Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Making compromises

My husband wanted a dog. I wanted a garden. Wait. I already had the garden; I wanted the garden to remain undisturbed. No digging, trampling or munching, the things dogs do.
Plus there was the issue of containing the dog. Our back garden was already completely fenced but we needed a gate. I wanted a gate that I could see through. On hurried winter days sometimes the only glimpse I got of the garden as I jumped in my car to head off to work was through that slice of space where the gate would go. I had visions of a custom aluminum gate with cutouts of stylized agaves and the other spiky plants I love. Instead we got a chain link gate, and the dog, Lila.
That was almost two years ago. Now I can’t imagine our lives without her.
I’ve also made peace with the chain link gate. It does help that this year I’ve been growing 'Cardinal Climber' Ipomoea multifida on it. Sometimes I forget about the gate and only see the amazing leaves and tangled stems as they vine around and through the metal.
Lila loves to lie at the base of the gate and watch the driveway and street beyond. You never know when a cat, or the mailman, might walk by and need to be barked at.

Because of this I had left the area alone, no fancy plants, just grass and sempervivum. Fairly indestructible when little paws are jumping on them (because sometimes the cat or the mailman don’t go away when told politely too, and things need to be amped up a bit).

On a recent trip to Joy Creek Nursery I purchased a few new sedums (yes that is all I purchased….huge restraint don’t you think?). Not knowing where they would go but certain that I would find the perfect spot.
When I was ready to plant I realized I could essentially double my purchase by clipping off the tall stems of the Sedum palmeri and tucking them in around the existing sempervivum by the gate, and then plant the actual plant elsewhere. Sedum roots so quickly and the tall stems seemed out of proportion to the rest of the plant anyway.
Plus planted like this the single yellow clusters look a little like an aeonium, one of those plants I yearn to put in the ground but is just a little out of my zone. The Sedum palmeri is good to zone 7, so I’ve got a zone to spare!
The other new purchase is Sedum rupifragum, I’ve been unable to find any hardiness information on it. I guess it will be another of those winter tests I seem to be so fond of conducting.
As for the dog and the garden, I don’t know what I was worried about...


  1. It seems like Lila belongs with your garden, they're a pair in my mind. I wanted a garden, and dogs, many dogs. I have found out the hard way which plants are favorite sleeping or jumping spots, and which plants can take it. It's worth it though, the things we do for love.
    Those sedum really do look like aeonium. That's a fantastic mini-landscape.

  2. Ooooh! Love the bright yellow mixed in with the other guys. Remind us to send you a giant box of aeoniums next Spring. You can plant them as annuals :)

  3. Sedum and dogs work well, The dogs even help to transplant it around the garden- diving threw it. Lila is very adorable ...
    my Sedum palmeri didn't make it through the winter...

  4. I loved reading about Lila in the Danger Garden. I hate to admit it, but I get almost as much of a thrill watching cats and dogs scampering down pathways I've built as people using them. Wouldn't it be fun to design an entire garden solely for the enjoyment of dogs?

  5. She is so cute! I have to admit in my relationship, I'm the one who wants a dog, but I also want to preserve the garden...a bit of a catch-22 :-( I love Joy Creeks' selection of sedums, I pretty much want to buy 10 of everything when I go there...and you are so smart to pop off those taller bits...you certainly get your money's worth when you buy sedums. BTW...I am totally going to the HPSO sale...wouldn't miss it for the world!

  6. Lila is cute. The sedums are lovely. Now I am inspired - think I'll go see if there are long sedums... maybe I can double my collection too :D

  7. Seems you have enough 'dangerous' plants to discourage much digging...and isn't it nice that you both got what you wanted and have come to love one anothers choices?

  8. There would be no trouble compromising with that cute face.

  9. Lila is such a cutie.....we'd sacrifice a few ornamental grasses for her! BOL

    Wyatt and Stanzie

    P.S. love what you did with the sedums!

  10. You know what, Loree? The side shot of Lila makes her look like a wizened old woman. In fact Maya Angelou, that's who she looks like.

    I am seriously coveting those sedums!!

  11. Nice little gate :) Lucky you found a dog that respects your plant boundaries!

  12. Megan, I guess you've only ever known me with a dog. Funny to think of that. Since prior to her I wasn't a dog person. Look what she's done!

    Megan, remind you! OMG...I will!

    Linda, oh no!!! This is not what I wanted to hear.

    Denise, now that would be fun! For Lila there would be little tomatoes every 10 feet. Ripe and at her level, she'd be in heaven!

    Scott, if you get a good dog like Lila you can have both. I am amazed. And lucky.

    Evelyn, good luck!

    ricki, so true. And yes lots of dangerous plants. The desire for a pug (or a mix...like we ended up with) was part of the inspiration for the blog name).

    Les, yes she can melt my heart.

    Wyatt, thank you. She is worth it.

    Grace, she is both old and wise, glad you noticed. And YOU need to visit Joy Creek! It can be a 3 for 1 tour with Means and Cistus so close.

    Mary C, we are lucky. Hopefully she feels the same.

  13. What a cute dog! Sometimes, having your dog destroy a couple plants...just allows you to put something new in for a change. Matti

  14. Lila is adorable.
    Can you clone her ?
    I think I am ready for a more 'relaxed' dog after decades of having an over the top Jack Russell terrorist.
    I love the look of Lila's little face. so cute.


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