Monday, June 1, 2015

Wide Shots - June 2015

With our new water restrictions assuming full force and effect today, it's going to be interesting (that's the polite term for it) to see what effects these have on my garden over the course of the summer.  My husband and I are still adapting to the the new requirements and the changes in our household routines.  Showers are shorter.  We wash fewer dishes by hand, relying more on our water-thrifty dishwasher.  We save shower water in buckets each day for use in topping off the recirculating fountain, dumping the rest into our 50-gallon rain barrel, now empty of rainwater, for use in the garden as needed.  The graywater collected from the kitchen is used to water pots.  Graywater from the washing machine waters the back slope.  The rainwater I collected last month in my 2 new ginormous rain barrels allows me to provide supplemental water to my newer plantings, although my supply is depleting faster than I'd like and there's little likelihood of rain until November.  When I discovered a valve leaking in the vegetable garden last week, I nearly had apoplexy.  How long had it been leaking?  How much water did we lose?  Every day, the Los Angeles Times seems to publish a story on the water nightmares of residential users so it's hard not to fall prey to a degree of anxiety on the subject.

I didn't plan on preparing a full set of wide shots of the garden this month but I came close so I'll post what I have, concentrating on the back, south side, and front areas.  In time, the photos may help me assess if and where I need to swap out my plant selections.  I started my rounds taking photos in the backyard under the "June gloom" characteristic of most mornings at this time of year.

Backyard view looking south

View from farther north - I still have to arrange removal of the remaining grass

View from still farther north

View from the south looking north toward the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin), which will soon begin to bloom


Moving into the south side yard, I took some photos in the morning and others later in the afternoon after the sun had emerged.  The harbor remained hazy all day.

View from the pathway through the side garden looking back toward the backyard

View from the path behind the backyard border looking west in the direction of the arbor

View from the south side patio

View through the arbor looking east toward the harbor


The front garden continues to fill in nicely.  Contrary to my earlier plans to halt any further planting until fall, I continued to add new plants in the front throughout May, especially on the far right (southwest) end of the garden.

View looking toward the front door from one of my 2 remaining patches of lawn

View of the left (north) side of the front pathway

View of the area to the right (south) of the pathway to the front door

View of the same area looking north


I did a little work down in the area I call the "glen," which sits below the main level of the front garden, adjacent to the street.  I lost a large section of Ceanothus hedge in March and, without a clear plan for the sloped area, I resorted to planting Aeonium cuttings in the hope that, in time, these will form a mass like those I saw during a recent visit to an Orange County garden center.

The larger clumps of Aeonium formed from cuttings planted last year - most of the single rosettes are newly planted cuttings

With 2 of the Auranticarpa (Pittosporum) rhombifolia shrubs gone in the street-side bed and the subsequent loss of a portion of the Ceanothus hedge, this side of the garden looks bare and exposed to me but I haven't found the replacement Xylosma hedge material I've been looking for


The last area I'll show with this post is the dry garden.  After 2 rainstorms in May, it's looking pretty good.

I've planted more Aeonium 'Kiwi' on both sides of the path to continue the massed planting I started from cuttings 2 years ago

View from the rear of the dry garden looking back to the patio area - the 160-gallon rain tank, now partially emptied is on the right side of the patio


I've reviewed the "water budget" posted on-line for our property by our water provider.  The budget for our area calls for a 36% reduction vis-a-vis our 2013 usage level but as we reduced our use substantially last year in response to the call for a voluntary 25% reduction, we don't have too large a leap this year.  If last year's usage patterns hold this year, I think we should be okay, although the data suggests we could have an issue in October.  Why our water use seems to spike in October wasn't immediately clear to me but, as this generally marks the end of our hottest, driest weather, as well as the start of our fall planting season, perhaps it makes sense.  Our rainy season doesn't usually get rolling until November.  There are theories that we may have an unusually wet winter this year, courtesy of El Niño, but there's never a guarantee that such predictions will come to fruition.

That's it for this month's wide shots.  My thanks, as usual, to Heather of Xericstyle for starting me on this monthly exercise.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

34 comments:

  1. Oh man, Kris--I sure hope you are going to be OK with the watering restrictions. How could you not? You've been so conscientious. I was reading Hoover Boo's blog and saw that she has a "use it or lose it" attitude--you could do the same and hoard any extra gallons you have coming to you by filling the cisterns--stockpiling for October. Maybe?

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    1. Luckily, our water provider is allowing us to "bank" any unused units of water and will apply them to any future overage. I think that's fair and also a smart move on our water company's part. It's too bad that these water companies aren't collaborating to establish "best practices" - the variations and outright unfairness of some guidelines are going to create confusion and lots of unnecessary angst and there's enough of that to begin with.

