Friday, August 1, 2014

Wide Shots - August 2014

It's the "dog days of summer" here.  Although our daytime temperatures haven't soared above 95F (35C) since May, it has been unusually muggy, which has made the heat more uncomfortable.  It cools down most nights, which helps, but my garden still looks somewhat ragged, probably because I've continued to restrict my water usage in response to our drought.  Careful as we're trying to be about managing our water usage, it was upsetting to hear about the water main break in West Los Angeles that flooded the campus of UCLA and the surrounding area with 20 million gallons of water earlier this week (and infuriating that the media seems more interested in the impact on UCLA's basketball season than the state's ability to manage its water issues).  In addition, the Bay Area uncovered a water leak that has caused the loss of 25 gallons of water per minute over the past 4 years.  Clearly, individual homeowners aren't the only ones that need to work on their water delivery infrastructures.

My monthly wide shots, undertaken in connection with the meme started by Heather at Xericstyle, continue to be useful to track the changes I've made to my garden, as well as in assisting me in planning future changes.  As usual, I'll start with the back garden, which is looking subdued now that the Agapanthus and the red-orange daylilies have finished blooming.

Back garden, photographed from the back door

A shot of the back garden from the left side, showing the lawn heading into dormancy

This photograph of the back garden from the right side shows the mimosa tree, still in bloom and dropping floral debris everywhere


In the side yard, much of the color is supplied by foliage.

Side yard, photographed from the dirt path running behind the backyard's main border, where Coreopsis 'Redshift' is putting on a show

Zinnias, some planted from seed and some from a pony-pack, provide some floral color but they're struggling

The Amaranth in the middle background provide a pop of red color, mirroring the foliage of Coprosma 'Plum Hussey" on the right and Phormium 'Amazing Red' in the foreground of this photo taken from the side yard patio

Side yard, photographed from the front lawn area looking toward the hazy harbor view



In the front yard, the Magnolia is still blooming in the middle of the dormant lawn and the Bauhinia, barely visible on the left, has few leaves but lots of flowers.




In the vegetable garden, the sunflowers have withered and the corn is struggling despite regular water.  However, the pole beans and the herbs are doing fine.

Vegetable garden, photographed from the driveway



My husband did some work on the irrigation system in the dry garden in July and I've begun removing plants that didn't perform well this year, both of which have left holes in this area of the garden.  However, I'm looking forward to adding more drought-tolerant plants, like Leucadendron salignum 'Blush,' in the fall.

Dry garden, photographed from the entrance to the gravel path looking toward the stairway that leads down the slope

Dry garden photographed from the backyard lawn



The lower portion of the slope looks truly awful.  The drought-tolerant plants I put in down there clearly aren't drought-tolerant enough.  The area needs a major overall.

Ugh!



While waiting for the cooler days of fall, I'm laying down more mulch to keep the soil as cool and moist as possible.  My husband has replaced the sprinkler system along one street side boundary with drip irrigation and we have future plans to convert other areas of the garden to drip irrigation as well.  I also plan to remove more lawn, starting with a section in the front yard.   And, I've got a running list of plant swaps I want to make in the fall on the assumption that this drought will be with us for awhile.  Meanwhile, the birds have no problems with the garden as long as the fountain's running...



All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


26 comments:

  1. Your garden is beautiful Kris, truly beautiful. I love the mimosa tree.
    Even in rainy old England I am relying on drip irrigation this year, although it's raining tonight. We are a long way from the drought situation that California is experiencing, but it's been a dry summer even for us.

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    1. Yes, we all need to be more circumspect about how we use what water we have available to us. I've heard that the rain has been lighter in both the UK (and Sweden too) this year. Whenever there's a significant change like that, it has to impact plants adapted to higher moisture levels. Although we never get much, if any, rain during the summer months here, the big difference for us has been the lack of winter rain - we got just over 3 inches (7cm) in total last winter. The new limitations on irrigation during our traditionally dry summer period are also painful.

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  2. Garden looks good, Kris! Are you hitting your corn with N? Corn is incredibly hungry for N. The tree with the red trunks, is that an Arbutus?

    My Zinnias are disappointing at the moment as well.

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    1. I was good early on about feeding the corn but, you're instincts are probably right - I haven't fed the corn enough recently. Something has also started chewing on the stalks - the damage looks like more than an insect could inflict so I'm wondering if my arch nemesis, the raccoon, could be responsible? (I tend to blame the raccoon for everything but a couple of plants have definitely been chewed through at the base.)

      The trees with the red trunks are Arbutus 'Marina.'

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  3. Despite the drought and less blooms your garden is still look fab! The birds look refreshed and comfy, the gardener isn't with the heats hope you guys get some rains soon. Btw, it is very infuriating when you here stories like that, about burst pipes and leaks especially in the middle of a drought!

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    1. Too much deferred maintenance on the part of some (perhaps many) of our municipalities is the problem. It's annoying because the water companies routinely warn homeowners of the need to take care of pipes on their properties while the cities ignore their own responsibilities in that regard. The pipe that released 20 million (20 million!) gallons on UCLA was 90 years old.

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  4. That is truly infuriating about the leak, especially when you are being so conservative with your water, and losing plants as a result. It still looks pretty good for a garden that gets so little water. I love Echinacea for their drought tolerance. How do they do for you?

