Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wide Shots - October 2016

My last wide shots post on my quarterly schedule was in July.  The garden never fully recovered from the horrible heatwave that hit in late June and, although I ignored my better judgement and did some planting over the summer months, there are still plenty of holes in the landscape.  I'm looking forward to moving plants around and filling the empty spaces this fall.  I wish I could count on rain but most pundits contend that we should expect below normal levels of precipitation again this season.  As the experts were totally off-base in predicting a deluge for Southern California last year, I hope they're wrong again this year; however, at present, the earliest rain I could find in forecasts for our area is expected in mid-November.

Here's what the backyard looked like October 1st as our latest heatwave finally backed off.

View from the back door looking toward the harbor.  The Lupinus propinquus that formerly occupied a prominent space near the fountain succumbed to tent caterpillars before I could get the problem under control; however, the dwarf Echium webbii I'd planted nearby appears to appreciate the additional root space resulting from the lupine's removal.

View from the north end of the backyard looking north.  That green rain barrel on the right and my 2 larger barrels have been empty for a long time.

View of the backyard from the south end looking north.  The mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) in the distance didn't leaf out or flower as well as in prior years.  That meant less litter but the tree really looks sad.

Next up is the south side garden:

View of the south side garden looking west.  The arbor next to the house fit the space better when the area alongside it was occupied by the 60 foot eucalyptus tree we removed at a neighbor's request in 2013.  I'd like to put in a large shrub or small tree there but the wind that tears through the area and the shade of the Arbutus 'Marina' just beyond the bed complicate the selection process.  I tried a Japanese maple there but it succumbed to the wind.  I'd like to try a smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) but I worry the spot may not get enough sun.

View of the south side garden from the small patio next to the house.  The Arbutus on the right and the shrubs and trees along the property line are all scheduled for trimming before year end (part of my ongoing effort to placate a neighbor's view concerns).  

View of the side garden from the front garden looking east toward the harbor.  The tree trimming I've scheduled may at least increase the sun available to anything a plant in the bed next to the arbor.


Moving through the arbor and down a dirt path takes us to a lower level of the garden facing the street.

View of the area looking back up to the main level of the garden.  We extended the rock wall in this area in early September.  So far, the new succulents are doing fine.

This photo shows where the area connects to the street side succulent bed.  The 5 Xylosma congestum shrubs we added in spring to extend the existing hedge are doing fine, although they haven't grown much.  I fear it will be years yet before the hedge fills in.

View of the succulent bed from across the street


If we continue north along either the street or the dirt path behind the succulent bed, we reach the front of the house.

View from the driveway

View from the area formerly occupied by lawn looking across the driveway to the house.  Many of the plants I put in this area in late winter struggled during the course of the summer despite receiving extra water.  With the trees thinned, the sun exposure was greater than I'd factored into my planting plan so I'll be looking to change out some of those that are still struggling this fall.

View of the front garden looking from the north end of the house toward the south.  The 'Pink Meidiland' shrub roses that came with the house are looking awful but the rest of the area is generally doing well.

For the purposes of contrast, this is a photo of the front garden my brother took in December 2011 from a similar angle


Turning our backs on the front garden leads us into the vegetable garden.

The vegetable garden has some herbs but no vegetables.  I'm planning to use the raised planters mainly for cut flowers next year.  Since this photo was taken, with my husband's help, I've removed those 2 ginormus rosemary shrubs in the middle planter and the Westringia fruticosa in the third (distant) planter.


The photo above was taken at the garden gate that separates the vegetable garden from the dry garden on the northeast so next we move into the dry garden.

The persimmon tree and the grape vine in the distance are rapidly losing their leaves, while the 2 guava trees are loaded with unripe fruit.  I pulled out a large Dorycnium hirsutum (Hairy Canary Clover) that had seen better days, revealing the Agave ovatifolia I planted in 2012.  The clover has freely self-seeded elsewhere.


That gravel path through the dry garden leads us to the back slope, which is thankfully hidden from general view as it looks AWFUL.

Top of the slope's stairway looking down.  With the removal of the giant Yucca elephantipes at the bottom of the slope just beyond the lemon tree in December 2014, what was a fairly shady area was exposed to full sun.  The drought, water restrictions and June's horrific heatwave combined to lay the area low.

The area looks even worse viewed from the bottom looking up.  The upper portion of the slope above the cement block stairs, which was covered in ivy and honeysuckle, hasn't come back since the heatwave in June decimated it.  It's very steep and I'm not sure I can/should try to replant it on my own, although with my husband's help I might be able to do something with the area below the stairs.  (The orthopedist who says I'm destined for a knee replacement someday would be horrified.)  I'm inclined to see if the winter rains help the area recover but in this case hiring help may be the ticket.


