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Spring Cleaning in July

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

In most gardens, spring cleaning means preparing for spring.  In my garden, it means cleaning away the spring.

Here in Southern California, spring is when plants explode into growth, expanding inches, it seems, each day.  By time we get to the heat of summer (which should be about now, though this summer, we’ve hardly seen sun), plants sink into the slumber that allows them to survive the dry heat.

This is when I do my spring cleaning.

I spent most of this afternoon and evening cleaning my tiered garden.  It was, in a way, like a grand treasure hunt.  I pulled away waves of nasturtiums, revealing plants set into the ground last fall.  Some are most certainly drowned, others may survive.  Only time will tell.

I found baby agaves beneath sprawling wands of a salvia whose name is long forgotten but whose coral colored flowers glow from spring through summer.  Two new Darwinias, the prostrate shrubs named for the prophet of evolution, appear to have a 50/50 chance of survival;  one looks like it will make it, the other looks to be a goner.  How ironic.

Plants uncovered as the nasturtium and salvia are cleared away

Plants uncovered as the nasturtium and salvia are cleared away

Lots and lots of old nasturtium foliage.

Lots and lots of old nasturtium foliage.

The tall, running perennial sunflower leaned so far down from its perch that it nearly smothered the pale yellow ‘Lemon Leigh’ Spanish lavenders on the steppe beneath it.  It took me 20 minutes of pruning to rescue them.

Piles of debris from spring's growth

Piles of debris from spring's growth

My arms are sliced, my hands chapped, but the garden beds looks so much better.  A new layer of mulch and they will be ready for summer!