graciously offered to clean out the space so that I could have a new area to put what was left of my garden.

Let me start with some BEFORE photos:

This photo shows the entry through the double doors in our living room.  
I had one sad little succulant sitting in the corner.

My husband's work things under a tarp, a bike, a ladder, some extension cords... guy things.

And here is what happens with a little hard work, imagination and determination:

The AFTER photos:
Sunday morning 8/24/14

Through the doors the white rabbit welcomes you to enter the Secret Garden....

 So at the end of the day, the results are better then I could have imagined and Pumpkin gave me his approval (see below).  His catnip plant is actually next to that big pot of Cosmos behind me on the top shelf.

Losing the side garden wasn't a complete loss after all.  Yes, I did have to sacrifice quite a lot, but over the past few years it taught me so much and I am a wiser, better gardener for having had the opportunity to plant in the soil... to know the satisfaction of growing something from seed... to  experience the taste of a home grown, delicious ripe tomato... and so much more.

In conclusion, I love my new space.  Waking up to it this morning felt like Christmas!  I could even go look at it in my pajamas!  I love the fact that it is private, and no one will ever even know it's there.  I was able to accommodate almost 60 plants, herbs and flowers.  

Gardening in a smaller space will be a challenge.  I will need to learn to be more selective in what I grow, but I think I am ready for that.  Over the past several years I've come to know what I like and what I don't like.  I've learned what grows well for me and what doesn't.  
I am ready to level up to Small Space Gardening 2.0...

So welcome to my new, Secret Garden. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Farewell Magic Garden - Hope to see you again some day

Yesterday a note was left on my door by the landlord.  It stated that on August 27th, renovation work was to be done on our rental property.  Devastatingly, the work includes paving over my side garden which I have spent 3 year in the making.  It also includes destroying all the grass we now have in our beautiful courtyard and putting pavers and gravel in its place.  The letter stated that anything left in my side garden would be “disposed of by the crew”.  I am heartbroken.

While the majority of my plants and flowers are in containers, I have no place to store them while this work is being done, which means much of it is going to be sacrificed.  All that money, time and effort down the drain.  Worse yet, I will no longer will have the space I once did.  

I should mention that the side garden was where I actually planted some things in the soil.  My husband built me two raised beds; one is full of herbs and the other became home to an Autumn Fern which has grown quadruple in its size since I planted it.  In addition, I have many beautiful Calla Lilies, Hollyhocks, Budhelia, Butterfly Milkweed, Daylilies, Azalea and Clematis to name a few.

I don’t even want to think about what will happen to all of the beautiful Roses and flowers I have potted in the front garden.  I’m told they do not need to be moved; however, we were advised to “push them back”.  There is no room for this and we all know construction workers are only there to get the job done and will not take care in minding the flowers when concrete is being poured and the ground is being leveled.

Upon receipt of this letter of doom, my husband paid the landlord a visit to find out the specifics.  During the exchange, he was told there allegedly would be a new space in a different location near the street side/sidewalk where I we can have a garden space.  However, there is a catch:  When and if this will actually happen is to be determined, and sadly, this supposed new area is near the street and simply is not a safe area for a woman to garden.  As much as I love my garden and our bungalow, there is a downside… we live in a shady neighborhood.  There are transients, drug addicts and just shady people in general meandering up and down our street.  

For example, on two occasions, I have been outside watering my garden and looked over to the street side to see a man standing on the sidewalk staring at me.  It was a different man both times but nonetheless, as a woman, it’s a little unnerving when you look up and see someone looming.  In addition, I’ve had things stolen from the property (i.e. solar lights, even my mail).  Furthermore, one evening my husband and I were returning to our bungalow and a man who was clearly high stepped onto the property and started to pick my flowers right in front of us.  I’m sure you get the picture.  I don’t want to garden near the street where I am open to such situations.

My husband and I only have 2 days to clear the side area and salvage what we can.  I am not sure how our landlord expects us to take a garden 3 years in the making and clear it in just two days, not to mention we literally have NO SPACE to store any of it.  I am at a complete loss.

I will say though that through this experience, I will have learned a lesson:  NEVER EVER under any circumstances plant anything in the ground if you are a renter.  Unfortunately, the law sides with the landlord and they can do whatever they want.  

As it stands, the only thing we can do is save what we can, pray the front yard garden doesn’t get destroyed in the process and hope the landlord really does provide us with another space for gardening that is safe (although I have a feeling that may have been an empty promise just to quiet my husband).  

As for now, I will say farewell to my Magic Garden with its flowers, hummingbirds, insects and butterflies.  Goodbye to the beautiful garden where I spent many early morning hours watching the sunrise and potting flowers...  So much creative energy, so much time and countless dollars invested into the passion I have developed for gardening… I can only cut my losses and hope that once this project is over and our space is essentially turned into what will look like a concrete, gravel filled parking lot… I can turn it into something beautiful again.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Since my birthday is coming up on September 2nd, my husband was asking me what I wanted.  
Since I'm having an obsession with black plants, this is what I asked for: 

Just a note for myself that today I planted some seeds as follows:

Hollyhocks "The Watchman"
Planted in a pot and also scattered a few in the ground in the side garden.

Bachelor Button "Black Magic"
Planted in a pot and also in a patch in the ground where the other wild flowers had been over the summer in front of the bungalow.

Nasturtium "Alaska Variegated"
In a pot and also in the herb bed.  Also stuck a few seeds in random places like my hanging basket of parsley and also put a few in with the Delphinium.  Let's see which ones do the best.

Pansy "Bewitched Blend":
This is in a pot in my refrigerator right now for stratification.  I will take them out next weekend.

I planted the rest of my Gladiolus bulbs in the side garden a few months ago.  I had some left over from Spring so I thought, why now.  It didn't take them long to sprout foliage and now they are putting up flower spikes.  I didn't have much luck with the bulbs I planted earlier in the Spring.  Only one of them made flowers.  Many of the others just put up foliage and then it turned brown.  Not sure why that happened, but these seem to be doing okay.  I'll take more photos again once they are in bloom.

The White Brugmansia is blooming again.  This is only the second bloom it has had since the first one in April of this year.  My yellow one blooms more frequently.  The white one is worth the wait though.  It started to open before the sun set and once it was dark, the flowers were completely open.  It has a lighter and slightly different fragrance then the yellow.

Taken after the sun had set.

On August 8th, I visited Huntington Gardens which is another garden I love to go to to take photographs.  It was particularly hot on this day -- 90 degrees, so needless to say I didn't last there very long.  I did stay long enough to get some nice photos of the beautiful Lisianthus and Black Eye'd Susans.

And now for a visit to a different garden besides my own; Descanso Gardens in La Canada, Flintridge. I was here early Sunday morning on August 3.  There was hardly anyone here since the weather was heavy with humidity and it was sprinkling rain.  We had been having very rare humid weather.  Even at 8:00 in the morning, it was sticky and hot, but it was a beautiful day for photography.  Here are some of my images:


Naked Ladies, Amaryllis Belladonna

Crinadonna Lily (Amarcrinum)
Every year when these bloom I take tons of photos. They are Crinadonna Lilies and the fragrance is absolutely wonderful. From what I've read, they are a hybrid cross between Amaryllis Belladonna (Naked Ladies) and Crinum Lilies.  I'm hoping to get some bulbs of these in the Fall to try in my own garden.