Friday, July 1, 2016

Wide Shots - July 2016

This is my first wide shots post on the quarterly schedule I've now set for these.  I didn't think there was sufficient change month-to-month to warrant these posts on a more frequent schedule.  Wouldn't you know that Mother Nature would put me in my place by delivering a blast of heat in June?  I thought that looking at wide shots of my garden would depress me but I dutifully went through the process of collecting photos.  What I found when I viewed them is a clearer perspective on my garden than I've had since the horrific heatwave kicked off the official start of summer here.  Yes, there's still widespread damage, some of which surfaced only gradually after the event, but the most severe damage is restricted to certain areas and my photos are allowing me to step back and consider changes in planting those areas.

While some plants in the backyard were damaged, including the two small Phylica pubescens I foolishly planted in the back border less than a month before the heat struck, the area as a whole doesn't look too bad.

View from the back patio looking southeast

View from the other direction looking east:  the border on the right, formerly dominated by the yellow flowers of Achillea 'Moonshine', is now taking on pink highlights with the belated return of the pink Eustoma grandiflorum

View from under the mimosa tree at the midpoint of the flagstone path looking north

View from the far north end of the backyard looking back to the south


The biggest issues in the back garden are an attack on the large perennial lupine (Lupinus propinquus) by tent caterpillars and the usual seasonal battle with the litter from the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin).  I've ranted about the latter problem many times before.  As soon at the tree leafs out, it begins to drop its leaves.  Ditto with the flowers.

The mimosa looks nice from a distance but the litter drives me crazy!  The fuzzy pink flowers stick to everything so sweeping alone doesn't take care of it.


I'd expected the sunny south side garden to come through the heatwave relatively unscathed but I was surprised to find some damage to a few of the 'Blue Glow' Agaves.  I didn't notice it immediately but my guess is that the scarring I've seen on these plants may be the result of "agave edema," possibly a byproduct of the rapid shift from our "June gloom" to intense dry heat.  This damage isn't noticeable in the broader view of a wide shot, though.  The raccoons have also returned and are back to digging here and throughout the garden but, thus far, they've caused relatively little damage and they've been leaving me gifts of empty snail shells so I'm cutting them some slack.

View of the southeast side garden looking west toward the arbor leading to the front garden

View of the same area from the side yard patio

View of the side garden looking back toward the harbor, still blanketed by the morning marine layer:  the damage to the Cordyline 'Renegade' to the lower right of the arbor is very bad and I've already made plans to replace the 3 plants there with Yucca desmetiana 'Blue Boy'.


In some views, the front garden looks fine.

Photo taken from the front driveway after the marine layer lifted

View of the front garden looking south


However, two areas of the front garden look particularly bad.  In both cases, I misjudged the degree to which thinning our trees left the areas exposed to the sun on the west side.

This photo was taken from under the Magnolia tree looking south: while the area directly alongside the house is fine, I lost a lot of plants in the mid-section of this space.  The impact of the heat and diminished shade was worsened because a dysfunctional irrigation controller also left the area under-watered.  I'm thinking of adding more Leucadendron and Lomandra here when I replant.

This area in front of the garage is far less shady than it was last year.  That, combined with the relative immaturity of the plants, made it difficult for many plants to survive the heatwave.


In contrast, the succulent bed that runs along the street on the southwest side generally fared well.  One of the 5 new Xylosma congestum shrubs we installed in the spring as an extension of the existing hedge and a backdrop for the succulents was partially burned.  Some succulents are entering summer dormancy too but that's to be expected.

Street-side succulent bed viewed from the street looking toward our neighbor's driveway

View of the same area looking back toward our house


 The vegetable garden has received little attention this year.  I've been using 2 of the 3 raised planters as a cutting garden.  My sweet peas fried during the heatwave and I've replaced them with zinnia plugs.  Some of my sunflowers, grown from seed, failed to germinate and those that did are limping along.

Vegetable garden viewed from the gate leading to the dry garden, looking toward the garage


In the dry garden, the daylilies took the hardest hit.  The rest of the area looks pretty much the same, with one exception.

View of the dry garden from the start of the gravel path leading to the back slope

View from the other end of the gravel path underneath the grape arbor, looking back toward the house: the spa is new.  I wasn't all that thrilled with the idea of adding a spa but it's made my husband very happy.  Marriage is full of compromises.


The part of the garden that experienced the worst impact of the heat was the back slope.  As it only gets watered once a week, that was perhaps to be expected but I've a hard time looking at it so I'll share just one photo.  Even the lemon tree, which has been in place at the bottom of the slope for at least 2 decades suffered.  The tree's dropped about a third of its fruit since the heatwave.  I'm now regularly hand-watering it.

The fig tree on the left was already dropping its leaves before the heatwave struck.  The foliage on steep upper side of the slope on the right, consisting mostly of ivy and honeysuckle, was thoroughly burned but I expect the plants will spring back when fall arrives.


That's it for this quarter's wide shots post.  I'll be back with another wide shot post in October.  Hopefully, by then cooler temperatures will have returned and, maybe, some rain.


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

22 comments:

  1. December is a long way away!

    Opossums eat snails in my garden. It's a sound I love to hear at night. Crunch. Crunch. I don't think opossums venture where there are pets like cats and dogs.

    Standouts from my point of view, which is quite different from yours: the flagstone path with some stuff filling in looks great, at least three (4? 5?) different kinds of grasses, the blue agapanthus (all agapanthus everywhere is looking good this year), the lavender surrounding a bird bath, what looks like coleonoma and something short and red along the paths. Yup, cordyline really looks awful, doesn't it? And agaves, (sad face). I thought they would do better.

