One of my favorite curses in my yard is six bougainvillea plants near the back fence. I say curse, because those things are spiny as hell, and never fail to leave me looking like I got into a literal cat fight. With a cat. Or seven. I say favorite because when they bloom, they look beautiful. And I don't have to do anything for that to happen. They just grow. But therein lies the problem. They sit in the back of the yard, growing quietly while I tend to squash and tomatoes and pomegranates and other things that need attention. But today, I decided the bougainvillea needed some attention too.
When I first moved into this house, these vines were so huge and overgrown that they had grown all over the back side of the fence into the alley. When I walked through the alley one day, it was like a huge wall of bright pink (or fuchsia?) flowers, and it was really breathtaking. But then the neighbor yelled at me for letting it grow out of control, so I promised to cut it back. And I did. To nubs. Seriously, just stumps growing out of the dirt. But like any good weed, they grew back. This time, I was somewhat prepared, and promised myself to train them and keep them pretty and most of all in my yard. It was the least I could do, right?
So today, I spent two hours on these bushes. Two. Hours. In the heat. Sweating like a…well, sweating a lot. And I only got halfway through. But that was enough. I snipped and cut, slashed and pulled, with spiny thorns poking out everywhere. Those bushes really keep you on your toes. When I'm cutting them, I can't help but imagine that these were the vines that surrounded Sleeping Beauty's castle while she slept for 100 years. I could see how bougainvillea would literally grow around everything in its path, and keep any attempted suitors away. I'm amazed more parents don't use it for their teenage daughters. It's definitely a deterrent. Anyway, I made progress. With scratches on my ankles elbows and shoulders, I was saved by a friend who wanted to hang out at the local art fair. So half of these plants are tamed, half are not. The difference is somewhat shocking. So is the amount I cut off. One of these days, I'll be a bougainvillea expert. But for now, I just shoot for not hurting myself. So in that way, today was mostly a success. And the other half is due to be cut next week. We will do battle once again, bougainvillea.
So here is my first project. About a year ago, a friend of mine gave me a tiny pomegranate plant that was just about a foot tall. I managed to keep it alive and eventually plant it in the ground. I struggled for a while to keep it alive, as it didn't seem to appreciate being transferred out of the nice soggy pot it had been in previously. But eventually I prevailed and had myself a thriving pomegranate tree. He grew to be about five feet tall, and then started growing branches that spread a couple feet from the trunk (albeit the skinny trunk). It was then that I started wondering about the size of the tree, and realized that if I allowed it to continue in it's current spot, it would overgrow a healthy portion of my porch and possibly block the entrance to the rest of the yard. Something had to be done.
Now, I'm not in the habit of intentionally killing things. Not even plants. And this one was a special one, one that had been a gift and I had nurtured into the seedling it currently was. So, I decided to transplant it. I've never transplanted a tree, so my first stop was Google, and the treasure trove of conflicting information that is always there. But I was determined to move this thing, so I found a step by step guide and got started.
I dug around the plant as far is I could, which was about a foot in each direction, since the rest of my garden and porch were encroaching on it pretty good. I dug as deeply as I could, hoping I wasn't severing any big roots on my way. I even dug some of it out with my hands, just to be able to feel where the roots were, and if I had dug deeply enough. I put all the dirt that was coming loose on a big tarp, and eventually was able to lift the pom out of its little hole and onto the tarp. I had hoped for a nice thick root ball, but much of the dirt fell away, so I scurried to the hole I had already dug and plopped it in. Then I filled it in with the rest of the dirt and watered the crap out of it. And by watered the crap out of it, I mean that I watered it until there was a three inch puddle around it. I pressed the dirt down to try to pack it in and give the seedling some support, and left it.
Since then, I've tried to keep little pom watered and happy, but very quickly his leaves turned brown and curled up, and in fact, all of him seemed to be curling up. However, I still water him, because I noticed a little green sprout near the base, and I have hope that he might still be alive. Then, a friend told me I could cut it back, so I did. She wasn't very descriptive as to how far I should cut him back, so he's pretty much a nub at the moment. However, I'm still watering and checking up on him, hoping against all hope that he's going to make it. We'll give him some time to recover and keep our fingers crossed. I'll keep you updated. But for now, it looks like I'm just watering a stick. If he doesn't live, I have a guava to take his place.
So a few years ago, I moved into a house with a giant yard. Well, giant by San Diego standards. I really had no idea what I was getting into, but it seemed so wonderful that I was going to have a yard to lounge around in, much like I had as a kid. I never considered the idea that the parents made that yard happen, and I was just a dumb kid that got to play there. Now that I don't live with Mom and Dad, I have to do all that work myself, so there isn't much lounging going on. Add to that that the previous owners stopped watering months before I moved in, and by the time I moved in, all I had was a bunch of dead grass and a whole lotta weeds.
So, I've struggled to get it back into some sort of shape, and I'm actually pretty proud of how far I've come with limited time and a limited budget. I've definitely learned a lot about how to keep things going and alive, and how to work smarter, not harder. I'm still a long way from that dream of lounging around without a care in the world, but it's getting there little by little. So this is the blog about me trying to get there. Get to that paradisiacal garden of my dreams, where I can sit in nature, sipping a cool cocktail, admiring the synergy of nature and I working together harmoniously, with the birds and bees flitting busily around me and the pup. Hopefully there will be some lessons in here that will save some poor soul from making at least one of the mistakes I'm going to be making. Happy gardening!