I started making changes to the southwest corner of our property soon after we moved in. I didn't place a priority on this area but rather chipped away at my renovations on a piecemeal basis. Over time, I've removed trees planted by a prior owner in a space that didn't provide the sun they needed. I cut back dying shrubs planted as a screen along the street side and planted replacements designed to link to an existing hedge. I added a succulent bed facing the street to give that area some personality. I extended a stacked stone wall and planted the sloped bed above it with a mix of succulents and other water-wise plants tolerant of shade. And, most recently, I commissioned my husband to build me a lath (shade) house to occupy the flat area surrounded by hedges on 2 sides.
What I didn't count on was the sudden elimination of the shade-providing hedge on the south side. Here's what the area looked like in the last good wide shot I have:
|This photo, taken July 1, 2017, shows the dry stack wall on the left and a solid mass of hedge on the right|
On our side of the property line, we've got a hedge of English Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) we inherited with the garden. The Laurel shrubs are leggy but that aspect was masked by the fact that there was a thicket of oleander (Nerium oleander) on the neighbor's side. Last week the neighbor approached us with the news that the oleander was afflicted with leaf scorch, a blight associated with insect-borne bacteria. His plan was to remove all the oleanders, which he promptly did.
|I took this photo after the neighbor's gardeners had cut the oleander back but before they started pulling the shrubs out. Before they cut the plants back, virtually no light was visible through the thick growth.|
|My intention was to fit my lath house into the area on the right, replacing the structure currently holding firewood, my orchid bench, and various pots and other detritus that have accumulated in that area and the area beyond the photo's frame|
|The shade structure will still probably go into the area on the right in this photo but I'm no longer sure it will take on the same shape, which I'd originally conceived as an irregular (scalene) triangle|
We've already worked with the neighbor to arrange for new plants to create a screen between our 2 properties. After several days of exchanges over possibilities, we agreed on planting 7 Pittosporum tenuifoloium 'Silver Sheen', with us picking up half the cost. The neighbor managed to order these in 15-gallon containers at wholesale prices. I've never planted anything from containers that large so I'm happily leaving the planting task to his gardeners. At the risk of becoming obnoxious, I recommended supplementing the soil before they plant as I imagine it hasn't been amended for 20+ years and in addition now contains sawdust left after grinding down the oleanders' trunks.
Even starting with 15-gallon containers, I expect the area is going to feel exposed on both sides of the property line for some time. I'm hoping that the cooler conditions of fall and winter will give the plants I have atop the stack-stone wall a chance to acclimate to stronger sunlight before the heat returns.
How ever much you plan, gardens, neighbors and Mother Nature will always keep you hopping!
All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party