When dogs come and go in a garden 3-26-15

By Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record
POSTED: 03/26/15, 5:45 PM PDT | 0 COMMENTS
My job right now is to pretty much to do nothing. A week ago I had surgery and Wednesday I received good news from the UC Davis surgeon.

All is well.

The biopsy results were something to celebrate and the good doc says I will not need to have radiation treatment.


It’s only now that I realize I have been holding my breath for about a month and a half.


Now that my life has slowed dramatically, I have time to walk (slowly) around the house – for the next five weeks.

I wouldn’t exactly call my yard a “garden.” It’s more of a collection of potted plants and some “other stuff” that happens to be growing.

If I could bend and squat right now, I would put the lavender plant in the ground.

When Holly and I visited the Plant Barn during the Local Nursery Crawl, we chatted with a local rosarian. She confirmed that you really can kill lavender with too much water. This makes it a very good choice for near my fence line.

Speaking of the fence line, we’re hoping to build a bit of privacy. The couple who previously lived in this house had privacy in the form of two mean-sounding dogs. The dogs stalked the perimeter of the yard, stomping on anything that tried to grow.

People who have dogs and gardens may understand that you really have to give priority to one or the other.

About this time last year the dogs would have been standing taut near the fence, threatening perfect strangers with bodily harm.

I learned to like these dogs over time. However, I did continue to resent feeling like I was being yelled at each time I pulled into my driveway.

The dogs were effective. People learned that if they walked by this house, they would be verbally assaulted. Two days after the dogs moved away, one of my neighbors was burglarized.

Dogs like this do get lonely. Strangers may stop to say hello to a friendly dog, or pause to pet a nose squashed into the wires of a cyclone fence.

Yet, a dog with a mean bark has no friends. That’s naturally why you tend to have two of them.


The result of all this canine pacing is that when the neighbors moved away, they left a well-worn trail along the perimeter of the fence.

Now it’s my job to reclaim that space.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been cultivating privet. The normally hated plant grows everywhere in the neighborhood. I’ve spent years yanking it from the soil.

However, as a quick-growing, poor-man’s hedge you really can’t beat it.

My beau is a big fan of English laurel, which grows quickly and makes a great privacy hedge. However, switching to better plants would actually cost money. Whereas the privet is growing for free and simply needs to be moved.

We are also considering planting some oleander, a plant so common I would have cringed if you had previously suggested it for my yards.

However, if these plants are good enough for the middle of freeways throughout California, they’re good enough for the edge of the yard. They are easy to trim, grow quickly, provide flowers and apparently can withstand pollution.

If finances get really bad, I could probably live in the oleander for months without detection.

Another particularly alluring property of the plants is that they require almost no water once established. That makes them a good choice for right now and into the foreseeable future.

I’ll do some research on whether they grow from cuttings. I’m thinking once I’m recovered from this surgery I could spend some time in a freeway center divider, dressed in black and taking plant cuttings.

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