(in anticipation of spring) cleanup

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where to put all those potted plants? A recurring quandary

I asked Marty to drill drainage holes in this metal cart yesterday. Without drainage it was fairly useless, accumulating water and leaves and making a slimy brew of them all winter. When I returned home late in the afternoon, Marty was gone, the drainage holes had been drilled, and I was in a mood to tear into something. So I spent the next four hours or so ignoring phone calls, moving tables and chairs, transferring pots to the metal cart, repotting where needed, sweeping and raking until it was too dark to work.

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A Biergarten table and benches fit this narrow space perfectly.
On the right, the yellow ceramic piece is by Dustin Gimbel — although made to hang, I like it as much on the ground. Wouldn’t it be cool to pull up maybe a 2-foot wide swath of bricks next to the fence and plant Mexican fence post cactus? Something to consider if/when a new fence goes in.

This narrow eastern side of the house has always been problematic. Mostly hardscape, all awkward angles and fences, yet it’s by far the largest, friendliest space for people — if only I didn’t collect so damned many potted plants. And as it is the summer hangout, I need to be careful about cluttering it up. With spring around the corner, and knowing my weakness for pretty new plants, now is the time for a clean sweep and regaining some control.

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good thing the ‘Stained Glass’ octopus agave Marty calls Ursula has soft leaves. The dutch door and fences are full of termites and will be replaced with expanded-metal panels. The two galvanized metal tables laid end to end were formerly display tables at Smith & Hawken, bought when they closed.
Tall potted plant on the far right against the fence is Cussonia natalensis.

About all that hardscape. Tempted as I am to hide that fence with plants, the space is really too narrow and too root-infested from the neighbor’s plantings. And I have to admit, with the rest of the garden so densely planted, this open area does provide some breathing room. The bricks are laid on sand up to the tree, where beyond is a patio of stained concrete. The leaded glass salvage windows are part of the dutch gate and fencing leading to the front garden. I’m hoping to replace everything soon with expanded-metal panels. Anything but wood again.

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Splitting costs with the neighbor, we planned on replacing the termite-infested wood fence (stained dark blue) with CMU masonry, but the historical district says no to masonry, keep it wood. With voracious termites working against us, we might as well put the wood fences into a chipper every couple years. This difference of opinion on fencing material and waste of resources is definitely not resolved…

All winter-long I continually sweep the leaf litter into that little square surrounding the trunk of the Chinese fringe tree, then in spring I use most of the leaves for mulch elsewhere. The pile was twice as high up the trunk yesterday. Thankfully, the tree seems to have finally dropped its last leaf, another reason to take on a spring cleanup. This little square of leaf mulch is also a prime grub-digging spot for raccoons and possums, and they’re welcome to it. (At one time I actually contemplated planting under the fringe tree — see here.)

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same area prior to cleanup, photo taken last February
Small pots were moved to the metal cart.

New spring rules: all small potted plants on the eastern patio must fit on the metal cart with wheels.

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the basics — plants, chairs, tables, people. Making it all fit is an absorbing preoccupation

Now I feel ready to tackle those mail-ordered plants which should be arriving any day…

This entry was posted in agaves, woody lilies, journal, pots and containers, succulents. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to (in anticipation of spring) cleanup

  1. Elainee says:

    Too funny! I don’t think you are the only garden who has similar difficulties. I wish you luck with your new resolutions. Hope you have a stronger back bone than I do.

  2. Kris P says:

    Having previously gardened in a space smaller than yours, I appreciate how hard it is to keep a plant collection within bounds. You’re better at editing than I ever was. I love the pots hanging from a shelf overhead in the last photo. I also love Marty’s name for the ‘Stained Glass’ agave – it’s perfect!

  3. Ol'one-arm says:

    It looks great. Time wisely spent.

    I love all our masonry walls. Wood fences here in wildfire country are just giant fuses.

    My Dad and the neighbor built the one between their houses and 50 years later they are still in perfect condition, last I drove by there.

  4. Renee says:

    I mean, having too many potted plants is only a problem if visitors aren’t careful, right? I do like your cart idea – good luck fitting all the new plants on it!

  5. That kind of rule making by the city (stupid stupid stupid) just boils my blood. Your garden is looking lovely though!

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