Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Several weeks ago, I spied a perfect natural tableau in my neighborhood, occurring without the help of a human gardener.

As I walked with my beautiful dog, Iris, this scene caught my eye, and on my return I stopped to lean on my neighbor’s white board fence to examine it more closely. Sure enough, there it was. It was perfect.

I did not have a camera with me, so I had to observe with my own eye instead of the mechanical one. Here goes!

Just inside the fence, with the midday sun illuminating all its details, was a large, flat limestone slab, dark, with some rubble scattered across the top. It was probably 4 foot by 2 foot in size. Behind it was a gnarled old prickly pear - no blooms, no colorful tunas, just a weathered cactus. Surrounding the slab and the cactus were zexmenia shrubs (Zexmenia hispida). As a result of our ample rains and moderate temperatures, this native is blooming all over my neighborhood.  The combination of light green/dead cactus pads, dark gray rock, and the dark green foliage and cheerful orange blooms of the zexmenia was just lovely.

Lovely groupings like these seem to occur most often by accident of nature. No matter how I try, I cannot pull off such scenes as successfully as Mother Nature does.  But I do keep trying!

Favorite spot in the garden today:

Okay, I did plant this grouping, and it has turned out even better than I hoped! By the stone walkway to the parking area, my husband and father made a bed that circles the bases of a cedar and an oak growing cheek by jowl. With the aforementioned good weather and rain, this bed is lovely right now. It is filled with white cherry sage (Salvia greggii), blue mistflower (Eupatorium coelestinum), and dark blue/purple Salvia ‘indigo spires.’ Queen butterflies (and an occasional monarch) adore the mistflower. As we walk to and from our cars, we disturb them. On a quiet day, we can hear their wings flapping as they flutter around us.

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