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Notes from the Garden: Spring 2018

For most of my adult life I have moved on average every six months, and those of you who have lived with me know that I am not home much either. However, the home I live in now has no move out date and for the first time I am learning to set roots--literally.


I've been fondly calling the project the "grand experiment" because I have almost no experience landscaping and gardening and the plot itself has a fair amount of obstacles to overcome.  The space is pretty large and located next to a small open area that extends visually beyond the fence line. While this makes it feel secluded, it also means we have an infinite army of gophers and ticks as neighbors, as well as invasive weeds and grasses.

While I am told there was once a thriving garden here, after a series of construction projects and short term tenets the irrigation has all been ripped out and many of the plants have died. But a dangerous mix of naivety and enthusiasm has propelled me onward.


I started with an assortment of seeds from the prolific Floret Farm early in February, such as zinnia, scabiosa and love in a puff. Then as soon as the seedlings emerged in March I built raised beds from cheap redwood and lined the bottoms with mesh to prevent the gophers from snacking. I then set up a string of soaker hoses to send water to the new plants. And by April the majority of the seedlings were transferred.


Around the same time, I ordered 25 bare root rose bushes ranging from Ivory to blush to deep salmon, including the instafamous Distant Drums variety. I planted these in cages in an area of the garden that already had some older roses from the previous gardeners.

The week after they went in, we had some unseasonably hot days (What does that even mean anymore in California?) and I was nervous they would die before they had a chance to set root. I pilled moss on top of them for those early weeks and sure enough tiny red buds began to appear.

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After all that effort, the most pleasant surprise came when old plants from decades before began to blossom for the first time in years (see the beautiful philadelphus and roses bellow). All it took was a little water.


Now it is late May and my favorite part of the day is when I wander into the garden in the morning, coffee in hand, sage at my heel, to inspect what emerged in the night. The roses are beginning to blossom and I find no greater joy than deadheading them to use in arrangements. 

I am developing a morning ritual (inspired by the podcast Heroine) around pouring coffee grounds into the soil, pruning and photographing the blooms. It immediately connects me back to the earth, to wildness,  to gratitude and to joy.


As we move into the summer months, it will be getting hot here and I find myself more aware of temperature and humidity as it directly effects the health of my plants. Over the next few months I will teach myself more about water regulation, pest management, fertilizer and pinching, and report back!

Farewell until Summer,

Larisa and Sage

Larisa Minerva