Friday, October 5, 2018

Wide Shots - October 2018

I've often mentioned that I lack "before" shots of my garden.  After years of relying on a few photos taken by my brother during a Christmas visit in 2011, a post by another blogger prompted me to look for photos in old real estate listings for our property.  The photos I found probably date back to 2008 or 2009.  They appear to have been posted, not by the party that sold to us in late 2010, but rather by the parties that sold the property to our seller in 2009.  In any case, I've used those real estate photos in comparisons at intervals throughout this post.

I'll start as usual with the back garden.

The real estate photo on the left shows the mimosa tree in its summer glory (probably in 2008).  My photo on the right is a current view of the same area of the back garden taken from the south end looking north.  All that lawn is long gone.  Sadly, several limbs of the mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) never leafed out at all this year.  An arborist's review is pending.

This is the same area looking back in the other direction

This is the view from the patio looking out at the entrance to the Los Angeles Harbor

The photo on the right is my attempt to duplicate the 2009 real estate photo on the left.  I was confused by the foliage of the peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa) showing on the right edge of the 2009 photo until I realized that was the vestige of the tree we removed at the behest of a neighbor who claimed it interfered with her view.  I replaced it with a Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid', just visible in the distance in the photo on the right (next to the remaining peppermint willow).

This is the view of the back garden area beyond the mimosa tree.  With the exception of the Arbutus 'Marina' in the background, most of this area was originally covered in lawn.


Turning on our heels and proceeding around the house in a clockwise fashion takes us to the garden on the south side.

View of the porch area on the south side.  That telescope is inside our living room.

The 2008 photo on the left shows the view looking through the arbor to the northwest.  My photo on the right is taken from a little further back as the shrubs on the right (Agonis flexuosa 'Nana')  prevented me from more closely duplicating the angle of the 2008 photo.  We screened in about 25 square feet of the south side patio area (shown on the right side of both photos) for our cats, Ming and Pipig.  Succulents and other drought tolerant plants replaced the lawn.

The 2008 photo on the left shows the same area from the opposite direction.  The 60-foot Eucalyptus tree on the right in that shot was removed in February 2013 in response to the same neighbor mentioned earlier.  The crew we hired to remove it ground down the stump but I've had difficulty getting anything established in that area.  I've currently got a smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple') in there but it's still small.


Just beyond the arbor, the garden path branches off into two different directions.  We'll continue on the same level into the main area of the front garden and circle back to the lower level later.

This is the view from the south end of the front garden looking north.  I recently added a second Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' alongside the one in the bed on the left. 

To the right of the Acacias, I've also added Leucadendron 'Jubilee Crown' and Grevillea 'Ned Kelly'.  The latter is intended to mirror the established Grevillea 'Superb' on the other side of the path.  I haven't decided what to plant to fill in the bed.

Here are 2009 and current views of the front of the house.  Unfortunately, I don't have a nice dog to pose in the middle of the driveway and Pipig wasn't cooperative about filling in.

Comparisons of the south side of the front garden

Comparisons of the north side of the house

View of the west side of the driveway, not shown in any of the available 2008/2009 photos.  This area was almost entirely lawn when we moved in, although the trees and Pittosporum shrubs were in place.

Current view of the front of the house looking southwest from the north end


Passing the chimney shown in the prior photo takes us into what is now my cutting garden, originally conceived as a vegetable garden.

The citrus trees planted along the back fence look small in the 2008 photo (left).  The dahlias and zinnias in my cutting beds are still going strong (right).


The garden areas beyond the fence on the far end of the vegetable/cutting garden weren't featured in any real estate photos.

When we moved in about two-thirds of this area was grass.  The guava and persimmon trees were in place, along with 3 grape vines.  Plastic sheeting had been laid below a mix of soil and gravel.  We took out 2 of the grape vines and my husband built an arbor to support the third.  I dug out the plastic and sifted the gravel from the soil, using it to fill the winding path that leads to the back slope, then planted a variety of shrubs and succulents.  I've got some additional plans for this area I'm still fleshing out.  

The back slope is my holy grail.  Other than installation of the concrete stairway and replacing an out-of-control Yucca elephantipes with 3 Pittosporum along the property line, we haven't accomplished much in this area.  It suffered severely when the heat climbed to 110F in July and I neglected it most of the summer.  I'd just started to clean it up a week ago when I was badly stung by fire ants down there.  I haven't been back there since, which is why you're seeing it only from the top of the stairway.


Returning to the front of the property, I pick up with views taken from the street.

This 2008-current day comparison of the street-side hedge isn't all that interesting but it does give you a sense of how much the trees along the western side of the property have grown.  It also provides another view of the former Eucalyptus tree (left photo) and reflects the addition of our lath house (right photo).

This is the street-side succulent bed on the southwest side of the property.  The Xylosma congestum shrubs we planted in 2015 to replace the Auranticarpa shrubs that were in decline are slowly filling out but 2 of the 3 remaining Auranticarpa look awful.  I'll treat them for chlorosis again but in the long run I'm not sure they're worth saving.


We'll end with the area behind the street-side succulent bed surrounding the lath (shade) house constructed by my husband as my Christmas present last year.

View of the area looking east with the lath house on the right

View of the same area from the main level of the garden looking down (west)


That's it for this quarterly wide shots post.  Thanks for joining this look at my garden's past.  Enjoy your weekend!


