Sunday in the garden

By Jennifer E. Beaver

Sunday is my favorite day in the garden. Okay, some weeks it’s my only day in the garden. After a quick look at the paper, I put the world’s problems behind me and set out for the front yard.
Until last fall, I had always gardened in the back or along the driveway. It was solitary, contemplative, a little Zen, very enjoyable.
Then I dug up the front lawn, tossed the grass and went drought tolerant– and public. Now my gardening successes and failures– and my gardening outfit, complete with holey rubber boots– are out there for all to see.
And it’s a blast.
I’ve made some great new friends. Since I’m usually at ground level– crouching, kneeling or sitting– I’ve forged nose-to-nose relationships with neighbors like Sparky the Wonder Dog. Cats are another story. Who knew cats were naturally attracted to ornamental grass? Mexican feather grass works as bed or camouflage, according to Snap and Crackle, my feline gardening companions.
There are some outstanding humans, too: my perennially cheerful neighbor Art, waving from across the street as he tackles his own front-yard projects; Patrick, an architect who lives next door, patiently crafting a drought-tolerant landscape that will certainly be a showstopper; and down-the-street neighbor Selene, who kindly brought me a jar of the most awesome honey after we talked a bit about the Long Beach Lawn-to-Garden program. Seems her husband is a local beekeeper.
I discover something new every time I go out. For example, poppies are amazing multi-purpose plants. They make people happy, fill in gaps, grow without effort and make the whole yard glow with light. I’ve learned that even though we’re several miles from the ocean, we still get an ongoing sea breeze that bends everything from trees to fescue toward the north. And I’ve learned that the plants I put in what I thought was a sorta sunny area will not survive in what is actually shade. Oops.
Thinking about growing a garden you can eat? Come to my book-signing party for Edible Gardening for California on Saturday, May 14 at 2pm at Gatsby Books, 5535 E. Spring St. We’ll talk about how to fill your salad bowl year-round, how to mix flowers and edibles together, and lots more. See you there.

Jennifer E. Beaver, a Wrigley resident, is a master gardener and author of
Container Gardening for California and Edible Gardening for California.

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