Thursday, March 30, 2017

Back in the garden

Truth in Gardening Disclosure: my front garden no longer looks like this - beautiful, that is. 😢 And the house is Santa Monica Blue.

By way of catch-up, three and a half years after his stroke plus the progression of Parkinson's Disease my DH passed away last November 29th. Now four months later I seem to have my bearings, so, of course, I have dived head first into a heavy construction project in the back garden. Dare I say it? I have decided to lay sod.

The decision was so casual. Being tired of the drab gray granite gravel and brown oakleaf mulched beds, my eyes were desperate for some color - namely, emerald green. That casual decision became decidedly weightier when I lifted the first shovelful of gravel. Typical Sherry move. Why pick an easy project when there's a monumental one to be had?

Eight or nine days and 20 or so hours later the gravel has been relocated to pathways on the sides. Brings back memories of the original excavation of this garden except that I'm ten years older - mid-sixties. I can't go all day, only two to three​ hours per day - at least for gravel moving, but I'm doing it and getting in shape in the bargain. I cancelled my YMCA membership today. Those exercise machines are child's play compared to moving rock!

I suppose anyone who does a blog should be well past getting embarrassed by what she posts, but this 'garden' does look pretty rough!
Hopefully, one pallet of sod will do the trick. I've chosen Seville St. Augustine for its shade tolerance and slower, shorter growth habit. It's supposed to be less aggressive about sending out runners. I hate edgers, but I guess I'll need one or maybe just a lawn service.

This is my postage stamp-sized back garden - taller than it is wide or deep. Since I'm always only looking down, this is a thrilling shot to me - done in vertical panorama and still won't capture the treetops. The backyard is 60 feet wide and 30 feet deep including the 12-foot deep patio and the trees which are on the north, a good thing for sun-worshiping roses, but the house is on the south, a bad thing for sun-worshiping roses.

From the other side you can see one of the weed cloth piles. It was guaranteed for 15 years and looks pretty new, albeit dirty. You may not remember but the backyard ground under the gravel is crappy, limey, cement-like sandy clay that was excavated from the beds everywhere and dumped in the back, raising its sea level at least six inches. Now grass needs to grow there. "Houston, I think we have a problem." It is extremely hard and packed like rock, so I thought I would stick it with a pitchfork to poke holes for the roots to penetrate. Ha! The pitchfork didn't even dent it - or rather I couldn't dent it. Then I noticed that where I had wet it deeply it was quite soft and easily broken up - one of the properties of clay, I suppose. So that's what I have to do to the whole area to prepare it for the sod. I think I'd rather shovel rock.

You should be able to see the edge of the remaining gravel, running diagonally towards the upper left. Sadly, I can't go all the way back to the property line (another 8 feet or so) because it's dead shade here, and even Seville needs four hours of sun. Like one sod website said, "If you can't grow weeds, you can't grow grass." My weeds must be special. They grow happily in the shade.

Stacked against the tree (and elsewhere) are the 'decorative' broken cement block pieces that were embedded in the gravel. Like Scarlet said, I'll think about them tomorrow. The neater thing about this shot is that I broke through the planting bed. The hydrangea died - seems that not much can compete with the feeder roots of those oak trees. You may remember that there's a rebar arbor spanning the area with a leg in each bed. Hopefully, the clematis on the left has survived my not watering for many months. And yesterday I bought a bright pink Mandevilla for the right leg. Keeping my fingers crossed that only afternoon sun will be sufficient for it and that it can fight for water...and beat the oaks. On second thought there's an arbor on the other side that would be better for the Mandevilla.

I probably jumped the gun by buying plants, but that's what I do. The side borders are disasters and will probably lose the roses that have been languishing there - except for Louis Philippe which has rebounded to life and bloom after being severely cut back last spring. I'm hoping that lots of water will help the liriope, gaura, blue salvia and white angelonia compete with the big bad trees. (No offense! I love the trees.) I also got a couple of white dwarf Indian Hawthorn with more coming probably and, of course, a 'Sweet Drift' rose. How could I not buy a rose?

I have such bad ground in the back garden that I am so doubtful that any plant will thrive there. Maybe I'll try a bunch of those water crystals around each plant, but from past experience that will probably only draw more feeder roots. Waaah!

So Monday I'll order the sod which should be here by mid-week or end of week. And I should have beautiful green grass by next week. The sod website said a pallet (500 square feet) could be laid in an hour and a half. 

Rolling On The Floor Laughing So Hard My Sombrero Fell Off And I Dropped My Taco

Gardening is so satisfying!
I guess that's why I'm still at it.


  1. It's going to be great! While you're putting in sod, I'm digging some out to make room for, what else, more roses!

  2. More roses is always great. Digging out sod not so much. ❤

  3. Dear, dear Sherry ~ What a delight to see a post from you, I've missed you, but I am so sorry for your loss of your dear husband. It's been 4 years and almost 4 months since I lost mine, faith in God has kept me going and gardening has been a real blessing. I now have 43 roses. :-)

    You sure have a lot of work you are doing in your back garden. I know in time it will look great once again. Shoveling rock, digging up paver bits and working your clay soil is hard work. I turned 68 last week and like you, I can only work 2-3 hours outside in the mornings. My mind thinks I can do more, my body says differently.

    Love, hugs & prayers, & happy gardening ~ It's good to have you back.


  4. Lorraine, I'm so impressed by your 43 roses. I wonder if I have that many left??

    When I get impatient, I keep telling myself I'm only one person who can do only one thing at a time. Then again we never really "get there", do we? So we ought to enjoy the trip which I'm trying to do. So looking forward to the green!

  5. Hi Sherry, I am so happy to see a post from you, but so sorry to hear of your loss. I'm sure the last 3 years have been quite trying for you. Gardening is great therapy. Looking forward to seeing pics of your garden as you revive it. Welcome back!

    1. Thanks, Susan. I just hope I can figure out what will grow in this ground. Maybe I'll just Google. ❤

  6. I had clicked on your blog link a few days ago to see if maybe I had missed anything. I too am glad to see you back and wish you well in all your endeavors, gardening and otherwise. It's gonna' look so good! ... :-)

    Ragna (Roselee)

  7. Sherry, sorry to hear about the passing of your DH. I hope you find comfort and peace this year in your garden (after all the gravel gets moved, anyway).

  8. I just found your wonderful blog site, but also was sorry to hear of your loss. It sounds like you are moving ahead full speed. I admire that.
    Here instead of putting in sod it is keeping out sod for more flowers. Maybe insisting on a state of constant change and different challenges is what gardening is all about? And thank you for your old photo of what larkspur seedlings look like, maybe back in 2014 blog? I had one lone blue larkspur from a WHOLE pack of seeds the vegetable garden of all places. It bloomed for a full month and was gorgeous but nobody else could see it in with the tomatoes. Today I found lots of little seedlings and after checking your photo...Yup! We'll have lots of larkspur next spring! Now I'm going to mark your blog so it doesn't get lost in the tomatoes, too!

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