That's it for my quarterly wide shots.  Hopefully, things will be greener by the time I post my next photo tour in January.


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

36 comments:

  1. Omigosh! Mid-November? How terrible!
    Your garden looks great. And green. Your plant choices are excellent.

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    1. November 18th, to be precise, but those long-term forecasts aren't always dependable. We need to start up those rain dances, Jane!

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  2. Do you have a smoke bush in any other spot? I can't speak to its shade tolerance, but after my laissez-faire watering this summer, I can say that it is extremely drought tolerant. Mine got no additional water, and never skipped a beat, didn't lose a single leaf. I want another one too, but also might not have a spot with enough sun. I might give it a shot anyway. I'm always astounded at the transformation of your lawn-covered yard into a lush garden. You've created a thing of beauty.

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    1. I don't have a smoke bush but a neighbor across the street does. It doesn't get full sun all day either so I'm hopeful it might work for me too. My neighbors have to trim theirs dramatically each year (to accommodate the same neighbor with view concerns), but it always springs back.

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  3. I'm so impressed. It's shocking how great your garden looks in these wide shots, despite the heat and drought you've had. I'm sure you notice the gaps and problems, as the gardener, that I just don't see. Fabulous. You've got a great lot and nice views, to boot!

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    1. We were lucky with the views - right time, right place to buy. Learning what will survive and thrive here is an ongoing learning process, which the continuing drought complicates.

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  4. What you've created there is just so impressive, and all the more so given the conditions you've been working under! If you think they will stand for coastal conditions, I would really recommend the Eremophila maculata varieties for the sunny slope - they are so, so, so tough! And fairly large so you wouldn't be dealing with quite so much planting and watering... I love that your succulent bed is doing so well :)

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    1. I have 2 Eremophila but they're different species (E. glabra and E. hygrophana). I'm off on a plant shopping trip with a friend this weekend and we plan to stop at the Australian Native Plants Nursery so I'll keep my eyes peeled for E. maculata. Thanks for the suggestion, Amy.

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  5. I'm so sorry you feel obliged to trim more trees for That Neighbour.

    I plan to remove our last bougainvillea so I have a good space to plant a new tree - in the gap where we removed the New Zealand Christmas tree for our That Neighbour. So regret that, but our new little trees are coming up.

    Apart from the daunting steep slope, your garden looks green and full of interesting plants.

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    1. maybe on the slope
      Bauhinia galpinii
      Tecomaria capensis
      and Plumbago auriculata.
      Once established all way too vigourous for my small space.

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    2. Yes, that neighbor is an ongoing issue. I committed to regularly trimming/thinning the trees but told her that I don't plan to remove any more and I won't coppice my trees as she's suggested. She can always appeal to the city but I'm hoping my annual good faith efforts may head that off, or at least stand in my favor if the city is brought in.

      I've been thinking about plumbago for the back slope - I know it grows well here. I have to look into the other two as they're not familiar to me. Thanks for the suggestions, Diana.

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  6. Wow Kris - I don't think I have ever seen full views of your entire garden before. It looks even more wonderful than I have always suspected it would, but it was nice to finally see it! Given your years of drought, I'm amazed at how lush and green it looks - which of course speaks to your ability to pick the right plants. Good call to remove the lawn - it is a huge improvement! As for that tree-hating neighbor - jeez. Don't people realize that shade can be a blessing? Especially when you're constantly assaulted by heat waves??? I agree with Alison that a Cotinus would be happy near your arbor. I have one in part sun, and it is thriving. Like Alison, I don't spoil it much with water either. There is a wonderful Cotinus with somewhat larger leaves named "Grace' I wish I had room for. It sports fabulous color this time of year.

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    1. I've brought up the shade issue with the neighbor repeatedly, as well as the point that the middle of a serious drought isn't the time to remove trees, but she turns a deaf ear to those concerns. She wants the view she had 40 years ago, even if the city's view conservation ordinance doesn't promise that. With your comments and Alison's, I'm getting more excited about the idea of bringing in a Cotinus.

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  7. Dramatic improvement compared to the shot with the lawn--looks so much better now, despite the drought. You have worked so hard on your garden!

    That back slope has such a fabulous view, perhaps it is a place for some sort of small terrace with a bench under a small tree or arbor, rather than a ground cover. If the drought has killed off the ivy, that's not a bad thing...

