Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wide Shots - May 2014

We're in the middle of a nasty heat wave, with high winds and temperatures soaring into the mid-90sF (35C).  To make matters worse, the seemingly inevitable wildfires that accompany heat, wind and drought here popped up in areas to the east of Los Angeles, polluting the air, turning the sky a dingy brown, and forcing the temporary evacuation of over a thousand homes.  I sincerely hope current conditions aren't a portent of what we can expect this summer.

The wind, heat and low humidity are already taking a toll on the most fragile plants in my garden, although it still looks pretty good in the wide shots I've included here.  My backyard borders have filled in some since last month's post.

Backyard photographed from the back door

Backyard borders photographed from the left side

Backyard borders photographed from the dirt path that starts in the southeast side yard



After repeated problems with raccoons digging things up in the southeast side garden, I pulled out some of their favorite targets.  There's been a drop in raccoon activity since then but whether that has to do with my new plant selections, the raccoons' foraging schedule, or pure luck, I don't know.

Southeast side yard photographed from the front lawn through the arbor

Side yard photographed from the side yard patio

Side yard photographed from the backyard grass path



Floral color is more prominent in the front yard borders than it has been for the last several months.  The 'Pink Meidiland' shrub roses, Hemerocallis 'Spanish Harlem', and Gaura lindheimeri 'Snow Fountain' are in bloom, along with various Pelargonium and Cuphea x ignea 'Starfire Pink.'  However, the lawn on the right side as you face the house (virtually invisible in the photo below) is in terrible condition, probably due to a combination of sparse rainfall and the greedy roots of the Magnolia grandiflora occupying that area.

Front borders photographed from the driveway



While sweet peas still dominate one of the 3 raised planters in the vegetable garden, I've now got seeds of 'Glass Gem' corn sprouting in the middle planter and the thornless raspberry bush I thought I killed last year has reappeared.  I've also got sunflower seeds sprouting amid strawberry plants in the third planter and the Mandarin orange tree in the corner still has plenty of ripe fruit.

Vegetable garden photographed from the gate leading to the dry garden



I've had some raccoon activity in the dry garden as well.  I put a tomato cage over a recently planted Agave vilmoriniana in an effort to keep them from tearing it out of the ground again.  So far, that's worked.  The first bearded Iris in this area is in flower and the daylilies have made sporadic appearances, although none were bothering to show their faces when I took the pictures below.

Dry garden on the northwest side of the house, photographed from the start of the path leading to the stairway down the slope

Dry garden photographed from the backyard



We did quite a bit of work on the slope last month, although it may not be readily apparent.  My husband went a little crazy cutting back the huge Yucca elephantipes that marks the boundary between us and one of our neighbors.  The Yucca still creates a sprawling fence along the property line but we managed to clear some space around a peach tree it had engulfed and increased the light and air flowing through the Yucca.  The Yucca appears to root wherever a branch touches soil.  There are a lot of plants buried under the ivy spreading from the neighbor's property, which I'm slowly cutting back.

Slope photographed from near the top of the concrete block stairway

A closer look at the "thinned" Yucca elephantipes - you may be able to make out the pink flowers of the slender peach tree we discovered just in front of the Yucca




That's it for this month's wide shots.  Please visit Heather at Xericstyle, the sponsor of this meme, to see her wide shot this month and to find links to shots presented by other gardeners.


26 comments:

  1. I believe your weather complaints but...everything looks gorgeous from here! I'm so smitten with that flagstone path - and your lawn is really just another green path. It provides a nice contrast as you've used it. And great job revealing the peach tree - what a little beauty! You are doing wonders keeping things from getting overrun which to my mind is one of the more thankless and yet most important garden chores.

    Here's hoping we both get cooler temps and some welcome gentle rains.

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    1. Predictions here are that the temperatures were cool a bit here beginning tomorrow - I hope you get a similar break. Rain here is unlikely but I still have hope.

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  2. My garden is a raccoon playground as well. They are hard to live with. We're getting some heat here too this week, close to 90 yesterday. They (whoever they are) say we're going to have a very hot summer. I hope you folks in California are not tormented by wildfires again. It's worrisome that you're already having to deal with them.

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    1. With so little rain this past winter and the winter before, Alison, unfortunately conditions are ripe for wildfires. They make me more nervous than they used to as the area in which we now live has a lot of open brush.