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. You've made incredibly beautiful changes to your garden! You must be very happy when you look back at these old photos and compare them to the gem you've created!

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    1. Thanks Peter! Actually, I was surprised at how good the lawn looked in some of those "before" photos but I suspect it had been recently sodded as I'd heard that the couple who sold the property in 2009 had the place professionally landscaped. The lawn didn't look nearly that good when we acquired the property in late 2010, despite the ridiculous amount of water poured into it.

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  2. Kris, so interesting to see your before and after views and see how you've transformed the property. Something lovely in every direction.

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    1. It's still a work in process, Susie, as there's been a lot of trial and error involved in my planting schemes. But then what garden is ever "finished"?

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  3. I love these wide shots which give me a sense of your garden instead of the plants we focus on so often. You’ve done an impressive job of landscaping which these shots showcase. Don’t think I quite realized what a beautiful view you have! And I always approve of replacing lawn with garden.

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    1. I haven't shown the view from the back garden as often in the past year, Linda, as there's been an ugly grayish-brown blanket laying over the horizon, another by-product of the lack of rain, which we depend upon to scrub our air clean at periodic intervals. The Los Angeles Times recently published an article affirming that our air pollution levels remained high throughout the entire summer this year - that's bad even by our low standards!

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  4. I’m in agreement with the previous comment. I enjoyed seeing the garden views, which as well as showing how much has changed over the years you’ve been there, give a good idea of the size and scope of the garden. It looks like a restful place to be. Sorry to hear about the fire ants!

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    1. I knew that fire ants were well-established in Texas and the desert areas of the southwest US but I'd deluded myself in thinking they hadn't yet reached Southern California, Jane. They're nasty creatures with vicious stings. I guess I was lucky I was only stung 20 times, as I do appear to be sensitive to their venom.

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  5. Your garden looks huge, showcasing your effective use of every bit of it.

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    1. The entire property is just over half an acre, which is big by the standard for the Los Angeles area, if not by the standards of other parts of the US. I wish I could make better use of the back slope but the steep incline - and now fire ants! - has me wondering once again how much I can accomplish there without some professional help.

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  6. Vastly improved! I love before and after shots, cool that you were able to get the earlier ones. It is amazing to see the growth of trees. When we moved here 28 yrs. ago, there was lots of lawn and few plantings. I've put in many gardens and the trees have grown 30 feet, making the yard feel much smaller and I only mow a third of it now, the rest let go to field. Planting trees is so satisfying when they mature.

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    1. I'd plant more large trees here if I could avoid running afoul of "view conservation" issues, Eliza. As the weather gets steadily warmer, increasing the shade would be a blessing. As it is, I'm looking for ways to add trees of smaller stature - anything growing over 12 feet (!!!) is potentially an issue unless I can place them where they don't interrupt any neighbor's view, which isn't at all easy.

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  7. How wonderful to have located these old photos! Try as I do, I still can’t picture the layout of your garden. I know the spaces, but can’t grasp the flow. Of course that doesn’t stop me from appreciating what you’ve created!

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    1. Two things probably make the flow unclear, Loree. Although I'm on the west coast and you can see ocean water from my backyard, that view is actually pointed to the east as we sit on a peninsula. I suspect the other factor is all the level changes.

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  8. You have turned your garden into a paradise. It is fun to see the before and after photos. It is too bad you can't have trees large enough to give your home some shade what with the heat of summer so severe in your area. Those big ole trees help so much moderating temperatures. FIRE ANTS!! I wouldn't go anyplace near them. Scary getting so many stings. I hope you are ok. I can see why everyone would want their view. You have a gorgeous view.

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    1. The community's "view conservation" ordinance, something we didn't know about when we moved here, has been a burr in my side since I learned of it but at least the neighbor who made a fuss (first about the Eucalyptus tree and later about every other tree on our property) has moved away. The guy who sold the house to us lived here for little more than a year and we were never able to get a good explanation for his decision to sell the property so soon but, when that neighbor began her campaign, everything became clearer. The ordinance was adopted in 1998, before the drought and warming temperatures were a public issue. I'd argue that it needs to be revisited, at least as it applies to foliage.

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  9. Fire ants, yikes! I think you should find a couple goats for that slope and be done with it! But then you'd need a dog to protect them....everything snowballs, right? What a phenomenal amount of work you've done, and all of it paying off beautifully. Love how Wilson's Wonder covers that window off the driveway, and the veg/cutting garden looks so alive and productive this year. And very interested to learn what the arborist has to say about the mimosa.

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    1. Well, you can rent goats - the city's done that here to clear some areas. Do they eat ivy, though? One of the biggest problems with that back slope is access. There's no way to get heavy equipment in there unless a neighbor allows entry through her garden.

      The fire ants were a surprise - a very unpleasant surprise.

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    2. yes, goats eat ivy! wouldn't that make a great blog post?

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    3. That's good. Now I just need to find some that can also pull out the ivy roots.

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  10. Dramatic improvement. You've done such a wonderful job.

    Fire ants?!? Yikes!!

    Auranticarpa -- "All six species occur in monsoonal forest and rain forest margins" -- time to try something more Mediterranean?

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    1. A former neighbor told me that the hedge was originally made up entirely of Auranticarpa but it almost immediately started to die. What I don't get is that they replaced all but the section on the southwest end. Of course, I didn't replace all the remaining Auranticarpa on the first pass either, the cost and the hassle of digging out the remaining shrubs being the primary issues. *Sigh*

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