Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My little obsessions (besides yarn)

I think I mentioned before that I'm a lazy gardener. Some of the spring bulbs didn't get planted until January. Um. Not a high success rate there.

This is kind of painful for me to admit. I love gardens, love plants, love fresh vegetables and flowers and picking things off the vine. But I seem to be more interested in HAVING a garden than DOING a garden. It's embarassing. I procrastinate the garden work until it's almost too late. Or it is too late. I don't know why I do this, so I must conclude that I just don't really like the act of gardening.

This is awful. I really WANT to be a good gardener. I so admire people who love working with plants, people with beautiful gardens that they've planned and created and nurtured themselves. I think it's partly the perfectionism (DAMN YOU INNER PERFECTIONIST) because somehow I feel I must get it EXACTLY RIGHT the first time. And really, you just can't ever tell with plants, or at least you can't ever tell with my level of expertise.

But I really, really, really need to get off my derrière and do something about the parking strip, the bit between the sidewalk and the street. The previous owners had laid down plastic with bark chips over the top. Really fabulous. We ripped up the plastic and planted a wildflower mix. It looked fantastic through about mid-July, then it just looked dead.

I've got some serious problems to work around, though:

  1. There are 2 blue spruces at either end of the strip. They're 20 feet high and look at least 25 years old, and while they're a bad idea for a near-the-street tree, I am loathe to cut them down. So there are a lot of tree roots. I can't mound up dirt very high nor work dirt very deeply or I'll kill the trees.

  2. Our soil is heavy clay. Yeah, tons o' fun.

  3. The climate here is October->May rain rain rain rain rain ICE STORM rain rain rain and June->September: no rain. Usually there's less than 3" all summer long. It's tough finding any plants that can survive the winter floods (clay soil, I'm looking at you) and the summer drought. I do not want to have to water the parking strip, ever.

  4. Weeding a parking strip is not fun. Don't want to have to do this often. Maybe twice a year, and that's pushing it.

  5. Our neighbors have 2 boys, 7 and 9. Do you KNOW how many softballs, baseballs, golf clubs, basketballs, and random detritus I find? Delicate plants are out.

Armed with my Sunset Western Gardening Book and a landscaping book specifically for Pacific Northwest, I've got to come up with a plan and implement it. I need stuff that's borderline (heck, over the border and in the country) invasive, tough, and mostly looks good all year. It's probably impossible.

Here's the shortlist of plants (not like the long list is all that long):
russian sage
purple coneflower (echinacea purpurea)
wooly thyme (groundcover)
ornamental strawberries (groundcover: supposed to take any kind of soil and grow everywhere. My kind of plant)
bulbs for the spring: daffodils, tulips, crocus, iris. If they fit the scheme.

Other possibilities in consideration:
hen and chicks (sempervivum)
regular sage
rock roses

Yeah, we're going all mediterranean. Rosemaries are one of my favorites and they're tough plants. Sedum's been growing on me. I adore echincaceas but I rarely see them around here (in Seattle they're all over the place. go figure)

Bah. Too much work ahead. I haven't even drawn up the paths yet. SO LAZY. I'd rather sit back with a mojito.
Echinacea uber alles!

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