The Abbey Garden

So I had a baby, and a few weeks later, had a garden. The former event definitely eclisped the latter, which is why it is only now, two months later, that I am remembering to post about it. Our church's coffeehouse, The Abbey, is now approaching its first birthday, and the year has been good. I have been so impressed by the incomparable genius of Sara Peterson, The Abbey's manager, design maven, and barista champion.
The adjacent courtyard seating area took a bit longer-there were a few minor setbacks. Let it be said that if you are trying to get the county's ear, just build a wall without a permit and stand back. But that's all in the past now, and the courtyard looks lovely. It's a little more shabby chic than I would have done. It's hard to imagine a shabby chic monastic garden, but somehow I think it works-only in California!
So here are some pics of the garden, which opened with much acclaim and pancakes on June 6th.

I am happy with the design over all, and since it is a work in progress (which is a good definition of a garden, I think) I will not kick myself too hard for the things that I would have done differently. Although come winter, I will practive the fine art of Ultimate Pruning i.e. Hoik & Toss. Things to be hoiked include: the dirt in the pic above, cleverly disguised with mulch as garden soil, but actually terrible fill dirt. I meant for this planter (5' x 2') to only have a thin layer of the free-from-Craig's-List fill dirt, but with the volunteer help it was about 3/4 fill and 1/4 potting soil/compost. I was too pregnant to lift a shovel to fix it, so we just planted and held our breath. As a result the plants are pretty sickly looking-the lemon verbena, usually a rangy, ungangly (though fragrant) addition to the garden, is now sporting yellow leaves and almost no new growth. The rest of the plants look anemic and not long for this world. The first rule in organic gardening is to look after the soil, and the soil will look after the plants. In other words, healthy soil equals healthy plants. So I forgot this rule. Just don't tell them up at UCSC's Farm & Garden, or they'll take away my certificate.....

I still haven't got ahold of a few of the plants I've had in mind for this garden, namely; Angelica Archangelica, and biblical hyssop (not hyssop officianalis, as it turns out, but origanum syriacus). I've gone through two verbascum bombyciferum 'Arctic Summer' plants, which is a shame, since this is such a great plant.

I have really loved doing this design, getting to work with amazing people like Bruce & Claudia, The Abbey staff, and all the other Abbey Gardeners out there (you know who you are!)

Current Happy Things


1.Welcome to the Welcome Wagon
by the Welcome Wagon
2.lime popsicles
3.Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince (B wants to see it in 3D. I am unsure. I'm afraid it will bring back too many Captain Eo memories...)
Great Expectations
The thing that really tickles me about reading Great Expectations, besides that it is unexpectedly funny, is that I am unable to maintain any amount of internal smugness upon reading a 'classic'; Dickens wrote it as a serial in a newspaper. It's like feeling snooty for reading 'Prince Valiant' or 'Rex Morgan, MD'. When you consider that most of Dickens' works were published in this manner, as serial pieces for the masses, you can't help but think that despite what we've gained since that time (where to begin?!) we have become decidedly less literate as a culture. (McSweeney's not withstanding!) Here's a nod to a new online mag that is turning the tide: Content. Check them out and tell them Rosa sent you!

1 comment:

Blessed said...

ooooooh, you have inspired me about the need to take better care of my dirt. i have all these plants that are not doing all that great, and there are probably a couple of reasons (not watering enough, moles and gophers) why they are not thriving but seem to be hanging on--but i bet poor soil is the biggest issue. thanks for the conviction!

i love the Abbey courtyard.

and great expectations gives me the willies. i love dickens, but that one is so creepy, i think because of all the havisham (sp?) business that i took as seriously as she and her cruel protege did in the story. only in the most recent reading of it (i think about 2 years ago) was i able to see them and their gothic shabbiness and drama as more pathetic and even sadly humorous, like i might feel about a rich old auntie who has gotten a little batty in her haughty seclusion. anyway, give me david copperfield any day!

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.