Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Garden housekeeping

As I’ve mentioned a time or twelve our spring has been wet and cold, so I’ve been prioritizing the time I actually get to spend outside, only the high impact things were getting done. Finally, last week we finally had a stretch of dry (and sometimes even sunny!) days and it was time to do a few of those mind numbing garden chores. This is definitely not the glamorous side of gardening, yet it must be done. Unless of course you want to be surrounded by a Laurel forest or have your pebble patio moat lost beneath a sea of fir tree needles (no worries, I’ll explain what a pebble patio moat is). Last summer was a good one for Laurel berries, they were dropping in buckets. That was the first round of dealing with the dropping berries but now they’ve become seedlings. Hundreds, wait no…make that thousands of them. They were everywhere, especially (as you can see) growing through the grasses (they are the glossy almond-shaped leaves). Nothing to do but just but on my gloves and get to work.

Next up the “patio moat”… For drainage and wiggle room we left a 5” gap between the retaining wall and the patio, I later filled this area with blue pebbles and so I’ve always thought of it as our moat. The illusion was somewhat compromised by a year’s worth of Fir tree debris. Time to tackle it before I start filling the patio with containers and this area becomes mostly inaccessible.

The strategy? Wear gloves, drag the pebbles (along with the debris) out of the moat and then pick them up individually and toss them back into the moat, leaving the debris behind. Simple! But time consuming. Here it is in process. Done… Yet to do… It’s kind of meditative, really. Finished with both of these chores I looked up and realized Mother Nature had hit repeat… Those blooms on the Laurel promise more berries, and these blooms (?) on the Fir trees mean showers of more crud raining down on the patio. A gardener’s work is never done…


  1. I often get lost in the tasks that require hours of repetitive work on my hands and knees. Those are my favorite gardening experiences: pruning, weeding, and cleaning. Or dozing in the shade, I like that too.

  2. My laurel bushes are blooming too. I should just pluck the blossoms off but the bees love them so much I can't see depriving them. I hate pulling those confounded seedlings though--definitely not a glamorous side to gardening. Love your moat both before and after. :)

  3. There is a zen-like state I get into when I'm pruning my Carpinus. I wonder if you get into such a state doing this tough, repetitive task?

    Rocks look fab all cleaned up! How long will they look like that? Perhaps you could encase the rocks in a clear resin and then just hose them down when they get untidy.

  4. I'm cleaning leaves out between the Agaves...with gloves. I use long handled tongs like the kind for a bar-b-que. BTW: I love those gray rounded stones. I wish I could afford them. Ours come from Mexico and are $18.00 for one medium size bag! Ugh!
    Thanks for the wish to send us rain. I'll be more than happy to trade you for my bucket load of sunny, dry days.
    David/ :-)

  5. Ryan, I think you just said you enjoy weeding and cleaning? Wow...I know a lot of gardeners who would like to meet you!

    Grace, I really thought it was cyclical (laurel blooms). Since in our (almost) 6 years here I've never seen it this bad.

    Van, definitely when working on the moat. Not so much with the seedlings. Mainly because they are all under and around our bamboo tanks and require serious contortionist moves to get too. The "before" pictures were at least a years worth of build up and maybe two as I don't think I did it last year. We've had a couple of windy days in a row now so they are already a little messed. Nothing like before though. I've thought about trying to find a bellows like is used on a fire to blow the gunk out (since I don't own noisy yard-care equipment like a leaf blower).

    David, I know a lot of people who wish we could engineer that trade! These rocks were expensive too (I think more than you quoted) but since it's a smallish space I let myself splurge.

  6. That must be why gardeners are so Zenny...all those meditative chores!

  7. Couldn’t you use a leaf blower to rid the pebble moat of pine needles and debris? I’m just trying to think of an easier method...

    1. I tried that one year and it just didn't get everything the way this method does. I think because you're blowing towards a wall, you can't hit it from both sides.


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