Shasta Lake Garden Project

“Enhancing the community through gardening . . .”

Impatient Gardener

by Gennie Seely

Alright, already. I've put up with just about enough of the winter weather. A few sunny days sprinkled through the downpours and frigid temperatures have done little but confuse the plants and depress us outdoor people.

So the last two days of winter decided to be sunny. That evoked a desperate frenzy of yard activity. When one suffers from winter doldrums, any two day stretch of sunshine can cause an outbreak of spring rash - rash, as in hasty, without due caution.

No more putting up with plants that don't produce. Out they go. Some might be given a reprieve and second chance in a different location. For some, if their minuses outnumber their pluses, it's the burn pile. If they aid and abet the enemy (snails), they are gone. If they are just a pretty face and high maintenance, they had better shape up pretty fast and do with less TLC. Toughen up, baby.

Why be timid when you have finally reached a point of making drastic changes? It is said we reap what we sow. So wouldn't it be better to make a bold move than a wishy-washy one? Whatever we do will be evident to anybody who takes a gander at our handiwork, anyway. I do think I would rather evoke wonder than pity.

I've been thinking of making a berm in my front yard. So when does it become a berm and not just a bump in the yard? When one doesn't have benefit of earth moving machinery other than a yard cart, it's a berm because I say it is.

Beyond esthetics, an elevated area would seem to allow for better drainage. Since some of the hardy plants that will survive in this area call for good drainage, I'm using that as an explanation for what I have done in my two days of March madness. Beyond that, I make no excuses.

Shopping for plants this early is also frustrating. Some are straggly survivors of the winter. They're far from pretty, but at least they have proven they are survivors.

Too many look pretty now, but, if one looks at the labels, they cannot stand temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenhait. Forget that. Others cannot take the heat. Forget that too.

The area we live makes certain demands on not only its people and wildlife, but on the vegetation as well. It takes some acclimatization to thrive, but it happens.

I don't have the time or the inclination to spend the time to play nursemaid to a plant that cannot take the wide variance of temperatures in this particular area. If in doubt about whether I think a plant will thrive here, I check to see where it originated. If we are at equidistance from the equator as where it originated, it probably will do okay. Of course, there are other factors like soil acidity and salinity to consider.

I chose the New Zealand Tea shrub rather than the Australian one because New Zealand seems to be about the same distance from the equator as our area is. They, of course, are in the southern hemisphere.

One saleslady told me that Mediterranian heather should fair well. At least it does well in Redding. Of course, that's listed as an area 9, and we in Shasta Lake are listed as an area 7. What a difference a few miles make.

I like gardenias. Most want semi-shade, but from the labels on a few, they are supposed to take sun. I don't think they can take the blistering afternoon sun, but I'll give them a try. I have several that have survived on the southern side of the house. Of course, when I put them in, there was a messy lace tree providing some shade. Thank goodness, the lace tree has since succumbed to too much water.

Perhaps the New Zealand Tea trees will grow large enough to provide a modicum of shade, if the gardenias survive that long. If nothing else, it can serve as a grand experiment. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Much of my yard is still a bog. I tromped around in my gardening clogs, which filled with mud in short order. I should have worn my rubber boots. Not wanting to waste time changing footgear, I just hosed off my feet when I took a break to go indoors. Reminded me of my bare-foot days in the boon docks.

I will definitely reserve some space for the native California fuchsia. They bloomed throughout the summer in the native plant section of the memorial garden strip. There's nothing timid about their profusion of blaze orange blossoms.

My orchard of mini peach trees is in bloom. All twenty seem to have survived the trip from Santa Rosa and the planting here. Now, I need to see some bees to pollinate them, or I will have to get out the paintbrush and do it myself. That's another thing the weather has fouled up, the bees.

Drat. It's raining again.