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    1. I've been trying out a lot of different grasses, Jane. Off-the-cuff, I think I have at least 3 kinds of Pennisetum, 2 kinds of Festuca, 2 varieties of Seslaria, Stipa tenuissima, Deschampsia, Brizia media and some grass substitutes, like Lomandra. I do use a lot of Coleonema ('Sunset Gold') in the front and back. When I saw my own photos, I was momentarily unsure what that reddish plant along the path was before realizing that its Lobelia erinus ('Crystal Palace' I think) - it's starting to look a little ragged and I've begun cutting it back in the hopes that it'll produce more of those lovely blue flowers it's known for. I dug up the miserable Cordyline 'Renegade' late this afternoon - 2 of the plants may have some life in them yet but I'm going to move them into pots in partial shade to see what happens.

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    2. I don't think I wrote quite accurately. I meant that my cordyline Festival Burgundy and Agave attenuata look awful.

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    3. Mine too. I expected more as well - in both cases.

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  2. Interesting to see your complete planting at this level. You have an amazing property and it looks great. Sorry you've had to deal with the drastic water and heat issues. Happy you can keep your spirits up.

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    1. Summer usually isn't the best period in the garden here, Susie, so some level of unhappiness with the garden is generally expected. What's different this year is just how quickly we moved from good to grossly disappointing - I don't usually get really glum until August :(

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  3. Hi Kris, these heatwaves are terrible, but what can be do except to keep calm and carry on? I lost a newly planted rose that I had nurtured from a band for two years in a container until it had reached a decent size so that it could be planted out into the ground, or at least I thought so,grrr... Thankfully it can be reordered again and is not one of my very rare roses and that is exactly what I will do.
    It would definitively be advisable not to plant in the hot summer months here, but I know that I won't stick to that rule.
    Let's hope that summer is not going too bad...
    Happy 4th of July weekend to you!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. I regularly break my own rule against summer planting, Christina. I just can't stand empty spaces. I do try to stick to annuals and pots (and succulents!), though, and leave major changes until fall. Best wishes for a happy 4th!

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  4. Oh Kris, the wide shots are deceiving, things look lovely, and then I read your captions and see the destruction. Gardening is not for the faint of heart.

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    1. So true! Sometimes I actually miss my tiny shaded garden in a local beach town, where the weather was almost always milder than it is here and where I could practically redesign my garden with a half dozen new plants.

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  5. The garden looks better than I would have thought given the heat you've been experiencing. It says a lot about your choice of plants and TLC. But I take your point about damage being slow to show in some cases. As ever we are experiencing the opposite extreme. Cool and wet summer. We've had another deluge this morning which will probably halt activities for the day. It turns the 45 degree clay slope into a deathtrap.

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    1. Slopes are treacherous under the best of conditions and yours aren't optimal by any means - be careful, Jessica!

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  6. Compromises and microclimates.
    In Porterville there were gaps he was determined to fill. Olive trees. Wait till autumn I said. MUST PLANT NOW he said. And we sadly watched the olives die. Planted against a concrete panel wall, too hot to touch in summer, those poor little trees didn't have a hope!

    Your Agapanthus is looking lovely and cool!

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    1. Fortunately, my husband takes little interest in the garden, although he did insist that we should extend the hedge along the street. He also proposed taking out another tree to appease our neighbor but I stood my ground there.

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  7. Just so you know, the three Yucca desmetiana 'Blue Boy' that I have HATE the heat and direct sun. Now, our sun in the desert is a lot more 'hot' (if that makes sense) but they are definitely not full sun plants. I've had better luck with rough-textured agaves, like Mr. Ripple and Crazy Horse. But they don't have that pretty purple color... good luck!

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    1. The area does get some shade, although it was clearly not enough to keep the Cordyline 'Renegade' happy. I found the Yuccas by chance in a small size for a reasonable price earlier this week and snapped them up so I hope they're more tolerant than the Cordyline but I suppose time will tell. Thanks for the warning anyway, Renee - maybe I'll get out umbrellas to shield the Yuccas if/when the heat soars again.

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  8. Loss in the garden is always tough to take, esp. after all the time and expense put in. The closest I can relate to this is our winter-kill - the opposite problem, too cold. It is an ongoing process to find plants that adapt well to our weather.
    At least the raccoons are ridding you of a garden pest. :) And just to let you know, from my perspective, your garden still looks great!

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    1. The garden looks better from a distance than close up, Eliza, but I'm trying to learn from my mistakes so, perhaps, next summer won't be as trying.

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  9. It's always difficult to lose plants to extreme weather -- but, after a period of mourning, it's always helpful to go out shopping for new plants. ;-) I've learned not to be too quick in declaring daylilies dead. After being no-shows one year, they will often come back the next year looking large and healthy. -Jean

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    1. I'm trusting that the daylilies will come back, Jean - hopefully, it's just the current season's blooms that are toast. As to replanting, I've already purchased some replacement plants, although I really should hold off planting them in the borders until fall when the temperatures are reliably cooler. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to grab plants when they're available (or so I tell myself).

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  10. From your images it is difficult to see the damage that the heat has done. The views of the back garden where the lawn used to be look fantastic; the plants are filling in well and it is so much more beautiful than it was with grass, well done for showing the way to others!

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    1. It's the front area on the southwest side that bothers me most, Christina. I walk through there at least a few times every day and I can't help fixating on the dead plants.

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