Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Garden Obsession

"The trouble with gardening is that it does not remain an avocation. It becomes an obsession

~Phyllis McGinley 

The woody orange vine looked so innocent in the 6" pot brought home from an LA Arboretum sale. Today it is as tall as epe myrtle it links arms with.

The neighbors next door, who have a pool, have never complained about the summer confetti in pink and orange  that floats over from my side of the fence. Not only that- they encourage this obsession.  Chuck and Sandy Price are the definition of GREAT neighbors for a gardener.

The "Cottage Garden" sign- Does it define or reflect the surroundings?

Looking north across the brick patio you see one of the first vestiges of making this house ours: the lattice work that Gerry cut and framed with our sons, Trevor and Kenny. 

Every so many years we bathe all the patio wood trim  in creamy white.  Fat glazed pots hold  variegated ficus at key points on the patio - balancing the recipe for horticultural material needed to properly "naturize" the  bricked-over patio floor.

In the background is the blue shed  my husband utilizes as an outpost for certain woodworking chores. 

The vegetable planting is more accurately a path than a plot.  Brimming with tomatoes, hot peppers, herbs and society garlic, it also has a small tub turned into a gurgling fountain- the moving water inviting birds in to eat marauding insects.

If you 've never scissored the pinkie- purpley blossoms of society garlic  (Tulbahia  to Latin enthusiasts) as a replacement for garlic cloves on garlic toast- you are missing quite the conversation starter. The color is simply luscious in the shimmer of hot butter.

This week, the  daytime high temperatures  have lumbered into the 98 ° F mark. Close enough that the hibiscus are open like fairy sized satellite dishes

A monarch butterfly caterpillar  munches on a denuded butterfly weed (asclepias) stem
Garden neophytes see the rough edges of the August garden as deciding air-conditioned chores are better this time of year. However, there is a practial aspect to some seediness allowed. Look closely and you will see one of a heard of caterpillars munching the strength to grow wings to glide through the air. Other plants- such as Cleveland sage- their seeded heads are allowed to dry to darkened feed for birds seeking shelter from the harsh coastal sage conditions just beyond the property lines.   

'Betty Boop' Rose

Two bushes and a tree form 'Betty Boop' have outgrown their spot in the border like a teenage athlete outgrows his first car. In cooler weather, one will be cleaved from the center and adjusted into a spot nearby- extending the rhythm of their near-ever present blossoming.

I always wanted honeysuckle- though  I doubt this is where I would have planted it. Some birds likely chose the spot despite its lack of welcoming attributes. My brain must be as small as the birds, for walking through the nearby gate- the scent  of honeysuckle intoxicates. overtakes all reason- and so it stays- occasionally threatening to run up a stranglehold  on the arching buttefly bush 'Black Knight'.


This axis from the edge closest the patio, verbena bonarensis planted its feet. Here, gangly arms bob under the weight of hummingbirds and finches as they wait to dodge the airspace crowded with butterflies. 

With my husband's tools having squatted my car's spot in the garage, this side yard is often the path I take from home to automobile.  The draping summer lilac (Buddleja) is allowed to spill over the chunks of wood waiting to be turned.   The idea for the covered shelving was picked up on trips to England, where I was enchanted with the idea that the most humble of utilitarian spaces should revered with some touch of beauty.

As soon as Tracie "opens the gates" it is time to time to hop over to the linky party at Fishtail Cottage. See what is blooming in the gardens of my fellow flower addicts. 


  1. Now, why have I never thought to use those pink-lavender-colored blooms of society garlic on bread before?! I love the variety in your garden, Lydia. Always something going on.

  2. I love the lilac. It does dress up the shelves of wood!! ox

  3. Yep, Sue. I started to clip it, and my inner voice said, "Are you kidding?"

  4. What a beautiful lilac! Thanks for sharing all the great photos!

  5. Your garden looks beautiful for a hot, hot August. I loved the fairy sized satellite dishes. What a great description!

  6. Your photographs are beautiful and I really enjoyed the stroll through your garden!!!

  7. I am envious of your flowers and landscape. We have an irrigation system but that small amount of water has not been enough to keep plants looking good this summer.
    Thank you for leaving a nice comment for me. I love hearing from other bloggers. Have a great weekend!


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