Friday, January 1, 2016

Wide Shots: January 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I haven't included a complete garden overview in my monthly wide shot posts since August.  The new year seems an appropriate time for such a review so here it is.

We finished digging up the backyard in late November.  Paving stone was laid and planting began.  Finding plants to fill the empty space was a problem in December as local garden centers shifted their attention to Christmas trees and holiday merchandise and many mail order providers went on hiatus.  I'm hoping that local nursery stock will expand this month and I can begin to fill in the blanks in my garden before the rains associated with El Niño are over (assuming those rains, which have yet to make an appearance, aren't a myth perpetuated by NOAA).

The usual view from the back door looking out toward Angel's Gate, the entrance to the Los Angeles harbor

View from the far north end of the backyard space looking south

View from the south end looking back northward


The area on the south side of the house has been undergoing a bit of renovation as I try to improve the flow between it and the backyard.  As this is also the raccoons' favorite playground, I've been putting in more spiky succulents in the hope of putting them off.  I can't claim this strategy has been entirely successful but that's the direction I'm currently taking.

View of the south side garden from the backyard looking toward the arbor that leads to the front garden: Although difficult to see in this photo, succulents have been added on both sides of the flagstone path.  The large green plant mid-way along the path on the left, a huge clump of Arthropodium cirratum, is slated for removal.  The bulbous plant will be divided and used in a shadier area in the front garden along the street.

View of the south side garden from the patio alongside the house

My favorite view of the side garden looking through the arbor toward the backyard and the harbor


Heading into the front garden, the area on the south side is more subdued since I pulled up the ratty remnants of the Gaillardia and cut back many of the other plants.

View of the front garden looking northward toward the driveway and garage: Nothing in this area is at its best at the moment


In an effort to keep our neighbor up the street happy, I had the majority of our trees trimmed in mid-December.  The impact is particularly noticeable in the front garden.

Front garden photographed from the driveway

This view of the south side of the front garden shows how much more sun it's getting now that the trees have been thinned

The north side of the front garden


Work continues at the north end of the front garden along the street.  We're almost done digging up the area.  Our plan is to finish that in the coming week, then mix in some imported topsoil, lay flagstones, and begin planting.  Our first El Niño rains are predicted to arrive during the middle of next week so we're a bit behind the game but at least we're still making progress.

Photo of the project area taken 2 days ago - the digging has been slow going due to the care we're taking to avoid damage to tree and shrub roots here


The remaining garden areas were sorely neglected in 2015 despite plans I had for each.

Vegetable garden: I'd intended to use the raised beds mainly as a cutting garden but somehow this has never made it to the top of my priority list.  I did plant sweet pea and other flower seeds in the bed in the foreground back in September, only to have the raccoons rummage through the seedlings.  I recently laid down chicken wire and replanted the area but there's not much to show of the effort yet.  On the positive side, the navel oranges (middle tree along the fence) are almost ripe.

Dry garden: There's very little in bloom here at the moment.  Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola', normally the star of my winter garden, has yet to bloom.  I cut the 3 Cuphea 'Starfire Pink' (middle, foreground) back last month but they're showing little sign of life and may require replacement - they prefer the areas of the garden that are irrigated more regularly.

The back slope is shown looking downward from the top of the cement stairs on the left and from the bottom looking up on the right: With only 1.44 inches of rain for the season to date (October 1 to the present) and little supplemental irrigation, this area is suffering.

The "glen" sits below the front garden adjacent to the street on the west side.  I had plans to add another layer of rock to the upper, sloped area to level the soil somewhat and improve water retention but, when our focus shifted to lawn removal, I never got around to this.  The Ceanothus hedge that lined the top of that slope has been dying away in sections and I've been slow to replant.

The succulents in the street-side bed adjacent to the "glen" are doing fine but the Auranticarpa rhombifolia shrubs that formerly backed the succulents are dying.  We've already removed 3 of these shrubs and now the one in the center is almost certainly dead.  I was hoping our winter rains might make a difference but I think it's too late for resurrection. These shrubs connected to the more robust Xylosma congestum hedge that borders the street elsewhere (visible on the far left).  Replacing the Auranticarpa with Xylosma would be one solution but it wouldn't leave much room for the succulents so I'm considering other screening options.  Any ideas?


That's a wrap on my wide shots update.  My thanks again to Heather of Xericstyle for setting me on this monthly task.  Best wishes to all for a very happy new year - may 2016 bring you the garden of your dreams!


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

31 comments:

  1. I wish I had your energy!
    A very Happy New Year Kris and with it, some rain.

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    1. Oh, I think you have plenty of energy, Jessica! I'm also lucky (as you seem to be as well) to have a husband willing to help with my projects.

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  2. I love seeing these progression views. What progress you made in 2015. Happy New Year, Kris!

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    1. My progress seems slow to me, Denise - one step forward and a half-step back as new issues (like those related to "view conservation") require unexpected plan modifications. Happy new year to you as well!

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  3. it's interesting to see an honest view of the whole garden.
    And later to see the freshly planted bits coming together.

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    1. There are indeed no illusions with those photos, Diana!

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  4. Hi Kris, I couldn't help thinking how incredible much work you must have put into your garden, when I saw your photos! The backyard where you did the lawn removable just recently looks like there never has been a lawn, it is already perfectly planted up. And I love the look of your South side garden!
    I wish I would make progress in my garden at half of your rate - I would be a happy gardener!
    Hope so much that the predicted El Nino will come. That would make such a difference in all of our Southern California gardens, wouldn't it?
    Wishing you a wonderful New Year 2016 as well and hopefully it will be a good garden year, too.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. I'd been thinking (or maybe just hoping) that the El Nino rains would be here by December, Christina. I know that rain forecasts do fizzle in some El Nino years but the current consensus suggests that we may indeed be wet next week. Fingers are crossed for all of us across California and the southwest!