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    1. I don't have a lot of prior experience growing Echinacea, Alison. I put in my first ones last year and they came back this year so I got more! I have 'Magnus,' 'PowWow White' and several in the 'Cheyenne Spirit' group. So far, so good.

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  5. Your gardens look great despite the drought. If we had as little rain as you've had to deal with my whole garden would probably be dead. Great job. Lots of beautiful color and textural contrasts

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    1. Thanks, Deanne. Water is becoming a major preoccupation for me so I expect you'll see more drought-tolerant selections in the future.

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  6. It's been incredibly dry here but in comparison with what you experience over there Kris it's nothing.
    What an awful thing to have happened with the water pipes. It really doesn't surprise me that the focus is on the basketball rather than the consequences of such waste! It's appalling isn't it. Your city is not alone.
    I had no idea that grass goes dormant, does this happen all the time or only when you are experiencing such conditions?

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    1. Grass often goes dormant in the late summer here in response to the heat and drier soil, even with some irrigation. Planting a mix of hot and cool weather grasses can help keep a greener lawn. Mine doesn't usually look this bad until late September so I think the reduced irrigation is the key factor at present. I've read that telling the difference between dormant grass and dead grass can be difficult, although, if you increase the water it receives, dormant grass should green up some even if the temperature remains high. I think my backyard grass is dormant but I'm very much afraid some of that in the front is dead.

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  7. The side yard where you did so much work is looking really, really good. I'm sure up close and personal you see things we don't see, but the pictures show a well-tended, lovingly designed garden. Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks, Barbara! I'm working on my fall planting plan. You can expect to see some of my thirstier plants replaced with more drought-tolerant specimens. BTW, for a time at least, I'm going to block anonymous posts in the interest of reducing the deluge of spam I've been receiving. I hope you'll continue to visit even if you can't post a comment. Or maybe OpenID is an option?

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  8. Wow, what a horrible thing it is that all of that water went to waste. Your garden looks immaculate even in the heat. Finding plants that work is just trial and error, isn't it - I'm getting a nice mental list going of plants I will plant in our next house whenever that is, and plants that I wouldn't ever bother with again (or might, if I feel like a challenge).

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    1. I'm trying to be more diligent in my research before I plant, Amy, but I have a collector's heart and, despite my best intentions, buy things I should probably let alone. Planning ahead does help some, though!

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  9. Gah, 20 million gallons?

    Your garden looks lovely in spite of the drought. I've said it before but it bears repeating: the different colors and textures in your garden are beautiful and work so well together. The light in your pictures always looks so wonderful too.

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    1. That news story was seriously disheartening, SweetBay, and made all the more so as there's been no hue and cry in response concerning what our cities are doing to address deferred maintenance issues with our aging water delivery systems.

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  10. Looks good Kris..your back garden is lovely, and what a great place to spend an evening looking out over the harbor lights! I'm sorry for the disappointing performance of your drought-tolerant selections. We advise folks up here that new plantings need regular water for about 3 seasons before they can be weaned off, and waterings should be infrequent and deep to send roots down.

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    1. I've been using the 1 year rule, Kathy, although the slope, in particular, has been allowed to get by on its own this year, which clearly was too harsh. I think I also have soil issues I need to delve into more deeply before I get busy with any replanting.

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  11. Kris, I always enjoy these long views! I especially love the view from your side yard patio. My husband and I were recently discussing how nice it would be to have an irrigation system. We haven't had a drought, but we have had enough hot, dry days to make our lawn look like yours. Your fountain looks inviting! I too am looking forward to cooler days and making a list of things to do then.

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    1. Irrigation systems are vital lifelines here, Deb, but our population isn't always responsible about their use - too many people water the streets and pavement because the systems aren't properly set up or maintained. Maintenance actually takes quite a bit of work. Drip systems involve a lot less waste but they don't work on lawns (another reason I should be getting rid of the rest of mine).

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  12. CA's water problems are unending and so frustrating. Your garden looks like CA in the summer to me. I think it's great! Zinnias want rich, moist soil. They might not be worth growing. Maybe salvia or coreopsis would be tougher. Zinnia aren't the toughest nuts out there. :( I'm still planning on sending you those bulbs this fall. I hope they grow for you! :o)

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    1. My bad on the Zinnias, Tammy - for some reason, I'd assumed they were not only heat tolerant but also somewhat drought tolerant. Not so, as both you and my Sunset garden guide tell me. Next year, I'll stick a few Zinnias in a pot and look elsewhere for heat-tolerant summer color.

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  13. Despite what you say, your garden is beautiful Kris; as you so rightly say plants become used to a certain level of water and when they don't get it they suffer. This summer many plants have put on a lot of new growth because of the lower temperatures and the large amount of rain; I do wonder what will happen to that growth if the drought is as usual next year, it is possible that the roots won't be able to cope with the extra foliage and they'll be die back. Sometimes it takes plants a while to become drought tolerant so if yours are newly planted you may need to just wait (if they aren't dead). Also some plants that are drought tolerant when they grow from seed aren't if they've been reproduced by cuttings and don't have the long tap root which would help them survive.

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  14. Wow your gardens are gorgeous and I love your views....

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