Such a great take on our drought in California! Please read. For the amount of water home gardeners use, we could completely turn off the taps and still be in dire straits. My thoughts are: We get rid of any lawn we are not using, be mindful and careful with our water usage, and then call it a day.
© Art by Lisa Crowther
Gardeners! Are you as confused as I was over whether we should just completely stop watering our gardens because of California’s “worst drought in history?” Even as I was seeing the greenest grass, the most wildflowers and more vernal pools filled to the brim than I had seen in at least 5 years on my morning hikes in the East Bay Hills, everyone was telling me how scary the drought was. Folks visiting our nursery would apologize for buying a few plants and for even watering their small urban gardens at all. I was away from the nursery one day when the final straw happened. I was taking a shower in the communal shower room after a swim at my local swimming pool. Picture me naked (lol, no don’t!), showering with 3 other ladies, when I bent over to pick up my shampoo bottle off…
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Well that’s a long title! I started out with a question about storing dahlia tubers in our warm climate in SoCal and ended up with a whole mish-mash of advice. Here goes…
It’s time for fall garden care and clean up. If your garden is anything like mine, it has been totally fried by the drought and relentless summer heat. I vacillated between trying to get my very-thirsty plants enough water and feeling guilty about using precious water when we are experiencing the worst drought ever. Hearing the messages that we need to dramatically reduce our water use and that we can’t expect much if any rain this winter made me feel very self-indulgent about watering my garden. So I watered, then I didn’t, then I panicked when my plants started wilting, and watered again until I felt too guilty. Needless to say, my garden looks awful. My container plants suffered the worst – many will need to be replanted or, better yet, retired.
Clearly I need to completely rethink the whole garden and start replanting with drought-tolerant plants. That will be a slow process. This is not cheap as you all know!
And because no one really knows what the hell will happen next and solid advice for our new reality is slow in coming, that’s probably a good thing. It will be a little while before the experts figure out the best way for us to deal with it. In the meantime, pray, chant, dance for rain; whatever you think might work, but do it because things are looking really bad.
The best I can tell you right now is to cut back your damaged plants, but not too much. They don’t need more stress. Clean up fallen garden debris thoroughly and mulch like crazy – 3″ at least, keeping it a little bit away from the crown of your plants and at least 5″ away from tree trunks.
As for dahlia tubers, in our warm climate you can leave them in the ground to overwinter. After they have died back, cut the stems back to between 1″ and 4″, clean up the surrounding area, and put down 3″ of dry mulch. They will re-emerge in the spring when the ground warms up again. One caveat is if you live in an area near the canyons or in the foothills where you get more than a light dusting of frost. In that case read this post that Mary Beth did a while back about digging up and storing your dahlia tubers.
That’s it for now. I’m out to the garden to start triaging my sad-looking plants.
Posted in Garden | Tagged California, Dahila Tubers, Dahlia, Drought, Drought Tolerant, Fall Cleanup, Gardening, Mulch, Storing Tubers, Tubers, Water, Watering Plants | Leave a Comment »
Posted in California, Colorado, Flower Photography, Garden, Garden Photography, Sunday Zen | Tagged Flower Photos, Passionflower, Sunday Zen, Tulip | 2 Comments »
Although this is a gardening blog, I feel compelled to share news from the East Coast which was so badly hit by Hurricane Sandy. By now we have some idea of the scope of the damage wrought by Sandy, but it ‘s safe to say that it is much, much worse than anyone imagined it would be. And in some parts of New York I think that we have only an inkling of the devastation. I have relatives – a daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in Brooklyn, a parent and siblings in Connecticut and on Block Island – who, most fortunately, survived with no damage. But my daughter’s extended family lost homes in Breezy Point and she has had reports of VERY scary situations in the Rockaways in Queens.
The Rockaways was one of the worst hit by the hurricane. From reliable reports we have heard in the past couple of days it sounds truly post-apocalyptic with survivors, still without enough food and water, burning furniture to stay warm. Help, as of yesterday, was spotty at best. The relief effort has not ramped up there and most of the effort has been by Good Samaritans who’ve brought in supplies on their own.
The mainstream media has not reported this story and I think that we will all be truly appalled when we finally find out how bad it is. Hopefully, today will bring better news to residents of the Rockaways who are desperate and feeling as if the world has forgotten them.
It’s frustrating being on the other side of the country, wanting to help and not being able to. The best I can do to is to get the word out and encourage you to donate (as I did) to the one organization, Occupy Sandy, that is actually in the Rockaways trying to relieve the suffering. They are mounting an impressive relief effort and could use more help. Donate money or time (if you live nearby). Click here to find out more.
