In the Garden: Staying Alive

November: It was the best of months, it was the worst of months, am I right? At least we get to start on a Monday with a clean slate as we face down the last month of the year, in all its cold and bitter glory. (November provided some previews for anyone interested.) Despite the cold, the garden is doing well, and I even managed to get some planting done, something I am really proud of, given how busy and chaotic the month was; a combination of work-related things eating me alive and personal things, which always seem to rear their ugly heads when you least want them to.

As I’ve mentioned before, I pretty much left the garden to its own during the drought, because I saw absolutely no point in wasting water on what is largely an ornamental feature in my life; while the garden improves the quality of my life, and I love it, conserving water is more important. That said, I was really delighted when it started raining in November and the game survivors of the garden started to perk up.

Mexican sage

Here’s the Mexican sage, which was here when I moved in. Despite the fact that it dies back every year in the frost, and I actually tried to rip all of it out this summer because I was tired of looking at dead sage every winter, it apparently had other ideas. You win, sage. You win.

A plant with small yellow flowers in cascades, and thorny leaves

While this isn’t an original, it’s an early planting, from one of my first rounds of plant research and purchasing. I’m a huge fan of its delicate little cascades of yellow flowers and thorny evergreen years, which is why I picked one up after seeing a similar specimen in my landlords’ yard. No regrets here: It grows like gangbusters, it’s really gorgeous, and it is apparently both deer and drought resistant. A++ recommended, except that I can’t remember what it is, so I can’t tell you what to buy at the nursery.

Now, on to things I planted.

Thyme and oregano in a planter.

My thyme, light of my life, died this summer after putting up a noble fight. I put off doing anything about it in the hopes that new foliage would appear, but I finally had to give in and admit that it was done. While I was painstakingly excavating it from its planter, I found out that the bulbs sharing the planter were starting to come up — apparently they missed the memo on seasonally appropriate growing activities. I had to work around them, but as a bonus, I didn’t end up crowding them with the thyme (foreground) and oregano (background) I planted, because I could clearly see where they were already growing. So, er, yay?

I also planted some succulents. I know that California’s weather is changing, like the rest of the climate, and that it’s time to start drought-proofing the garden, and to think about plants that cope well with heat, but also the potential of cold temperatures in the fall. When I’m planting ornamentals to replace plants that died in the drought, that would be a really good time to choose wisely. Succulents are really great candidates, because they’re able to go a long time without water, although they aren’t always happy about it, and they can also handle cold temperatures. I have a secret dream of building up a low wall and covering it in cool succulents, but I am starting modestly, especially since I am inept at home improvement projects and subsequently will need to pay someone to construct such a delectable object.

A trio of succulents

A succulent with fleshy triangular leaves

The three cuties up top are growing right next to the step leading up to my patio. Eventually they will spread across the blasted heath of dirt there and add some texture and colour, and they’ll also benefit from the gutter that drops water to the far right of the frame. Well, hopefully they will benefit instead of drowning. The lower succulent, which has these amazing colourful wedge-shaped leaves, is in a planter on the patio, where it will hopefully rock on with its bad self.

I’m pretty happy about how the garden is looking these days. After some setbacks this summer, it’s working on going somewhere, and that pleases me immensely. At least one thing in my life is going okay.