Rooted in Richmond…The End of June in a Small West County Garden

Jun 30, 2011

I am writing this blog entry from my home in the Richmond Hills where I spend the year watching the sunset move up and down the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais from my front windows.  I am an avid foodie and gardener which means that I am more than a little obsessed with growing edibles.  As part of my never-ending quest to know as much as I possibly can about gardening, I became a Master Gardener.  And as a result of that, I thought it would be fun to share my personal West County perspective on gardening with the world.  So, here we are!

My garden is currently in full-blown flower mode.  After some lovely late season rains we have had a couple of weeks of warm temperatures, the combination of which makes gardeners rub their hands together in joyful anticipation.  Clarkias, poppies, flax, lupine, nigella, marigolds, and sweet peas paint a picture of oranges, pinks, blues, and purples.  This is the season where it takes a serious emergency to get me out of my yard.  I want to sleep on my chaise lounge surrounded by luscious blooms.  I want to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on my deck so that I can watch the bees, hummingbirds, and finches zip around.  Reading, email correspondence, surfing the Internet--that’s what they made wireless networks for, right?  So I could sit under my jasmine arbor and watch clouds float by as I wait for files to upload?  Too bad I haven’t figured out a way to rig up a bathtub in my yard yet…

As you can see, I spend a lot of time in my little personal Eden.  This gives me plenty of opportunity to notice the small dramas that play out in the micro-ecosystems of my yard.  It has been fascinating to watch the regime changes that happen practically overnight on my fava beans and lupine plants--it is like watching a remake of Dynasty where all of the overblown actors have been cast as insects.  It always begins with a happy, thriving plant with rich, green leaves and emerging flowers.  Then, the very next day, the plant is covered in a thick, suffocating cloak of aphids.  Just as I begin to hatch plans involving spray bottles and clippers, I notice that the aphids have company.  Voracious lady bug larvae and soldier beetles are literally swarming all over my aphid plants (although for the lady bug larvae it is a very slow “swarming”).  I also notice that there are many aphids that have been sucked dry by some sort of parasitic insect.  Do I feel remorse or sadness upon viewing such a massacre?  Do I compose eulogies and play “Taps” for all of the aphids who met their end in my garden?  Goodness, no.  I do a little jig of joy and thank Mother Nature for predatory insects.  And then I pull up a seat to see who will be next on the green stage of my garden.

By Molly Wahl
Posted By - Mistress Gardener