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  2. It's interesting to see the adaptations you have been making to adjust to the drought, and also to see what further changes you'll be making to adjust to the restrictions. Looking splendid though even the ones taken with June Gloom :)

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    1. Although blue skies look pretty in photos, photography is easier with a degree of gloom.

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  3. The wide shots are always so wonderful, I always love seeing them! The garden is lush and isn't showing any signs of the drought and that's a real credit to you when you've been reducing water usage so drastically.

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    1. I hope the changes in my plant choices undertaken over the past 2 years are making a difference but I also have to credit our unexpected May rainstorms for giving the garden a boost. The peak bloom period for my garden usually occurs in May but the cooler weather we had last month appears to have delayed things a bit this year (despite the negative impact of the earlier March heatwaves).

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  4. Great to get a wider perspective of where everything is in your garden Kris. Good luck with the water-saving measures.

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    1. Thanks, Cathy! Fingers are crossed that what I've done will be enough.

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  5. Wow, they're some serious restrictions. What happens if you use more than your allowance? I hope all your plants get through these tough times. At least you have a substantial amount of drought tolerant ones in your garden.

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    1. Yes, we're among the areas with the highest level of required reductions in the state. The media has played up the role of wealthier communities in wasting water but a lot of the differential appears related to differences in the sheer size of properties. The nearby beach city I lived in before moving here has a 20% reduction target compared to the 36% target for my current community but I can't say that the beach city residents I observed were more water conscious than the residents here. The population is just far denser and properties are much smaller. It cost me little to water the tiny garden I once had - my current 1/2 acre+ lot is many times larger. But property size doesn't factor into the equation on water allocation except indirectly by reference to past water use. Taking out lawn here - which we started in increments soon after we moved in - has made the biggest difference in our water consumption year-to-year.

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    2. As to the penalties for non-compliance, exceeding one's water budget will result in a surcharge per unit of excess water on top of the rate charged for the water based on a tiered structure. In addition, there are $100 penalties per day for violation of specific water use regulations (e.g. watering on the wrong day of the week or during prohibited periods during the day). In severe cases, flow restrictors many be installed or water service may be cut off.

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  6. The area where you lost pittisporum doesn't look empty to eyes unused to seeing them there - it simply looks a little more open, which isn't necessarily a bad thing... Your wide views are lovely and if our experience here in Texas with drought and watering restrictions is any indicator there will definitely be losses along the way. But there will also be unexpected winners to emerge, plants that take it all in stride and look good doing so. These wide shots will help you keep it all sorted out long run and in the meantime, trowels crossed you get that valve issue sorted out soonest.

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    1. Yes, I expect you're right, Deb. I think there's some chance I'll have to stop irrigating certain areas altogether. If that's the case, I'll let the back slope (with the exception of the 3 trees there) go first and look for plants that can live on winter rain alone to replace what's there. Re the valve, my husband shut off the water to that section as soon as I discovered the problem but he had to order a new valve. What's scary is that there's no sensor to tell us if/when a new leak occurs so I guess I'll be conducting regular inspections. Of course, I can only detect the leaks that are visible above ground...

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  7. Love the wide shots and love that you, too, resolve not to plant and then break your rule.

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    1. I have no will power when I see a pretty or interesting plant, Jean. None at all.

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  8. I saw a similar El Nino prediction in the UK media somewhere. I hope it relieves the drought somewhat, as long as it doesn't then lead to flooding. Greater likelihood of colder winter here apparently. Oh joy.

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    1. Sadly, the El Ninos may cause as many problems as they may resolve. We're prone to mudslides here so that will be a threat if the rain comes down as heavily as in other El Nino years. They can also cause drought in other areas, like Australia and even the Pacific Northwest.

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  9. The views around you house are gorgeous. I do hope the water restrictions don't have an impact on the health of your plants. What kind of grass? bermuda? I know that will go dormant if not watered but will come back when you have rain. I have buckets in the shower and under ACs and always enjoy saving water. Unfortunately it is a drop in the bucket! And now I don't need to do it for a while. Hope you get some rain like we did. I think we are out of our drought.

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    1. I think the grass was originally bermuda, Jenny, but it's at least half crab-grass and other weeds now. The strip upfront is mostly dead already but the area in the back seems to benefit from the irrigation of the surrounding beds so it's doing a bit better; however, I'm still planning to yank it out You're right that the water collected from the house and even the rain collected off the roofs is a drop in the proverbial bucket but it still gives me the sense that I'm doing what I can. I'm threatening to dig up my vegetable garden to put in an underground cistern if the situation gets worse, although the cost of doing that might put that pipe-dream to rest.

