The Lavenders Spoke

This year for the first time I've been diligently cutting back the volunteer lavenders as soon as they start looking past prime.  I feared to do that in the past, hating the idea of cutting back a lavender full of flowers, even knowing this is the way to extend their life and maximize their beauty.  

Trimming the lavenders back did wonders.  They are fuller, bushier, better shaped, the size is controlled, and the subsequent bloom is two or three times what it was pre-trim.  Since the results speak for themselves, the fear is now gone.  What made fear easier to overcome was all the free, volunteer seedlings available to experiment on.  Plus, the trim back is pleasant to perform.  The sweet scent of lavender provides an aromatherapy session.  Remember aromatherapy?  A fad of a few years ago.  Never tried it myself--got it from the garden.

In paying keener attention to the Lavenders that volunteered at the edge of the street...they seemed to speak. 

"We like hot pavement adjacent.  We like the dry.  We like the cut back.  Thank you.  Here in return are fresh flowers."  
 "I am happy at the edge of the street."
The edge of the street at the bottom of the front slope has long been an eyesore. I've never yet come up with a satisfactory edging plant.  The edge is prominent, but the growing conditions brutal: ferociously hot and arid. 

The Lavenders spoke:  "Plant some of us there."  So I did.  The innovation will be:  trimming them regularly to create dense plants of short stature.


The access trail along a retaining wall to the east side slope, packed hard and bone dry, produced plenty of volunteer lavender seedlings this spring.  There was a Lotus hirstutus, too.  I dug them so as to keep the root system completely undisturbed. 
  Along the edge of the street I dug holes the size of the soil chunks.  I soaked the soil in the holes with water so the transplants would have moist soil around them.  After adding the plant I soaked the areas again.  These plants will need some attention, but hopefully not too much, as their roots were undisturbed in the move.

The Lotus hirstutus will also be tried to see if it can hold up as well as the lavenders.  A good experiment.  We'll see how they do.  If the lavenders work out, next winter I could plant purchased dwarf lavenders for a truly short edging. 

The start of July was still mild.  This year the south of France got the late June heat wave we suffered from a couple of years ago, and Anchorage Alaska got the horrible early July heat wave we got last year.  The garden and I continued to relish every mild summer day, but the heat is expected to arrive Thursday.

The lesson of the lavenders led me to cut back the mailbox 'Superb' Grevillea, too.  Another plant that blooms almost continuously, and made me unable to cut off so many flowers.  Lesson finally learned. 'Superb' is sprouting new fresh growth everywhere.

Other voices called.  The 'Easy Does It' roses I was close to pulling out because of their stunted size said, with justified sarcasam, "If you would give us adequate water and fertilizer we'd grow more."

Humbled, I did. And they did. 
 The Garvinea Gerbera said, "If you will please pinch back the Salvia that is covering me, I'll rebloom."   I did, and it did.  
 Several beautiful rose and Dahlia blooms said,  "We're going to shrivel in this heat.  Why not bring us inside?  We'll be gorgeous."  I did.  They are. 
 Perhaps the voice of plants we gardeners sometimes imagine we hear is simply an effective form of thought, or perhaps plants really do speak, because they are invariably right.  

The heat is on today, though it was predicted for Thursday.  Time to paint indoors.  Oy.  I never hear a word from the walls.  A can of latex indoor flat finish never cries. 

Comments

  1. Ooo, the chunkiness of the cut-back Grevillea is most appealing. All success with your pavement edging experiment!

    I too hear nothing from the walls, or the floor under the front hall furniture where all the fashionable dust particles gather. But what's that? A weed or two are encroaching on your four-root circle, beloved spring-planted witch hazel? I'm ON it...

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    1. Thanks. The heat is here though the 90sF hold back for a few more days. Then the cries of "Water! Water! Please!" will begin. Witch Hazels are lovely. There is one growing successfully at the Huntington, I enjoy it every time we walk in that area when it blooms. It's the only one I've ever seen in SoCal--I know them from reading garden blogs.

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  2. I have many Lavenders, and a few will have to be replaced this fall-I was not harsh enough in their annual cut-back.I know better too ! I have to say though , I have never seen a seedling here.

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    1. Seedlings--I'm always surprised. Dumb luck. Some are more ornamental than others, but hey, free! No complaints.

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  3. How hard did you cut back 'Superb'? I deadhead mine regularly but I've yet to cut deep into the plants. I've been hacking away at a lot of plants recently, although I think that has more to do with my need to assert control over something in my life (anything!) rather than a subliminal plea from any of my plants.

    P.S . If you find you're missing the thrill of house painting in 3 or 4 months, I might be able to help to help you out ;)

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    1. I cut a few dead stems on the 'Superb' back to the ground, but otherwise, like lavenders, I just cut back as far as possible without going into bare stem. I think that is the general advice in Australia. One of the other 'Superb's I cut back constantly because it encroaches on the driveway, and that is the fullest, bushiest, prettiest one. They do like a cut back.

      I got a whole lot of garden clean up done when the bathroom remodel was going on, far more than the usual winter activity. Good distraction it was!

      3 or 4 months? Optimistic, are we? ;^)

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  4. I think it is true that plants talk to us. We must be still and attentive to hear them. Your lavender experiment seems to have worked out well.
    Paint never talks but the house talks to me often. It tells me it doesn't like a piece of furniture here or a item sitting there, please move them here or there. Sort of like plants.

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    1. The plants do communicate to those willing to listen. Those who love plants can hear them. Love is powerful.

      My house is constantly telling me to clean it, but somehow I manage not to hear that very often!

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    2. I am 'deaf' to such a thing as a cleaning request. ;)

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  5. Very good to know about the cutting back - both for Lavenders and Grevilleas. Not that I can really grow either well, but it's great to know - especially of how super tough the Lavenders are. It all looks great. Best of luck with the evolution of the lavender edging experiment! Can't wait to see how it all turns out.

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  6. I smiled at your sentiments in this post. There is such a thing between people as body language and non verbal communication, which many people can easily pick on, and sometimes one can grasp people's true feelings...I am sure you are one of those, as this is how your plants are talking to you. Keep on faith with the decorating...similar activities going on here, except some days it is too hot for the paint, which dries too quickly!

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    1. I communicate better with plants and dogs than with humans, I must admit. Humans are too complicated for me.

      Thank you for the encouragement on the painting. I like gardening much better! That room is about 95% complete--just a couple more touch-ups, and washing of the dusty blinds that belong on the windows. Yes when it is hot the paint gets gooey and hard to work.

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  7. I am guilty as well of not pruning enough although I am better about it than I used to be. Lavender in particular has always been a puzzle to me, having never grown them. I did not prune them at all last year and that was a big mistake.

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    1. You have moved to a very different climate yet your new garden is just as beautiful, or even more so, than your previous one...so you must be doing many things right.

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