As I looked back on this year's posts, I realized just how much has happened in the garden this year, some of which was planned but much of which was not. In some cases what started as small decisions, made without much deliberation, led unintentionally but perhaps inevitably to much bigger projects. Pruning the unsightly Pittosporum hedge along the street is a case in point. That hedge bugged me from the time we moved in 4 years ago. However, for the first 2 years, I left the pruning to the garden service that took care of the lawn. In 2013, I cut back a few of the hedge's shrubs. The new growth looked better so, in January 2014, I took things a lot further. Too far, as it turns out. Portions of the hedge haven't recovered. But, on the plus side, cutting back the hedge led to the creation of a street-side succulent bed, allowing me to significantly expand my already burgeoning succulent collection.
|From left to right: Hedge before pruning; hedge after pruning; wide view of succulent bed; and a close-up
While I was busy mutilating the hedge, my husband decided that the wood-fired "snorkel spa" we inherited with the house wasn't worth the effort required to maintain it. He dismantled it, we cleared out the gravel beneath it to open up yet another planting area, and my husband made a patio table out of the spa's wood shell, giving us a new seating area in the backyard.
|From left to right: Original spa; dismantlement in process; cleared bed; area after planting (September); and completed patio table
Taking out the grass on the south side of the house in 2013 had created a choppy flow from that area into the backyard. To address that we decided to extend the small bed surrounding the fountain in the backyard to form a connection to the south side yard. That work began in February. The new area was planted in March and April.
|Counterclockwise from top left: Area prior to project; work begins; additional soil is delivered; bed ready for planting; initial planting (March); and the new bed at the end of May
With the creation of the extended fountain bed and the bed formerly occupied by the spa, the remaining grass area in the backyard became more of a pathway than a lawn. We removed another semi-circle of lawn next to the north end of the patio in September to improve the flow of that pathway (and give me still more space for ornamental plants).
|From left to right: Area before lawn removal; after lawn removal; and after planting (October)
As the summer progressed, we accepted the difficulty of maintaining our front lawn in the face of California's severe drought. Rather than try to restore the half-dead lawn, we elected to take it out. The grass was removed in September but my husband and I spent much of our free time in October and November digging out grass roots, sod netting, and rocks; adding soil amendments; and laying flagstone paths. Planting began in December and is ongoing.
|I lost my beloved garden companion, Ming, in March after a long struggle with a disease we couldn't defeat
So what will 2015 Bring? I'm not sure but I suspect our garden will continue to change, along with our expectations of it. Whatever those changes may be, I hope you'll continue to join me on the ride.
|Upper left: Sunset photographed from the front yard; Small photos: Views snapped from the backyard over the course of 2014
All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party