Tag Archives: sage plant

Garden Update

My mom and step-father were in town this weekend. They have a lovely home back east, with a very respectable garden, so when they came over to visit the other day I asked their opinion about the job I was doing in the garden. Specifically on the front lower terraces (since nothing else has been dealt with). “Do you like my design?”

Mostly I just expected a resounding and enthusiastic “yes!”

For a while they both just stared. This was disheartening. They were not stares of awe.

Then my mom smiled. “It’s getting there,” she said. “but — ”

“What?” I felt my forehead wrinkling.

“Well, it’s just…height.” She finally said. “You need more height.”

Gah. I could almost hear Mike’s silent cry of victory. He, too, feels that my plantings have been a little underwhelming in the verticality department. Since the other side of the terraces has Birds of Paradise, a Cypress tree, and various and sundry tall, green, frondy things, I can see his point. I guess. The two sides do, right now, look a little, well, ying and yang. My point all along has been that, when my plantings grow to their full size, they will more than stand up to the taller plants across the way. It’s just going to take a while.

Mike, weirdly, feels that ten years is too long to wait for that to happen. “I’d like it to look good now.”

So fine. With my mom backing him up there wasn’t much I could do but acquiesce. I agreed to dig up and move one of my tiny agave plants — heartbreaking! — to make room for something more immediately statuesque. Mike suggested a tall cactus I had bought at a yard sale a little while back. (Five bucks!)

So poor Mr. Agave got moved to a pot in the back yard, where he may very well die from neglect. I broke it to him as gently as I could, (“I know you’re going to grow big and strong some day. But some people just can’t wait for that”) and promised him repeatedly that he would not share the sage plant’s fate.

(I made the same promise, of course, to the sage plant. RIP, little guy).

So in went the cactus.

We supplemented it with some other high-ish plants: one of the cuttings we were given a couple of weeks back, and some tiny succulents I bought months ago. The end result was actually pretty good.

Now the bottom terrace looks downright civilized.  Like a little mini-Manhattan skyline, with the cactus providing the skyscraper element.

Can I admit that my husband and mother were right? Aw, shucks. Why not? It’s far from the first time. And a garden should be a collaborative effort. Especially in my case. If I think I’ll get anywhere without asking for help I’m nuts. I’m an herbicide, remember? Without input from wiser minds everything I plant will die. Or just look like crap. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

On the terrace above my two remaining lilliput agaves await their fate. I will fight for them to stay. I still love the idea of letting them grow in their places. Someday they’ll be large, spectacular, elder statesmen, and even Mike will be glad they’re there.

In the meantime? He, and everyone else, can just focus on the bottom terrace.

Garden Update — Or Today’s Near-Fatalities

For a person who supposedly started this blog to write about gardening, I certainly avoid the topic shamefully. Probably because I avoid the activity equally shamefully.

About a month ago, for instance, I received a sage plant as a housewarming gift. I wrote about it here. I was going to use it as the basis for a new herb garden. One that I would not kill. I promptly stuck it in the back yard — and forgot about it. I only remembered it quite suddenly a night or two ago, as Mike and I sat talking to a friend. I think someone mentioned “sage advice.”

I leapt up with a start, smacked my forehead with my hand, and yelled “My God, I did it again!” I was sure it was dead.

Thankfully — and somewhat miraculously —  it wasn’t. True, my little sage was yellow, thinned, and wilty, but it had hung on, saved by stray drips from our neighbor’s sprinkler system. I mean, really. How pathetic can you get? My plants are surviving on the (inadvertent) irrigation of strangers. If there were such a thing as a horticultural Social Services I would be arrested by now. At the very least, I’d be banned from ever going near a nursery again. Let alone picking up a shovel. Sadly the flora of L.A. have no such protection. (There’s a cause there, for someone who’s looking for one…)

Anyway. This is why I’m planting a succulent garden. It’ll need far less tending than herbs, roses, and the like. But I fear even it may wither at my ungenerous hands. If only I could find plants that required nothing at all to survive — I might grow an exemplary patch. Since that is unlikely to occur, though, I will just have to become less “forgetful.”

Oh, did I mention the mint out front? It’s dead. All of it. They said it couldn’t be done.

They didn’t know me.