Blooming Distractions

I’m supposed to be working on my “girl and her dog” novel. I can’t say it’s been going badly, but I haven’t made as much progress as I’d like in the new year. I’ve been distracted by my garden.

One of the things I love about living in San Diego is that I can work in the garden year round. That’s also one of the most frustrating things. There are always a lot of chores to do. I’ve got two big projects going on right now, a fun one and an overwhelming one.

The bad news is that I have an invasive vine. I don’t know what it is but I’ve been told that I can take a cutting to my local Master Gardeners and they can identify it. Will identification help with eradication?

It has pretty yellow flowers right now, but soon, the fluffy seed pods will fly. This vine also seems to spread by putting down roots whenever it comes in contact with the soil, which is almost everywhere. Its long shoots climb the sumac and toyon bushes, tangling in their branches and smothering them as it spreads.

I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever get rid of it. I go out to pull the vines for an hour or so, fill two or three trash cans with the stuff and realize that I’ve barely made a dent in my problem. It’s a long, slow task that I might finish in the distant future with no guarantee of success. A little bit like writing a novel, isn’t it?

Monkey Flower with Buckwheat

My fun project is to replant some of my back yard flower beds with drought tolerant plants, mostly mediterranean and native varieties with a few favorite wildflowers. What I really want to plant, though, has been a bit of a mystery. I have a pretty flowering shrub growing naturally in the wild part of my yard and I’ve also seen it as I walk in my neighborhood. A friend told me it was called monkey flower, but when I searched online for that, I didn’t see any pictures that looked right so I had no idea what to ask for at my local nursery.

I decided to try taking cuttings to see if they’ll grow roots. My five little cuttings are still green, but it will take some time before I discover if I’ll be able to use them in my garden. Meanwhile, though, I searched a little harder and I might have found my plant online at Las Pilitas Nursery. I think it’s called Diplacus puniceus x clevelandii, San Diego Sunrise monkey flower. If my cuttings don’t take, it will be worth the drive up to Escondido to have these beautiful flowers right outside my back door. Perhaps they’ll give me the inspiration I need to sit down and write.


Filed under Gardening, Writing

29 responses to “Blooming Distractions

  1. Kim LePiane

    As always Shary, I find myself tagging along on your adventures… This time into your backyard and surrounding areas. Your writing is beautifully descriptive and your tone is gentle and relaxing, just like spending a bit of time with you. Thank you for sharing… Now I want to know what Monkey Flower looks like!!

  2. Hi!
    Your writing is wonderful and your garden is very pretty! Keep up the great blog and we can;t wait to read your book! 🙂

    God Bless You!

    The Collies and Chuck 🙂

    • Thanks! I do like most of my garden. There are a few places that make me want to look away because all I see is how much work I have to do. I’ll try not to let it distract me too much from my writing. 🙂

  3. You mentioned before, that you have lived in Michigan, so I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed a little glimpse inside your beautiful garden. In case you missed Michigan weather here is the update for you: snow, rain, some more snow, freezing rain until april.

    • Gardening in Michigan was quite a challenge. It was our first house and I was amazed that any plants came up at all after our first winter there. I was used to cold (I grew up in Illinois) but that lake effect snow is something else! I’ll send you warm, sunshiny thoughts until spring comes.

  4. A blooming distraction is a nice one to have. Well, except for the nuisance vine. Good luck with both projects. I battled a nuisance invasion of a plant that took over my property. It’s Mexican petunia and it is sold locally. The former homeowner planted some and it spread like wildfire, choking everything in its path. I finally got rid of most of it, but I still find myself pulling up new outbreaks of it in various areas. As bad as kudzu!

    • How frustrating! Good luck with getting rid of it completely. I’ve got several plants that I’m trying to get rid of, but this yellow flowered vine is the worst of them. I’m sure it’s probably a good plant somewhere… just not here!

  5. I loved hearing about your garden. It’s a bit of a challenge here because it’s so dry. You have to water, water, water – or get plants that need very little water.

