Friday, May 20, 2011

adventures in California gardening

Post by Pat

When Katie and Sean bought their townhouse two years ago, we promised to plant the small planting beds around their front courtyard (the “yardette” as Jim has christened it). The project began with the decision to start small and just plant 2 bushes on each side for privacy. They can decide on the rest of the plantings later. So, on Sunday, Katie and I took a trip to the garden center, where we purchased 4 bushes, 2 bags of planting soil, 2 bags of composted steer manure (!), a shovel, and a pair of garden gloves. And it all fit into Katie’s little Escort (well, in two trips).
The plan was to dig a few holes, mix the soil and manure in the holes, and plant the bushes. I’ve done it hundreds of times. How hard could it be? Let’s just say that I should have gone right back to the store and rented a jackhammer.
I was expecting the soil to be hard, maybe even a little rocky. That would have been pleasant! What I found was a gravel/limestone paving base for the brick patio, extending about 12 inches into the planting beds (way larger than the actual patio). This was covered with an inch of dirt/mulch. Where there wasn’t paving base there was construction debris: chunks of concrete, odd pieces of wire, random plastic, but mostly concrete and what I would call “desert dust” as opposed to actual soil. The shovel was no match for this stuff. Back I went to the store for a hand pick.
All day Sunday I chipped away a trench on one side of the patio, long and deep enough for two bushes. I had to dig about 14 inches before I hit clay. I was never so happy to see clay! Monday I planted the first 2 bushes. Then it rained. The rain did NOT make the ground any softer. Wednesday I worked on the other side; it was more of the same. Clink, clink, clink with the hand pick. I felt like one of the seven dwarfs in the diamond mine, only I didn’t have six other helpers. Thursday I finished up the trench, hit clay, and planted the other bushes. They look really good. I just hope I’ve given them enough of a good start so that they adapt to their surroundings.

I used to go camping. I know how to pack a car.

Concrete, say hello to my little friend . . .

In the trenches.

A bug's eye view.

The finished product

I added some impatiens in a pot because I couldn't NOT add some flowers.


Kyna said...

Man, I love those 'oxblood' red pots. :D

Marguerite said...

That's awfully tenacious of you. I'm not sure I could have continued when you hit concrete. The results look fabulous though, your family must be thrilled.

Alistair said...

Jim that was one almighty task. End product is looking good. I had to laugh at your post below Elmer Fudd! knew him well when I was a kid back in the 50s, I have never come across anyone else here who is familiar with him. (Showing my age.)