I wonder how the fabulous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the world, were tended. Why do I wonder this? Because my garden is so fucking steep, it's a miracle I'm still alive today. I've ripped muscles and tendons in my shoulders, back, and neck, from hanging on to trees, bushes, rocks, posts, and plants in an effort to weed, or plant, or unplant. Incidentally, Dietes vegeta has incredible earth-gripping power - although if it's a young plant, the leaves might come off in your hand. Which is not too bad, if you're trying to unplant the incivil little fucker because it spreads by underground roots as well as seeds, making it a royal pain in the tuchus to eradicate, once established.
I plan to give it another bash later today. But first, the painkillers. I once lost my grip on a high part of the hill, and rolled all the way down to the road, saved only by the fact that the neighbours had filled their "green trash" can with an enormous, soft pile of various plant remains, on which I landed. On my arse. If I'd landed on my head, my neck would have snapped. As it is, I escaped unscathed, except for losing a pair of glasses, which I haven't found yet, despite scouring the garden regularly. The garden could certainly stand a more aggressive scouring, but there's a limit to what I can do these days.
The weather's unseasonably strange. Two weeks ago, temperatures were in the 90s and as soon as you watered the soil was a-thirsting again. Much of the native speedwell (veronica) simply crumbled like dried herbs, dropping seeds here and there, and the shasta daisies turned brown almost at the point of bloom. Even the calendula and rudbeckia were doing poorly, the flowers and foliage looking dry and burned, sometimes apetalous - just a dark heart, with a fringe of yellow, or a single spear. The only things that didn't mind the heat were the lantana and bougainvillea. The bougainvillea's going crazy. 18-foot spikes, reaching up two levels and creeping under the deck. I must attempt to prune it without losing my life or skin in the process. It's blooming, though, which is pretty.
Last week it was so fucking cold, I was wearing sweaters to work. Forget gardening! It was gray and dreary, and although I did go down and sit on the hill for form's sake, the flowers looked drab and unlovely against the cheerless sky. This week, we started out in the 60s, and today the temperature is expected to rise into the 80s.
The Cecile Brunner bloomed way too early - normally it starts in late May and stays till early July, but it bloomed in April, when we were still getting rain, so much of the bloom was bruised or beaten down, and now it's mostly gone because of the heat.
Meanwhile, the white-flowered oleander is requiring more water to bloom than it ever did before. I wonder why?
The bees are so few in number this year! We seem to have an abundance of spiders, damselflies, skippers, and moths. Not so many butterflies, although an anise swallowtail has clearly laid eggs. And birds we have aplenty. The buddleia is setting buds, which is good. I must clip back the invasive blackberry and nettle and try to strip off the dead anise from the very top of the hill (I really need mountainclimbing gear to do this!).
I'll try to take pleasure in the still-blooming blue flax (most of the scarlet variety died), the calendula, rudbeckia, yellow cosmos, Shasta daisies, corn poppy, bougainvillea, toadflax, and the glorious, glorious California poppies!
I come, Grimalkin! I mean, garden!