WARNING: the following post is probably of no interest to anyone but myself. Now is a good time to read another blog, like 327 market. Or to turn off the computer and go outside.)
We've got a hillside that has a lovely native scrub oak, and it is in danger. I let my landlords put a bunch of annuals under it last summer, and subsequently water them deeply during our long, hot summer. This is bad. Our climate is such that we get all our rain from October to May, and then nothing. No summer showers at all. This oak is native and will not tolerate water in the summer. It is highly susceptible to oak root fungus, and so needs to be totally and utterly DRY in the summer months. So the gardening conundrum is this: what plants will do well under an oak?A.K.A. what likes dry shade? This is a common question for California gardeners. The pool of candidates is small, particularly for our zone (7). Things like arctostaphylos uva-ursi (what a name!) and some of the ceanothus genus might do the trick. Also, we've gotten rather a late start on this job. Ideally, the plants should have gone in the ground last autumn, in order to benefit from the winter rains. It will be tricky, but the plan is to put everything in the ground after the last frost but before the rains have finished, maybe in March or April? It is still a little confusing. But the oak is worth it. I am trying to keep in mind the way the moss looks on its trunk in the winter, with that particular verdant glow that I have only elsewhere seen in a Devonshire field, and how the sun is diffused through its crazed and gnarled branches. It hosts quite a number of grey squirrels as well as the occasional wood dove, and any number of jays, scrub and stellar. It is lovely.