    • We have more water than you do, but not by much. Everything is irrigated here. I’ve gone to a couple of workshops on low-water and native plants and there are some really beautiful varieties. I’m planning to replace my water hogs with plants like these.

  6. Sounds like you have a beautiful garden, which is certainly worth the distraction. Such beautiful photos! I especially like the monkey flowers. Go ahead and take the trip. Escondido awaits!

  7. you got me trapped in that story for a bit, nice post

  8. Wow, this makes me long for spring and summer…as you know from reading my recent posts, we’re down in the single digits in Maine and covered with snow. But someday soon, I’ll be joining you in your gardening adventures, and I can’t wait. Still, as you say–it’s another distraction from the writing (not that I have trouble finding those either, regardless of the weather!).

    • In spite of my complaining about the work, I really do love being able to get out in the garden all year. Winter is something I like to visit (thank you for providing that with your videos!) but I don’t really want to live in it any more.

  9. Plants are such wonderful motivators! I agree. And so much of them – cultivating them, tending to them, choosing the right kind for the setting in which you live – mirror the writing world and the choices we must make to cultivate our novels. I can totally see how, if you get your back yard in the shape you want, you’ll be ready to tackle the novel again!

    What a pity that is an invasive vine. The flowers are pretty.

    PS Read your last post about dogs, and I swear my Bengal cats are more dog-like than cat-like. One has extreme separation anxiety when I leave the house. Both follow at my heels. Both love to play in water and fetch… Hmm…

    • I can only hope that once the yard is in shape, my mind will be free of clutter and I can be creative on the page again. If only I don’t find some other project that distracts my attention. I think it might be time to just sit in the chair and work so inspiration knows where to find me.

      Your cats do seem to behave like dogs. Maybe that’s another lesson… we should ignore preconceived notions about how we should act and just be ourselves.

  10. Shary, I can understand why you love working in the garden–it’s so therapeutic. I don’t currently have a garden, but I dream of the day that I will have one again. Whenever I visit my mom, I love how I get to help her weed, plant new flowers, and see how everything grows! I think Roxy would enjoy playing and napping in the garden so much! She’s one of the main reasons I want one so badly. In the meantime, I’ll be content to gaze on your lovely photos! 🙂

    • Dogs do love to be outdoors. Lola goes out in any weather but she particularly loves to lay in the grass on sunny days. We’ll look forward to your future garden, too, because I know it will inspire your exceptional photography and writing.

  11. Anitra

    hi Shary
    I enjoyed this … you write entertainingly about everyday things. I like that. I first discovered something similar in Erica Jong’s poetry about vegetables.

  12. I want to visit your garden! By the way, my husband is a green-thumb. I’ll ask him your question to see if he has any suggestions.

  13. Love the title and the post Shary. Thanks for taking us into your beautiful garden and sharing it with us. I used to be an avid gardener and our yard was always my pride and joy, but since I hurt my back, I don’t get out much anymore and now our yard is nothing to be proud of anymore. So thanks for allowing me to live vicariously thru your beautiful garden.

    • How frustrating not to be able to garden. I always enjoy relaxing outside, but there is a lot of satisfaction in the work, too. I hope you’ll be able to find a way to get your garden back to the way you want it.

  14. Shary, I’m soooo not a green thumb, but it was a treat to read about and see some of your garden. Distractions are my nemesis, too — although not the “viney” kind. 🙂 Best wishes to you on completing your novel!

    • Thanks, Kim. We all have those things that pull our focus, don’t we? Sometimes I think it’s a good thing if we can come back to work with a fresh outlook.

  15. How nice to see your garden while mine is mostly winter dead right now. I’ve. Only been to San Diego once, but I loved it. My brother was the curator of mammals at the San Diego Zoo for ten years a long time ago and we visited him there.

    • I’m glad I could send a few flowers your way. I grew up in the Midwest and spent a lot of time wishing for spring. We didn’t know much about San Diego when we moved here, but we really love it and we feel spoiled by the great weather. I love that you have a personal connection to San Diego’s zoo. We’ve been a few times and I’ve been impressed by its conservation efforts.