The spot is too small for that. What's more, the back deck is only a
few steps away. There's already a table on the deck. But the spot is
also too large for a garden gnome, as suggested by "Cereus-validus".
If I put something there besides a plant, a bird bath would be the
right size. Of course, I would need to make sure that I don't breed
mosquitoes in it...
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I tend to agree with Robin that there is a problem with too much water.
Not too much in summer, when you have control over the amount, and are
sparing with it.
But too much in winter, when you have no control over what Ma Nature
provides, and that has been quite a lot recently. The combination of
lots of water, and cold winter is not a good situation at any time for
which requires not just good drainage, but excellent drainage.
I am north of you and have excellent well drained soil, but still need
lavender on a raised area to get it thru the winter. You mentioned that
plantst do ok until the next year, after they have gone thru a wet,
These same conditions are probably not good for the quince, either.
You might try adding more soil of a lighter texture and provide a
berm, or mound for better drainage.
Or you might try something that doesn't seem to mind cold, wet
winter, like New England aster and goldenrod, or maybe callas. They do
in those conditions up here.
And the birdbath idea is not bad either. Near the deck where you could
and the apple tree for cover. I have never had any problem with
mosquitoes in a
birdbath. In the summer it dries up too fast, and the scrub jays empty
time they take a bath!!! You will have more of a problem with algae I
You could plant some low annuals around the area. They would not be
winter, and could be replaced with cool weather annuals.
If you do decide to go with a soil test, you will not get it done at
service in Calif., but will need to find a private soil lab.
Good luck and let us know the outcome
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