time to get serious

Greetings and salutations, everyone; once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to bring you the latest and greatest news from our garden. You may remember me from such magnificent posts as “A Winter Wonderland” and “Of Seeds And Soil”, among so many, many others.

Here I am with my characteristic nose.14032505The guy I live with was sitting on the back patio, admiring his work, and I came up to get cuddles, with you can see I got.

I got really close, like I like to do. That’s my nose, there. 14032504His work?” you say? Why yes, the guy I live with had a bunch of pea gravel delivered this morning, after our walk.14032501It took him and hour and a half to move all the pea gravel, and that included a short break to drink some water. When he does decide to do something, it gets done.

This is what got done.14032502If it looks like that’s a pile of pea gravel in the middle of the lawn, that’s because that’s exactly what it is. The guy I live with said it was “time to get serious” about making the little bed he decided should go here instead of looking at the dead grass all winter. Granted, blue grama is nice in the summer, but he thought looking at a pile of pea gravel would be more interesting.

It’s already planten now, with a white-flowered beavertail cactus which he kept tripping over in the place where it was before it was moved here. He could have just not tripped over it, but he figured moving it would be more practical.14032508You might be wondering about “planten”. The guy I live with and my mommy saw that word on a sign at a nursery and so used it from then on. “Are the plants I got planten yet?” Like when they saw Anacyclus depressus for sale with a tag that said “Mr. Atlas Daisy”, it became Mister Atlas from then on.

Some other things. In case you thought sowing seed outdoors didn’t work, well, look here.


14032507And here’s a tulip. The label says Tulipa dubia, but that’s a yellow tulip, and the guy I live with, being a total tulip snob, now buys his tulips as bulbs which were grown from wild- collected seed (or wild-collected bulbs from which seed was used to propagate the bulbs), but he doesn’t really know which species it is, which is none too impressive for a total tulip snob. He could look it up in the tulip book, if that weren’t so much effort. (Opening the book, looking at stuff, etc.)

He says it’s “the tulip version of Audrey II”. I think it was just colder last night than the tulip wanted, and so it’s having a good lie-down.14032509That’s definitely all I have for today. Now I have something else in the lawn that I have to walk around.14032503

Until next time, then.




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18 Responses to time to get serious

  1. petabunn says:

    Hi Chess I snose what you wanted. Your guy is very keen (and fit) moving all the pea gravel, couldn’t he have it dropped onto a tarp or something that he coud possibly drag some of the distance, looked like hard work. Why isn’t there a pic of you standing on the pile, isn’t that what you did last time he made a pea gravel mountain, you can walk over instead of around. I hope that tulip wakes up soon and opens, ah Spring. We are looking forward to Spring in your garden. We have daffodils, jonquils, snowdrops, grape hyacinth, tritelia and some others I have forgotten in pots we moved with us and they are very confused. As the weather keeps changing from warm/hot to cold and rainy (yes it just seems to rain and rain here) I think they are all going to flower at the wrong time, or die from waterlogging. They are used to the Hawkesbury scorching heat not this weather so who knows what will happen. Can’t wait til next year when we should be settled in our new place and they can go in the ground where they belong.

    • paridevita says:

      He’s not all that fit, but moving gravel is good for arthritis and stuff, he says. He has an ancient wheelbarrow with a ripped tire which goes ba-dup, ba-dup, ba-dup, but it still moves gravel. There’s so much gravel in the back yard it’s surprising the whole yard doesn’t sink down to the center of the earth. Rain would be nice here, though…and I know this sounds hard to believe…the guy I live with says snow is actually better, because it soaks into the soil more slowly, and the seedpots benefit from melting snow. As you can see. Gravel is a little hard for me to walk on, these days, and I wonder why the guy I live with re-graveled the north path, but he said it needed it, and anyway my two main paths are plain dirt.

