Pampas Pampas Everywhere

pampas grass

Amber waves of grass again

Now I’m worried, having mistaken Tamarind for Tamarisk. I still have a large batch of seeds but I’m beginning to wonder if I leaped into the deep end of the pool a bit fast – or if the pool even has water in it. I turn my attention toward the 200 pampas grass seeds. Dare I hope for good news?

Nope. I dare not. Turns out that pampas grass is a nightmare similar to kudzu. Cut kudzu back at breakfast, and it’s taken the town back by dinnertime.

Pampas grass spreads like wildfire. It’s so pernicious that New Zealand’s Department of Conservation has declared it an invasive weed. Turns out you need a bulldozer to remove good-sized plants. I don’t own a bulldozer.

Here in California, pampas grass comes with its own set of problems, not the least of which is uncontrolled growth and contribution to a significant wildfire issue. The consensus is pest, according to some articles. 

I decide against planting the pampas grass seed.  Since I can’t flush it down the drain – it’ll just take up residence in the septic tank and probably flourish in  months – I seal its plastic baggie and mark it with a big red X for Don’t Plant This. There will be other plants and other seeds.

Sleepless in Pea Gravel

pampas grass

Amber waves of grass

A downside of moving to a new place is the lack of sleep before the move itself. Every few minutes my mind wakes me up with a reminder of One More Thing to Remember to Do – from packing to planning to boxing to repair to orchestrating the actual move.

Naturally, the garden cannot be ignored in all this, and my mind randomly strives to wake me up with ideas about plots and layouts and sun versus shade. This time, twenty minutes ago, it was about the long sunny stretch along the south side of the house, where my mind is insisting that rows of ornamental grasses can provide shade and privacy.

And then it hit me: Swamp cooler nearby. Will provide moisture. Could provide swampy conditions. Might create slushy mess. Might need drainage. Must put down a layer of pea gravel before planting ornamental grasses. And just like that, I’m awake and reaching for the graph paper. Gah!

Like many amateur gardeners, my masterpiece shall spring into place fully formed like Athena – or Minerva if you’re a Roman – or Extreme Home Makeover if you’re a Ty Pennington fan. Move That Bus, and before our marveling eyes appears acres of lush landscaping orchestrated by benevolent experts, not a broken nail in the bunch.

Which raises the question: Is it cheating to use planters out on real ground, away from patios? Or am I just begging for pro gardener scorn by taking the easy way out?

Is Green Thumb a Recessive Gene?

La rencontre des éléments: L´eau et le feu - 2

Roses are red, and orange, and yellow and …

My grandmother’s garden in Spokane overflowed with looming bushes of fragrant lilacs and roses, beautiful pathways lined with lilies and violets, perfectly behaved arches of ivy over soft beds of moss clinging to native stone alongside gracefully curving pathways. All encircled a towering weeping willow that enchanted the back yard with lattices of shade and sunlight. Truly magical.

My mother has caused the desert to bloom along the Columbia River, bringing forth riots of day lilies, daffodils, gladioli, iris and chrysanthemums, an astounding variety of rose bushes that thrive under her care, berry brambles where none should dare grow, apples and apricots, peaches and plums, vegetables beyond compare, and arranges flowers with a professional flair and effortless ease.

I can slay a silk plant in two weeks without breaking a sweat.

Since I’m adept at growing simple things in butter containers, I’m going to start with simple things that it won’t be too noticeable if they’re not blooming like mad.