Greetings and salutations, everyone. Once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, who’s been moping a lot lately. (He claims he has Seasonal Affective Disorder….in summer.) You may remember me from such posts as “Trials And Tribulations” and “Still More Spring”, among other delightful posts. Here I am looking particularly pensive, and slightly pathetic.


Since we haven’t seen the sun for like three days, the guy I live with started talking about going to DBG to take some pictures. Leaving me here to stare out the window. So we had a “who’s more pathetic?” contest. He said he felt strange going to DBG all by his lonesome, and I responding by looking twice as pathetic. My buddy Slipper really knew how to look pathetic and taught me the tools of the trade. So I won, and he stayed home.

He took some pictures anyway. He was especially pleased that Iris lycotis has tripled in size. He told me that all the gardening books say you’re supposed to protect these from rain. When he planted these, which by the way are growing in almost pure sand, he said “Okay; now you’re protected from rain.” Protect from rain. What a bizarre thing to say. Why not say “protect from elephants”? (I think he said that before, but he says it’s still funny.)


Oh, let’s see. He took some pictures with the DSLR to make sure he still knew how to use it. (In case he ever did go to DBG.) Here’s Agastache ‘Joyful’.


And Quercus grisea with some acorns.


And Mahonia haematocarpa. The guy I live with was intrigued by the fact that Intermountain Flora uses Mahonia instead of Berberis, so he’s going to now, too. It’s distinguished from M. fremontii by the juicy, “edible” berries, and the long central leader which you can see on the right hand side. Intermountain Flora even wonders if these really are two separate species.

Some people came over to the garden the other day and the asked the guy I live with if this or that was edible, and he said “Everything is edible. Once.” I’m not sure his exalted sense of humor was appreciated. Anyway he says the berries taste kind of icky.


And Agave parryi var. neomexicana in front of Ephedra minuta. The guy I live with says that Flora of China says this ephedra does not match the original description, which he claims is interesting. He also says he should have made the North Border into an all-ephedra border instead. I suppose there’s still time to rip out all the plants he planted. Sigh.

These are also sitting on a big pile of sand and I know to stay away from agaves. The guy I live with doesn’t, and has stabbed himself so many times you would think he had learned something, but obviously he hasn’t. Not only am I more pathetic, I’m also smarter. As if you couldn’t tell.


And then there’s Shepherdia rotundifolia. This is pretty easy to grow from seed, but, he says, getting it from the seed pot into the garden and through one winter is the problem. Who knows why, he says. This one is growing very slowly in a kind of sandy clay, but the guy I live with wants more of them. More, more, more.


I guess that’s all. He said he might go to DBG tomorrow. I think that’s an idle threat. There’s too much napping that needs to be done here.

I’ll say goodbye, then.




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14 Responses to September

  1. Karen says:

    Hi Chess, the last image of you reminds me of Ben our border Collie. Tell the guy you live with that I love the third last image, with the Agave and dark green grass like thing?.

    • paridevita says:

      I desperately need to have my hind quarters brushed, or, rather, raked, with the undercoat rake he bought, but the guy I live with says I refuse to stand still for this operation.
      The grass thing is Ephedra minuta; thanks.

  2. Ooh, ooh, Chess, for me your person’s expedition to DBG sounds most exciting – I know the rose curator there, traveled with her to France to look at roses and she comes to the Huntington each spring for the Great Rosarian celebration. Ooh, ooh. She probably won’t be at the garden on Labor Day, though, so explain to your person it behooves him to stay home and allow you unfettered frolic. Just give him the same look you’re using in your first photo. And the photo of “Joyful” is so gorgeous it persuades me I must grow that plant too.

    • paridevita says:

      Joyful is pretty nice. It’s growing in ordinary garden soil.
      he also grows Paul’s Himalayan Musk, speaking of musk roses. He hit his head on it today and drove a prickle (he would never call them thorns) deep into his scalp. Almost into his brain, he said. He didn’t like that very much, because it reminded him of having an electro-encephalogram when he was nine.

  3. One thing we Old Rosers know is to keep current on our tetanus shots.– remind your person, Chess.

  4. Further, why was your person not wearing protective head covering while maneuvering in the garden? Another necessity for Old Rosers, particularly for those growing Paul’s Himalayan Musk. I believe you have the right to be a crank on the subject, Chess, this is the person who keeps you in the good life.
    I am much taken by your portrait on white carpeting. One Border Collie (purebred), one white carpeting, one dirt-and-gravel garden, hmm. How do the three of those things, mixed, work out?.

  5. Yowza to your Quercus grisea! 3 days cloudy…well here, it was 2 days. 2 days making worthless swamp coolers even more worthless. Now, it’s back to early June.

    Berberis and Mahonia…too many taxonomists, so little time to reload.

    • paridevita says:

      Yeah, Q. grisea is quite attractive. Got my plant from Allan Taylor, don’t know where he collected it, but it’s been perfectly hardy here for a few horrible winters, though not evergreen. (Smart plant.)
      I was really surprised that Intermtn Flora retained Mahonia; kind of unfashionable. For the reason of spines on the leaves not on the stems. I can accept that.
      I can also accept cloudy days if they bring rain. But they didn’t. Oh, okay, like five drops fell this evening. Not really what I mean when I say “rain”.

  6. Vivian Swift says:

    When I visit a garden the last thing on my mind is whether or not it’s edible but that’s an interesting point of view. When I visit a garden my thing is structure — I can only enjoy a garden if it has a structure, some sense of narrative of a gardener’s vision. As long as it’s coherent I can tolerate anything, even a rose garden. ha ha. (Sorry about your mishap. Roses are so spiteful.) Your garden looks very silvery and full of texture and detail, like an antique white-on-white quilt, which is my favorite kind of quilt.

    I live three miles from the Planting Fields. The name is your first clue as to what the “garden” is about. It’s more like a botanical inventory than a real garden and I was so bored on my first visit that it’s become my only visit. No, wait, I also saw a Medeski Martin & Wood concert there a few years ago. It was the musical equivalent of the Planting Fields.

    I say it all the time: What. A. Face. I wish my cats would let me have a dog.

    • paridevita says:

      He agrees he has a face. It’s from 11 years of being spoiled rotten.
      What I remember about Planting Fields was the synoptic garden. The plants.

      The garden here is silvery because in a semi-arid climate green looks bizarre. To me, anyway.
      In fact, I have this grandiose plan to get rid of the lilac hedge in the back yard. The “wall of green”.

  7. Fisher, the Wonder Dog says:

    Upside of all this sub-tropical humidity is that the nighttime insect symphony is spectacularly sublime! Although why it is louder out the back door than out the side door is a mystery we are left to ponder. Soon enough, the first cold night will descend and all will be silence. Until such time, I shall sit by the back door and enjoy and take some very high quality naps.

    Paul’s Himalayan Musk overwhelmed and almost took down my grammy’s precious self-seeded dogwood. It was a difficult decision, but the rose had to go. Ironically, the dogwood is loosing the fight against the anthracnose, so quite possibly leaving the rose may have been the better choice in the long run. Who can know?

    • paridevita says:

      High quality naps are indeed excellent. The guy I live with even invented a nap, the Pre-Bedtime Nap (TM), taken around 7 p.m., to get in shape for bedtime.
      He had a dogwood and proudly posted it on his blog. Then he decided to give it away. No one he knew wanted it (no gardeners, I mean), and so one of the neighbors got it. The dogwood is no more. Such is life, huh.

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