ceanothusActually, this isn’t really a “phase” as such. If you’ll recall the major project we undertook in September to smother our lawn with sheet mulching, that was Phase One. Phase Two, when we plant all our glorious California drought-tolerant native plants, will commence tomorrow. Today was an interim day of rushing around on a last minute buying and clean-up spree before heavy planting gets underway tomorrow at the crack of dawn. It’s also where Ranch Manager Louis’s brain really starts whirring in overdrive. Because the whole master plan of this native garden is residing in his head. And as we rushed around getting all the last minute pieces and equipment, the finishing touches were being effected. Basically, I’m not really sure what the plan is. It will be a big surprise to me when it is revealed. But I have great faith.

Strong evidence that my faith is not misplaced appeared in the back of the trailer with Louis and DJ at mid-morning. Because only the best will do for Maestro Louis, few nurseries or garden stores quite measure up to his exacting standards for plants. Luckily, the excellent Buckeye Nursery in Petaluma does. If you want California natives and you are in the Sonoma area, make that your first plant shopping stop. If you are further afield, as we are in San Jose, well, have big truck and trailer, will travel.

Louis has been working with the Buckeye Ladies for weeks to select the healthiest, most beautiful native California plants. He hauled down a trailer and a truck bed full of them.

Louis has been working with the Buckeye Ladies for weeks to select the healthiest, most beautiful native California plants. He hauled down a trailer and a truck bed full of them.

Many of the plants are wonderfully Seussian. I wish I could tell you what these are. But I told you I'm not driving this project.

Many of the plants are wonderfully Seussian. I wish I could tell you what these are. But I told you I’m not driving this project.

As tempting as it was to want to grab all the plants out of the trailer and watch Louis finalize his design, there was another matter to attend to. It seems Andy and I are the San Jose version of the Clampetts. As we unpacked from all our moves, I wanted to feel I was making progress in the house. So I just threw all the boxes out on to the back porch. Where they’ve been for the past month or so. Getting rained on and generally looking very White Trashy.

Property values have been plummeting in our neighborhood. Time to haul this crap to the dump.

Property values have been plummeting in our neighborhood. Time to haul this crap to the dump.

Luckily, San Jose has a very safe, clean dump.

Luckily, San Jose has a very safe, clean dump.

Unfortunately, San Jose has a dump, where you can take your perfectly clean cardboard that they can recycle for a profit, and they will charge you an exorbitant rate for the privilege of having brought it to them all neatly folded and ready to process. How exorbitant are their charges? Put it this way, our next stop was Evergreen Supply to pick out pavers and decorative stones.

We bought about 1000 pounds of rocks. It was cheaper than the cost to recycle our cardboard.

We bought about 1000 pounds of rocks. It was cheaper than the cost to recycle our cardboard.

In fact, as we raced around San Jose buying last minute equipment, we never racked up a bill larger than our cardboard recycling charge. Good thing we used just about as much cardboard earlier in September as a weed barrier.

The cardboard forms a weed barrier. Here is my Sonoma Ranch Manager Louis trying to convince my neighbor, Gary, that things will get better. Gary is polite, interested but skeptical.

I’d guess underneath all the native plants we’ll be putting in, we’ll have the most expensive weed barrier ever.

So take a last look at the mulched lawn. By tomorrow evening, all will be transformed.

So take a last look at the mulched lawn. By tomorrow evening, all will be transformed. Into a colorful, native drought-tolerant garden.

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