Two posts ago, I wrote about my brother’s garden. Today, I think I uncovered the “seed” of his inspiration for growing things. Look at my father’s garden in Dayton, Ohio, 1953. My father was at Wright-Patterson Airforce base–very far from the deserts and llanos of southern Arizona, but likely more familiar to my twenty-five year old mother, who hailed from that part of the country. In a vacant lot next door, my father “farmed” this garden. That’s him on the far right:
Now here is my mother–I made her photo large since she is so pretty, but something is eating that cabbage:
Now here are the greatest photos of my dad showing my brother how to plant seeds. He must be around one-year-old.
Those are the seeds of inspiration! And a nice ancestor garden story to think about this weekend while you are working in your own garden. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
I haven’t officially unveiled our backyard. Well, what can I say, I’m waiting for my plants to grow in. Realizing this will probably take a year, I have decided to suck it up and forge ahead. Please ignore all the patches of dirt. You know that makes me crazy. I feel I have to fill every empty spot, but it is impossible at this point. Maybe next year?
I also haven’t really embraced native plants. I know I should. I have planted them though in the new backyard. Some I am excited to see. A few I am thinking will already die and some I think look bad (after just two months).
What I Iove the most so far are the Annie’s Annuals plants. They are growing and blooming in just two short months. It’s unbelievable that they come in a box in the mail. They are wrapped in plastic and you have to unwrap and plant them in the provided pots. Then you have to water them and let them sit a day before you plant them. When you order six boxes of them (I was giddy), plan to have them arrive when you have time to spend the next day planting!
They are grown outside in California so they say you don’t have to harden them off. And they have done remarkably well.
Here they are (names of the plants are below the photos):
Clarksia concinna “Pink Ribbons” (above)–I can’t believe it’s blooming already. It is for both sun and part shade, deer resistant, drought tolerant. All zones. They have a feathery pink flower and light green leaves. You can see two in this photo.
“Bush Ladybells,” Adenophora potaninii, beautiful, shade plant that grew so fast and has amazing blooms and Lime green Nicotiana alta. (No photo yet.)
Pink Mimulus, Mimulus lewisii x cardinalis (now they have green caterpillars. Argh!). Clay tolerant California native is doing well. It has almost tripled in size since I planted it. I hope the caterpillars don’t kill it.
Granium maderense–this is a huge stunning plant . And I’ve heard from other gardeners that it self-sows so I am really excited to see what it does. It is supposed to grow 4′ X 4′. It hails from the Canary Islands, something exotic. That’s nice!
Verbena Bonariensis (yikes, these are scaring me a little–they are sticking up all over my hill, but they are blooming a tiny purple flower.) I was supposed to pinch them back to make them full, but I didn’t. Oh well, there’s always next year. I think I need to plant something in front of them. (Please ignore the dirt. This is where our “fake” riverbed is supposed to go so I didn’t plant a lot here.) Send me some rocks and I’ll start building it.
Also blue springs penstemon (amazing blue color) and some very nice light blue Mrs Kendall Clarke geranium pratense.
My natives, which were selected by my garden designer Shellene Mueller, include:
Mimulus (orange) perfect for shade, low water and clay soil. The other pink Annie’s Annuals mimulus is right next to it (its leaves are lighter green and bigger.)
Carpenteria californica–I’m really excited about this. I love the waxy dark green leaves and can’t wait to see the big white flowers. It is supposed to be tolerant of sun or shade, grows in dry, clay–perfect for my hill. It was super hard to find. All of the wholesale nurseries told me they didn’t have it, but I found it at Walter Andersons. Surprise!
I also have Ceanothus Centennial, which i see all over our mountains. Mine looks a little scraggly and pale yellow. I think I am giving it too much water. Note to self: take drip system off these.
I also lavender, salvias, australian rosemary, thyme, yarrow, Lamb’s ears, coral bells, and penstemon of various types. Fruit trees: Anna’s Apple, Saturn peach, and a pomegranate. I mean to plant the pomegranate eight years ago when my daughter was born–well, I’m a little late. You know the saying!
But here is one of my favorites–the new Koko Loco rose from Weeks Roses. This rose is amazing and getting lots of complements. When it blooms it is latte colored and then fades to a brown lavender color. It smells good and seems hardy. It’s beautiful.
My siblings aren’t competitive about dogs or gardening. No, not at all, which is why my brother keeps emailing me pictures of his vegetable garden and poems and stories about how this year he’s got a grade “A” plot.
So I told him I’d blog about his great garden to make him happy. After all, grumpy lawyers need happiness in the form of great homegrown tomatoes, endless abundance of zucchini and other garden produce. A garden is a great outlet for stress relief. To me nothing could be more peaceful than working a long Saturday pruning, watering and planting in the garden. Also, cooking and eating the food you grow is a great byproduct of the joy gardening brings. I also enjoy feeding caterpillars to the chickens—get ‘em girls.
My brother, who is much older ( I don’t know why I say that here, but it seems to tie in. I’m trying to say he is very wise.) Anyway, he says gardening is genetic, and I wonder if this is true. Perhaps. I’d love to know what you think. I can’t say because obviously, as I’ve written, gardening runs in my family. All of my three siblings garden and have their own specialty. Wildflowers and vegetables for the mountain woman, whose winters are snowy so her growing season is short; herbs, roses and flowers for the preschool teacher who lives in desert dwellings; and of course, my brother, who is famous for tomatoes grown in the urban jungles of Phoenix, Arizona. Just look at his pictures and you will agree.
He taught me that there are two kinds of tomato plants—a “determinate” type and the indeterminate type. I had one of the indeterminate type in my front yard once. It would not die. It was an heirloom and made beautiful purple fruits. It quit producing in winter but kept growing and growing lush green foliage until one day, I don’t know why, I pulled it out. I should have transplanted it, but I didn’t. Now I wish I had.
I thought homegrown tomatoes mean instant sweetness, but I now have one in a pot that makes the worst tasting tomatoes. It makes a lot of them, but they are garbage. Maybe because they were grown in a pot. Who knows. Hey, brother, do you know? If you answer, I will know that you read this.
To make my brother happy, here are his photos and his poem.
See how high the tomato tree grows,
into the sky like hairs from my nose.
If it was a bean stalk, I’d be Jack,
But instead no tomatoes I lack.
So gather ’round and we’ll sing a tomato song
Put the soup on and we’ll be along
to grill sandwiches so cheesy
and slurp soup that makes me queasy.
Here is his tomato tree:
Here is the harvest — already!
I like the fence around his garden to keep out his tomato-eating dachshunds. And I am jealous that he already has produce! Look at all that!
For the record, even though my tomatoes are mealy, my dog is still the best dog on earth. He would never eat a tomato.