When I pulled into the driveway after a long days work, I just sat and looked at my new gravel garden.  The turf had been cleared, landscape fabric laid and gravel raked  – the coarse stones washed clean in evening rain, glistening under twinkling xmas lights.  The heavy soil underneath is ready for new roots – they will breathe life in its rigid back, much like healing needles puncturing away the pain.

Gravel, sweet gravel

We have to wait a few days more to make our much awaited trip to the native plant nursery.  The looming xmas season has broken our bank.  Our little party was a success however.  Surprisingly, no one commented on the gravel front-yard – perhaps they were too polite?  Right now, without the plants, it seems like an experiment gone wrong to an untutored eye.  But to me, everytime I see it – I get a little thrill of pleasure of things to be.

Gardening grounds us in the present as we sit down and weed, get mud in our fingernails, pluck off snails from delicate leaves, sigh over scratches made by petulant branches – yet, all the time, our hearts are warmed by visions of things to be and of little pleasures that we’ll gather in our gardens.

The little pots that are sitting in the middle of the photograph right now are Muhlenbergia capillaris “Regal Mist” – destined for the park-way.  We have decided on a row of floating, whispering grasses for the parkway – they should provide a nice contrast to the sturdy, aromatic native plants such as Ceanothus ‘Joyce Coulter’, Salvia apiana and Artemisia californica.

I have long coveted Fallugia paradoxa, Rhus ovata, Rhamnus californica – but decided since I couldn’t have these for the front yard (too large), they are to go against my back-yard wall and screen us from the neighbors.  And I long ago lost my heart to Cercocarpus betuloides, growing out from the mountainside in twilight, it’s thousand furry flowers aflame in the sepia light of the setting sun.  Again, it may prove to be too much for the front yard – so it shall go in the back-yard as well.  I’ll make sure that it’s positioned to catch the setting sun’s rays too.

  Cercocarpus betuloides’ fuzzy flower


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