By Barbara Falconer Newhall
OK. Full disclosure. This is my garden, but I’m not the gardener. Not really. I don’t plant things. I don’t do the big weeding. I don’t make plants grow or buds blossom. I leave that to God and Jillian the gardener.
But it is my garden. It’s my special place. It’s planted with the pinks and purples, the soft yellows and splashes of burnt orange that are my personal palette. It has the blousy, unkempt look that
I like, punctuated by interesting rocks — moss, volcanic, sharp-edged local sandstone — and some rock garden classics, isotoma, succulents, snapdragons, blue-eyed grass.
I look at this garden first thing in the morning when I open the bedroom shutters. I peek at it over the fence when I go out to get the mail. I pull the occasional weed and deadhead a fading
blossom from time to time, and on a good day, I might take a few minutes off from finishing up my book to pick flowers and bring them indoors.
It’s mid-August now and the garden has lost its delicate spring look. The Japanese anemones have gone mad. The star jasmine is fat and aggressive with greenery. The isotoma is sprawling out in the spaces between the steppingstones.
And everywhere the wild strawberry vines are slipping their red and succulent fingers between the leaves of their more demure neighbors.
Jillian keeps eyeing those Japanese anemones. Left undisturbed they would march right down the garden slope and take the place over. But I won’t let her remove them completely.
My San Francisco Chronicle colleague, Bob Rothe, planted them when Christina was still a toddler. That means those anemones have been going at it for nearly thirty years, pushing the envelop, grabbing up space in my front yard, staying just this side of out of control. Bob died some years ago. But his anemones live on.
Because I want them to.