Friday, December 11, 2015

Slow but steady progress

Late last month I provided an update on my progress with my lawn removal and replacement project.  Work continues and, while I'm making progress, it's slow.  With my former garden, a postage-stamp sized lot, I could bring home a trunk load of plants and utterly transform the space within hours.  My current garden absorbs trunk loads of plants - and hours upon hours of work - and still looks mighty bare.

Not much has happened on the narrow north end of the new backyard space.  The house itself shades much of the area after mid-day so I need plants that can tolerate dry shade.

Thus far, I've planted Seslaria 'Greenlee's Hybrid', a short clumping evergreen grass (shown on the left), and some Aeonium arboreum cuttings.  I want at least a dozen more of this Seslaria but I haven't been able to find it locally.  I have an endless supply of the Arboreum.


If we walk south on the paving stone path we come to the backyard patio, where I've begun installing succulents.  The soil in this area is sandy and plants must be able to handle full day sun.  I've bought a few succulents but I'm also using cuttings from elsewhere in the garden.  With no overall plan, it's a bit of a hodge-podge collection thus far.

In the bed to the north of the path's intersection with the patio (photo on the left), I'm planning to use plants with orange highlights, including Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire', which I clipped from a more mature specimen, and Aloe 'Blue Elf', which I moved from a pot I'd woefully neglected.  The middle photo shows the bed on the other side of the bisecting path, where I've planted Senecio vitalis cuttings and 2 Agave lophantha quadricolor.  Two pots, shown in close-up in the third photo, contain varieties of Kalanchoe and other noID succulents.


Beyond the patio on the right (west) side, I've added a larger number of plants but, as most were planted from small pots, they're not yet having much of an impact.

The fountain bed formerly ended where the Stipa tenuissima (Mexican feather grass) is planted

The left-hand photo shows Santolina chamaecyparrisus (green form), Lavandula x intermedia 'Phenomenal', Lavendula angustifolia 'Superblue' and Gazanias I've moved forward from the edge of the former bed; the middle photo shows Salvia chamaedryoides, Argyrantemum 'Madeira White', Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl, and Santolina chamaecyparrissus (gray form); and the last photo shows Echium fastuosum 'Pride of Madeira', planted just in back of the Mexican feather grass to replace Coreopsis I've moved elsewhere


On the other (east) side of the path, I've tried to create continuity with the former backyard border by using more of the plants I already had there, most notably Erigeron and Achillea.

I moved Erigeron glaucus 'Ron's Pink' forward, added more Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick' and Achillea 'Moonshine', and introduced a new low-growing Hebe called 'Purple Shamrock' here


Further down the path on the right (west) side, I've picked up on the orange, yellow and lime green tones I've used on the east side of the backyard border.

In addition to the Arctotis 'Pink Sugar', Abelia 'Kaleidoscope and Santolina virens 'Lemon Fizz' I showed in my earlier post, I've added Papaver nudicaule 'Champagne Bubbles' (shown in the photo on the left) and more Gazania from the 'Flame' series (shown in the photo on the right).  I've also moved some of the smaller semi-evergreen Hemerocallis I had in the main backyard border to this area but these aren't readily visible in my photos.


On the left (east) side of the paving stone path, as it connects to the south end side garden, I've added more succulents to link the areas.

The photo on the left shows 2 small Agave attentuata, a somewhat larger A. attenuata 'Raea's Gold' (one of my biggest splurges thus far) and Agave bracteosa in addition to Coprosma 'Pacific Sunset', Leucadendron 'Red Devil' and more Iceland poppies; the photo on the right shows the Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta' I moved from a pot, 2 Agave 'Joe Hoak' (one a pup I received from Denise of "A Growing Obsession" earlier this year), Agave 'Cream Delight' moved from another area of the garden, and more Aeonium cuttings


I've also been working on changes to the south side garden.

In this area I've added a Agave ovatifolia 'Vanzie' (another splurge), 2 more Aloe Dorotheae, 3 more Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote', an Agave 'Blue Flame' pup, 3 Carex testacea to mirror those planted on the other side of the path, more Gazania, and an Agave americana mediopicta pup (received from Hoover Boo at "Piece of Eden")


Meanwhile, work also continues on our digging and sifting exercise in former front lawn area alongside the street.  My husband spends a little time there early most mornings and I spend a little time there in the late afternoon, usually as it's growing dark.  We're making progress, even if it's slow.  I also put in a few plants mail-ordered from a California native plant nursery late last week in the area left bare by removal of a mostly dead Ceanothus.  They're very small in relation to the size of the area so it also looks a little sorry at the moment but I hope to add some groundcovers before the heaviest rains arrive.

The plant on the upper left is a Garrya elliptica 'James Roof' and the 2 on the right are Salvia 'Celestial Blue'

I took cuttings of Pelargonium tomentosum and Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior' for use in providing cover for the bare soil


I keep reminding myself how bare the main section of the front garden looked last year when I started planting.  Hopefully, next year at this time I'll be as happy with the current project as I am with last year's project.


