Sow There! On weeds once not wanted
Chico Enterprise-Record (Chico, CA) – Friday, May 30, 2014
Author: Heather Hacking firstname.lastname@example.org @HeatherHacking on Twitter
I’m not a big fan of transitions.
My family has photographs of little Heather, age 3, hanging on to the wooden beam at the edge of the porch. We were moving and I sobbed as they pried my arms from the only home I had ever known.
Somehow I survived at the next house and many others that followed.
Perhaps even more uncomfortable than transitions is being in that waiting period, where things are going to change but you have no way to prepare.
As gardeners, this drought has placed us in that holding pattern.
Thursday I had a day off from work and was wondering if there was something to do in the yard.
Perhaps it was the mood established when I woke up, but things looked drab and washed out.
Vegetables have been planted in pots (those darn gophers). I’ve bought heat-friendly Portulaca and Vinca minor for near the front door.
As a short segue, Vinca minor is among my favorite choices for the time being. It blooms about as prolifically as impatiens but can be planted in direct sun. It’s relative is Vinca major (periwinkle), as you would assume, but the “minor” doesn’t have the propensity to take over your entire neighborhood.
Portulaca is not as spectacular, but it does not die of heat or thirst.
A not-tipping point
One thing I really love about nature is that it reaches its own equilibrium when we step out of the way.
When I moved to this Chico home 17 years ago, the garden beds were overrun with wild viola. You probably have this weed in your yard as well. The leaves are big and lush and in December and January it has white or deep purple blossoms. The flowers look much like potted viola, only about half the size, and the leaves are not furry.
In my yard, this weed fills up the space of less desirable weeds.
The yard, back then, was a blank slate of mostly dry dirt and Bermuda grass, and the wild viola softened the landscape.
In my naivete, I painstakingly transplanted the wild viola to make room for things with larger flowers.
Now I realize the wild viola sends runners every which way.
Those wee, unassuming flowers bloom in December and January, while other plants are still sleeping.
If left on its own in a wet winter, you’ll see a colony of wild viola sprouts determined to blanket the world.
In more recent years, I yank at clumps of these plants with zero remorse.
Thanks to drought, this plant is again my friend.
The frost last winter brought the viola back with a vengeance.
They now thrive from the infrequent splash of water applied to plants I actually want to survive. And once again, it fills in those little spots that would otherwise create dusty open sores in my garden.
When I look at other people’s yards I see the compromises they make, or perhaps where a plant has simply won the war. Mimosa trees, for example (aka silk trees) are among my least favorite. They attract blue/black butterflies, which is nice. Yet, the life-cycle includes four seasons where tree junk is strewn all over the yard. Currently, this tree deposits pale, pink fluffy flowers in my neighbors yard and on MY car.
Yet, if that’s the only tree in your yard, and often this is the case, you dare not cut it down because you’ll lose all your shade.
Now what to do in the remainder of this transition?
My beau asked me not to water the little patch of lawn because then it would grow and just want more water.
Most of the other plants are things that will survive neglect, including sage, lavender, roses and several other plants that look like they’re on death’s bed.
My job right now is to barely keep these things alive; I understand that things will not be as beautiful as I have come to expect. In the future I will know what remains and decide how best to move forward.
For more inane prattle, check out my blog at www.norcalblogs.com/sowthere. Other contacts, @HeatherHacking on Twitter and Facebook.