When he returns from his vacation, Seth the nurseryman will send his crew to my house to complete the work begun before I left for CA. Mostly, this involves redoing the gravelled area out back at the edge of the patio now turned screened porch. I keep many pots there and want the guys to install a weed barrier under the pebbles. This requires ripping out the old stuff and laying the weed barrier fabric, reinstalling the pebbles and replacing the pots…the three Rs.
The area is bounded with a brick walk on two sides, the heat pump on a third, and the south-facing wall of the house. It has full sunlight until about noon and then filtered light most of the rest of the day. It is one of the warmest spots in my yard during the summer and winter months, second only to the long brick walk along the driveway where I grow chile peppers most years.
Like the tavern in El Sombrero de Tres Picos by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón y Ariza (three-cornered hat), our patio turned porch is shaded by a climbing rose-bush in summer, then open to the full daylight in winter when the rose-bush loses its leaves.
I have placed many pots around this area and filled them with plants that love warm weather and can survive our winters in a warm spot. To make more room, I asked the nursery crew to haul away several containers of mint which I never let escape into my yard lest it overtake it (nothing kills mint). The remaining pots house plants that love dry warm spots, such as Heliotrope, Pomegranate, Rosemary and French Lavender.
When I visited the San Diego Botanic Gardens recently, I noted many of plants in the children’s garden I have tried to grow. The Gardens boasted an alphabet of potted plants, i.e.,”H” is for heliotrope. Thus, I had an AHA moment.
I grew my first heliotrope this past summer and almost killed it with water. I saw that the plants in the San Diego children’s garden were in pots, kept dry and could survive semi-desert conditions.
After Seth hauled the mint plants away, I moved my large Cretan pot with the Heliotrope next to the house…the warmest dryest spot in my yard. It looks shabby now, but I have high hopes for it in its new soon to be improved setting. Here are some photos of the pathetic little plant I have very nearly killed. Being the optimistic gardener, I know it will return to life next year. Meanwhile, if needs be, I will cover it during the coldest spells of winter. (Right: what it should look like in bloom.)