Lay back on my couch and tell me all about it…

I have been thinking about doing this post for little while but was spurred into action by emails from two gardening friends who sent me basically the same message in response to my last post: “Your garden always looks beautiful. No matter how hard I work mine will never looks like yours or like the ones I see season after season in the gardening magazines.  I am so discouraged.” Clearly it is time for some green thumb psychotherapy!  First and foremost: No one’s garden ever really looks like the magazines.  Beds, borders and plant specimens are photographed at their peak and in perfect light. Undoubtedly a magazine minion (production assistant?) is hovering around spray cleaning foliage, picking weeds with a tweezer, sucking up the errant leaves and twigs and generally making the natural world look way more perfect than it is. Great gig if you can get it!  As for my personal garden world: I only let you see what I want you to see. Here are a few vignettes of what’s lurking just outside the scope of my iPhone’s little lens.


We call this the ‘corner of death’.  We have had one in every garden in every house for over 30 years.  If we had a nickel for every plant that failed in this spot over the last 7 years we might have that beach house we’ve always wanted.  No amount of soil amendment, sprinkler adjustment, mulch or prayer seems to alter this bermuda triangle like location. Oh, and notice the dead grass…

Slugs at work and their buddy, the snail, at rest…

Long searched for Hydrangea anomala petiolaris ‘Miranda’ –a variegated leafed climbing hydrangea not often seen in California– looks like a victim of nuclear warfare.  More common but no less doomed are three ‘Mystery’ gardenias in the Secret Garden behind our dining pavilion in the back yard.

Mature sequoias and young hydrangeas alike just cannot cope with the combination of the super heated air and our current exterior watering limitations.

Dead grass, dead grass, and did I mention dead grass with our friend Spotted Spurge? These areas are slated to be cleared, amended and replanted with drought tolerant shrubs and ground cover but I am not sure I will live long enough to see it.


This area has been in the process of being cleared to install a long north facing potting bench with shelves behind it.  Oh, yeah…started relocating plants in 2014.  What year is it now anyway?

Big weeds, small weeds, weeds I can name and weeds I call names you would not want to hear!

So this is another post to which I could go on adding photos through the night but I think you get the idea.  If there are no weeds, critters, diseases, impending death and multi-year projects where you hang your big floppy sunhat then you probably have a LANDSCAPE not a GARDEN.  Landscapes are something you get done for you and let someone else maintain.  Gardens are planned, cursed at, pruned,  replanned and encouraged by hands that love them.  Gardens are about hope and gardeners are the most hopeful people on earth. We garden because we just can’t wait to see what wonderful thing will spring out of the ground next year.  We plot, we purchase, we plant, we nurture, we pray for our garden of the future–the garden of next season.

We garden because there is always another perfect blue flower to add, a plant we have never even heard of to pop into the ground and a new year to which we look forward with open arms and hearts.


Psst!  One of two huge Bird of Paradise (big orange beaky flower) plants snugged up against the front of my home and providing a less than desirable backdrop to my predominantly blue/purple/pink plantings seems to be failing.  David loves these plants and is bereft.  I MAY have accidentally dropped a bucket of Round-Up on this one as I was passing by…

4 thoughts on “Lay back on my couch and tell me all about it…

    1. Some of the places I photographed in this post look even worse now! Not much hope for improvement until weather cools down. Glad you enjoyed Mendocino tour–it was a whirlwind day even though it took 5 days to write about it!


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