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  5. As Diana S mentioned, these are such "honest" views - when shot in their entirety it is impossible to edit out the falterers or those plants in between bloom times that populate all our beds at times.

    As much as you continue to see "work that yet needs to be done" when you look at these scenes, our less familiar eyes see only "work that has been done", and a lot of it, at that. Your beds are looking cared for, which to my mind, gives you a complete pass for plants that are not at their current glory, or plants that might need to be replaced eventually. There are obvious signs of a gardeners heart and soul in play here, and that...more than any particular plant or weather...is what I love best about any garden.

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    1. I need you to move in next door, Deb - your comments always boost my spirits! I can get stuck in a glass half-empty mindset at times. Best wishes for a happy new year!

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  6. Why do you have to keep the neighbor up the street happy? I love all your succulents and grasses. Your garden looks like a tapestry to me. I hope he rains do come and hopefully, not all at once!

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    1. We have a local ordinance on "view conservation" here, Tammy, that limits the height and density of plants that impact other homeowners views, or at least the views those homeowners had when the ordinance became effective in November 1989. One of my neighbors has threatened to take us to the city committee on impairment of her view on 2 occasions. Personally, given our severe drought, tree removal and significant pruning strikes me as a crime of a different nature and, if pushed too far, I may pursue that POV locally and at the state level but for now I'm trying to meet the neighbor part way.

      It would be nice if Mother Nature spaced out the rain but as 3-4 separate storms are expected next week, I'm not sure we can count on that!

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  7. I always love seeing your garden. It's amazing how fast you progress. From here, much of it looks lush and beautiful, despite the drought. I hope you get some reviving rains soon, though. I admire your patience and graciousness towards your neighbors. I could never live somewhere with such restrictions. My perversely contrary nature would have me going out of my way to piss off my whiny neighbors.

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    1. I'm not sure I'd characterize my response to my neighbor (it's really just one person) as gracious, Evan. Civil in person but testy in private would be more accurate. I'm trying to live within the spirit of the ordinance but my civility does have its limits.

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  8. I hope the promised rains do come for you this winter. Your garden just keeps looking better and better. I had plans for this past year too that never happened. Maybe in 2016! I'll wish you Good Luck on your raccoon problem, if you wish the same for me. I'm trying out a swath of prickly plants to see if that helps deter them.

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    1. Wouldn't a raccoon-free year be wonderful?! I hope they leave us both in peace, Alison. I did have a visit on New Year's (the usual calling card was left at the fountain) but the garden was relatively unmolested for a change. So maybe something's changed - or perhaps they were just put off by the fireworks over the harbor. I'll hope for the former.

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  9. What has me wowed is that fact that you are able to keep your whole property planted and create such a nice flow... I love the wide range of foliage colors too - especially the gold-leaved plants, which are not something I've found much of here, though silver and purple are available in plenty so I won't complain. Here's to a nice rain (across the SW, please...); they're forecasting it most of the week here, but our sky at the moment can only be called "cloudless"!

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    1. We had just wispy clouds today as well, Amy, but we also have a forecast for rain most of the week, starting Monday or Tuesday depending upon the source. I'm holding my breath (and using up the rainwater in my collection tanks in the meantime).

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  10. Your photos show just how much garden you have. And yes, my favorite is the view through the arch to the big tree with golden grasses. But all your garden is a testament to your continuing hard work. I have made a cutting garden out of one of my beds this year. It seems the easiest thing to do as flowers like to grow in there anyway. Here's to a new year of gardening.

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    1. With no more lawn left to remove, maybe I'll actually get to some of those other projects this year, Jenny, including the cutting garden. Best wishes for a happy new year!

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  11. Looking immaculate as always, Kris. I know I've read the name before, but what is it that's growing between your flagstone pavers again? It looks so good.

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    1. Creeping thyme, mostly Thymus serphyllum.

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  12. It is such a treat to visit your garden and follow all your projects – and the view is to die for! All the wide shots really help to give us a sense of where everything is. As for El Nino – it seems it has given more rain to Britain than to you lately, we have had more than enough to last us for months!

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    1. It surprised me to hear just how widespread El Nino's impacts are on the world's weather. I'd expected the associated rain would arrive by December but, as of today, we're still waiting...

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  13. Happy New Year, Kris! Your garden truly is a botanical wonder. You have so much diversity of color and texture, even in winter. I am amazed at how much you have accomplished. I wish I could send you some of the rain we have experienced this past month. You may have some plants that are suffering, but you have skillfully chosen plants adapted to your conditions and the over-all effect is fabulous!

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    1. It is too bad that Mother Nature isn't more even-handed with the rain, Deb! I've been stretching out intervals between uses of my irrigation system and relying heavily on the rain I've collected in my tanks (it's amazing how much water you can get from a trivial amount of rain landing on the roof!) but distributing that rainwater to the garden is a time-consuming and exhausting task. My garden is parched and needs a real good soak!

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  14. Beautiful as always! You've really accomplished a lot this year and your progress is inspirational!

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    1. Thanks Peter! I can't wait until the day my little-bitty plants actually fill out and start to mingle.

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  15. Think it was a misunderstanding, I have not been in the USA.
    If it had not been such a long flight, I had come and visited you in California.
    Happy New year
    Mariana

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    1. I wondered. You mentioned "Oregon," which to me means the State of Oregon to the north of California but I figured that you would not easily be able to bring plants purchased there back to Sweden!

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