Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Second Blogiversary Retrospective

Yesterday was the second anniversary of my first blog post.  In 2013, blogging was mostly a distraction from turbulence in my personal life.  In 2014, it became more pointedly about the garden itself: what I liked and didn't like about it, what I planned to change, how those changes were implemented, and the challenges we faced along the way.  All through the process, I appreciated the comments, suggestions, commiseration, and support I received from those of you who do me the honor of reading my posts.  When I started blogging I never anticipated the sense of community the process creates.  That has become the most important impetus for continuing.

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.

Counterclockwise from top left: Early stage of soil preparation; what one neighbor referred to as a burial mound; one of 2 topsoil deliveries; laying the flagstone paths; the area to the left of the front walkway after planting; and, on the top right, the partially planted area to the right of the front walkway


Along the way:

I lost my beloved garden companion, Ming, in March after a long struggle with a disease we couldn't defeat

I faced regular visits by raccoons (aka Satan's minions) who tore out virtually every plant I put in, often more than once (Note: As shown on the far right, I finally captured a photo of one of the cheeky culprits on Sunday night outside the dining room window)

We lost the privacy provided by the huge Yucca elephantipes that sat on the boundary between us and a neighbor: the first 2 photos on the left were taken before the Yucca was cut down and the last were taken afterwards (Further work on the 4 foot tall stump is planned for mid-January)


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

46 comments:

  1. I will certainly join you. I love your comments and it is fun to compare the differences 25 miles make. This is beautiful post, the sentiments and the pictures like the mosaics.

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    1. Thanks Jane. I always appreciate your comments and insights.

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  2. A lot has happened in your garden during the past year, the garden has become even finer.
    Wish you a happy new year
    Mariana

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    1. Thanks Mariana. Happy new year to you too!

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  3. Happy blogiversary, Kris! Wow, has it been two years already? The community aspect of blogging is very special and is one of the main reasons that I keep blogging. Your garden has gone through a great transformation and is looking spectacular! I look forward to joining you on your continuing garden adventure!

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    1. Last year was crazy for me but this year, while much calmer, also seemed to fly by. I always look forward to your visits and comment Peter!

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  4. Happy Blogging Anniversary! I'm so glad you started blogging, I've really enjoyed seeing the transformations going on in your garden. Like you, I didn't realize that blogging would introduce me to so many wonderful friends, many of whom I have met in real life, but some like you, that I know only through blogging. I will continue to read about your goings-on this coming year as well.

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    1. Who knows, Alison, one day I may turn up in your neighborhood. You're always welcome to pop into mine if your travels bring you down this way.

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    2. Kris, we're actually planning a trip in May to southern California, to Disneyland specifically, but there's going to be a day or two for a trip to the Huntington, and maybe one or two nurseries near there. Are you in that area? Also, did I read somewhere that you might make it up to the Seattle area? If you ever do, let me know.

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    3. No, I'm about 40 miles from the Huntington on a path that forces one to travel through downtown Los Angeles. Regrettably, it's not a short trip in either direction; however, if you let me know when you expect to visit the Huntington, there's a chance I could meet you there - it'll depend in part on the day of the week and the time. Let me know when your schedule is settled. Re Seattle, my brother-in-law and his kids live on Vashon so, if and when I get up that way with either my husband or sister-in-law, perhaps we can connect then.

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  5. A great review Kris. Having joined in part way through the year it is fascinating to see the earlier work that you've done. All good decisions, making for a truly spectacular garden. All the more remarkable that you've managed to establish it in such a dry climate. Congratulations on your blogiversary. Count me in for the next year!

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    1. I'm very happy to have found your blog as well Jessica!

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  6. Happy Blog Anniversary Kris and it's been wonderful following your blog! It has been an eventful year for you with so many changes in the garden and it's great to follow and see the changes unfurl in front of us. Here's to 2015 and looking forward to more treats from your blog :)

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    1. You two set a high standard with all the challenges you've faced and the changes you've made to your garden. If I can accomplish half as much, I'll be satisfied. Thanks for your ongoing support!

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  7. Happy blog anniversary. It's wonderful that your blog has been around long enough to track how your garden has changed, it's fun to see it in fast motion. I can't believe how quickly your lawn replacement filled in and looks like a garden already - it's inspiring. Have a fantastic new year.

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    1. The rain we've had off and on since November is helping things along a lot in the front garden. When you've gone awhile with virtually no precipitation, it's amazing to see what a boost a little rain can give a garden. Thanks for visiting Megan!

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  8. A rare treat for me Kris, as I can see your photos tonight. I hope that next year I will be able to see more of your post too. Congratulations on your blogiversary and I was sorry to read about Ming.

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    1. I'm glad you were able to view the blog this time Julie. I'll have to compare the size of the collage photos with my regular photos to see if that may be a factor with the way they load on your end. Thanks also for the condolence regarding Ming - he was a difficult cat but I still miss him.

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  9. Happy blog-versary Kris, and wow! You've been busy almost totally transforming your garden. Well done! Mr. Husband did a great job on that table, too.

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    1. My husband deserves a lot of credit for the transformations in the garden Hoover Boo. I like to think I hold my own on the grunt work but he really carries me when it comes to the heavy lifting.

