How many dishes do you wash? Chances are you or someone in your household spends several hours each day at the kitchen sink. We spend so much time there that the space around the sink becomes valuable real estate. It also tends to take on the personality of the person who frequents it most. My mom was always rooting something in a glass of water on the kitchen ledge. I remember once she performed the "avocado pit stabbed with toothpicks and suspended in a glass of water" trick. She was so excited when her little brown "egg" sprouted its first fragile white roots. We had that little tree in our house for years. It never made an avocado, but she enjoyed it anyway. We moved a lot when I was a kid and she always moved her water garden onto the window ledge over her new kitchen sink. Growing plants at the kitchen sink became so popular that in the 1980's some bright enterprising soul developed the pop out window box. Unfortunately, the window didn't always face the right direction for optimum light and plants didn't always thrive there. One of our great Aunts, who was an avid gardener, filled her misplaced window box with jugs she collected from her many travels. It was still a special place for her, even if the plants had to go outside.
In our house the window ledge over the sink is small and holds the odd little vase with dried lavender or maybe a few spring roses. Instead, It is the view from the kitchen window we prize. Standing there laboriously scrubbing pots and pans and gazing out at the mountains that frame our valley has given all of us hours of viewing pleasure. Directly outside the window, maybe 20 feet away, is a gently sloping hill that curves down from the base of a venerable Blue Oak. We built a wall around the curve about 8 years ago and thought we would have a great place for colorful plants to cheer us up as we perform the necessary kitchen sink duties.
It turned out to be a favorite place for our dogs to dig holes. Over the years I have managed to get a few plants to take off there, but the dogs always seem to know just how to make the space look awful again. I finally have succumbed to using a Scarecrow motion detecting sprinkler at the base of the hill to train them to stay away. I have resisted doing this because in order for it to work, it has to be positioned smack dab in the middle of our "kitchen sink view". But, it is done and the hill has been replanted with Magic Carrousel Roses, Tricolor Sage, Grosso Lavender, Santa Barbara Daisies, Transylvanian Sage, and Peppermint Scented Geraniums. I am hoping that once I get the plants established, I can remove the motion detector. Already the dogs will not go up there; quite a feat when you consider the craters they have enjoyed digging up there over the years.
Dogs are not the only unwelcome guest on our hill. There are ants that run up the tree and over to the house. There are so many ants in parts of this garden that if you aren't watching they crawl right up your pants and into your (oh, you know). And these are the kind of ants that stick to you when they bite you; yuck. Of course each spring, when I go to work in this area I forget about the ants and end up dancing like a drunken fool to get them off me. The only way I can work in this garden is to spread a fine dusting of ground pyrethrum flowers on the ground. This works instantly. The ants it touches die quickly and the others seem to know they need to beat a hasty retreat.
It will take some time for the hill to become a perennial flower paradise, but it will, because I am determined to make it so. Besides I don't want our friends to make cooing sounds over our motion detector; I want them to coo over the plants it protects. My Mom wouldn't have had it any other way.