Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wide Shots - July 2014

Summer is not a good time for planting here in Southern California.  Ideally, gardeners here use the hot, dry months of summer to plan next year's garden, much as gardeners in colder climates use their winter months.  While I'm not always faithful to the "no summer planting" rule, when it's too hot to bear working outside I do try to spend some time planning for the fall planting season, which is generally our best time to plant.

In September of last year, I began participating in a monthly exercise, initiated by Heather of Xericstyle, focusing on the "big picture" of the garden, rather than individual plants.  Frankly, I've gotten carried away with it, producing wide views of most of the major sections of my garden.  The posts may try the attention span of my readers but they've been very useful in forcing me to look at my garden as a whole, rather than as a collection of plants.  The photos are also useful in kick-starting my planning process.

The backyard in July looks much like it did in June, although both the Agapanthus and the red-orange Hemerocallis are waning.  The Agapanthus got an early start this year and many look like over-used mop-heads now.  I've already cut more than two-thirds of them back.  The new border, which extends from the fountain to the southeast side yard, has filled in nicely but some of the annuals are losing their gusto.  I've also begun evaluating which of the perennials are worth retaining and which will be relocated or sacrificed in the fall.

View of the backyard from the patio door

View of the backyard looking southeast from the main patio

View of the backyard looking northwest toward the mimosa tree, which has begun flowering (and dropping litter)



The biggest changes to the southeast side garden area were made to the bed that formerly held the Eucalyptus tree (removed in February 2013).  The combination of heat and rampaging raccoons damaged or killed many plants in that area so, despite the early onset of summer heat, I replanted in June, using annuals, succulents and a few perennials.

Southeast side yard photographed from the small patio - the replanted area lies to the immediate left of the arbor

Side yard photographed looking in the direction of the arbor and the street

View from a dirt path running along the back of the side garden

View of the side garden looking through the arbor toward the Los Angeles harbor



This month, I took some photos of the area I refer to as the "glen," an area sandwiched between the southeast side garden and the street, accessed by dirt paths.  It doesn't photograph well and I've given it relatively little attention thus far but, with work, I think it could be a nice area.  The earlier heatwaves did it no favors, even killing off the drought tolerant Dymondia margaretae I planted 3 years ago.

Glen photographed from the dirt path running parallel to the street behind a hedge - the remnants of the mostly dead Dymondia can be seen in front of the seating area

I added more Aeonium cuttings to the sloped area on top of the stacked stone wall in June



I've given very little attention to the front yard this year, except for the patio area surrounding the front door.  The lawn on either side of the front pathway has me exasperated.  Removing chunks of it may be my top priority fall/winter project.

Front of house photographed from the driveway

The left side of the house, which seldom gets photographed because my husband's truck is so often parked there



The vegetable garden now contains vegetables - or at least corn, pole bean and pepper seedlings.  The raised beds also contain sunflowers, although I've only had a few blooms thus far.

Vegetable garden, photographed from the driveway - the first raised planter contains herbs, sunflowers and strawberries

Vegetable garden, photographed from the dry garden area - the middle raised bed is dominated by corn and rosemary while the closest planter contains more corn, beans, a pepper plant and a few varieties of basil


The dry garden hasn't changed much either.  My beloved Echium handiense aren't doing well, however, and may have to be replaced by more drought tolerant selections.

Dry garden, photographed from the beginning of the path leading to the slope

Dry garden, photographed from the backyard - the 2 plants that look like sticks with a few leaves are what remains of the Echium handiense


The slope has been woefully neglected and shows it.  Even the foxtail agave (Agave attenuata) I planted in early spring is suffering from a lack of water.  I need to do some serious work down there but that probably won't happen until the fall.  At least the peach tree, uncovered when my husband cut back the Yucca elephantipes along our property line, seems to be holding its own (even if there are no signs of fruit).

Slope, photographed half-way down the stairway - the peach tree is to the right of the lemon tree



That's it for this month's review.  I'm taking notes to guide my fall planting and renovation plans but a lot depends on whether this year's promised El Nino brings rain and there's no guarantee of that.


28 comments:

  1. Looks great, Kris; you're too close to it. But, of course, you have technicolor dreams of how you want it to it look! The red day lilies are keepers, aren't they? All that orange-red stuff looks great against your beige/adobe-colored stone/dirt paths. What is that tree with the gorgeous, brilliant orange-red trunk? Arbutus or madrone?

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    1. The tree is Arbutus 'Marina.' I inherited 5 of them, although one is, sadly, doing poorly.

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  2. Well, for all California's dryness, your garden looks wonderfully lush and green, which I bet is because you water. Hope you do get some rain.

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    1. No rain is likely until October, Alison, but thanks for the wish. Despite the negative words of the forecasters, I'm hoping for a wet El Nino year.

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  3. Your garden and views are breathtaking as always. These pictures are doubly impressive because I remember some of your earlier pictures when you were just beginning to work on some areas. You've worked green magic in your space!

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    1. Thanks, Peter. I keep trying to remind myself I can't make all the changes I'd like to see overnight.