      I heard that much of Texas is moving out of drought. Congratulations! I harbor the hope that our drought will also come to an end within the next several years but some prognosticators contend we could be in a much longer cycle...

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  10. Your wide shots are always amazing. I don't remember if you've ever posted the lower garden from across the street before. I didn't mean to buy any more plants, they were just sitting there when I went to the nursery to get a pot. We are so weak!

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    1. I posted on the street-side succulent bed when I put it in last year. I'm thinking of hauling in some rock and more succulent/cactus mix to improve the soil so it may undergo yet another makeover. Of course, the onset of summer heat could also move that plan to the back-burner.

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  11. I am so glad you showed the wide shots of your garden. You are an amazing gardener. I love the way you design, especially with the ornamental grasses. Your pathways and rock works is so eye-catching and really complements the plants. Your view of the valley and harbor is fabulous. Did you see Annie (of Annie's annuals) article on water conservation? She made some very interesting comments. I sure hope you get rain and lots of it so you can fill your water barrel.

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    1. Yes, I read Annie's defense of gardeners. I wish we could sit her down with Governor Brown for a nice long talk. I do think that California needs a master plan addressing its long-term water demands that addresses all water users. The issue of allowing new plantings of water-intensive trees and crops has to be addressed, as does the role of water exporters like Crystal Geyser, Nestle and Arrowhead, not to speak of fracking operations.

      Just the one-inch of rain we got in May filled my 50-gallon and 160-gallon tanks and partially filled my 265-gallon tank. Unfortunately, it'll be used up long before our rainy season starts in November but I'm hoping for an errant summer rainstorm (or 2 or 3).

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  12. You're garden looks absolutely fantastic, Kris! You have a talent for design that I envy. I'm sorry the water restrictions are affecting you, especially given the meager difference they'll make in alleviating the overall water shortage. As you said to Grace, we won't mention the fricking fracking. I keep telling myself I shouldn't plant anymore until fall, but then I have the plants I bought earlier that should be planted, and today I bought more. I have a feeling I'm going to keep planting in June.

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    1. As long as it doesn't get too hot and you can keep your new plants watered, I'm sure your new plants will do fine. And, after all, sometimes you just need to buy when the plants are available - if we could get hold of any plants we wanted during the optimal planting period, I'm sure we could be more disciplined (maybe).

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  13. The garden looks fabulous, Kris. And what a huge amount of planting you've done. Funnily enough my mother was telling me on the telephone only two days ago that the British press has been covering your drought (and the issue about wealthy communities wasting water). Your insight into the situation is fascinating. But November ... that's such a long time to have to wait for real rain. But I guess that when we have problems in our gardening, it does help to make us more imaginative!

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    1. If there is good news associated with this drought, Cathy, it's that it has already pushed people here to reconsider their choice of plants. Drought-tolerant and succulent plants have exploded in popularity. Every nursery/garden center I can think of within my area now has a large area devoted to succulents. In fact, one opened just a few miles away under the name WaterWise Garden Center.

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  14. It's looking great heading into June, Kris! I always love the effect of the billowing grasses in your backyard border - sorry I always forget which kind they are...! It's poor comfort in some ways, but I'm sure it stands you in good stead that you're already well into changing over to drought-tolerant plantings. I look forward to seeing your Aeoniums filling out into a mass planting :) I sympathize totally with the continuing-to-plant mode. My summer months project is to get some pavers down, so with the first few in I had to buy a bit of groundcover Sedum to start filling in between them... of course...!

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    1. I've got a variety of ornamental grasses but the most prominent in terms of visual impact are Stipa tenuissima (aka Mexican feather grass). It can be invasive here but I've found that reduced watering (and regular grooming to remove its seeds) helps to keep it in check.

      Good luck with the paver project. We'll be installing a lot more of those ourselves once the rest of the lawn comes out.

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  15. I so enjoy all your wide shots at the end of the month; I notice that the thyme ground-cover between the paving has filled in really well already. Your garden is a credit to you especially as you are so conscientious with your water use; I don't imagine that others are as careful; you are setting a great example.

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    1. The thyme has filled in remarkably well, Christina! I'm very please with it (and expect I'll use a lot more of it when we take out the remaining lawn).

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  16. You have such a beautiful garden, Kris! You know what they say: a garden is a mirror of one's mind.

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    1. Thanks Anca! I guess it's a good thing I didn't show the more chaotic areas of my garden, like the back slope.

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  17. Ugh, I'm sorry this severe drought still continues. It must be frustrating to have to put so much thought and effort into water consumption.

    Your garden looks lovely. I really like your pairings of yellow/orange with purple and blue. They provide little explosions of color that really "pop". The Stipa looks great in your garden too.

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