All the normal gardening tasks of September have been put on hold here at our residence on the hillside above West Village. Our time outdoors this summer was mostly spent hand-watering every five to six days, keeping our most valued plants alive.
It’s time to move on. We’ve reviewed the many ways our lot is being used. A chicken coop, a garden shed, vegetable boxes, paths, fruit trees and flowering beds. We’ve been trying to come up with ways we can reduce water requirements and make more of the property useable.
Relatively little discussion took place on the matter before we concluded that a worthwhile project would be to put in a bocce ball court. A “less than regulation size” court would take up 500 square feet of garden space, require no water and keep us active.
We have eight grandchildren younger than 10, and they may eventually tire of playing with hens and labradoodles and need something to occupy them at home when they visit.
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Grandchildren are a good excuse for everything. It makes us seem so selfless.
The game of bocce, or bocci, is in the bowling sport family, related to boules and pétanque. Dating from the ancient Roman Empire, it later became popular in Italy and around the world and was brought to America by Italian immigrants.
You don’t need a court to play. You can set up your playing site on a lawn, in a park, or you can play in the sand on the beach.
Friends on Marine Terrace recently introduced us to “the Cambria version of bocce.” In Northern California, before retiring and moving to Cambria, we’d played a version of the game on courts in a public park, so we were familiar with the general goal — that of rolling the ball toward the far end of the court, landing it close to, or touching, the “pallino” or “jack” (target ball).
The “Cambria version,” the one with a glass of wine, or beer, in one hand and a bocce ball in the other, took our fancy.
Besides, what better way to spend an afternoon than playing with friends and family in a lovely garden with the sun, ocean breezes and friendly competition? It will turn a little piece of garden into a play space that we, and others, can enjoy.
Tip of the month
The summer is coming to an end. There are still so many unknowns as to what the future holds in the way of rain. We must continue to look further for ways to use outdoor space and make it more “rain friendly.”
Paths and patios should be of porous materials so that when the rain does fall, it will not run off. Rather than concrete paths, pavers set in gravel or decomposed granite, and boardwalks and decks, will allow water to penetrate and stay on your property, providing water for trees and shrubs.
Put berms around areas that you know to have runoff to capture water. When “deadheading” spent flowers this fall, take a hoe and make trenches around your treasured trees. If we have early rains, they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.