Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wide Shots - January 2017

I've taken photos at intervals over the past week in preparation for my now quarterly wide shots post.  I covered all the major areas of my garden this time around and pulled photos from last January's collection for comparison purposes so this is a photo-heavy post.  You've been warned.  Except as otherwise noted, when photos of the same area are shown side-by-side, the photo on the left is from January 2016 and the photo on the right is a current view.

I'll start in the back garden.  The last sections of lawn in the back garden were removed in September 2015.  By January 2016, flagstone had been laid through the mid-section of what had been lawn, or what passed for lawn in our increasingly dry climate, and plants had been added.  The plants have filled out quite a bit over the past year.

View from the back patio looking southeast

View from the south side looking north toward the patio and the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) just beyond

View from the area north of the main patio looking south


Moving southward, here's a look at the garden on the south side of the house.  The changes here are less dramatic than some areas of the garden.  In 2016, while the overall structure of the area remained the same, succulents displaced more of the woody and herbaceous plants.

View from the east looking west toward the arbor leading to the main area of the front garden.  While herbaceous plants on the south/left side of the path (e.g. Acanthus and Arthropodium) were replaced with succulents in 2016, some succulents on the other side of the path were replaced with Lotus berthelotii after raccoons repeatedly dug the succulents up.

View from the small patio on the south end of the house looking to the trees and shrubs that separate us from the neighbors on the south side

View through the arbor looking toward the backyard and the harbor to the east


Taking a turn down the path just to the west of the arbor brings us to an area I call the "glen" for no other reason than it's simpler than describing it as a flat area below the main level of the front garden and behind the succulent bed that runs along the street.  In 2016, the main alteration to this area involved extension of the dry-stacked wall than contains the front slope.

View from the street looking toward the path leading up to the upper level

This current view, looking back toward the street, shows the extension to the dry-stacked wall in the foreground


If you're a regular reader, you may recall that we also removed the last remnants of the Ceanothus hedge atop the western side of dry-stacked wall.  This hedge, which ran parallel to the Xylosma hedge along the street at the front of the property had created an odd tunnel approximately 3 feet wide.  When the last of the dying Ceanothus shrubs were removed in November, I replanted the area using succulents and a few other drought tolerant plants.

In this case, the before picture on the left was taken in September 2016.  The photo on the right was taken last week.


This brings us to the main section of the front garden.  Changes in this area were relatively minor in 2016 and mostly involved replacement of plants killed during the horrific heatwave in June and some plants that died later due to a breakdown in a segment of our irrigation system.

Current view of the front of the house from the driveway

View from the side garden arbor looking north toward the driveway.  A large number of plants on the west/left side of the path in the January 2016 photo on the left were replaced following June's heatwave.  The Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' in the foreground of the photo on the right is finally gaining ground more than 2 years after it was planted.


A side-by-side comparison of a photo taken in 2011 and a photo I took from roughly the same angle last Thursday is perhaps the most dramatic reflection of the transformation of the front garden.  I offer this as my Wednesday Vignette.  (Visit Anna at Flutter & Hum for more of the images that bloggers found interesting this week.)

The photo on the left looking across the front garden from north to south was taken by my brother on Christmas Eve 2011, one year after we moved in.  It's the closest thing I have to a "before renovation" photo of the front garden.  I took the photo on the right late last week.  In the intervening period, we removed not only the lawn but also the 60-foot Eucalyptus that formerly stood in the distance on the south side of the house.


The last area we stripped of lawn was a parcel sandwiched between the driveway, the street, and our detached garage.  At the start of 2016 we were still in the process of digging out the lawn.  I finished my initial planting of the area in late January.  The plantings have been slow to fill out.

View from the driveway looking north


Turning to the other side of the garage, the vegetable garden looks much the same as it did in January 2016, although the contents of the raised planters have changed.  I've given up vegetables in favor of herbs and flowers for cutting.

This January (right), there are already blooms on the Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection' planted against the garage wall but the fruit on the Washington navel orange tree is not nearly as ripe as it was this time last year.


A fence separates the vegetable, now cutting, garden from the dry garden on the northeast side of the house.  There were no significant changes in this area in 2016 beyond the clean-up and removal of some plants that didn't survive the summer of 2016.  I plan to dig up and replant an area currently overrun by Geranium incanum and Teucrium x lucidrys in 2017.

View from the paved walkway along the house looking north to the fence between us and our neighbors.  The Agave ovatifolia shows up better now as it's gained size and I removed a Dorycnium hirsutum that formerly obscured it from view.


The gravel path through the dry garden, which appears to dead-end at the fence that separates us from our neighbor on the north side, actually turns and runs down our steep back slope.  That area suffered most from June's horrific heatwave.  The upper portion has yet to recover and the area is generally a mess.  I'm still playing with the idea of getting professional help there as I don't think my right knee can make it through a wholesale renovation.  The biggest roadblock may be the limited access to the area, which could put the cost of a professional job beyond my means.

View looking down from near the top of the cement block stairway my husband installed

View looking up from the bottom, with the photo on the right highlighting the damage done by June's heatwave to the plants on the upper section of the slope

The only area left in this very long tour of my garden is the street-side succulent bed on the southwest side of the property.  The changes there were limited to removal of the last dead Auranticarpa rhombifolia that formerly made up a section of the hedge facing the street and the addition of 5 Xylosma congestum shrubs installed in May to extend the existing Xylosma hedge.

The current view here shows the Xylosma hedge on the left, the gap created by the removal of several dead and dying Auranticarpa inherited with the garden, and the 3 relatively healthy Auranticarpa we've left in place for now

View from the across the street looking east.  The 2016 photo shows a nearly dead Auranticarpa, the last of several my husband dug out for me.  The 5 Xylosma shrubs, spaced several feet apart, are doing fine but haven't gained much in height or girth as yet, which leaves the area behind the succulent bed still exposed to view from the street.


