Less than a year ago this space in my Southern California home was overgrown with shrubs and trees and weeds and, even worse, shade. A fire burned down the balcony in February and my landlord cleared out some of the old shrubs and burnt wood that polluted the area. When I was a kid I’d encourage my family to stop mowing the lawn. I didn’t want a well manicured lawn, I wanted an overgrown jungle garden: ferns, trees, humidity, nothing suitable for a southern California property. So here we are, years later, and I have this plot of land on a hill and my question is: what to do with it?
If I had a good amount of money I’d buy 20 bags of soil, a couple hundred dollars worth of plants, and take two days off work to landscape the entire thing. I don’t have that money so I’m starting small.
I sprinkled some mixed flowers seeds and various herbs–creeping thyme, rosemary, sage, etc.–across the entire area and gave it some much needed water–supplemented with southern California’s first rain in over six months. Already some sprouts as well as some old weeds have popped up. That’s part one.
Part two has been sort of fun. My property is covered in cinder blocks. Some of them are used to hold back the hill, which year by year gets ever closer to knocking the house straight off the foundation. The rest are scattered about to create makeshift walkways and paths where there are none. The space has plenty of them. I started by adding soil to the cinder blocks and planting some herb seedlings. Some of the seeds have sprouted but I’ll probably need to add plantings to more of the spaces.
I’d like the area to be an honest escape. But what do do with the rest? Everyone mentions vegetables but we’re a north facing house on a north facing hill. Vegetables won’t grow well. A possible botanical garden of medium sun/shade plants? An overgrown herb garden? Or do I need a theme at all? What do you think?
© 2014 Christopher Dart