Man, was it hot today. We hit 90+ degrees here in Eagle Rock. I didn't mind it so much since it's dry heat (this is the desert, after all), but sheesh, was it hot.
This weekend was a hugemongo milestone for me. Yesterday I went to the Armstrong nursery in Glendale and bought two camellias (one red, one pink) and one vertical growing Japanese shrub. I also bought some special camellia soil. Why camellias? We have one in the back yard that's thriving without any help from us, so I thought the safest thing would be to plant a couple more out front. My gardening confidence is fairly low, so I need to start with something easy, with a decent probability of success.
Shopping for plants is fun. So today I dragged Mr. Octopus to Burkard's, which is a family-owned nursery in Pasadena. Burkard's has a lot of stuff that Armstrong doesn't (fruit trees, in particular), but it's also more expensive. We stocked up on shrubs: a rosemary bush, two blue salvias and two lavender bushes. All drought-resistant and easy to grow.
We got home at 4pm and it was still friggin hot. I waited an hour or two before I started doing anything. First order of business: weeding. Awww man, weeding is no joke. It's so much more than just pulling and yanking. It's squatting, digging, pulling, yanking, shaking, more yanking and more shaking. And, of course, you gotta be careful not to get dirt in your eyes. Weeding is work. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar.
After a full hour of weeding-- and mind you, I was only weeding a 10' by 2' area-- I drafted Mr. Octopus to help me dig some holes. He was a willing party, so I was happy about that. So we laid out where we would put the stuff and he dug the holes. Then we filled the holes up with soil and mulch (secret: you can buy mulch-- it's like nutritious dirt or something, no biggie), dropped in our little plants and drenched it in water. Voila! We gardened!
A few thoughts about the experience:
1. I kinda like it. It's gratifying -- in the way that only manual labor can be.
2. It's a good way to see the neighbors, without having conversations with them. A quick 'Hi, How ya doing?' and you feel like part of the community.
3. I can see how this can get all-consuming. The mere act of weeding can ignite the O.C.D. in you. I can totally see myself looking at my 10' by 2' gardening experiment every day, zooming in on whether those damn weeds are coming back and plucking them before they take over.
4. There's all sorts of stuff you need to buy in order to garden. There's the plants, of course. But there's stuff besides that. I have a shovel (well, shovels actually) and gloves, but I quickly realized that I also need shoes/clogs/crocs, a mat for all that kneeling and gardening clothes (crappy old stuff that you would throw out if you weren't planning on gardening).
5. Lastly, but most importantly, I really hope these things grow. I picked no-brainer plants, so I will be really discouraged if they die.