There are many stories that remain to be told about farmers, beekeepers and gardeners who have lost it all in the hurricane and I will be posting some of their stories here, but for now let’s focus on getting help to people (and their pets) who lack the most basic needs – food and shelter.
UPDATE: A great organization, 596acres.org, has posted a very specific list of ways to help if you live anywhere near the Rockaways. Click here for details.
Posted in Beekeeping | Tagged Hurricane Damage, Hurricane Relief Efforts, Hurricane Sandy, Occupy Sandy, The Rockaways | Leave a Comment »
This is a bit late, but if you live in or around Irvine you’re going to want to come by the South Coast Research & Extension Center (SCREC) this morning for the 4th Annual Residential Demonstration Landscape Open House & Vendor Fair (phew – doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it?).
Today from 9 am to 2 pm there will be garden industry vendors and water agencies showing the latest methods to reduce landscape water usage. Master Gardeners will be speaking about composting, small space gardening, pest control, and edible landscaping. Plus, best of all, there will be a plant sale (cash or check only).
You’ll also marvel at SCREC, a beautiful rural oasis in our busy suburban/urban environment. Most folks have no idea what a treasure we have here in Irvine. I often do my Master Gardener volunteer hours there pruning in citrus, persimmon, pluot and cherimoya groves. They also have 3 residential landscapes demonstrating different levels of water conservation through landscaping and planting.
I’ll be there as a “seed planter/floater.” So come by and say hi. I guarantee you’ll learn something to improve your home garden.
Event is today 9am to 2 pm at SCREC 7601 Irvine Boulevard, Irvine CA 92618. All lectures and demonstrations are free. Plant sales are by cash or check only – no charges. Click here for more info and a list of speakers, demonstrations and vendors.
Posted in Conservation, Garden, Gardening, Gardening in California, Landscaping | Tagged Edible Landscapes, Gardening, Irvine, Landscaping, Water Conservation | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Flower Photography, Flowers, Garden, Garden Photography, Gardening in California, Gardening in Colorado, High Mountain Gardening, Organic Gardening, Ornamentals, Photography, Southern California Gardening, Sunday Zen | Tagged Allium Bud, Barbara Wartman Photography, Blossoms, Coneflower, Durango, Flower Photography, Flowers, Garden, Garden Photography, Gardening, Irvine, Mary Beth Jarrosak, Nature Photography, Organic, Organic Gardening | Leave a Comment »
I mentioned the passing of our amazing Bea Grow a while ago. Her death last December was sad, but now comes the truly unbelievable news that her garden is to be dismantled bit by little bit. I was as shocked as I imagine most of my fellow gardeners were when I read the craigslist notice of the sale of the contents of her house and garden that my friend sent me.
Disposing of the house contents I can understand, but taking apart the garden? Say it isn’t so!
This is a beautiful and amazing space. Bea was a true master of her craft and the garden she created on a hot, Southern California hillside was a joy to see. There are surprises and delights wherever you look — an adorable beehive watering can nestled amongst the greenery, graceful fountains and pedestals, a bird house with Bea’s little wren friend flitting in and out, delicious color combinations, and, amazingly, a rhododendron. Who but Bea could grow a rhododendron in San Clemente?!
Bea was very generous about showing her garden and with gardening advice. You could ask her anything and she would tell you her formula. I was pleased to hear that she credited watering with a weak solution of fish emulsion (one of our favorite techniques) for her success with containers plantings.
And it wasn’t just the garden that was beautiful. Bea was as lovely and gracious a person as you could ever meet. She was kind, funny and humble. The day I visited I asked if I could take her picture. She said yes, but she didn’t think I really wanted to do that. She told me she wasn’t a very good subject as she was very plain-looking. On the contrary, I told her, and I meant it. See for yourself. Not conventionally beautiful perhaps, but beautiful nonetheless; Bea was as lovely looking as any flower in her garden.
Bea (3rd from left) sharing her gardening tips.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Bea and her garden since I heard the news. The sale of the contents of her garden seems so wanton and disrespectful of a life’s work. Surely there’s some gardener out there who would love to buy Bea’s house and put his or her touch on this jewel.
I know all about change and impermanence and have meditated on this concept often. But this week I am struggling with it. Sometimes it’s just too soon.
And, no, I’m not going to the sale. As much as I’d love to have a small piece of Bea’s garden to put in mine, I don’t think I can bear to see the destruction of her work. The memory will be enough.
Posted in Flower Photography, Garden, Garden Photography, Gardening News, Southern California Gardening | Tagged Bea Grow, Flower Photography, Flowers, Gardening, Great Gardens, Nature Photography, Southern California | 11 Comments »