Three Garden Projects, All in a Row

Hurray for Nick Timmermann!  Nick completed all three garden projects for me over the past two days.

You may remember that I managed to get most of the dead hardenbergia vine pulled, but had to stop at the roots. The same went for my attempt at removing the grass in the sidewalk strip. My back and neck can no longer handle that kind of heavy digging.

The third project on the list was to remove the depleted lavender (thanks to an early frost) and replace it with Mexican Bush Sage. I went to four nurseries and garden centers over the past two weeks looking for the plants without success.  Central Wholesale Nursery said they were seeing a shortage of plants. At the start of the recession, growers reduced production.  Now that people are buying again, they’re having trouble keeping up with the demand. Nick went back this week and they just got them in!

I’ve been waiting to get the front garden rehabbed before our Little Free Library dedication. Now I can move ahead.

Here’s Nick’s handy work, starting with my attempt at digging up the grass, left, and the completed garden strip, upper right:

Curb garden

Colorful pebbles, stepping-stones and thyme replace the 18-year-old, water-guzzling lawn

I’m trying to reduce my water use and getting rid of the lawn in the sidewalk strip was a first step. We replaced it with tiny pebbles and drought tolerant thyme, capping off several sprinkler heads in the process.

sage replaces lavender

Out with the old, in with the new

wooly thyme

Wooly thyme planted between the rocks

Colored pebbles and slate stepping stones

Colored pebbles and slate stepping-stones

I loved the lavender and was sorry to see it go. That said, here was another opportunity to reduce water usage. The Mexican Bush Sage prefers dry conditions and needs almost no water once established. These plants will fill the space within a season. Meanwhile, I’ll put in some sunflower seeds and mulch and see if I can outsmart the squirrels.

As the daffodils slowly fade, the perennials are taking over.  I’m loving all that color.  Here are a few closeups:

red buckwheat

Red Buckwheat

snapdragons and daffodils

Snapdragons and daffodils


Scabiosa (it’s prettier than it sounds)

I ♥ flowers. Don’t you?

29 thoughts on “Three Garden Projects, All in a Row

  1. Gosh, it’s looking really great – how sensible to get someone in to do the heavy work for you Alys and how great that you are capping off those sprinklers. It’s quite exciting watching this quiet revolution happening as edible gardens take the place of those green swathes that once were expected! Are you leading the way in your street or have others also begun to change?

    Your garden looks as if it has never seen a winter – and those flowers are all looking very happy! I love snapdragons and scabiosa – very important in a cottage garden! I’m looking forward to seeing what else you get up to over the growing season [not that it ever seems to stop in California!]


    • Thank you, Pauline. You all supported me in this endeavor. Nick was happy to do it, and certainly far more capable. I’m really enjoying the contrast. The muted pebbles take a back seat to the flowering bed and let it shine. The practicality of it makes me happy, too. One day we’ll be lawn free, but in the interest of marital bliss, I’m respected Mike’s wishes and taking it slow.

      I’m second to join the parade on our block. I still see a lot of lawn, but I know it takes time and also interest. Our neighbor one street over has been slowly building an edible garden in front of their house. It’s beautiful! They’re aren’t yet done, but I asked if I could interview her and take pictures when it’s complete. I learned about the four-in-one fruit trees from her. She planted a small ‘orchard’ in their side yard. Exciting stuff.

      We are quite spoiled living in California with moderate temperatures year round. It looks different to us between the seasons, but it is far less drastic then places that freeze over ever winter.

      Our deciduous trees drop leaves, some lawns go dormant or at least slow their growth and the snails seem to hibernate. We can still grow a handful of winter annuals, winter vegetables, and many trees remain evergreen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Our winter gardens behave in much the same way, though our weather is not quite so benign – but nothing like the north of your country gets and those poor prairie Canadians! Today for instance is weather that we can usually expect in July-August – howling winds, sleet, temp of 3C. It’s going to finish off my salad plants still in the garden!


  2. That new bed looks great, and I love the pebbled area too – water-saving is so important to me too, not least since I don’t have a sprinkler system and have to carry heavy watering cans around! Scabiosa in bloom already? Wonderful! Some flowers deserve prettier names though. Have you heard Scabiosa is sometimes called Pincushion Flowers? 😀


    • Thanks so much, Cathy. You are a dedicated gardener, having to haul your water to the garden. Well done!

      I much prefer Pincushion Flower to Scabiosa. I’m happy to borrow that name from here on out. Thanks for that.


  3. Your front nature strip looks wonderful. I love the gravel and stepping stones — it is a feature that makes the strip look very stylish. There will be many “ohhs” and “ahhhs” at the Little Library Opening.

    What’s next in the garden, now that you have crossed those things off your list?


    • Anne, thank you so much. I’m really enjoying it. I like gravel too. It’s pretty and practical and it makes the nicest sound when you step on it.

      Next up, I’m going to plant sunflowers and pumpkins from seed. They’re both spectacular plants, and fun and easy to grow. My challenge is always the squirrels digging them up before they take off. When I start them indoors, they’re too leggy and they don’t transplant well. I usually try to sort out a barrier method until they establish. Once they have true leaves the squirrels leave them alone.