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

22 comments:

  1. You're planting such cool plants and in such quantity. These new areas are going to be magnificent! Shop on!

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    1. I'd probably be doing a lot more plant shopping, Peter, if the local garden centers hadn't cleared so much of their regular stock to make room for holiday items. But maybe I'll get some nursery gift cards for Christmas so I can go hog wild in January.

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  2. I'm sure you will be happy Kris, you've made some lovely choices. El Nino's arrival will be very timely!

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    1. I'd hoped the El Nino rains would be here already (even if the front area isn't ready for planting yet) but apparently that weather phenomenon is still gathering steam in the Pacific.

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  3. It's looking good, Kris! I experienced the same thing with my previous property--as a beginning gardener, I'd come home with a few plants in a single box or with a couple of bags of compost. And they'd just disappear. I moved on up to ordering hundreds of plants (liner stock) and 16 yards of compost at a time. I quickly learned to appreciate medium sized shrubs for the amount of impact they gave per dollar invested. Perennials and ground covers add up a lot faster and give less immediate impact.

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    1. I've been going with more shrubs of late myself, Emily. I like to plant in sizes of 1-gallon or less when I can get what I want that small as I think they establish better but then of course I get impatient with the time it takes for the plants to mature...

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  4. You still have much to do with plants!
    Finding plants for dry shade may not be easy.
    Fully convinced that you will succeed.
    Mariana

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    1. Fortunately, there are quite a number of succulents that can tolerate some shade, Mariana, so they offer one option.

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  5. Patience, grasshopper! After another year or so your small plants will all have developed their own sturdy root systems to withstand the dry times yet to come and they'll potentially be garden stars for decades. I always feel plants that are allowed to "grow into" their spaces fill them more artistically than larger plants that just get plunked down in place.

    Eventually you'll be noting your beds are all filled and you don't have space for the new plants you've seen and wanted to try. Carry on and here's to somereasonable rain for both our gardens!

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    1. Alas, patience is not one of my primary virtues, Deb. While I do prefer to plant using smaller sizes when I can for not only economy but also the health of the plants, I can't help but get antsy when they take their time about growing up.

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  6. I was going to say exactly what TexasDeb did...you'll soon be wondering where all that empty space went and wishing for a little bit of open space to plant! It's looking great Kris, and you're so smart to be documenting it like this!

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    1. Yes, one day I expect I'll be back eyeing the back slope to see how I can use more of that space, although I may have to have knee surgery before I can go crazy down there.

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  7. I usually feel the same way planting at my parents' house. I put in a new plant, small because that's what I can afford, and it looks so empty. Things do fill in, though. I love seeing your progress, and the sunshine you still have. I wish I had started my fall gardening a month or so sooner than I had. Now it's usually raining on my days off.

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    1. I wish I'd started the current project a month or more earlier too, Evan. I really underestimated how much time clearing the last 2 remaining areas of lawn was going to take.

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  8. I have no doubt that by this time next year ti will look fabulous! I spent some time last spring sifting soil so I have a good idea how much work it is. I hope your Garrya gets big, but my two have been taking their time. They don't require much care (or water) in my experience, so the wait will be worth it.

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    1. I'm a little worried about whether the Garrya will tolerate the heat here, Alison. It's supposed to do well in coastal areas but it's a lot warmer on this side of the peninsula than it is on the west-facing side. I was originally going to go with G. falvescens, which is conditioned to inland areas, but it was no longer available when I was ready to place my order. At least the rains associated with El Nino should help it get established before the drought and water restrictions once again become a problem.

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  9. It is always hard when you are trying to transform the whole garden or a large part of it. As you say planting looks thin to begin with but it will all grow well and relatively quickly because you've selected the right plants. I like that you're repeating colour themes in various areas. Santolinas strike well from cuttings so you could take cuttings of the ones you like. I think it is looking wonderful; I hope you are going to give yourself a rest over the Christmas period.

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    1. Thanks Christina! Color is a major factor in my plant choices (along with cultural requirements of course). I love too many colors to restrict my palette to a few colors but I do try to blend my color changes gradually. I'm still trying to get as much done as I can before the El Nino-related rains enforce a break. We've had a couple of light rainstorms but none yet have come from the south.

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  10. Gosh Kris, I think you are making tremendous progress in an incredible speed! The newly planted areas look fabulous already and it can only get better when the plants grow in. I can't wait to see these beds next year!
    Wishing you a lovely third advent week!
    Christina

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    1. Thanks Christina! I hope you're enjoying the holidays too!

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  11. You are making tremendous progress! Do you give tours to garden groups? By next year your garden will be the envy of any dedicated gardener.

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    1. I take my friends on forced marches through my garden but that's about it. I don't belong to a garden club, although I did decline one request for a group's tour 2 years ago due to conflict with a family crisis (and I haven't been asked since!).

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