Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wide Shots - October 2017

How quickly 3 months can fly by!  My last wide shots post was published in July, at which time I bemoaned the condition of my summer garden.  At the time, I harbored the delusion that the weather would be much cooler by October and that my garden would have slipped into its refreshed autumn mode.  In actuality, we're not there yet - my garden looks sorrier than it did in July and, while I've pulled out most of summer's casualties, I've yet to fill the holes left behind.  The nights are reliably cooler but the heatwaves have continued off and on.  Daytime temperatures are comfortable at the moment and I've been hard at work getting bulbs in the ground but the forecasters say that yet another warm-up is in the offing for the weekend.  Still, as long as Santa Ana winds and brushfires stay away, I'll stop complaining.  At least the morning marine layer has begun making a regular appearance again.

This was the view looking out toward the Los Angeles Harbor from the backyard on Saturday morning.  While the sun was shining at our elevation, some 800+ feet above sea level, clouds and fog blanketed the harbor and the city of San Pedro below us.


I'll start the tour of my garden as I usually do, in the back garden.

Most of the plant losses are hidden in this view.  You'll have to take my word that they're there.  In addition, large segments of the creeping thyme surrounding the flagstone path are dead, while other areas are still thick and lush.  That's one of the downsides of an automated irrigation system - water delivery is never even.

This is the view of the back garden from the north end looking south.  My home office is on the other side of that roof overhang on the right.

This is the view from the south end of the back garden looking north.  The mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) tree's pink flowers are gone, although dried brown fuzz continues to drop, along with the tree's leaves and seedpods.


Rounding the house, the next stop is the garden on the south side.

After taking a good, hard look on this area in the process of gathering my wide shots, I've decided I'm not very happy with it.  The Echium candicans 'Star of Madiera' doesn't fit here and, as I have another in the front garden, I may replace it with more succulents.  The pots that mark the transition from the back to the side garden need to go too.  And both the Helichrysum petiolare and the Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' are overgrown.

Sitting at the patio table behind the hedge of Agonis, you can no longer see the garden or the harbor

View of the south side garden looking through the arbor toward the harbor


The front area is in better shape overall than the rest of the garden.

View of the front garden from the south end looking north.  I got carried away cutting back the Centaurea 'Silver Feather' (to the left of the path) and it's not springing back so I may have to start over in that area unless the winter rains work some magic.

Front view from the driveway's edge looking directly at the house.  I pulled out a dead Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' in the bed to the left of the front path but haven't decided what I should replace it with.

View of the front garden from the north end looking south


Most of my work in the garden over the past 2 months has focused on the area in front of our garage.

The area in the foreground here has proven to be sunnier than I thought when I planted it early last year.  Many of my original plant choices didn't handle the summer's intense sun well so I've been swapping them out; however, the detail isn't readily visible here.

Most of my time went into renovating the succulent bed on the north side of area.  You can find the post detailing that effort here.


The vegetable turned cutting garden is currently the most colorful area of the entire garden.

While some of the dahlias are still producing flowers, their foliage looks awful and I've pulled out all the sunflowers and about a third of the zinnias thus far.  The happiest plants in this area are the Salvia elegans and Euphorbia 'Sticks on Fire'.


Moving through the garden gate brings us to what I've generally referred to in the past as my dry garden.  However, with the exception of the cutting garden, most of the garden is now comprised of drought tolerant plants so I'm just going to refer to this area as the northeast garden from now on.

I dug out the ratty germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) and weedy Geranium incanum in the area to the right of the gravel path here, added topsoil and cactus mix to raise the soil level and improve drainage, and have started to replant.  So far, I've added Vitex agnus-castus, Melinus nerviglumis, and Grevillea lanigera 'Jade Mound'.  Three Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite', a slow-growing Echium, and a Salvia clevelandii sit to the right of the new plants outside the frame.


The slope looks pretty awful.  I still dream of bringing in help to transform the space but thus far I've managed to divert myself with less expensive projects.  In the near term, though, this area needs a good clean-up.

There was a large orb weaver spider sitting in the middle of a huge web just beyond this point so I didn't venture down the stairway to capture a better photo.  The area to the left of the metal fence belongs to my neighbor.  On my side of the fence, you can see that the last heatwave stripped most of the leaves off the fig tree.

Two days later, when the spider still hadn't moved on, I sent her packing and snapped this shot from the bottom of the slope.  The lemon tree on the left, the Agave attentuata in the foreground, and the Pittosporum 'Silver Magic' outside the frame behind the lemon tree are the best looking elements of this space.  Cleaning up the Euphorbia, Ribes, and Centranthus will improve the appearance of the area below the stairway but the steep area above it's still a messy mass of ivy, honeysuckle, and weeds.  


If you've reached this point, the tour is almost over.  There are just 2 areas we've missed.

This is the succulent bed bordering the street on the southwest side of the property.  It hasn't changed much, although the 5 Xylosma congestum shrubs we planted a year and a half ago to close the gap in the hedge are growing, albeit slowly.

This is the nicest view I snapped of the area behind the street-side succulent bed, showing a portion of the west-facing slope.  The area outside the frame, between the stacked stone wall and the street-side bed, is the future location of my lath house if/when it gets built.