If you made it to this point, congratulations!  That's the last of my wide shots until April.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

26 comments:

  1. I've been wondering, how much acreage do you have, I'm guessing at least a half acre? Sue

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    1. Just over half an acre, Sue. Not huge by the standards of many locales but big for the Los Angeles area and many times larger than our former lot, which was less than half the size and subdivided into 2 properties sharing a single driveway.

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  2. I love before and after shots, as they really give a feel to the changes. Also, I love the way the paving stones have filled in. Is that thyme?

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    1. Yes, I use a LOT of creeping thyme. When I started here, I used whatever varieties I could find sold by the flat but more recently I've stuck with Thymus serphyllum 'Minus', which stays low and is relatively manageable around the paving stones.

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  3. The front, instead of the lawn, looks utterly perfect.

    Could you try scattering annual seeds on the heat battered slope, once the weather turns kinder?

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    1. Perhaps, but the mass of dead ivy and honeysuckle vines in that area is really a mess and even sowing seed could be difficult due to the steep incline. I'd like to get the area terraced in some fashion to make it more usable but the cost of that may be prohibitive, especially in light of the access problem. One simpler option may be to pay a service to clean out the dead stuff and plant plugs of ornamental grass, rosemary or some other tough material that can manage the summer heat and irrigation limitations.

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    2. I did enjoy exploring Tongva Park.
      It reminds me of our Green Point Urban Park (the sea and the expensive 'condos') and of London's Olympic Park (where they have dedicated areas for barbeque / braai)

      Tongva and Frankfurt both founded in 2013.

      With the drought are all those fountains still running?

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    3. I haven't visited Tongva Park since November 2013 (before California's Governor declared a drought emergency) so I don't know if the fountains are still running. On my last visit to The Getty earlier this year, I saw that all their fountains had been turned off.

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  4. These before and after shots are fantastic! I love seeing how much things have grown and changed, in many cases just in one year.

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    1. Seeing the comparisons did make me feel a lot better about how the garden is coming along, Evan.

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  5. You've done so much and It's very impressive. Enjoyed seeing it all, it just gets better and better.

    This spring with all the rain we're getting (!!!!), things may really start growing.

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    1. I've got my fingers crossed, although I remain hesitant about getting over-confident. The Accu-Weather forecasts currently show rain at regular intervals into early March, which would seem to be something of a miracle.

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  6. Wow Kris - both in terms of changes you've made, and the extent of the damage from the June blowtorch. The Vignette shot of your front garden, v/s your former front lawn is quite the testament to your diligence. What a beautiful transformation! It looks endlessly much more inviting now. The trees showcased throughout made me wonder about your tree-hating neighbor. Did her house sell yet? Did you manage to plant a few more trees yet?

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    1. The neighbor accepted an offer on her house in October, shortly after it was listed, but there's been no news locally as to the status. Redfin shows it "relisted" shortly before Christmas but the posted status is "not for sale" so I'm guessing there's an escrow issue. No one I know seems to have the scoop...

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  7. Hi Kris, the transformation of your garden is simply amazing. I can't even imagine how much work you must have put into it to get to the stage where it is now. I honestly don't know how you have been able to do all this in such a short period of time. I guess the answer is that you are really passionate gardener and this passion has given you the strength and perseverance to get it all done.
    Hope you are at a point now where the really hard work, except for small areas, is done and you can sit back, relax and enjoy and watch everything grow.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Well, there's still the back slope to contend with but then, no garden is ever really done, is it?

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  8. Amazing photos Kris, every last one! Of course that shot of your brothers from 2011 with the lawn is the most breath taking in comparison to the "now" -- but really all of them speak to your hard work and gardening talent. I wonder about that fried back slope, who can see it? Would it really be so bad if you just let nature take its course, whatever that may be?

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    1. My husband would love your suggestion on the slope, Loree! Other than the neighbor to the south, us and visitors I periodically haul down those stairs, no one sees the area. Still, after limiting myself to a tiny postage-stamp garden for years before moving here, I hate to give up any viable planting space. That said, I do realize that a full-scale job terracing the back slope would probably cost gobs of money, even if the logistics of getting equipment down there could be managed, which is a big question. Our neighbors across the street, who have a larger slope with a similar incline, had theirs cleared and replanted with hundreds of plugs of prostrate rosemary - doing something along the same lines (maybe with ornamental grass plugs) would be a cost-friendly alternative to the terracing idea.

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  9. It is great to see the comparison photos Kris; All the areas have grown pretty well. The front garden is fabulous, so much more inviting and interesting without the lawn and the other areas (done later I think) are filling in beautifully. It is a real testament to your belief in low water use gardening and your design skill in putting it all together.

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    1. I still feel as though I'm muddling through the plant selection process, Christina. I had relatively little experience with succulents and Australian and South African plants before moving here and I'm still getting an education (sometimes the hard way!) as to what they need.

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  10. These wide views are so great. I never cease to be amazed at how you can have such a gorgeous garden in such a dry (and getting drier) climate. Great job. Your hard work, studious attention to plant needs and artistry are showcased in these photos.

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    1. I'm actually beginning to wonder if all the rain we've received in the last month may cause some of my drought tolerant plant selections to rot, Tim! Hopefully not, but we're definitely getting more rain right now than we've seen in 6 years.

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  11. Very impressive, the way things have filled out despite your horrendous weather! That's a beautiful half acre, Kris!

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  12. I love, love all these wide shots! it is great to get the overall view of your garden. Your hard work has certainly brought great results!

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    1. I still feel there's a long ways to go before the garden realizes its potential, Deb, but I'm pleased with the progress thus far.

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