In my recent post of food-gardening tips, I advised beginners against “fighting nature,” by which I meant don’t try to grow food in the hardest season when you’re just starting out.
The same applies to the part of your garden that you’re cultivating for purposes other than food (such as wildlife habitat; flowers for pollinators; shrubs for privacy and blocking out streetlights).
With my ever-alert scrounger’s eye, I’ve been finding various shrubs and plants that people have left at curbside. Also, friends have been giving me surplus plants they don’t want. Lots of free plants — great! But I shouldn’t have tried to plant them in the yard during the hottest driest time. If I had it to do over again, the curb-scrounged podocarpus shrubs pictured in the top photo would have spent a few weeks being babied in pots on my shaded patio. Instead, I made the mistake of planting them in the harsh cruel world of the yard during what has turned out to be a very hot dry spell. Carrying water to those shrubs and to my other yard transplants each day has turned out to be a major hassle! Also it uses an awful lot of water, 20 or 30 gallons a day. (By the way, although the podocarpus look dead, one of my super-horticulture-savvy friends tells me they’ll be fine.)
Now I’m learning from my mistake. The second pic shows some plants that a friend invited me to dig up from her yard today. I’m babying them on the patio til the weather gets a bit less harsh. Snuggled up together in pots, they won’t need as much water.
Can you spot a subtle-but-significant difference between the second photo and the third?
Answer: In photo #3, I have removed the label sticker from the plastic tub! Yes, I’m that fussy, at least in certain ways — I really notice the difference! I’m very much a practitioner of the KonMari aesthetic, long before I had heard of Marie Kondo and read her books on decluttering. I remove the labels from dish liquid and other bottled household products (the few I use), and was amazed to find that someone else did that too.