Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Planting Bed Facelift #2

My first planting bed facelift involved the bed formerly occupied by an unused wood-fired spa.  Last week, I tackled my second facelift, the bed once occupied by a 60 foot Eucalyptus tree.  I replanted the area in March 2013 after the tree was removed at the request of a neighbor.  It looked fine for a short while but the combination of dry soil (made worse, not better by the addition of the woody remains of the Eucalyptus tree), high winds, drought, nightly digging operations by the neighborhood raccoons, and poor plant selections left it looking sad.  The wood chips and shavings left after grinding down the tree stump had formed clumps with the consistency of dry cardboard and didn't hold water well.  I cleared as much of the remnants of that debris as I could and added lots of soil amendment before replanting.  My fingers are crossed that the new plants will fare better than the bed's previous occupants did.

View of replanted bed looking west

View of the same bed from the side yard patio



Two of the 3 original Coprosma 'Plum Hussey' remain in place along the bed's outer edge.  The third, which was struggling to survive, was removed and replaced with a smaller plant of the same variety, moved from the side yard border.

The 2 original Coprosma 'Plum Hussey' bordered by Pelargonium tomentosum (peppermint geranium)

The smaller Coprosma, moved from a shadier bed, hasn't developed 'Plum Hussey's' striking red color yet



Grevillea 'Bonfire' replaced the sad Acer palmatum 'Purple Ghost,' which couldn't hold up to the winds that whip through this area most afternoons.  The Japanese maple was moved to the vegetable garden, where I hope it has a chance to survive.

Newly planted Grevillea 'Bonfire'



Four Agave 'Blue Glow' and one Hesperaloe parviflora were installed both for their looks and the possibility that their prickly leaves will deter the raccoons from digging in the area in their relentless search for grubs.

Agave 'Blue Glow,' still relatively small

Hesperaloe parviflora (aka red yucca)



To complement the gray-foliage of the Hesperaloe, I added Festuca 'Elijah Blue,' tiny cuttings of succulent Senecio mandraliscae, and pink-flowering Cistus x scanbergii.

Cistus x skanbergii


We raised the height of the wall that borders one length of the bed to reduce its slope and support the additional soil amendments I added.  I replaced the mass of gray Helichrysum petiolare that previously occupied that space with 5 Pennisetum setaceum 'Fireworks' and 2 varieties of Rhipsalis.  The Helichrysum did well in the location but it wasn't particularly interesting.

Pennisetum setaceum 'Fireworks' is reputed to be smaller than the standard variety

Five plants line the top of the wall

This was labeled 'mistletoe cactus' - my best guess is that it's Rhipsalis baccifera aka spaghetti cactus

This one was labeled Rhipsalis salicornioides, aka dancing bones cactus



I moved 3 Hemerocallis 'Spanish Harlem' here from the front yard borders to pick up the red tones of the Coprosma and the Pennisetum.  There's less late afternoon sun in this bed but I hope it will be sufficient to keep 'Spanish Harlem' blooming as I love this daylily's flowers.

These evergreen daylilies are a little sad at the moment as I cut them back prior to transplanting 

Here's a reminder of what 'Spanish Harlem' looked like in full bloom



Unfortunately, the Agaves are still small and aren't yet up to the challenge of keeping the raccoons at bay.  The little monsters dug up a few of the smaller plants and pawed around the base of the Grevillea.  I've put down more animal repellent and temporarily caged the Grevillea for its own protection until it's well-rooted in its new location.

Grevillea wearing a tomato cage



Work continues on the denuded front lawn area, as well as a small bed dug out of the lawn in the backyard.  My lawn removers left a lot of grass roots behind, as well as much of that nasty plastic netting embedded in the sod laid by the former owners.  My husband and I are in the process of clearing out what we can before hauling in supplemental topsoil and soil amendments.  It may be quite some time before I'm ready to plant the front area but, impatient as I am, those grass roots need to go and the soil, pure clay in one area and nothing more than decomposing rock in another, needs work.


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

23 comments:

  1. Ugh! That plastic netting that the sod is attached to, I hate that stuff! We had that in the front, and this past winter the contractor did remove most of it, but I still kept finding bits and pieces of it mixed throughout the beds when I was planting. You know you have my sympathy on the raccoons, I hope your prickly plants eventually do the trick. One type of plant near my stream that they never disturb is Euphorbia, which has that toxic sap. Does that grow for you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've wondered if the raccoons were put off by toxic or even strong-scented plants, Alison. I do grow a few varieties of Euphorbia in my garden and, off-hand, I can't recall that the little monsters have dug any of those up so maybe I'll spread more of them about. Thanks for the tip!

