• Rambling around in July

    by  • July 10, 2010 • Summer

    When you go out to the garden, with no objective in mind, it’s surprising how much you can accomplish. Equipped with gloves and clippers in my back pocket, I water and putter with no thoughts in my mind. Sometimes, just start to clip and water and sometimes you take on huge jobs never planned on.

    For deadheading there are no better clippers than the scissor-like ones. Good for lavender, thyme, rockrose, wallflowers, Shasta daisies, yarrow and grasses, they have a spring action just made for plants that get shaped into a plump round cushion-like forms.


    Wallflower (Erysimum 'Bowles' Mauve')

    Freshly trimmed wallflower (Erysimum 'Bowles' Mauve')

    I cut stems off the lavender just above the thickest foliage to shape the plants into flattened rounds, grabbing handfuls of flower stalks and snipping them off just below my fingers. I never liked the extreme round texture of hedge trimmed shrubs, preferring to keep a more natural shape by reaching down further into the bush to trim where the plant ‘tells’ me to.

    Newly trimmed lavender (Lavandula stoechas 'Otto Quast')

    Newly trimmed lavender (Lavandula stoechas 'Otto Quast')

    The Shasta daisies are tall and faded and I clip them off high this time just below the drying flowers. Last year I cut them short and the stalks were awkward looking the rest of the season. For Shastas, coreopsis and our native buck brush, I grab a handful of stems and snip above my hand like a hairdresser would. They work great for snipping the spent flowers on the zinnias in pots on the patio to keep them blooming.
    There is a row of native buck brush (Ceanothus cuneatus) on a lower level of the garden and I find that it pleases me to gently ‘groom’ the spikiness into an undulating wave shape by snipping off the tips of branches, following the original form but adding a bit of civilization. The Yerba Buena (Eriodictyon crassifolium) also looks better when trimmed back a bit and it loses that ranginess it gets after blooming.

    Drip, drip
    The drip system is on now so the job of watering has lessened. It’s enjoyable in cooler weather to water everything, but as the heat comes, it’s a relief to hear the sprayers go on at 6am. I have one line for the front and on the hill above that area and three lines that snake through both sides of the garden from the central main faucet. I’m thrilled with my two new faucets down below, so I could redo all the three lines sometime now that the new faucets are in. Sometime.
    I spent a day before vacation repairing a few of the lines and aiming a sprayer towards my potted plants. If the sprayers become clogged you can use a sharp tip of a pine needle to clear it out. Some pots go into the flower beds to spend vacation. Some of these couldn’t take the extra water and drowned, unfortunately, but I am generally happy that I could replace some sprays with ‘goof plugs’ for plants and areas of the beds that will no longer need any additional water.

    A gardener needs a place to rest

    A gardener needs a place to rest


    There is an old lounge set up under a spreading oak where I can cool down and rest. I have a book here and a water glass on an old table where I throw down my gloves, but I often end up watching the birds and butterflies, dreaming, dreaming.


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.