Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I was lucky when I moved into this house. A whole lot of beauty grew here in the front yard already. There is a mature crepe myrtle who embraces the west like a woman in love, and this time of year, her tresses flame magenta.

There is a Mexican Bird of Paradise that blooms so brightly it makes me feel like I'm in an overexposed photograph on a postcard from somewhere very tropical.

There are roses, too, a couple really good ones. 

In the process of planting and mulching the fruit trees in the front of the property the last couple years, I removed most of the traditional lawn. In the last few weeks, with the help of my summer garden intern, I've removed even more of it, to finish the process this autumn. Under the apple trees along the path to the front door, I've begun a new bed. In this bed, I'm planting a collection of bearded iris and South African bulbs, drought- and heat-happy plants that put on big floral shows. A designer would choose one or two varieties, but I am no designer, more a mad-collector, hungry for each blossom or leaf that makes me grin. So I put in orders for this and this and this. This. This! The South African bulbs have already arrived and I've begun planting; the iris should arrive within the next two weeks. When I can't sleep at night, which is often, I dream of what this bed will be.

But I don't stop dreaming there. Once I've finished planting the iris bed, the last remaining grass is coming out, to be replaced by a native sedge, Carex pansa, with plenty of rainlilies tucked in for interest. Dianthus, which grows on my property as if it originated here, will butt up against and perhaps even trail into the Carex. Then, upon the completion of that swath of meadow, I have planned a small water feature between the meadow and the orchard, a small one, just large enough for a splash of water and a really good water lily.

This is the first part of my yard that I've planned for beauty alone, not for use or food-production. I believe that vegetable gardens and orchards are beautiful places, but I also believe in places that feed us simply with their beauty.


Pasadena Adjacent said...

Those Iris's are seductive. I went through an Iris phase years back, where a company in Oregon would sell rhimzones in a pre-chosen color combinations. When I left my little shack in East LA, they were what was left of my garden after my (new) thug landlord waited for me to leave for work, and then plowed under all my beloved plants (in full bloom). Ironically, I was painting the CRA art element for the Los Angeles Flower Mart in DTLA. I left my home shortly after that dragging my Iris' with me; and planting them at my mothers. Down to two colors, I eventually dug them up and brought them here where they remain happy and unmolested.

True (long) Story

Stefaneener said...

Not by bread alone, that's for certain. Lovely post.