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  4. You have a garden that shows the best wide shots I have seen. Beautiful design. But you surprise me taking about the heat. I am not sure where you are but when we lived in S Cal the evenings were cool, which gave the plants a chance to meet the new day. In Texas our plants get no evening respite as temperatures remain in the high 70s. Unable to plant at this time of the year and already making plans for next year. How we hurry the years along.

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    1. We're currently cooling into the mid-60s overnight, Jenny, but June was a marked improvement over May. During the 2 heatwaves we experienced then our daily temperatures regularly exceeded 100F and nighttime temperatures didn't drop to normal levels. On one occasion, our daytime temperature neared 105F and our evening temperature didn't get back down into the low-80s until the wee small hours of the morning. We usually don't get heatwaves like that so early in the year and it has made us nervous as to what summer will bring. We haven't been here long enough for me to know whether this is normal for the area or part of an overall climate shift.

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  5. Jane's first two sentences above capture exactly what I was thinking. You really do have a most beautiful garden Kris, you should be proud.

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    1. Thanks, Loree, but, as you know, it's always a work in progress.

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  6. Not trying at all but a treat Kris! Your wide shots are always wonderful to see and your garden is amazing. I know you mention a few things you're not happy with but to be honest I couldn't see any flaws in your photos at all, as there's so much beauty to see. Your space is amazing and is something to be very proud of :)

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    1. Thanks! I think my reservations about the garden have a lot to do with apprehensions about the impact of the drought, especially if it extends into next year.

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  7. Wow! the views! fabulous! Your gardens are a treat to see. I LOVE wide angle shots of the gardens. It gives one a real perspective on the form and structure of the borders and plantings. Love the raised veggie bed. It's all terrific.

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    1. thanks Deanne. I inherited the raised planters, although not the plants in them. This is the first time I've been able to try growing food - my old garden was mostly shade.

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  8. I love seeing your garden as a whole like this Kris, I could never consider it trying.
    Good luck with your planning, I'm sure you are just raring to go. Your veg seems to be doing well despite the heat - I presume those take some watering to keep them all looking so good. I can only imagine what it's like to garden in such heat, at least in winter our plants are dormant and cope where as watching them deteriorate in the heat must be so frustrating.

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    1. I'm still watering regularly, although I've tried to ramp it down in line with the state governor's call for a 20% voluntary reduction in overall water usage. Thankfully, the vegetable beds are on a drip system.

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  9. I'm with all of the above and especially second Jenny's comment about the best wide shots ever. The combination of the garden, the house and the view are just awesome. I see a gorgeous garden. I was also surprised about the heat because you live near the ocean and as I remember it doesn't get as hot as inland where we lived years ago.

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    1. We live on the peninsula that juts into the South Bay that contains the Los Angeles harbor. Although you can see water from our backyard, it actually faces east, looking out over the harbor. The hills between us and the open ocean to the west block the benefits of the cooling winds that come off the ocean on the other side of the peninsula. We formerly lived 15 miles to the northwest in one of the South Bay's beach cities - it was 10-12 degrees cooler there than in our current location but, even our last few years there, the heatwaves had become more troublesome. When those hit, the nighttime temperatures don't come down.

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  10. If I hadn't known about your early hot spell I wouldn't have really been aware from your images. Most of your garden is fabulous, the image I lovely the most was through the pergola looking towards the view; you have designed it really well the path leads the eye beautifully through the garden to the view; something I need to work on with the view from my terrace.

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    1. Thanks, Christina. I'm still irrigating a lot of the garden. The slope and the lawn areas have suffered most due to stingy watering there.

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  11. Wide views are wonderful records for ourselves and help with design, as you've found. And I like them as a reader because they give a much better idea of a garden, which is nice!

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    1. You're right, Pam - it's a very useful recording device. I look back at earlier posts to assess my progress and I'm studying my current photos to identify my next steps.

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  12. Your garden looks great, especially considering how dry it's been. You'd never know by looking at these pictures that you're in the midst of a drought. Have you finally beat back the raccoons for good?

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    1. No, Tammy, unfortunately the raccoons still visit on a fairly regular basis. They took out my nearly ripe grapes (followed by the birds who took care of the unripe grapes) and they're still digging holes here and there. I've buried sharp-edged pottery shards near the most recent plantings in one of their favorite beds and, believe it or not, that's reduced the volume of activity at least.

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  13. Your garden looks wonderful! I'd love to have a garden that looks so mature. Mine can barely be called a garden. It's mostly just a yard, but it's making progress.

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    1. I inherited the trees, hedges and many of the mature shrubs when we bought the house 3 years ago, Evan, so I can't claim responsibility for its impression of maturity. However, I'm removing more and more of the lawn that also came with the house year-by-year.

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  14. What a beautiful space you have and the view is amazing. It gives me inspiration for some day when I can actually own a home. It's so limited what you can do when you have a landlord (I'm probably lucky she lets me garden at all!). But I like the idea of looking at a bigger picture. I could even apply that to my container garden. Great advice.

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    1. I developed my initial love of gardening in a rented space too, Danielle, and our 1st home had a postage stamp-sized garden. I had lots of containers at both locations. You can do a lot with a large pot - and it's easier to manage (and keep watered) than a long border as well.

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