I created a curved retaining wall from the cobblestones that I found a few weeks ago…now I’m pulling dirt from the back to the front to level out enough space to build a little bench.
Here’s a reminder of what the area looked like before:
7 February 2011
Having dug into the grade and moved a lot of dirt to the front of the garden, I consolidated the old pattern of several separate rows of wine bottles into one, stepped, mass which will be a retaining wall for the back portion.
Here’s a reminder of what the area looked like before:
Nearly fell off my scooter last night when I saw these discarded cobblestones at the site of a public works project, ready to be sent downtown for grinding. (Can you imagine???) This morning of course, meant hauling them out-back to the garden. Let’s make a little retaining wall with them!
Found across the street on the curb, the plant was completely root-bound and sickly. When I finally managed to pry it from its container it was easy to see why the plant was sick, too- the poor thing was soaked, and sitting in stale (stinky) water. The bottom layer of roots had completely rotted so I removed those mushy parts (yeah, yuck) but the roots around the root ball looked significantly better, at least. By george I think he’s going to make it; I repotted him in a larger plant, perched upon a drainage layer of broken styrofoam pieces, and surrounded the root ball with cactus soil.
25 January 2011
My latest garden project involves removing several of last years wine bottle rows and digging deep into the hillside to flatten out the garden floor. The wine bottles will be replaced in a new configuration, to make more of a ‘feature’ of them. Additionally, I’ve carried lots of found, discarded granite countertop pieces to the back of the garden where they’ve become little retaining walls for new flower beds. The dirt I’m digging up at the front is going back there to fill up those beds. I’m hoping the result will be a more dramatic contrast in height in the garden, and that the materials will be highlighted in a more impactful way.
We’re in love with rocks here at MUS•e•YUM so when the guys offered to take me to Broadmoor we were positively over the moon. If hardscape turns you on like it does for us, get yourself to the South San Francisco mecca. Bins of gorgeous rock stretch as far as the eye can see! On this visit I came away with feather stone (lava), two quartz rocks and a gorgeous bowl shaped specimen, surely destined for the succulent garden out back.
In other news, we stopped at Peets along the way and saw this fabulous cat. The cat of course looked rather cross- can you imagine??
Broadmoor Landscape Supply
1350 El Camino Real
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am – 5 pm
15 August 2010
evening light on the bamboo newly planted in the backyard, specifically the area I call my ‘back 40′~
Having dug the path and then, building up mounds of dirt to create a little height and shape, the addition of the moss and palms has brought the space to life. I’ve dubbed this corner of the garden, ‘Palm Grove’.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been collecting wine bottles for the last several months and I’ve been using them to create a border for my planting beds. Plunging the bottles into the ground neck-down, I have created a lovely organic pattern of variegated greens and browns, translucent and shimmering when they catch the rays of the sun. However,what I didn’t expect was that they could support life. Much to my surprise I’ve found plants growing inside the bottles! I have over a hundred little terrariums now. . .
I recently found some ‘before’ pictures of the backyard, taken before I started my garden project. I had no idea what I was doing when I started gardening. But, I looked at the space and saw what it could be, and started digging. Here’s a slideshow that shows the development of my first-ever flowerbed.
>> UPDATE, here’s a pic of the latest progress in my garden, as of June 2010
>> UPDATE, here’s a pic of the latest progress in my garden, as of 10 July 2010…brick hardscape installed
By now you know that I love my little garden. I look forward to visiting it every day, whether I’m making little improvements like repotting a plant, doing a little weeding or simply sitting and enjoying the space. The only heartbreaker about it is, I can’t actually see the garden from my third floor apartment. My neighbor, however, quite happily surprised me today by sending me some photos he took from his fourth floor apartment, which DOES face the garden. Now I have some cool pictures documenting this phase in the garden’s life, and I wanted to share them.
>>Update, aerial view of my garden, May 2010
This past Monday, I saw a picture of some sweet garden stairs, made from stacked broken cement pieces. As luck would have it, there’s a dumpster a block away while the neighbors are doing their own yard construction project. Although most of the cement they’ve discarded is too small for stairs, after a little digging Tuesday morning I found 2 large, flat pieces that would work well. (I also hauled over 8 buckets of sandy soil for my succulents!) So the next day, Wednesday morning (also before heading in to the office) I dug out a hole in the side of my mound of dirt and made some steps!
Stay tuned, if I find another dumpster (or broken sidewalk), there will be more steps to follow. In the meantime, I’ve started a little rockery off to the side with the smallish pieces I found, and succulents will find a home there.
A visit to my garden and you’ll see it’s the object of love, born of mismatched objects small and large that have found a home together in the dirt. I never wanted to impose a unified design upon the garden, assembled all in one go. I wanted something more organic, for it to unfold over time. I wanted it to tell ME how it should look. It’s a living thing, after all.
Change in the garden is always dictated by the element of chance, and how it appears today is a direct result of the unpredictability of what I find when I walk down the street, and a quick decision about whether or not it belongs at home. A pile of discarded cobblestones becomes a garden pathway. Put another way, there wouldn’t be a garden pathway if it weren’t for the cobblestones someone gave up. A set of old spoons inspired a wind-chime. And, some empty wine bottles became a snaking border, echoing and inspired by the (now huge) jasmine plant, which has stretched in an equally snakelike way over the fence and now has a glassy green counterpart on the ground.
There have been many gardens since I started digging four years ago, and there will be many more. I love the idea of letting go, waiting for cues, surrendering to chance. The outward face of the garden will grow and evolve and it’s a metaphor for life, really. Because the garden is a living, sentient thing change is healthy and good. That’s how I know it’s alive. Letting go is, at the same time, embracing the unknowable with trust that the unseen, intrinsic spirit of a living thing always remains constant.
I started my morning as I always do in the garden. A visit with my plants always grounds me for the rest of the day.
I always have a little project going out there and the latest one involves wine bottles. Hundreds of them, ideally. Wine bottles make excellent borders if A.) you allow yourself several months to complete your border or B.) you or your friends drink A LOT. I’ve relied on the latter, and my pals have come through.
I can still use another hundred… but I’ll need them fast. When rain season ends in SF (April) the hard clay that is my soil will dry up, and I won’t be able to ‘plant’ any more wine bottles. ’Til next year, that is. So, if you’re reading this, drink up. It’s for a good cause.