Life is Short, Buy the Plant


In the past I’ve tried all types of gardening in the Concrete Jungle (herbs, vegetables, small flowering perennials) with limited success. Except for the very top of the fence the area gets partial sun at various times during the day, and this varies also with the seasonal changes. At the same time, the Jungle has been a suburban hideaway for lizards, newts, a Pacific Tree frog, opossums, birds, and the occasional pollinator.

I had five goals this year:

  1. Include a variety of plants that thrive in partial sun.
  2. Purchase three or four planters that can be hung at the top of the fence for any herbs or other small plants that will require more sun.
  3. Preserve the safety of this little wildlife refuge (dubbed “Wildlife Mötel“).
  4. Attract more pollinators.
  5. Limit color choices to white, pink, purple, and green.

Goal #4 required that whichever plants I purchase need to be ones that flower; and, yes, I found many that met the limitations of my Jungle. So I made a list and set-off to visit my two favorite nurseries here in Silicon Valley: Yamagami’s and Summerwinds, Cupertino (which just so happens to be a block from Yamagami’s). As you can see by the photos at top, I did pretty good. At least, Ramses approved! Anyway, a couple more visits and I had crossed-off most of the items on my list…and found some that were NOT on the list but that I just had to have. I also found two cool wrought-iron planters (courtesy of Not Too Shabby) and a hanging pocket planter on Amazon.

Ramses and I spent the last two days repotting and moving things around. We still need to tweak some things and I need to hang the second wrought-iron planter, but the Jungle is starting to look the way I envisioned it.

Moving counter-clockwise from the right-hand corner (which gets the most Summertime sun):

The white flowers on this Arabian Jasmine are insanely fragrant!

In the pocket-planter:

In the one wrought-iron planter I’ve hung and outfitted with a coco fiber liner:

The beautiful blue flowers of the Borage are edible (they taste like cucumber)!
The lemongrass is strictly for my use in the kitchen.
Note that each is planted in black 1-gallon grower’s pots.
I did this deliberately so I can move them around, if necessary.

I moved all three hellebores under this planter, along with a few succulents. Only one of my hellebores bloomed since I moved back, but look at how pretty the flowers are. A dusky plum.

Technically a bog plant, I’ll plant this dwarf papyrus accordingly and bring it indoors when it starts to get cold. (By the way, papyrus is NOT toxic to cats and may actually provide them with nutrients; however, I still don’t want Ramses mowing the poor thing down to a nub!)

The Jungle’s resident gargoyle stands guard over both the papyrus
AND my Alpine Strawberry plant.

I plan to hang the second wrought-iron planter above these two:

Daturas are TOXIC but Hummingbirds adore them!
I’ve always wanted one and consider myself lucky to have found a variety whose flowers are creamy-white tinged in pink.

My “Green Dragon” comes back larger every year…gorgeous!

On the step leading down from the living room:

The flowers of “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” (Brunfelsia) change from dark purple, to light purple, to white before fading – AND it will flower nearly year-round!
The Sweet Woodruff produces small, white flowers but I’m growing it ’cause it’s pretty, has fragrant leaves, and is used to make May Wine.

Finally, an assortment of plants and succulents which get late afternoon sun:

But before we go…in addition to hummingbirds (loving the fuchsia), we’re already seeing solitary bees and hoverflies – both great pollinators! PLUS, hoverflies are beneficial insects, as their larvae can gobble-up large swaths of aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking pests. Ramses and I also wanted to let you know:

Today is World Bee Day

(Although EVERY day should be World Bee Day.)

Until next time, signing-out from the Concrete Jungle.

ℳ –


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