The Nature of Our Garden
This site is about our small backyard in Hollister, California where we are growing a garden. We are glad for the chance to show you around but be warned that our yard isn’t grand or even finished.

During the two years we have lived here, my husband Steve and I have managed to remove the back lawn, as well as a cottonwood tree that was threatening the power lines. We hauled in tons of gravel and organic mulch with a wheelbarrow, two shovels and a lot of willpower. As we worked, we tested many gardening techniques and theories that sounded quite wise when read in a cozy armchair in winter. If you too are new to growing gardens then we hope the tales of some of our successes and failures are of help.

Steve has built three raised beds which are used mainly for annual herbs and food crops. There are several evolving perennial beds. I should have better labels for them but I confess I think of them as “Sunny With Good Soil”, “Morning Sun, Keeps Sinking”, and my least favorite, “Hot and Dry in the Summer, Full Shade and Soaked All Winter”. I keep poking the odd rooted cutting or left over seeds behind the back concrete retaining wall and so have a growing list of plants that will thrive in about three inches of horizontal space with no care at all. I have a longer list of those that won’t.

Our garden grows volunteer plants that are too tenacious to ever completely remove. It sprouts wild geraniums in the gravel and borage in places we never had it near. Experimental cerinthe major ‘purpurascens’ languished in its container last year but has reseeded exuberantly in The Somewhat Sweeping Curve of The Path, forming an arc entirely undrawn on the graph paper version of the garden.

A good gardener knows that plants need tending no matter what the weather or time of year. I'm a terrible gardener because I work feverishly on the garden in the spring and then sit back, water and watch evolution at work. Steve makes an effort to create a bit of structure but his time is limited. So in many ways our backyard is quite unrestrained and it uses the opportunity to exhibit a will of its own. But how delightful that will, that impulse of land and life to inter-relate in beautiful and intricate ways we could never predict. Our garden seldom looks as we planned but always looks as it should.

We feel blessed to have this one small piece of planet Earth to tend. We hope you enjoy sights we’ve captured from it during the process, as we do. Just forgive the ragged edges and remember that a weed is what you make of it.

-  Cyndi Kirkpatrick

Text and images Copyright 1998 Cyndi Kirkpatrick. All rights reserved

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