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  3. Between the weather and the racoons, you are having quite an awful time of it Kris! Mind you the garden looks spectacular and difficult to tell from your wide shots.
    What an terrible job cutting back the Yukka must have been and to find the Peach Tree is just reward, I think.
    As usual your garden is looking wonderful!

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    1. My husband's campaigning to have the Yucca taken out, angie, as it's clearly a hard plant to control but, not only would that be a difficult and pricey proposition, it's not 100% clear who owns it (us or the neighbor below us). I also don't know what else we could find that would function as well as a living fence.

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  4. Your garden looks so fresh and lovely I'd never guess you're having such weather conditions! I hope you get cooler temperatures and more rain soon. in 2008 NC had a huge peat fire near the coast -- I could not believe the amount of smoke we got, and we are several counties inland.

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    1. Most of my photos were taken in early morning before the fire to the east picked up steam. Although it was quite a distance away, the high winds blew the smoke into the greater LA basin. We could smell it the 1st day and the brown smoke colored the sky for days.

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  5. I bet raccoons can do some serious damage. I have problems with armadillos digging up garden beds in my front garden, though I've managed to fence off the back (for now). Despite the raccoons, your garden is looking really beautiful. It's grown a lot since your last Wide Shot.

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    1. I guess there's always some creature seeking to challenge our ownership of the garden, Pam. It's good that fences work with the armadillos - unfortunately, nothing seems to stop raccoons. Of course, I'm lucky not to have deer or even the peacocks the drive the folks on the other side of the peninsula crazy.

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  6. Wow what heat you have!
    Not fun to be worried about fires.
    Do you collect water in barrels?
    To those dry periods.
    It looks so nice in your garden!
    best regards
    Mariana

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    1. I do have one rain barrel, Mariana. I asked for another last Christmas but Santa Claus didn't come through.

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  7. You have a beautiful garden! Everything looks wonderful. I hope that fire isn't a sign of the summer to come.

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    1. I hope not either, Evan, but unless and until our hills turn from brown to green, the fire danger will remain high.

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  8. I love to see long shots of your beautiful garden. It always looks amazing. And what incredible views you have. But the risk of wildfires must be scary.

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    1. My in-laws lost their custom-built dream house of 20 years in a fire in the early 1990s and SoCal wildfires have unnerved me ever since, Chloris. Our former house was at relatively low risk but the current one sits in an area surrounded by lots of dry brush, where the risk is greater - I take notice every time I smell smoke in the air or see its tell-tale signs on the horizon.

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  9. Hope the raccoons won't cause more problems. Heat wave it am be the garden still looks gorgeous!

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    1. I think I probably have to accept the raccoons as another fact of gardening here, Mark and Gaz. Nothing keeps them at bay for long.

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  10. Your views are lovely, but I can see the haze on the horizon. I also wonder what the summer may have in store for you with the drought and the terrible wildfires. I hope California's drought will soon end! We have had plenty of rain this spring, but I am too familiar with summer droughts.

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    1. After hearing yesterday's news release on climate change, Deb, I think I need to work harder at adapting to ongoing drought conditions whether I want to or not...

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  11. Your garden is breathtaking! I LOVE IT!

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  12. Your garden is coping very much better than mine does in the intense heat, it looks wonderful. We had strong winds this weekend too, but cold rather than hot. I hope you do have some rain soon, it is early to be dealing with fires!

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    1. Unfortunately, we rarely get rain here from April through October and, for the last 2 years we received very little during our winter rainy season either. A comprehensive climate report released yesterday in the US predicts a continuation of the weather extremes the various regions of the US have already experienced, which for the southwest means prolonged drought.

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  13. I'll be posting some wide shots, too, now that I actually have green growing plants in the garden. :o) I really hope this summer isn't' as dry as last. Your garden is just huge and fabulous, despite the weather and wildlife. I can't believe the raccoons went after an agave! They probably needed a box of band-aids when they were done!

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    1. I look forward to seeing wide hots of your garden, Tammy! Re the Agave: the octopus variety isn't one of the really wicked ones - still, I thought its size and imposing appearance would put them off. Since I put the tomato cage over it they've left it along, though (so far anyway...).

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