      Delete
  2. You had quite a trip to the nursery. I am not familiar with many of the plants you mention other than the agave. Maybe you should be happy that the night visitors will remove the grubs because the agave snout weevil grub is a horrible pest here. He may be doing you a good turn.And you have reminded me that I really need to divide my day lilies, a job long overdue. What a pretty color "Spanish Harlem' is. Did you get rain in the last storm?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no! I've never heard of the agave snout weevil - even its name sounds awful. I think the grubs we have are phyllophaga, which infest lawns here. I'm trying a milky spore product to kill the larvae but it's supposed to take a couple of seasons before it makes a difference.

      Unfortunately, we got no rain out of Hurricane Odile, although areas to the east of us had flash floods and I understand that Northern California had a bit of rain. We had gray skies at intervals through the weekend and got a few tiny drops but it never took hold. My rain barrel is back on empty.

      Delete
  3. Naughty raccoons! Hopefully they'll eventually leave most of the plants alone. Fine selection of new and replacement plants and looking forward to seeing how they will get on in the months to come :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope the new plants fare better. I just bought myself a soil testing kit so I can check phosphorus levels in the soil - apparently, many Australian plants react negatively to that.

      Delete
  4. We all have our pests. There are raccoons here as well but they rarely cause trouble. I do love the Plum Hussey. You are quite warmer than I. Most of the plants you named are exotic to me. Love that. I can learn some new plants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right about the pests, Layanee - and I think deer are probably much worse than the raccoons, skunks and squirrels that frequent my garden. I just need to make a practice of protecting vulnerable plants from these diggers until the plants' roots anchor them.

      Delete
  5. Well, at least you've had some fun planting this border before you have to tackle the 'lawn' area. Your plant choices are always an inspiration, I especially like the little plants to grow over the wall. The Raccoons sound like monsters I hope the spiny plants will deter them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The agaves looked as though they were providing some protection for a few days, Christina, but it appears that the raccoons have figured out how to dig around them without getting stabbed.

      Delete
  6. It's all coming together! Lovely choices. I look forward to watching it fill in, especially those agaves!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kris, it's looking great. We do get visits from racoons but so far, knock wood, they haven't dug in the back garden, only in the front parkway. That's terrible that they're costing you $ in destructive digging. I just recently saw rhipsalis used as a ground cover. It should look amazing hanging down that low retaining wall. My experience with Fireworks wasn't stellar -- a very weak grower that never bulked up. Hopefully you'll have better luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope the raccoons never find your backyard, Denise. As you've got more spiky plants than I do, maybe they know better than to venture back there.

      Delete
  8. Best wishes for the reworked bed! It is looking very good. I like the Agave; it is a beautiful and interesting plant, and I hope it repels the raccoons! Those raccoons are too curious for their own good. In my garden it seems they willI tear something up just to get a good look at it. I saw a dead raccoon on the side of the road the other day and did not feel a bit of pity for it, though usually I feel bad for any creature that ends up under the wheels of a car.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to believe that a creature so cute can be so willfully destructive but they are!

      Delete
  9. I'm always amazed that you manage to garden at all with everything the weather and wildlife throw at you. I think it looks wonderful. I love the colorful grasses and hope the agaves keep the raccoons away. Smart move to add the cactus. There's a plant you don't have to water! Check my Garden Love column on my blog. :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind mention on your blog, Tammy!

      Delete
  10. Greetings from Portland OR! I've discovered your blog through Tammy and really have enjoyed looking at all your hard work. I am originally from southern CA with a move to northern CA for college and work. The drought is really concerning, yet you have found a lovely balance that should do well. Love the agave and the beautiful grasses! Susie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting, Susie. Living with our deepening drought is an ongoing learning experience. Portland is my idea of gardening nirvana but my roots, by history and happenstance, are set in SoCal.

      Delete
  11. Good luck with the revamped bed, you have put such a lot of work into it. That Spanish Harlem Daylily is beautiful, they grow so quickly don't they, I bet it will look lovely next year.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kris this bed looks wonderful and now I am itching to get going myself...been too dry so I need to wait for some rain that is coming...the grasses are wonderful you are using.

    ReplyDelete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. However, with apologies to bona-fide commentators, due to a significant increase in spam, I've eliminated the option to post comments anonymously.