In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
December, 2011
Regional Report

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Even without constant care, some plants still manage to look beautiful. This is Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha).

The Neglected Garden

I confess to having been neglectful of my gardening duties. I have been looking after a friend in Pacifica who is waging a battle with cancer. There didn't seem to be enough hours in the day to look after both a sick friend and a large garden. The garden was put on hold.

I was able to get down to San Mateo this week after having been absent for more than a month and was surprised to find the garden in fairly good shape. It wouldn't win any prizes, but from a distance it was colorful and nothing major died during my absence.

Weeds and Roses
The roses needed deadheading, but it's time to let them go to sleep anyway. Weeds were taking advantage of my absence, but a quick flick with the hoe had those in the pathways dug, roots and all, and tossed into the compost bin. The beds will take more work to clear them of their unwanted intruders, but since it's time to replant for winter, I will start fresh and dig everything out, one bed at a time.

Veggie Beds
It was a bad year for tomatoes, at least in Henry's garden. We never had any hot weather for longer than a day or two at a time, and the summer was drizzly with fog, so I guess it comes as no surprise. We even planted the tomatoes in new beds this past season to ensure success, but with dismal results. However, the blueberry harvest was exceptional. Too bad the Tenenbaums never got to taste any. I just can't resist plump, ripe blueberries right off the bush. Or sugar snap peas either, but the rabbits always beat me to those. I can't even get the plants up out of the ground before they are consumed by foraging rabbits.

Perennial Care
I cut back the faded astilbe along the shady side of the garden. The hellebores and heuchera are coming along nicely and the hydrangeas still held their faded blossoms high with pride. I couldn't bear to cut them back just yet. The loropetalum looked as if they could do with a light feeding. I will put that on my list. Also, the Meyer lemon tree, which usually carries an abundant combination of flowers, small green and ripe golden lemons, was void of yellow fruit. Only small, green lemons were evident. Perhaps a nice spoonful or two of citrus fertilizer will speed up the ripening process.

The resident Japanese maple trees were in full blazing glory with the exception of the potted Sangukaku on the front deck. It just doesn't get enough water from the drip system to prevent the foliage from drying out during windy weather. Perhaps I'll see if Henry is ready to plant it in the ground.

There was not an apple in sight, even on the ground. Either Henry has been busy cleaning up the fallen fruit or the neighborhood deer population has been put to work doing something useful, for a change. The leaves look a bit fluttered along the edges as if a fungal disease has taken hold during the cool summer months. I will have to give the tree a blast with horticultural oil once it loses all of its leaves.

Overall, the garden seems to have thrived on the temporary period of neglect. Perhaps a little vacation never hurt anyone, not even a garden.


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