Fall Gardening

Sunday, October 16, 2011
Back in March, I wrote about the devastation of my yard due to the extremely cold February we had. Between the advice given by most horticulturists (don't assume the plants are dead too quickly) and the extreme heat of summer, my yard hasn't changed much since then. Well, except for the ground squirrels, but I'll leave the follow-up on that to another time.

I did trim back the dead branches and such before summer hit so the front wouldn't look like a Halloween stage setting. This did NOT improve the looks but, since it was small, it was able to hide behind the larger plant that survived.

Yesterday morning, before it got up into the nineties again (we're having a warmer fall than usual), I got out my brand new pitchfork and wrestled what was left out of the ground. I was glad to see an emitter for the drip irrigation next to the dead plant. That meant whatever I planted in its place would get plenty of water.

Then I showered, dressed, and headed off to Tohono Chul Park's semiannual plant sale. Now, this is a pretty good trek from where I live. It takes almost an hour to get there. But I'm a member, which means I get a discount, and I like to support the park. I was also hoping I'd be able to find the exact same plant that I had. The HOA has a rule about replacing any plants that die with the exact same plant that was there before. I think the intent is to make sure you use desert friendly plants instead of those that take a lot of water, but it doesn't say that.

This hasn't turned out to be all that easy. First of all, I didn't know the name of the bush that was planted at the entrance to my house. I'd made an attempt to find out in the spring with a trip to Civano Nursery, which is no more than a mile from where I live, but a nice lady and I spent a good amount of time walking around trying to match my memory of the plant without success.  I found a picture of it and sent it off to my friend the horticulture major, whose husband is employed maintaining the parks in a nearby municipality. The decided that it must be broom or sweet broom. I did some Googling and that didn't look right to me, but I hoped I could find it at the plant sale.

There were lots of plants to choose from. I wandered around for a while, but found nothing labeled "broom." I found a docent and asked if they had any. He was horrified. He said broom was invasive and I didn't want that growing on my property.

Hmmmm... well, I'd already come to the conclusion that I'd probably have to find a substitute shrub for in front of the door. I had a couple of requirements: it should be about the same size and more cold-hardy than whatever had been planted before.

 So I walked around some more. Eventually I found something that seemed to meet my requirements. It even has small white flowers like the previous bush. It's also supposed to have small, edible, red berries in the fall that the birds like.

I came home from church today and immediately got out my shovel to put it in the ground:
Western Sandcherry

 I'm looking forward to watching it grow.

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A Clash of Kings
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