The Lazy Gardener

Spring has sprung and if you aren’t living in an apartment it’s time to take a look at your garden if you have one. Gardening was my Dad’s pastime and he used to love it spending most of his weekends out in our backyard picking weeds and planting flowers. For me, I’ve discovered that while I’m good at landscaping I pretty much suck at gardening.

Before we lived here the wife and I lived in a house we rented near the beach. We didn’t really have a garden there because our landlord lived in a cottage house in the back so we focused on houseplants. We bought several and they did quite well because they were easy to take care of. We had this one that we bought called an aeonium that was a small succulent that I think we paid $1.99 for that sat on our windowsill and was basically forgotten for several years. When it came time to move we were pulling all our stuff together and found it sitting on the windowsill. It was still alive, barely. It hadn’t grown at all sitting in a small dry clump of dirt, but we decided to bring it with us.

Oddly enough for some strange reason, probably that we didn’t have as much room in the house my wife got the idea of sticking it outside. Within a a month it had become twice the size it was when we got it [about 3″] within 6 months it was over 3′ tall and had to be transplanted several times. We had it in such a large pot that on windy nights we would find that it had blown over and a piece had broken off. We have a terraced backyard with brick bulkheads filled with dirt so for the hell of it I stuck the broken off piece in the dirt. It grew. The bulkhead planters my Dad used to plant annual flowers in and that wasn’t something I wanted to get into dropping money into every year.

We bought a few more of the small aeoniums and planted them in the bulkheads and watched them grow. When they flower they keep their flowers for a month or two. The best part about them is they are truly a plant for the lazy gardner. If you water them, they grow. If you don’t water them, they grow. They can take direct sun or shade. They don’t have any pests or plant diseases like my roses out in front are constantly attacked by. They just sit there and make your yard look nice without any hassle. If you want to take a vacation somewhere for a month or two, go ahead they’ll be fine when you come back. If they start getting too big, lop off the big pieces and stick them in the ground.

Very few people around me have gardens anymore. The lawns in front are dried up and the backyards are usually dirt overgrown with weeds. A backyard like that isn’t a place you want to bring your friends out to when you have a nice day and want to have a barbecue. You can have a home that looks like a million dollars on the inside, but if the outside looks like a garbage dump it’s just wasted space. We used to have lawn on one of the terraces in the back, but it was too much of pain for my Dad to mow so he let it go and it became just dirt. I bought some landscape fabric and covered everything up and covered it with small blue river rock and made a pathway with red lava rock to the stairs down to the next terrace. We still get weeds every once in awhile, but they’re just easier to get rid of. We took what used to be the flower beds on either side and added in aeoniums and jade plants which also don’t have a care about San Francisco weather. I can’t even remember the last time I bothered to water outside. We do have two camellia bushes that were planted long before I was born so they probably have roots tapping into some underground lake at this point in time.

If you have a garden, put it to use. Drop some landscape fabric and toss some river rock and plant some aeoniums or jade plants and you’ll definitely bring up the value of your house. Please don’t use it to run your clotheslines to hang your nasty old granny panties out to dry like our neighbors do.