Saturday, March 6, 2010

parking strip, part 2

Since writing parking strip, part 1, I've realized that our parking strip is at least four feet wide, not three as I thought last month.* The length is probably about 40 feet. Nevertheless, I've made considerable progress with weeding out the dandelions, petty spurge, and oxalis (collectively 'DPO'). At the same time, I've encountered two more small infestations of weeds whose names I don't know, but they present minor threats compared with the 'big three' and, of course, the annual and perennial grasses that would require mowing if they took over the whole strip. If I can just get the DPO off the premises before they start to bloom, I'll be a happy camper.

My 'New' Sunset Western Garden Book (1979 edition!), says the best weed control is a plethora of wanted plants to crowd out the unwanted ones. That's not as easy as it sounds, especially in a trafficked area where newly planted items seem to attract the most frequent footfalls. I'm still counting on the volunteer dichondra, alyssum, and violets (collectively 'DAV') to fill in areas where I've weeded.

New plants -- Mexican evening primrose and California poppies -- will be planted in the sheltered areas next to the Chinese evergreen elm and two well established jade plants,** but not until after the war on weeds goes into a moratorium to be specially decreed for that purpose.

Meanwhile, I want to say more about DAV -- a meaningful combo for me.

Dichondra or kidneyweed was originally (according to pre-Google belief which I refuse to give up) identified as a weed in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. I can personally attest to Wikipedia's statement about dichondra's prestige during the 1950's. My mid-western parents took to it in a big way, and I was responsible for a lot of the maintenance required to keep crabgrass out of the dichondra and delicate 'golf grass' that comprised their ideal of a SoCal front yard.

Alyssum, sometimes called 'sweet alyssum', is probably one of the most popular plants in this area. When my family moved to L.A's 46th Street. in the mid 1940's, there was a house on the NW corner of our nearest intersection (we were adjacent to the SE corner) with a front yard planted exclusively in sweet alyssum with a tall palm tree in the exact center of it. My mother was fascinated by the fact that the flowers looked like snow from across the street, and she took numerous photos to send to relatives in Ohio. Two generations later, my daughter-in-law Alyssa grew up believing, appropriately I think, that sweet alyssum was planted especially to honor her.

Violets, and these are viola odorata -- the 'sweet violets' of song -- are not so common in this area. When Steve and I lived in Pennsylvania in the early 1970's, people would eagerly pick the earliest violet leaves each spring and use them in salads, and we have great drifts of violets in the lawn at our Idaho 'vacation home.' I wrote a longish poem about their relative rarity in L.A. several years ago. Titled Transplants in L.A., it recounts my learning that violets must not be cosseted if they are to thrive here.

Thus our parking strip provides a virtual memoir for me. In future years, I hope to repress any lingering memories of DPO whilst dwelling happily on DAV. Now, back to the weeding.
*Maybe I should change the title of this blog to POSTpreConceptions, as I always seem to be learning how wrong I was in a previous post.

**Egad! In picking up that link I learned that jade plants are South African natives. Almost every time I Google a plant it's revealed to be from SA. With freesias, callas, myer asparagus fern, and who knows what else along with the jade plants, my front yard seems to be a microcosm of South Africa.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License