What To Do In Your Garden While You Wait For the Road to Reopen:
By Suzanne Tolksdorf in Casa La Paz

Unless there is some sort of severe weather or maybe something like, say, a road closure, gardeners would much rather select and plant beauties at the peak of the season than do other garden tasks. Just so happens though that the road is impassable from San Juan Capistrano, leaving our wonderful Orange County patrons in a somewhat forced sainthood of preparing, cleaning and repairing instead of the usual February nursery visits resulting in planting bonanzas that are riotous fun… and sorely missed right now!… unless you want to drive around the horn and come at us from Elsinore. We’d love to see you, and the CHP officer at the light is quite friendly when you tell him you are on your way to your favorite nursery.

Perhaps the greater purpose of this quite irksome road closure might be more prep time prior to resumed planting? There really is plenty to do while waiting for the spectacular reopening of the Ortega Highway from the San Juan Capistrano side. Below are just a few of the things that could keep a native gardener busy:

  1. Have you found a theme, decided on a story that you will write with your landscape? Checking out landscape books and magazines, or simply doodling what you imagine when you think of your own little paradise can help overcome landscapers block. Having a guiding principle will usually result in a garden that feels coherent and peaceful. Although, there is nothing wrong with a botanist’s love affair that can’t be tamed, leading to an eclectic garden adventure, creating its own unique story.
  2. Evaluate your watering method. Have you checked your irrigation system for blockages, breaks and efficiency? Or maybe it is time to retrofit your existing overhead spray sprinkler system with something that is lower flow with less runoff.  Doing this now will help prevent trouble later, after you have put in your new jewels. Nothing worse than mistakenly trampling a new plant while making a late season repair.
  3. Now would be a perfect time to work on weeds before they set grow big and seed for next year’s bumper crop. With all of that rain and a nice warm week that followed, well, we don’t have to tell you what that means! If you get on top of it now, with any luck and a lot of perseverance you can eventually enjoy a less weedy yard. Every weed you pull out saves a little bit of the moisture in the soil for your natives, so you can feel good about any amount you get done!
  4. You could research and find who carries which particular fruit trees and perennial edibles that you want to add into your native-scape, bringing a “local food” element to your garden.  Often a beautiful mix, as the natives provide great habitat for beneficials and native pollinators, helping keep your farmed elements healthier and more productive.
  5. Brush up on your pruning guidelines.  Natives can often benefit from pruning but depending on the species you will want to time it right. And you always want to make informed cuts! Pay close attention to bud directions, overall openness and whether the plant you are pruning has already set it’s blooms for next year!  Also some plants will be fine if you cut into old wood and others may not recover, so again, know your plants.

The checklist can fit on one hand. That always seems doable. Hopefully before we know it and before anyone throws out their back trying to yank out a well established cheese weed, we will be back to smooth sailing along the Ortega from San Juan. As always keep us posted on your projects and we’ll keep you posted on ours. Happy gardening!


Featured Photo Credit: Sarah Bryant, Tree of Life Nursery © 2017

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