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SHARING SECRETS: Too Much Of A Good Thing…

Edited by Cathy Tylka, for Let’s Talk Plants! August 2022.

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” - Mae West

This month’s Question:

How do you deal with the “too” areas of your garden? Too shady, too sunny, too far from water, too steep, too utilitarian, too piled up with old pots and bags.

· Thanks to Barbara Crawford for this question.

Lauren Burnet replied…

…I collect epiphyllums and have a small yard so I built a custom shade house. They stay happy.


Jo Tipton asks . . .

. . . My question is: Does anyone know of a fellow who sells dragon trees in or near Encinitas? We bought one from him but we cannot remember where he is located, nor his name. I think he was from New Zealand. Thank you. (If you know, please send answer to with “Enc. Dragon Guy” in subject line.)


Gerald D. Stewart responded…

… Areas that are too shady get plants that are fine in low light, like Aspidistra, Chlorophytum, ferns. Too sunny isn't too sunny for plants that thrive in the sun. In the back field I have a firewall hedge of Cereus cactus, and shrubby succulents. Once established they are fine with no water except from what little rain we get. Too far from water led the far tip end of the acre to be where I planted pomegranates. Once established, they have had no water for many years, yet thrive. Over the last 45 years, too steep areas have been terraced using concrete cottage stones or 6x8x16 blocks, kept under 3' tall for each level. I specialize in too piled up with old pots and bags. They are the easiest of all: ignored.


Tynan Wyatt shared…

…Mostly I just keep playing musical chairs with the plants until they seem happy. I've had a few surprises about who does well where. It has been surprising who doesn't want full sun. A lot of plants do well with partial shade, especially if they are in pots.


R. W. “Nick” Stavos, 92026, counsels…

… I become less "too rigid" and learn to adapt to the garden as it is now and how it will be. Gardens are not static, just like people. Yes, I should be able to see the bones of the garden even as time progresses. Yes, just like people, you can't just let go or your garden will meet the inevitable, death. When that happens you just start over. In my opinion, places like Disneyland try to capture the static garden. Every season they rip up huge amounts of plant material and start over. That is okay for Disneyland because they/we want it to stay "just as we remember it" as children. We also have to adapt to not just the garden's evolution, but to the new reality: hotter and dryer. Water is more expensive, so, some of those areas that are "too" just need to evolve. That is what plastic surgery is for. Again, just like people. You don't wear the same cloths at 40 or 70 you wore at 12.

Somehow it becomes just "too twee" or "too camp". There is something about the maturity that comes with time that makes me "too happy" ;-)

Gone is the grass.

The Indian Hawthorn, Rhaphiolepis indica, is allowed to grow tall and is pruned up. It is not little balls for us.

This one is a jumble of things combined. Fruit tree is about 50 years old, used to be an orchard.


Cathy Tylka from 92026 shared…

… Somethings are dying in the heat and I have worked for years, but their presence in certain areas takes too much care. I am allowing them to die and giving myself some room. That means if you have areas of absence, you can see the survivors better. Anyway, that’s my plan.


Karen England, 92084 remarks . . .

… I have been a very lax gardener my whole life, “too” lax by even the lowest of standards but, nonetheless, it has served me well for 22 years. I am very happy to entertain plants that I didn’t plant in my garden and plants in places where I didn’t plant them. Being a Herbologist means that I very rarely meet a weed because herbs are by definition “useful plants” and not weeds to me. This has meant that these volunteer plants get no care from me and yet they still grow, in many cases giving me flowers and fruits. How I became president of the San Diego Horticultural Society is mystery to me because I have been very vocal about my too lax gardening style, it is no secret, yet here I am. And very happy to be here.

Apologies for all the surprised selfies of me with some of the many plants that I'm growing and using but didn't actually plant just there.


Question for August, 2022…

… We need water for our plants and flowers, however, sometimes, we have to let something go and promote the items that will easily grow. Have you done any water saving recently, that you can share? Have you let a plant go or introduced something new to your garden?


Cathy Tylka, RN, is a retired Emergency Nurse, who found her love of plants and the SDHS merge many years ago. Cathy acted as Treasurer for the organization and has volunteered for many activities. Now, she is more than happy to assist in gathering questions to ask you in the Sharing Secrets area of the Newsletter.


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