Tag Archives: learning to garden

The Gardener’s Apprentice: Braiding Daffodils

daffodils

I want a garden.  Bad.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived in apartments virtually all of my life.  I just love the idea of helping things to grow, and at this point I’m seriously craving some land to grow fruits, veggies, and flowers on.  The problem?  The staggering real estate costs here in Southern California.  I’ve lived in California all my life, but can’t afford property here.  (sigh)  We currently live in an apartment and our small (third story) patio is the daytime play area for our rabbits.  What’s a girl wanting to work in a garden to do?  Borrow someone else’s!

I’ve dubbed myself the Gardener’s Apprentice
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I found a listing on Craigslist that is helping me get my garden fix without having property myself.  A nice woman who lives about 20 minutes away has a large front and back yard, planted with both flowers and edibles.  She even has a small flock of seven chickens – something else I hope to have some day.  For her privacy, I’ll refer to this nice gardening lady as C.

C was in search of someone to help her with her yard – what luck for us both!  In exchange for helping her out, I’ll get to learn from an experienced gardener and plant enthusiast.  I’ll also reap some tangible rewards – goodies of C’s choosing that will come from her yard and/or chickens.

Starting Out
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I met C for the first time last week, and we started with a tour of the property.  I got to meet her hubby, two darling doggies, and the chickens (no rooster).  We got to work that very day!  We worked in a small section on the front edge of her yard.  While many of the plants in that section are flourishing and blooming, some bulbs were spent – like the daffodils and freesias.

The daffodil leaves are still green, but they’re laying flat and were a bit of a mess. Rather than cut the leaves back now, like we did with the freesias, C had me braid the stems of the daffodils.  (See photo at top) This way the leaves are tidy and out of the way while the bulb stores a bit more of their plant-y goodness in preparation for next year’s bloom.  Once the greens are dried out the braids can be cut off quickly and easily.

freesia_daffodil_bulbs1

We also dug up several small freesia bulbs that had multiplied and were taking over.  They were crowding out mini roses and other plants, so C and I used a trowel to loosen the dirt before digging through with our gloved fingers.  Geez – there were dozens!  We also pulled out some grasses and weeds that didn’t belong, and when we stopped working the section looked much tidier.  C let me take some of the bulbs we pulled out for my father-in-law.  He has quite a green thumb.
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chickens

She also gave me some Aztec Lily bulbs and six fresh eggs her chickens had laid.  Lucky me!  The eggs were beautiful, in a range of colors and sizes.  The egg yolks are much bigger and are a much deeper golden yellow than store bought eggs – even when compared to cage-free eggs.  The eggs were scrumptious, and I’m definitely a fan of C’s flock.  :]

eggs

My Second Visit
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We focused on the front yard again during my second visit.  We started by trimming and thinning a thicket of wisteria that grows in a planter that divides C’s driveway from the property next door.  Sweet Pea vines also grow in the thicket, but we just wove those lovelies back into the mix.

The rest of our time was spent pulling the dried leaves off of bulb-based plants.  The plants in question surround two small trees that live in two earthen squares on their front sidewalk.  Day lilies reside in each of the four corners of the planters, and “Naked Ladies” fill in the rest.  These “Naked Lady” plants belonged to C’s grandmother back in the day, and have been transplanted onto her property.  I think that’s so sweet. I love the idea of plants being shared by multiple generations.  The plant blooms in July with no leaves on it – just the “naked” flower stem.  Thus the name…

bouquet

My special treat for helping C that day was a gorgeous bouquet of flowers that she cut fresh from her yard. The bouquet contains several types of roses (at least six different varieties), calla lilies, and Peruvian lilies. The photo below is a closeup of the bouquet taken a day after I brought it home.  The gorgeous red and white rose is known as a Betty Boop!

bouquet_detail

Thinking Outside of the Box
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I still want a garden and chickens of my own, but am so glad I’ve met C and get to spend some time learning and helping her.  My next “gardening appointment” is set for Thursday, and I’ll happily be putting on sunblock, a wide-brimmed hat, and some gardening gloves – ready to learn by doing.

I have no idea how long my “garden apprenticeship” last.  I do know that while this arrangement is just scratching the surface in terms of what I’d like to learn and do, it is a start.  I’m glad I thought outside of the box instead of just moping about what I don’t have.  Taking chances and trying something – anything – can lead you to something unexpectedly wonderful.  Like braiding daffodils…

Warm regards,
Melody

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