Maybe things will look better in January when I publish my next wide shots post!  Hopefully, by then, we'll have received some real rain and I'll have filled in the majority of the holes summer left me with.  And, if I'm really lucky, my husband will have started construction of my lath/shade house.



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

24 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this walk about your garden, and I even had my coffee to sip as we strolled! I can't imagine having a garden as big as yours, and it all looks so good! (really, it does) In that last shot it took my eyes awhile to really focus on what I thought was a shrub with interesting texture, then I realized it's a huge Aeonium. Wow.

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    1. I can always count on the Aeoniums. They're coming out of their dormant period now so I'll probably be cutting some more to spread around and fill some of the holes on the west-facing slope.

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  2. It looks better than you think it does. I remember the snorkel spa and the front lawn and the side grass and...and...and... That lower hillside will be a killer to tackle, so rest up and gird your loins.

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    1. I recently started fantasizing about adding gabion walls on the back slope to terrace the areas both above and below the concrete stairway but that ain't cheap. I'd also need some sherpas to work that upper slope - I don't think my knee would stand up to the abuse.

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  3. I think we stare ourselves blind on the perceived "faults" of our own gardens. I think your garden is fabulous, and I completely agree with Loree. I can't even keep up with my small garden! I have no idea how you manage to keep yours looking so wonderful without hired help. I do hope you get your lath house soon!

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    1. Oh, I've got a mow and blow crew but, since there's nothing to mow, their job is really to maintain all the hedges I inherited with the garden. As to the lath house, my husband isn't quite as excited about that project as I am.

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  4. The plants are growing in and the garden looks more and more mature. You've done a great job. The back slope will get there.

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    1. It still feels like two steps forward and one step back, HB, but I'm trying to tone down the experimentation in favor of repeating the plants I've discovered like the conditions here.

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  5. Excellent Kris, and of course plant deaths are opportunities in disguise. At my childhood home (roughly LAX area) our across the street neighbor had a lath house and I was completely fascinated by it. He grew Fuchsias and tuberous Begonias. He and my dad had a bit of friendly Fuchsia competition-I think my dad won. We had them all over the place.

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    1. I always wanted a greenhouse but they're not really necessary here. The lath house makes more sense, especially as this garden is sunnier, hotter, drier and more exposed than my former garden, which has made it very difficult for shade-loving plants. I miss the fuchsias, begonias and ferns I used to grow!

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  6. Always love seeing your wide shots. It looks better than you think, at least to my eyes. The old hedge area really has grown noticeably, it doesn't seem so long ago that you did it.

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    1. Given how fast the established sections of Xylosma hedge grow, requiring trimming every couple of months, I'd expected the 5 additional shrubs to get their groove on more quickly, Eliza. They've been in the ground nearly 18 months now. But then I'm always impatient.

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  7. Oh, you didn't say in this post where the lath house is going! You might have said in a previous post but if so, I don't remember. There may be gaps from summer's heat, but they aren't obvious in these wide shots. I think your garden looks great. I don't have automated irrigation, but my dragging-hoses-and-sprinklers system also leaves plenty of dead gaps.

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    1. The lath house will fit into the corner of the level section to the right of the area featured in the last photo, Alison. We'll be getting rid of the structure my husband has there to hold firewood (we never use it) and my decaying orchid bench, as well as a mish-mash of pots.

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  8. Kris, you garden looks beautiful and big!I am sure autumn will bring relief and new life to your plants, my garden always "resurrects" after the heat of summer. The big aeonium in the last picture is splendid! Have a nice weekend!

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    1. It looks as though we have at least 2 more heatwaves to wade through before fall really settles here, MDN, but at least the night temperatures have been consistently cool.

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  9. I always enjoy your 'Wide Shots' post Kris; I think you are very hard on the garden, it looks amazing to me. You have achieved so much by changing your planting. Your last sentence really stuck a cord; I would so like a shade tunnel (yours sounds like it will be much more sophisticated). I remember your post when you showed the shade house - it looked amazing.

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    1. My lath/shade house will be relatively modest in size, Christina. Unfortunately, I don't have the space to build anything on the order of the structure shown in my Sherman Gardens post back in July. And my husband is no doubt grateful for that fact, since he's on point to do the building!

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  10. Hi Kris, a pleasure to get another tour and you sharing your hopes and plans. When I think about this post, I am so aware of incessant change. Everything changes all the time, but so clearly in the garden. Good planning gradually changing to drought proof plantings. On the radio it said we in Melbourne can expect lots of 50 degree days (that's 122 in fahrenheit) within 20 years. I don't suppose I'll be gardening if I'm still around but it's hard to imagine how we'd cope with that.

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    1. Every time I hear forecasts like that, Sue, I get all the more angry with the climate change deniers. I've no illusions that my own area will fare much better as global temperatures continue to climb, especially if governments around the world and their populations don't quickly come to terms with the unfolding reality.

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  11. Your garden is amazing and I very much enjoyed this wide-shot tour!

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  12. Take cuttings of the Centaurea and start again - That way you always have the silver fountain, without the gangly legs after it has flowered.

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    1. I clearly need to do more propagation for myself, Diana. I visited my local botanic garden hoping they'd provide Barleria (bush violet) that someone else had propagated to give me a head start. They didn't have it but they did have rooted cuttings of the Centaurea so I'm taken care of there, at least for this year.

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