Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumnal Assessments

The calendar says fall although the weather, seeming to have just realized it goofed and needs to use up some left over localized heat, is still saying summer. It is the perfect time to go out into the garden and take a good look at what worked this year and what didn't, with an eye toward making changes. Of course, one year is not a deal breaker for many plants. The weather might have been a bit off from the norm, a plant might have just been settling in, watering by a busy gardener might not have been up to par. But still, fall is the time to do some hard thinking and the perfect time here, in the Central Valley of California, to take out underperformers and move on to better choices.
There is an old gardening adage of "sleep, creep, leap", meaning many plants will 'sleep' their first year in your garden, 'creep' their second year, and 'leap' the third year. In my garden it is slightly different. The usual pattern is for the first year to be "sleep or die', the second is 'sleep or die', and the third is 'might as well start growing'.  I used to think that whoever lived here before we bought this house had done something to the soil to make it hard for plants to survive, but after gardening here for 31 years with only a bit of non-organic additives of any sort, and those only in the early years, I now think it is just the way it is. No amount of compost has changed that.
Of course, some things never go away. Just like tinsel and Easter grass, there is always another bit of bermuda to be found. The nandina that I planted for movement in the garden will probably always be here. While I love the way it responds to the afternoon summer breeze I really wish it didn't want to be quite everywhere. Southern sword fern, Nephrolepis cordifolia, has been used to fill shady beds and planter boxes. It is quite the spreader but easy to keep under control. And while a frost can make it drop all its leaves it always comes back happily.
But this time of year is for looking at areas that need help. The bed next to the driveway has become too much of a mixture, both in variety of plants and in their growing requirements. I am wondering if I have the nerve ( and energy!) to dig it all out, shuffle things and make it just a bit better. After taking this photo, I found a great new gardening motivator. Seeing it like this makes me much more inspired to change things...and soon. Guess that's what I'll be starting on bright, but not too early, tomorrow morning.


Cindy, MCOK said...

Have fun, Leslie! I can't tell you how many times I was motivated to renovate an area. It happens a lot around here.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Renovation is good for soul, if not the body. Happy digging!