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  10. Okay it's confession time. I was in your part of the world just before Christmas, I managed a visit to Denise's garden and would have LOVED to meet you and see your garden in person. As it was time was tight and I could only rationalize putting Andrew through one garden blogger friend visit. Maybe next time? Happy blog anniversary!

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    1. I would have loved to meet you in person too, Loree, but it's just as well that was put off until another time. However much I think I've streamlined our holiday rituals, the period always turns out to be busier than expected. Give me a heads-up and let's plan something the next time you're down this way. Although I missed last year's Portland Fling, I do hope to get up to the PNW one day too (hopefully during a time when the weather is hospitable!).

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  11. Two years? Well done! I have enjoyed reading about the improvements that you have made over the year that I have been reading your blog. And also the fabulous plants you have bought and the stunning flower arrangements you have created. I look forward to seeing what you get up to in 2015. Happy New Year Kris.

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    1. Thanks Chloris. Best wishes for a happy new year to you as well!

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  12. Some afternoons may drag but the years do fly by...

    You have every right to be proud of all your work both in the garden and on your blog as well. You've created not one but two wonderful spaces for folks to enjoy. Here's hoping your rain continues at an acceptable pace, and that 2015 is the best year yet!

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    1. What a nice thing to say Deb! I'm glad we've connected in blog-dom. More rain would be nice. Last night's "storm" doesn't even deserve the title - we got just an eighth of an inch.

      Happy new year to you and I hope the deer and the Texas "death star" cut you some slack in 2015!

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  13. Satan's minions hahaha! That part cracked me up.

    So much has changed in what is really quite a short amount of time, and your garden is looking better than ever. I'm sure Ming would've loved the extra hiding places you've created by removing all that lawn. He had a great life with you and isn't in pain anymore (something I've had to remind myself when I think about our family dog who also passed away this year).

    All the best for 2015 Kris. I look forward to reading about all the changes to come, and watching your garden develop!

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    1. Thanks Amy! I'd like to think that I have "Satan's minions" on the run after scaring one away three nights in a row but I expect I'm deluding myself.

      Best wishes for a happy (and well-lighted!) new year!

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  14. Happy blog anniversary! I haven't followed from the beginning, but since I discovered your blog I've enjoyed watching your garden change and seeing all the great plants you grow. I'm looking forward to following your blog next year, too! Wishing you all the best in 2015!

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    1. Thanks Evan. I hope you'll continue to keep us apprised of your garden adventures in the Midwest too!

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  15. Happy blogiversary Kris - I must say I have thoroughly enjoying your posts and envying you the conditions you have, except the drought that is! Joking aside, what a huge difference you have made in your garden and it's been fun reading about your progress.
    All the very best to you and yours for 2015 when it comes!

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    1. California's reputation as a garden haven is a bit over-rated Angie but we all work with the cards we're dealt, including the drought here. My husband and I are talking about building a multiple tank rain collection system so that may be a project for 2015. Stay tuned...

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  16. What a great review! Wow - you have accomplished a lot in a very short time. Loved seeing the befores and and afters, and confess to not being so little envious at having a husband who helps. What a mega-bonus.... I'm a spotty blogger/reader, but am looking forward to continuing to follow your adventures in 2015. Happy New Year, Kris!

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    1. Thanks Anna! I know I'm very lucky to have a cooperative spouse. He has no interest in gardening himself (at best, he'll agree to suffer through my periodic tours of our garden's highlights) but he's a scientist to the core and, give him a problem to solve or something to build, and he's guaranteed to come through.

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  17. You've done an amazing amount of work in such a short time! I love reading your posts. So glad you started blogging! :o) Happy New Year!

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    1. I admit that this year's been physically exhausting Tammy. At the moment, I can't even bring myself to consider taking out more lawn in 2015 but, beyond dealing with what I refer to as the "Yucca problem," I don't know what may make the project list in the new year, only that there will certainly be a list.

      I hope you've enjoyed your holiday blog hiatus and look forward to seeing more posts from you in 2015!

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  18. I love seeing garden transformations, and yours are fantastic! And you have such a perfect view for taking photos of sunsets etc. So jealous!

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    1. I still have to pinch myself, Jess, that we found this house at price we could afford.

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  19. Wow, wow, wow! Look at the transformations. You've done a butt-load of work to your landscape, haven't you? The results are amazing and I can't get over your view. The loss of the Yucca has a bright side in allowing you to see so much more of the horizon. Your husband's table is beautiful. I'm so sorry about your dear kitty and those pesky-ass raccoons. I hope they are leaving your garden alone in 2015. And I can't wait to see what's next. Great post!

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    1. I knew this garden had a lot of potential when we first drew up to the curb. I probably didn't understand how much time and energy it would require...

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  20. A great retrospective and a great transformation of your place! It's looking wonderful!

    I remember your beautiful Ming and your garden walks with him.

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    1. I still miss Ming and, for whatever reason, the sense of loss was greater during the holidays.

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  21. Trying to catch up as I didn't want to miss this retrospective....such great projects that have turned out beautifully Kris.

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    1. Thanks Donna. The projects keep on coming, don't they? I'll be interested to see what you do with your garden this year.

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  22. I am now appreciating just how much sheer hard work went into your garden. It has paid off!

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    1. This garden has been a huge amount of work, Ian, but I love it!

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