Thursday, April 14, 2011

An EnSeven Kind of Spring...

YES, it's spring! The leaves on "my" Liquidambar tree are unfurling at a rapid pace. I recently played tree-hugger to make sure the company doing tree maintenance at my complex didn't remove these graceful branches that are the only thing between me and a blank stucco wall. The foreman was sympathetic, so no particular heroics were required...

Another sign of the season: Western Mourning Doves on the lookout for precarious and/or ridiculous places to make their nests. I love these birds; their plaintive call is part of the soundtrack of my life. But they haven't quite grasped the whole "location location location" idea yet...

Moving on down the food chain, I was delighted to see the Praying Mantis egg case that I brought from my house spring to life a couple of weeks ago. The infants kind of pour out the front enclosed in a protective shell, which they quickly wriggle out of. As the first-born get their bearings they can be seen hanging around waiting to make a snack out of their younger siblings! I dispersed a few around the balcony and will be interested to see if any of them hang around; they are very territorial and if happy will spend a whole lifetime in a single bush. Stay tuned...

This was the first spring in almost 25 years that I haven't had a garden to wake up and get ready for the season. It seems very strange. No piles of weeds to the compost pile, no prunings piled in the street, no mulch to buy, no heirloom tomatoes to covet. My big tasks were switching to a lighter throw for the love-seat and vacuuming the sisal rug. I didn't even need to get dressed for that, let alone put on sunscreen, gloves and hat. Strange, I tell you.

But still, there are delights. I love how this cutting of Corylus avellana 'Rote Zeller' (European Red-Leaf Filbert) from my friend Alice Joyce's garden is coming along; those pleated purple leaves! In the garden it would be a massive shrub; I will enjoy it on a smaller scale.

Talk about a great container plant for a shady garden; this Dianella caerulea (Blue Flax Lily) is evergreen, low-maintenance, and is just getting ready to bust out in luxurious bloom. It is a good choice for my balcony because it can take full shade to full sun; depending on the time of year (or the time of day) it can be either.

And of course, there are the succulents, like my favorite Aeonium 'Sunburst.' These are another kind of plant that does surprisingly well in part sun or shade; they will be looser and lankier with less sun, but no less pretty. I find their leaves stay fresher and they grow slower...both good attributes for a small-space garden. And in a low-light situation they need even less water.

This plump fellow has been growing in shade for several years with just an occasional sip of water. My kind of plant!

Dwarf jade plant (Crassula argentea 'Hobbit') is another sun to shade winner: growing about an inch a year it may reach an eventual height of 2 feet, maybe! As the sun gets higher my balcony will get will be interesting to see what thrives this season. I don't really miss all the work of a big garden, really I don't. And it's nice to be able to concentrate on the small details of a more intimate space. Thanks for joining me...


  1. What a wonderful, cozy space. And I LOVE the foliage on the Corylus! Perfect for admiring up close.

  2. My mom and stepdad have alot of those mourning doves in their backyard. I keep getting them confused with partridges.

    And that praying mantis egg looks really big, unless it's just because you were able to get up real, real, close to it.

    My mom and stepdad also live over there in the Campbell area, and they also have alot of succulents around. They are a really good plant to look at.

  3. Great post...I tried buying one of the mantis seed sacks last spring...but either I got a dud or they snuck out while I wasn't looking ;-)

  4. SlendorInTheGrassApril 25, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Praying Mantis! Where would one procure such a lovely item? Inquiring minds wanna know! ;)

  5. Really, always a pleasure to hear what you are up to. Glad to see you and your garden doing well with simplicity.