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what a garden should look like – now

Today I was reading some blogs and articles online at Sunset. It’s my new favorite magazine to read about gardens and design. Although it’s meant for “living in the west” which mostly means California but there are occasionally articles on landscapes in the western states like Arizona or even New Mexico. It stops just short of Texas but then so do most gardening magazines!

I dig this magazine because the designs in California are just so darn free-thinking, creative, inspiring. Landscape design in Texas tends to me much more straightforward and practical and so (as I’ve learned) are its landscape contractors.

Anyhow, today on the Sunset site I read this photo blog about a garden in Arlington, what it looks like now–which is dry and dormant. I love that someone went ahead and wrote about a garden in its ‘off’ season. And the author’s point is that a good garden really never has an off season–

But the Arlington Garden is still a great pleasure to stroll through. It has great bones–it was designed by Mayita Dinos–so it looks good year-round. And what it lacks in color at the moment it makes up for in scent. All those resinous plants releasing their aromatic oils in the warm air.

Besides it feels right. This is what a garden should look like in Southern California in summer. Quiet, dormant, conservative. It’s been a long time since rain and a long time before any is coming. Save your strength.

Ahh, thank you for writing that!

I love this celebration of the southwestern garden, and you can see it in the wild here, the scent of the junipers in the Hill Country wafting through the dry night air. I need to save my strength. Lower my expectations of summertime. Let things go dormant. Assuming I would have resinous plants and then the structure that underlies a good garden.

If I were to show you pictures of my garden at the moment, you would see a landscape laid bare. And it’s not just because of the drought we’ve been having. (I haven’t had a single good rain in 2 months.) But we’ve undertaken a huge overhaul of our backyard.

Since I knew the garden would be a huge landscaping transition till fall, I’ve let go of the need to have things looking prim and proper, let alone healthy. The only plants I’m diligent about are my roses, which I’m now having to water twice a week and deeply. I thought that might be too much but I’ve now almost lost (could be dead, has one leaf on it left) a precious Souvenir de la Malmaison rose to infrequent watering over the last couple months. Needless to say, everything is under heat stress.

The main thing is that I’m building those bones, that will make things feel beautiful to stroll through even in July–although strolling isn’t exactly the most pleasant thing in midday here.