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    1. I'd have never planted ivy - or honeysuckle - but up until June the 2 plants at least covered the upper slope in green. Terracing the area has always been my dream but I hate to think what that would cost. Doing the job properly, without my husband and I risking life or limb, will require help in this case.

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  8. I love this wide-angle tour of all your garden spaces. How large is your property? It seems to go on and on. There's still a lot of room for more plants.

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    1. The property is slightly more than a half-acre, which is big for Los Angeles County. Our former property was less than a quarter the size.

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  9. I love seeing your wide shots; all of your garden is beautifully planted and is a credit to your choice of plants and care. The image of the front of the house really shows how the RHS has developed since you removed the grass and planted it, it is now difficult to see which side of the drive was planted first. The wide shots are so useful for future reference; I think I must begin to post then again and not just one view as I did in the past.

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    1. I refer back to earlier wide shots with surprising frequency, Christina. Even although I switched to a quarterly posting schedule on the garden's progress, I've taken the same series of photos most months for my own reference. The trend isn't always positive but the data is still useful.

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  10. I always enjoy the long shots of your garden. What a paradise you have created. I don't know how you manage it with your water restrictions. I think I might start doing wide shots for my own reference, it is useful to help with forward planning.

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    1. The water restrictions have been a major challenge, especially as I went overboard with them and cut water more dramatically than necessary, harming and killing some plants. I've eased off on my self-imposed restrictions and the state has eased up on its as well but I suspect that another year of low rainfall will bring new restrictions next year.

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  11. It was so nice to have a walk with you around your garden. Your garden looks so wide and nicely planted. Despite the drought it still looks very good on the photos.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, Janneke! There are holes throughout the garden. Autumn is the best time to plant here so I hope to fill some of those holes and, with luck, the winter rains will help the new plants get established.

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  12. Beautiful! I prefer the shots with out all the lawn. Taking it out was a smart move. I hope to see you in DC next summer!

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  13. Where you see setbacks, I see amazing progress. Don't be so hard on yourself, Kris, and your knees! It looks beautiful. The golden coleonema really pops in the front garden. Maybe that steep slope is a candidate for a bougainvillea planted at the top to cascade down. Having walked that path, I know how treacherous that descent is.

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    1. Bougainvillea is definitely a candidate for the upper portion of the back slope - the neighbors used it on their side of the same slope so it would create continuity. The only problem is that my husband hates the plant (a byproduct of having painfully removed it from a border along the driveway of our former house, where it stretched out and scratched his beloved electric car).

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  14. I love your garden tours, Kris. I'm beginning to get a better feel for the placement of things overall. I love the soft, frilly grasses. Perhaps you ought to turn your back slope into a cactus garden a la Huntington Gardens. I loved the barrel cacti and agave there, among others.

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    1. I've seriously considered succulents and cactus for the back slope and in fact have got a few of the soft-leaved foxtail agaves back there already; however, the sunny area needs tougher specimens than those. My hesitation is that the area is a steep climb and I have visions of a visitor or myself taking a tumble and landing in cactus, which could be very unpleasant. Grasses are perhaps a safer/softer alternative.

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    2. I can see your point (pun intended)!

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  15. Oh despite the lack of the wet stuff you have a fabulous garden Kris. Is that thyme creeping between the cracks in the paving in the third photo down?

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    1. Thanks Anna! I have creeping thyme (most Thymus serphyllum 'Minus') planted around and between all the flagstones throughout the garden. It stands up to heat and drought and stays low, although it does need periodic trimming.

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  16. The wide shots of your garden are always so inspiring. You've done so much and your space looks incredible. The touches of red in your fourth picture are way cool! Could you hire someone to terrace your steep slope to make more space for plants? (Oh, the opportunities for plant shopping boggle the mind.)

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    1. I'm seriously thinking about terracing the back slope, Peter, although the challenges and cost of doing so almost causes my brain to short-circuit. I think I'd have to tell my husband it'd be a trade-off for all future Christmas, birthday, and anniversary presents.

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  17. I always love seeing wide shots of your garden. It stands as such a testament to the lush oases that can be made using climate-adapted plants instead of lawn and thirstier plants. We gardeners have a hard time looking past the flaws in our own gardens, but your garden truly looks wonderful. As others have said, I think a Cotinus would do well in that spot. I've seen examples of both C. coggygria and C. obovatus growing in half-shade and dappled shade. I would think a little shade in your climate would actually be better than full sun.

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I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. However, with apologies to bona-fide commentators, due to a significant increase in spam, I've eliminated the option to post comments anonymously.