playing in the dirt

Calylophus drummondii berlandieri

Dogs and landscaping do not coexist easily.  Drought-tolerant landscaping is tougher to kill, though I still do not like the dogs digging under shade trees or peeing on succulents. But I try to keep them out of the front since it became a big dust field last week. This afternoon, Dexter enjoyed a moment of feet-in-the-air pleasure rubbing himself on the very shrub,  a Sundrops (calylophus drummondii berlandieri), my wife was then showing to a family friend.    But the yard has been through a rough month, so I can forgive Dexter for not understanding that.  Several weeks ago,  I got the bug to completely renovate the front yard to show off the two Texas Yellow Bells (tecoma stans)  that I’ve shaped into trees.  It meant taking out a manzanita that had taken over the center of our yard, a Mexican Fan palm (more like a 25-foot weed in these parts), and an Aleppo Pine that on a whim went from a living Christmas tree to a fifteen foot tall and wide, pine tree. I once chuckled that a gardener friend’s yard with random shrubs, flowering trees, bushes, and vines looked like a thicket. But then my words came back to haunt me when I started disposing of all that thicket.

After several years of a gopher-Apocalypse in our neighborhood, neighbors on either side of us created appealing landscapes. Then in March, with the COVID quarantine, the only thing I managed was to “make a start” by removing the trees. ( At this point the nectarine and the Mexican Bird of Paradise, pictured below, will remain.) With rocks moved, trees cleared, gophers moved off, and landscaping design agreed upon, we now have no excuse to finish.

Dirt, Sundrops, and a few drought-tolerant shrubs, are a very low maintenance yard. That opinion is not share by my spouse.

The first hurdle was my ego accepting my spouse’s help.  Yard work has been my stress- relief for almost two decades.  It’s not that I do not appreciate company while I work. Dexter, likes to be outside to watch the world go by. Comet is more content to look out the doorway while remaining within the air conditioning. What was harder for me that first week,  was her eagerness to sweat, eat dust, and finish a task outlasted mine!

Now to get that mulch. A friend offered to deliver me a few cubic yards of mulch, but after a few questions, he agreed that his daughter’s horse ranch manure, was not the look ( or the aroma) my wife was going for.


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