A Gardener's Notebook

‘You want to do what in the garden?’

May 16, 2013 

Only the most meticulous gardener can arrange to have every corner of the garden presentable at once. Things like “deadheading” (meaning dead flowers have been removed, which seems pretty obvious to me, but husband Don tells me that not everyone knows what “deadheading” is) paths raked, shrubs and trees watered, weeds pulled, mulch covering bare ground, and vines pruned to give form to the garden.

A few years ago, our garden was on the annual Cambria Garden Tour and we worked diligently to have every area of the garden as perfect as possible. All was in “tip-top” shape and we had a glorious time meeting people and wandering about. After the “big day” I quickly reverted to a more relaxed style of gardening.

When a son asked to use the house, garden and deck for his wedding in April, how could we refuse? He and his fiancée live in the East Bay and we knew that it was going to be up to us to prepare the property.

Bare spaces needed to be filled with shrubs. Vegetable boxes had to be planted with spring and summer vegetables. Trailing rosemary was needed around the new garden room where the ground had been under assault during construction. Fading lavender replanted in the front of the house.

A small fountain we’d purchased was still sitting in a pile, and iron railings were scheduled to be installed on the steps in the garden room. These chores would have taken about a month in normal times, but in late February I was “tripped up” one early morning and broke my hip.

While I was recuperating in the rehabilitation center, Don began working on our list of “to dos” and, on April 27, the wedding took place in our little corner of paradise. The sun shone on shoulders as the bride and groom took their vows.

The parents of the bride prepared the food, my sister and brother-in-law made sure that wine glasses were full, dear friends provided and arranged flowers, another acted as the official photographer, taking photographs that will be cherished forever.

I feel so fortunate to live in a community where friends and neighbors bring flowers to the hospital knowing how much one misses home, bring homemade soup, hot dishes, grilled chicken, fresh salads, cookies and tea, and Linn’s pies to your home to tide you over until you are up and cooking again.

Cambrians ask what you need in the way of help when you are in pain or are grieving and are willing to jump in. “Need help building a ramp so your wife can get in and out of the back door and enjoy her garden? You got it!”

Tip of the month . . .

Want a tip for an easy-to-care-for plant that blooms from spring to fall, has large showy white flowers that resemble “mophead hydrangeas” and needs little care other than fall pruning? The Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum) is popular in southern gardens and grows well along the Central Coast. It can reach 12 to 20 feet and resembles a giant hydrangea. It puts on a spectacular show in the spring.

Lee Oliphant’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at cambriagardener@charter.net; read her blog at centralcoastgardening.com.

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