Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
September, 2001
Regional Report

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Caring for this small raised bed garden outside my office gave me hope as I battled cancer this summer.

My Healing Gardens

I have been avidly waiting for the leaves to change color. I love summer, but this past one has been difficult due to my treatments for breast cancer. All through the long days of treatment, I had the belief that once the leaves begin to change, my treatments will be finished.

Summer Survivors

Because of my poor health, my little garden plot at the Brisbane Community Garden received only the minimum of care. Friends watered for me and, when I was able, I would walk the few blocks from my office to pull some weeds. Luckily, my plot contains mostly hardy and forgiving perennial flowers. The cosmos I planted from seed did well and are providing bright spots of color. All the summer blooming bulbs such as gladiolas and 'Stargazer' lilies I planted before I was sick are also thriving. Most of the herbs survived and thrived without me, except the chamomile, which was extremely bitter when brewed into a tea.

Fall Garden Work

There were some plants that didn't fare as well. The dusty miller (Senecio cineraria) is sorely in need of being cut back, and the ornamental grasses need to be dug up and divided. However, my main concern was for a tiny 'Meyer' lemon tree that I planted in late March. I can report that although the tree has remained small and has a few yellow leaves due to lack of regular fertilizing, it did set a few lemons and the plant is looking well. I plan to make a protective covering from a wire tomato cage and some floating row cover fabric so that during the winter the little tree will be safe from frosts and winds.

A Successful Container Bed

Closer to home, there is a small planting bed in the building where my office is located. When I first moved into this office a year ago, the bed was completely neglected and contained only a few hardy succulents. This tiny garden is all that I was able to manage to care for during the cancer treatments, and it's flourishing. The impatiens are glorious, the Ficus benjamina that I moved out of my office due to insufficient light is glossy and healthy, and even the coleus is peeking through with its cheery leaf colors.

This little area is what kept me coming into the office even when I didn't feel well. The garden needed water and care. It needed me. How can you let something down that is depending on you for its very survival? I'm happy to report that both of us made it through the summer okay.

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