  2. So you just make a pile of pea gravel and plant it up? I hope to find out more about this when I read High and Dry!

    • paridevita says:

      Well, no……this is a new thing. The soil in the front yard is this gross clay subsoil trucked in from somewhere else, after the house was built, as backfill, but it’s been dug in so much that the layer of clay has become reasonably permeable, down to the native soil, which is decomposed sandstone (from the Fountain Formation, like Red Rocks, Garden of the Gods, etc.). In the back yard, the same clay lies over the native soil, but it’s been so compacted, by border collie paws, etc., that it’s hopeless to dig in (consistency of ice cream right out of the freezer), so everything in the eastern half of the back yard is in raised beds. The news beds are pure sand and gravel because that’s closest to what desert plants grow in—highly oxygenated mineral soil with high permeability. Rain, and melting snow, goes right down to the roots. Clay soil holds more water than sand, of course, but water binds to the clay particles, making it difficult for roots to pull the water away from the bound particles, and so, effectively, there is less water available for plants in a clay soil. With sand and gravel, even though it holds less water, all water becomes available to plant roots. (Cactus are a different situation; they have shallow roots, enabling them to grab water even if it only percolates a few millimeters into the soil.) It’s a vastly more water-efficient method of growing the plants I like to grow.

      • Fascinating. I will be watching the results from afar.

      • paridevita says:

        Well, the Long Border, which used to look like one, as is evident in Cindy’s pictures, was destroyed by voles the winter after she died (they uprooted everything in the north half, even a gigantic Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’), and so the whole area was dug out, and I piled up a bunch of old concrete, broken troughs, broken flower pots, two tires from Cindy’s old Mazda GLC I forgot to include when we gave away that car, and a collection of bound National Geographic dating back to 1906, and then put several yards of pea gravel on top of that, and then a load of sandy loam (which was mostly sand), and then pea gravel on top of that. “Traditional” garden plants, that is, ones from regions where it rains, will not survive under such conditions, but I don’t want to grow any of those, except snowdrops and a handful of other plants, and most of those are in the little shade garden on the north side of the house, which does get some watering. (It takes a huge amount of will power, or something like that, to reach the stage where you’re content not growing plants you see in other peoples’ gardens, if the conditions there are different.)

      • Even more fascinating to know what is under there!

      • paridevita says:

        There might be other things too. Raised beds made from soil, even clay, always sink over time, so they need a backbone. Another raised bed here has a backbone of cinder blocks and ugly rocks left by the previous owner. Important not to leave any air pockets when piling stuff on top of the backbone (especially cinder blocks.)

      • Why didn’t I think of this??? Seriously!! It solves that sinking problem so beautifully.

      • paridevita says:

        Also helps get rid of stuff you’re tired of looking at. I considered burying my neighbors’ junk car, but they finally had it towed away.

      • There was an enormous rusty old bus in a side yard on our block for years. Just got cut in three and hauled away two weeks ago. Would have made a mountain of a raised bed! With all air pockets filled, of course.

      • paridevita says:

        It would have. Though, in a rainy climate, it might have rusted down to nothing in fifty years. Some people around here make planters out of old tires. My favorites are the painted ones …. (There are no planters made out of old tires in this garden.)

      • Better old tires than a urinal. But neither will grace my garden.

      • paridevita says:

        Probably so. But, making a raised bed does gives excuses to bury all sorts of things.

      • A question re “High and Dry”: I have the paperback. Were the photos and drawings (stunning drawings as all of Cindy’s work) in colour or black and white in the hardback?

      • paridevita says:

        Everything was in color. I didn’t know there was a paperback edition. I guess I’m not very aware of what’s going on in the horticulture world. Except that a rabbit ate my little Fritillaria kotschyi and I’m not happy.

      • I’m not happy cos am enjoying your book but the sun keeps coming out and telling me to go out and weed. The paperback was $30 used. Might be able to get the hardback from the library to see colour pictures.

      • paridevita says:

        The sun never says anything here, because it’s almost always shining. This is an excellent device for weeding. http://www.hidatool.com/gardening/weeders/ginga-v-shape-scraper-42-5-long-handle Dangerously sharp, but excellent. (So are the nejiri and kana in the same catalog). Only wish there were something to get grass out of gardens. Like a magic spell or something. If only the rabbit would eat it.

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