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Truth be told, I’m having trouble sticking with the Plan, big P plan. Oh, I’m weeding and shopping and planting, but I seem to be happiest muddling my way through without a blueprint. But see all that grass up there, I can do better.

A glorious Echium pininana arose in a place of its choosing; a seed that hitched a ride from our Alameda garden. I love exactly where it decided to grow.

Agave 'Silver Surfer' with Verbasicum 'Arctic Summer' pal.
Agave ‘Silver Surfer’ with Verbasicum ‘Arctic Summer’ pal.

I planted a Verbascum ‘Artic Summer’ in my last garden, and the next year it seeded itself next to an Agave ‘Silver Surfer’. A brilliant pairing, and not exactly my idea. I do it on purpose now, but the plant taught me where it should go; it showcased how big velvety leaves compliment rigid Agave spikes.


I also LOVE this combination of Sempervivums and Sedums. The planter was intended as a sink. I found it in the free pile after a street sale in my old neighborhood. All these sedums were rescued from the old garden. I tossed them in this outcast as a temporary measure. There were two free sinks, and I’ve yet to use the second one, but I’ve got plans–in that I plan to use it.

Or is happy accident so often just gardening? Oh sure, I put things in the ground, but what they decided to do from there on is out of my control. And then the next thing I know, gloriosity.

Many of my gardening pals claim that they plant things in random order. I know I do. But I’d be willing to bet, we’re all are busy drawing schematics and scenarios in our heads. Of course, not the pros, who clearly have a more orderly approach, and commit it to paper. But I’ve also visited a number of fabulous professional gardens, and even among that brilliant gang, there’s a fair amount of tsk tsk tsking: that’s should over there and that should be there and my legs are over there. No, wait, I’ve lost track…


With my new garden, I’ve set out to create specific sections. The Hot Bed, The Tropical Zone. The Shade Corner. The Woodlands. My former young neighbor and garden helper, Cayton Carli, saw it right away. She stood in the middle of our yard pointing it all out: that’s the desert; that’s the woods; that’s Hawaii. So there must be some kind of plan if an eight-year-old can see it.

Now I realize I need a thicket, a nice tangly place where birds and bees and bugs can hang out. I hadn’t thought about that initially. But I do like my garden a little wild in the middle, within the confines of a decent borders—same as I like my haircut. There’s a wild thicket just over our fence, kind of a scary mess, but the birds love it. I’d like to lure them over to our yard so I can see them better.


Malus Royal Raindrop
Malus Royal Raindrop

A recent visit to Treephoria which sent me down the thicket path. I just loved the bare bones of their Malus ‘Royal Raindrops’. I may not go with that particular species, though part of me still wants to. Nancy Buley, Ms. Treephoria herself, suggested Malus ‘Golden Raindrops’ might be a better choice. And then Vanessa Gardner Nagle suggested the same tree. It must be a sign. I saw a fabulous Oxedendron arboretum aka Sourwood at Treephoria as well, and read later that they likes a woodland setting. That’s thicket-ish, no?

So for the Thicket layering in to create a sweet spot for wildlife, that doesn’t look too wildly overdone—that’s the goal. I had a general idea, and yesterday paid a visit to Xera. It’s their last weekend for the retail shop until next Spring. Here’s my bounty. It’s going to be HUGE.



If the weather holds the way they’ve been reporting, I’m going to have such a great time planting the thicket, previously home to an old red shed—which mercifully—did not contain a body…