What a busy week! This is the final countdown to the Bay Friendly Garden Tour. Amidst all of the work, I’ve had time to think about my Mom in unexpected ways. Mom was the one who always knew the names of plants and ways to use many of them. I remember this so vividly from our walks in the woods as a child here in California and her stories about “back home” in Indiana. I even have a hand written Receipt for Cancer Salve written by a great grandfather framed and on my studio wall. Her life in rural Indiana was one of folk remedies along with western medicine.
How does this tie in to my own gardening? I know vegetables very well; I payed attention to this part of my childhood tutoring. But I’ve never thought much about the value of knowing the names of all of the plants in my yard, let alone what part they play in Mother Nature’s grand scheme of things. My conversations with people about the non-vegetable plants in our yard have gone something like this.“I love that plant in your front yard! What’s it called?” “Which one?” (Pointing) “That one on the corner behind the rock.” “Oh. That’s the big orange flower thingie that hummingbirds like.”
Then there were the times that I wanted to have a picture version of Google. You know what I mean….you paste the picture of the plant in question in the Search field and Google tells you what it is.
And I’ve lost count of the times I’ve given our landscape expert and friend a headache by trying to tell her what plant I want. She rattles off a possible botanical name and I respond something like this:“You know… It was the one in the middle of the third row when we went down the second path at the nursery 2 weeks ago. It’s pointy and pink but not as pointy as the really pointy ones.”
A whole new world
Part of my “homework” for the tour has been to make a plant list of ALL OF THE PLANTS IN OUR YARD. . . all of them. . .YIKES!
The time was here. . .I couldn’t put it off any longer.
And, in some moment of craziness, I decided it would be a good idea to label them as attractive to birds, , hummingbirds, bees, or butterflies as well as drought tolerant or edible. Was I CRAZY????
You’d better believe I’ve put this off as long as possible. It’s amazing how much time I could spend formatting a label template to use for the individual plant labels. Being the over-achiever that I am, every plant needed a label.
What I discovered was how incredibly interesting these plants really are! With Google as my new best friend, I started looking up the uses for each plant as it went on the list (both the botanical and common names). I didn’t know how many of these new plants have wonderful medicinal uses by the people who originally lived on this land (the Ohlone people) as well as edibles I didn’t know about.
Now I can’t wait to check each one out (this has to wait until after the tour) and keep are record of how the plants serve both humans and animals. Some of our plants provide seed and are consumed by specific birds. Some provide a safe place for nesting and hiding from predators. We also have water for drinking and bathing as well as rocks and plant hiding places for frogs, salamanders and other slithery things.
I have vivid memories of searching for salamanders in my own backyard as a child and can’t wait to share this with our grandson. I also look forward to sharing this list with you as I learn.
Who knew what a wonderful world would open up the day we decided to move from lawn to San Francisco Bay-Friendly gardening on our own little piece of heaven here in California.