My Ugly Garden

My Ugly Garden

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Here in California, the hills are green in the winter and brown in the summer. I say this only because I am always a bit shocked when I visit my parents in Georgia during the summer and everything is green and lush. We have just come through a series of winter rain storms and now several beautiful sunny days, so our dormant hills, yards and gardens are springing to life. I love admiring this from afar. The reality is only to clear when I step outside my back door. All that lovely green is in weed form. So today, I started pulling. My son and I found this little lady beetle in the weeds, I'm sad that the picture didn't turn out more clearly. I'm always amazed that just as I'm starting to feel overwhelmed by "the Ugly," I come across something that makes me smile.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Foot is all better, it felt great to get back outside today. I actually got
quite a bit accomplished. Finished measuring and cutting the posts for the wattle fence, dug up another rose, and worked on the tepee. The kids kept me company today. They used some extra branches as hockey sticks. Mud hockey is what they were calling it, so you can imagine the rules of that game. They had a great time though.

A note concerning wattle tepees. I am learning as I go along so if you would like to try this here are a few tips I have stumbled upon. Use flexible sticks for weaving. This may seem obvious, but I found that the fruitless mulberry is working really well. I tried using clippings from my apple tree, but with no success. The apple branches would bend in hand but would break when I tried to weave it. Willow is the standard material for use, but I am using what I've got. Space your posts 8 to 10 inches apart. This spacing is working well for me. Don't let your posts get crossed. This is the one challenge I am facing. Some of the posts got crossed in the building of the frame. Weaving is a bit more difficult in those crossed spots. All in all, it is coming along nicely and it is really fun to do.

Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I've been benched. Minor outpatient surgery on my foot has sidelined my gardening efforts until I can fit into my work boots. I am currently styling the blue post-op boot that has no curve so my foot is hanging over the edge. For now I am content to sit on the back porch and watch my son play in the huge mud puddles created by last night's rain.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Beauty and the Beast

I was puttering around the Ugly today, not in the mood to dig up roses, when I came across a bit of beauty in my beasty yard. An overturned pot yielded a living cymbidium orchid! (see the above picture) I thought for sure I had killed them all. As I was re-potting it there was a flower spike. Yeee! Something other than a weed was going to flower in my yard. Hopefully, the transplant wasn't too traumatic for it.
The other moment of beauty was seeing the first snowdrop blooms appear. I have had these for years, and they are super reliable. But more importantly, whenever they pop up I think of my Oma. She brought these beautiful little flowers home with her from Germany more than fifty years ago, and I always remember them growing in her yard. My siblings and I would pick bunches of them from her garden and she would always put them on her dining room table. When she sold her property, I went out and dug a bunch up for my place. Now my kids pick them for me to put on our dining table.
A little work was accomplished this afternoon. I started cutting posts for a 4 foot wattle fence that will edge the new veggie garden. The fence is made from the same pile of mulberry sticks. I sure am getting a lot of mileage out of these branches.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I must have a bit of gardening entwined in my DNA, that is the only explanation I have of this obsession to grow my own food, despite years of failed attempts. In fact, both sets of my grandparents had flourishing vegetable gardens. Just two generations ago family vegetable gardens and chicken coops were the rule, not the exception. Now the fashionable term is "urban homesteading." This reintroduction of self sufficiency is great, and I want a part of it. I am hoping to have our little piece of property work with me for a change. This space should not only provide nourishment for our family, but also an educational experience for my children. I'm convinced we don't know what fruit and vegetables really taste like. How could we? A lot of it travels thousands of miles and sits in storage for who knows how long before it appears in the grocery store.

So, phase one is to clear the rose bushes from the south facing portion of our yard. Here is the catch: I only have about one hour a day during the week to tackle these projects. Baby steps, but that is ok, a little at a time is better than nothing at all.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The stick pile seen above is from a fruitless Mulberry tree in our front yard. Man are those trees ugly. My husband is in the process of pruning them, this yielded a huge pile of branches. The up side is the branches are pretty straight, so I am trying my hand at constructing a teepee for the kids. So far so good.
Welcome to My Ugly Garden. It may be ugly now, but I have big plans. Hopefully this endeavor will help me to stay focused and on track. Thanks for following me on my journey.