  4. Snap, just when I thought it couldn’t get any nicer. That really looks refreshed and tidy. Your neighbours must just watch with envy. Although, from what I saw, everyone’s front landscaping was pretty terrific. We incorporated pea gravel in our yard too. The big driveway, around the house, the fire pit area and the front of the garage. I remember shovelling and moving it all way back when, LOL. Glad you got some help, because I would not be up for that now either. I call uncle on that kind of work. Snaps are one of my all time favourite annuals. I love how they smell. Your Mexican Sage is going to be great right there and I can’t believe it’ll fill in over one season. Wow. The environment on your street is feeling might happy at all your efforts to conserve resources too, just think if everyone did a little bit. Way to be a leader hon! You’re awesome xoxox <3k


    • Your words are always such a gift.

      If only we had met ten years ago. I would have loved to visit your fantastic lake home, and experience that part of your life. It sounds like an amazing place.

      I too remember my thirties and all the projects we did together. Digging, hauling, planting, repeat. Lots of satisfaction comes from doing the work yourself, doesn’t it?

      I remember your yellow snapdragons in a post a year or so ago. You brought in the last of them and put them in a vase, as winter was settling in. Funny what I remember. That really stuck with me.

      Sharon and I used to race around our garden in London and see who could pinch open the most blooms. Isn’t that funny? My dad created such a lovely garden. I have a few bits of old 8mm images that I need to try to upload.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish we would have met as little girls 😀 Think of all the fun PJ parties, dating boys, learning to drive, concerts in the 70’s, matching kangaroo jackets, mood rings, drive-in’s and maybe even camping…Ok, chekaty, chekaty (ukrainian for ‘wait’…sounds like chick-eye, chick-eye, we always say it twice). Camping may be over reaching, LOL.

        Thank you for remembering the Snapdragon post. They are very hardy and actually last thru very cool nights. But at some point I have to give in. I have a photo in my Drop Box from October 21 last year, I’m standing beside my railing pot and it still looked nice. So that was sure different from the year before when it snowed Oct 3rd. Mind you, winter kicked our buts ever since. It’s been snowing all day……errrg.

        I sure hope you can but up some of that 8mm film. That would be unbelievable 😀 xox hugs my dear friend.


        • You’re right. We would have had so much fun. I could have used a friend like you, too. Sigh.

          We’ll just make up for lost time now, okay? Mwaaaa

          chekaty chekaty. That is a new one for me. I’ll have to practice.

          You’ve had two, back to back killer winters. At the same time, we’ve had our terrible drought.

          I can’t believe you still have snow in April. That seems so unfair. Is that rare as well?

          My first and only camping trip as a girl was with the Girl Scouts. The day before we were supposed to go I slashed my wrist open while playing hide and go seek. Long story, but I had to go to the ER for seven stitches. I begged my mom to still let me go and she did. We slept out in the open. When I got home I came down with pneumonia and an secondary infection. Oh well. So yes, we could certainly strike camping from the list.


          • Oh yes, done deal. Camping is OFF la list. Good grief Alys, that sounds very serious. Glad you had it looked at on time. I don’t imagine you had any fun camping. Knowing you, you didn’t want to let on. Man, we used to love hide and seek. All the time climbing into things and trying not to giggle. Do you think kids even play now?

            I’m all for making up for lost time and we can do it fancier now. Instead of a blanket fort in the yard, we can stay at a hotel xoxo

            April snow is more unlikely but I can’t say rare. It’s usually more nice days than cold but we are getting lots of cold days in a row. You’re right, it’s unfair. We will just go from winter to summer and by-pass spring at this rate.


            • You make me smile. Yes to fancier: hotels all the way!

              I remember enjoying that weekend away, but I started feeling bad the second day, and probably was incubating something from the day I was injured. It was the worst pain I had ever felt, and all that blood scared me silly. Everyone around me was scared too, so that made it worse. It was a lifetime ago, but the trauma feels like yesterday. I knew ‘cutting your wrist’ was a serious thing so I thought I was going to bleed to death.


  5. Oh! It would be great if Nick could just make his way to Australia some time soon and help out in The Oasis!! Please! And, of course, it goes without saying that it would be heavenly if you could come too, Alys!! You are an excellent gardening team – just look at your beautiful nature strip garden. I LOVE the pebbles – and there is something so gorgeous about raised garden beds. It’s so lovely seeing the daffodils, scabiosa and snapdragons. I can’t wait to see how this bed evolves over the seasons. Really inspirational! xoxoxoxoxoxoxox


    • Dani, there you go again, making me feel wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      I enjoy working with Nick. He is nice and easy going, with lots of creative ideas. I wish we could both come and hang out at the Oasis. What a dream come true that would be.

      Love to you, dear one. xooxoxoxox


      • Yes Alys, it’s true. We have almost that here. It’s 85 and going to 88 tomorrow. It’s a tease. We go back to normal rain by the weekend. I’m trying to hard to catch up with things. I was just telling my son I have no clue what the word “bored” means. For an old lady with no job, I have plenty to keep me busy and entertained. I’ll get it blogged soon. 😦 I know my heat will pass but doubt yours will.


        • Ugh! You must be miserable. I sure am. It’s ‘cooled’ down to 84 today, but sure doesn’t feel like it to me. I think it’s the extra humidity.

          Hurray for a bit of rain to cool things off. I’m so envious.

          I’m happy to hear you’re busy (not bored) and will look forward to your update when it is forthcoming.


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