Was it murder--or something serious?
Philip Marlow in Murder, My Sweet

Friday, April 10, 2015

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I've made the conscious decision to let my garden die.

I think the decision process really began last summer when water-rationing started. A lot of people told me I was overreacting, but I couldn't help but reflect my decision to create an English cottage garden in the middle of the California desert was perhaps not one of my most wise or responsible moves.

But I loved my little garden and I'd worked for over a decade to tend it. So I struggled with the idea of just letting go.

In a way the decision was made for me. Because we had a number of broken lines and sprinklers, we cut way way back on watering before anyone else while we decided what to do. And of course part of what we decided to do was move -- and keep this house to rent.

So now I am considering desert landscaping. And really there are some lovely, lovely options out there. It doesn't have to be gravel and a couple of stunted palms. (That would break my heart.)

The new house (cross my fingers because we're still waiting to hear from the underwriter)  has a minimal garden. It's mostly pool and planters. Everything is well-maintained and designed for maximum ease and efficiency. There is a lawn in the front -- a gorgeous lawn, at that -- but because the sprinkler system is well-planned and water efficient, I think we're okay. At least for the time being.

I'm a little sad, but I'm also busy trying to figure out what plants could be moved from pots into landscaping. Lawn is the real culprit. Roses, wisteria...so much of the rest of the garden requires the occasional deep soak. But dichondra, lawn...those are water-greedy plants. So lovely. So thirsty.

And of course there is nothing more relaxing than planning out a garden, so I'm looking on the bright side.

Meanwhile the number of days to closing fly past....


  1. I love that picture! There's nothing lovelier than an English cottage garden, with a cottage. But, i think there can for sure be some compromise in there in that some desert plants or water-humble plants can be so very pretty and colorful. So i hope you find the ones that work for the new place. There's a lot of joy in watching flowers grow and be merry and pretty :-)

  2. As long as you're digging in the dirt and making things grow, I think you'll be happy. Therapy can take the form of many different blooms. Whatever you do with your garden, I'm sure you'll both thrive and you work together.

  3. We didn't let our small lawn die intentionally last year--moles killed about a quarter of the back lawn--but we're thinking about turf alternatives at this point, too. Our city water department is offering rebates (Cash for Grass/$1 per sq. ft.). They also have extensive information and resources for water conservation listed on their website including this fabulous link:


    I know you're probably pressed for time right now with the upcoming book deadline, closing and sorting/packing for the move, but this water-wise gardening site is so worth a look. I'm sure some of the ideas would work for Palmdale. We lived in Albuquerque for ten years so I'm familiar with high desert gardening. You might also check your local city/county website to see if they have something similar tailored to your zone.

    I perused Amazon for books as well, and was then able to check out several from my local library. I've got them at home now. Those titles are:

    California Native Landscape by Greg Rubin & Lucy Warren
    Reimagining the California Lawn by Carol Bornstein
    Lawn Gone! by Pam Penwick

    Hope there's something useful for you here. Enjoy your garden planning!


  4. I think before you let it die out, you shoudl take photos of everything, and save seeds from the plants you are able to. You never know when you will have the time and inclination to redo this garden another time and another place. That way your garden won't ever really be dead.

  5. I think if you let it die and then clean it up really well, you might be able to use the same contours that you used for the next garden. You said desert style – that would still work, and it wouldn't feel like it died on you. You could think of it as having changed into something more in tune with the surroundings, and easier to take care of.

    Gregory Snyder @ Executive Image