When I first came to California, I didn’t recognize a lot of the plants, because so many would never thrive on the East Coast. I started gardening in earnest in 2004, with my first garden. Luckily, my neighbor, a Dutch scientist named Inge Svoboda, knew just about everything I needed to know to get started. She was also generous with clippings and seedlings. I have a great south-western exposure, and, yes, I live in California, so I have it easy! My favorite stage in gardening is preparing the soil: aerating it, getting rid of weeds and nourishing it with compost. Lucky I like it, since this is the most valuable activity to devote one’s time to. I discovered that one can make a garden from found elements: seeds stollen from neighbors’ spent flowers, sharing perennials when someone needs to thin things out, taking cuttings…

Spring “AFTER” pic: Foreground— Yarrow & a volunteer chysanthemum; middle ground— deliphinums, scabiosa, lithodora; far box— strawberries and cherry tomatoes

“BEFORE” pic: the middle box is all ready; front & back boxes FULL of oxalis (you know how hard it is to get rid of those!)

You never know what you’ll find when you are digging around

It’s all about the water here in CA

Mara des Bois

Gardening for free tips

Last harvest before I took down the tomato plants

These just showed up. They look like sunflowers—very tall ones—and you have to dig in the ground to get the tubers to eat. They taste a bit like artichokes—mostly ’cause of the texture, but they are not related.

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