Saturday, July 28, 2007

Putting Down Roots

...


I'm a gardener. In every place that I've lived, if there was even the smallest scrap of unwanted dirt, I created a garden. I've tried to plant tough, happy plants that would take care of themselves, even if the next fifteen people who moved in had no interest in gardening.

When I'm digging around in the dirt and helping improve the health of plants, I feel that everything is right in the world. I'm particularly happy to get the chance to set a neglected garden back in order. I love pulling out weeds, and giving plants some breathing space.

About a year ago, I was given access to a trash filled plot of dirt behind my studio. It was a truly disgusting place, filled with unimaginable amounts of garbage. I haven't always had as much time as I would like to devote to the garden, and I'm still not so sure about how to garden in Northern California, but even so, things look good.

I set out to plant a (mostly) native garden, that would be a tiny oasis for birds and insects. Although the butterflies have not discovered the buckwheat I've planted, many other critters can be found in my little corner of industrial West Oakland.

It is good to create a space like this. I've really enjoyed turning a horrible mess into something happy and thriving. Seems obviously metaphorical, doesn't it?



Like that bee? She was exploring the flowers that I had planted in the wrecked wheelbarrows that I dragged out of the garden. I had never seen a green bee before yesterday. And she even stayed put long enough for me to grab my camera!

11 comments:

Gina said...

The bee, the flower, your pic -- lovely. Any idea what kind of bee that is?

You should know I always think of you as I walk past your old apartment on St. Paul Street on my way to Eddie's and marvel at the size of the tree you planted and the hardy flowers that still blossom in full in-your-face rebellious beauty in spite of years of neglect from the itinerate Hopkins students that occupy the building. Makes me think of you every time I pass. Just so you know, the OCD lady up the street from your old place still carefully trims her carpet of white flowery foliage with a tiny scissors, though she's not nearly as obssessive about it as when you were here, so I'm not nearly as tempted to mess with her by inflicting late night guerilla gardening of the lush and Watteau variety in her carefully manicured front plot.

Got any pictures of the full garden you created? I remember the trashy, rat-infested space from last summer and would love to see what it looks like now!

xo
Gina

Anonymous said...

Yes, please share pictures. I was hoping to scroll further down to find some of your amazing photos. You can't disappoint your adoring fans!
Buggylou

Anonymous said...

Awesome picture. Love the bee!

~Baby Bookworm

Anonymous said...

That's a BEE? Cool!

Here's some more horticultural oddities from your neck of the proverbial urban woods...

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_6488641?source=rss

-wassamatta_u

Anonymous said...

Love the garden picture, thanks!

Put a birdhouse in the garden and watch even more critters show up!

How are you fixed for manure? (besides the rat manure, eh) The alpaca manure I got from my neighbors seems to be doing its job, I've got teeny tiny squashes, cucumbers and cherry tomatos growing. Also red indian corn that is up to my knee.

The neighborhood robins seem to like everything we plant, and so help out with the bug situation. I just wish they could pull weeds. Do you fertilize your garden at all?

Annalisa

Anonymous said...

PS- I think that if you can have a lot of rainfall directed into your garden patch, your location would be perfect for growing gourds.

Annalisa

Anonymous said...

Hollyhocks are healthy at the farm. Kitties love to sleep under their blooms. I was there to see it! You leave something lovely wherever you do some digging. You're good for the earth.
SP

dorks anonymous said...

Our little house came with a little bit of garden ground, and I dug in it today. The transplanted soon becomes the native, and no one thinks any different of it. We have an extra bedroom if you guys decide to come up for the campout next year... Missing you, Hunter

Anonymous said...

How about that green bee? Glad your garden is lovely---for some fun and unique stuff that thrives in our California clime, I've had good luck with some items from Annie's Annuals (there are some perennials there too). I do believe they are on your side of the bay, though many good nurserys have stuff from them.

It really is quite magical, photosynthesis and all-- I am truly amazed by it as I hack through the overgrowth of wisteria here in my yard...

Anna

Anonymous said...

http://bugguide.net/node/view/7997/bgimage

Ish

knitica said...

As Sheila mentioned, your garden legacy is strong at the farmhouse. Hollyhocks, bee balm, decorative sweet peas, and a lot of stuff I don't know the name of, but you planted, still thrives. And of course the peonies, day lillies, and lilacs that have been there forever. We really planted the garden this year too, with lettuce, tomatoes (as usual not ready before we left, but grilled green tomatoes were great), beans, basil, parsley, oregeno, thyme, and garlic. I thought of you and missed you with every plant and seed put in the ground and with every strike of the pitchfork. The compost pile you started was all mixed in at the beginning of the season and did wonders.

The garden and the kitties miss you, and so do I.

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