Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: What a difference 9 months can make

Last November I posted photos of steeply terraced slope I used to pass weekly.  It's on a busy street in the neighborhood I lived in for 20 years, where homes, mostly condos and townhomes, are packed into small lots and garden space is scarce.  When I lived in the area, this particular slope wasn't terraced and, like many of those nearby, it was covered in weeds.  But in 2018, the owner built a 3-tiered retaining wall system and filled the area with fruit trees.  Admittedly, it looked rather stark when I first photographed it.

Here is what in looked like in November 2018, photographed from across the street.  The top tier was planted with fig trees, backed by decorative square frames.  The second tier contained a couple of what I guessed were peach or apricot trees and one humongous tomato plant.  The bottom tier was filled with citrus trees of different kinds and some low-growing herbs.


This week, almost 9 months to the day, I passed through the area again after a long absence and I noticed how different the the terraced slope looked after one year of good rain.  Fire department vehicles passing through forced me to pull over so I decided it was a good opportunity to take more photos.

This is what it looked like on Monday.  All the trees have filled out.  The figs on the top tier have a new espalier support structure.  There are now more fruit trees on the second tier. all of which are espaliered.  The citrus trees on the bottom tier all looked healthy and the rosemary and lavender planted between them is slowly filling in, although it has yet to spill over and soften those walls.  The structure on the upper right has also been spruced up with the addition of wood shingles and a spire topped with a weather vane.


Here's a side-by-side comparison from different angles.

I didn't manage to capture exactly the same angle but both these shots show the structure photographed from the north end looking south.  The 2018 photo is on the left and the 2019 photo is on the right.

These photos (2018 on the left and 2019 on the right) were take from the south side looking north.  The grassy weeds you can see in the distance in the right-hand photo gives you an idea of what this hillside looked like before the area was terraced.  That's the next door neighbor's weedy slope.


I didn't have time to take a lot of close-ups of individual plants but before and after shots of the finger lime tree (Citrus australasica) provide evidence of significant growth over a relatively short period.

2018 photo on the left and 2019 photo of the same plant on the right


Those cement block walls are still austere but, if this growth rate continues, I think the area should be quite attractive in a few years.  It's unlikely we'll get rain on par with last year's in the coming rain year (calculated from October 1st through September 30th) but we can hope and, in any case, this particular fruit tree garden has a drip irrigation system.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

26 comments:

  1. It's great to see how much growth there was after your winter rain. I hope the owner is getting lots of produce from it. The fruit trees help to soften the walls, but I bet the walls also heat the area up somewhat too. It's fun to imagine what I would have planted here. It's better than weeds, but it does look an awful lot like stadium seating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stadium seating for fruit - now, that's an image! The wall faces east which probably helps the heat situation. I'll have to remember to check it out after a significant heatwave, which I really hope won't we won't see during the remainder of this year.

      Delete
  2. Amazing change in just a few months. Love how they used the terraces to create an edible forest. The cement block terraces are a bit austere still but it's the white fence that I find distracting. Will look way better once the figs have grown up to cover some of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those white plastic fences seem to have become very common in that area, Elaine. I think a good salesman must have staked out the territory. It is a distracting element.

      Delete
  3. Your climate has great advantages, this proves it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Except for the limited rainfall and the often toasty summer temperatures, coastal SoCal is a paradise, Eliza!

      Delete
  4. I like how they are espaliering the trees so they fill out more of the wall. It will look really nice with another year or two of growth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm impressed at how healthy the plants look, Cindy. Although I've never seen anyone working in the area when I pass through (always weekdays at mid-day), I suspect there's someone giving the plants plenty of care and attention.

      Delete
  5. I remember when you first posted this. What fabulous progress - it looks wonderful! Do you know if all that fruit is grown for the owners, or are they making use of the space for the community to share? You said it's mostly condos and townhomes, which made me think such beautiful thoughts. It would almost be too good to be so, but what a nice community garden it would be...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, there are no signs asking people not to pick the produce or impediments to doing so, at least on the bottom-most tier, but I very much doubt it's a communal garden. I note that those stairs from what I believe is the owner's backyard only go part way down the slope. Anyone wanting to pick from the upper tiers would have to do a bit of climbing.

      Delete
  6. That is some transformation. Patience pays off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They did some research too I think, or whoever selected and installed the trees did anyway.

      Delete
  7. I think this will end up being a win for them eventually. It really has been a relatively short time since your first group of photos , and it will be interesting to see the space again in 2020.I think the biggest impact will be made when that stark white wall (fence?) is a bit more hidden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was wondering how tall the fig trees on the upper tier will grow, Kathy. I've heard it said that the trees fruit best when pruned hard.

      Delete
  8. It's amazing how different a garden looks once it starts to fill in a bit. It always looks so bare in the beginning, as do the borders I planted up this year. I always feel as if I have to "explain" to the neighbours (as two of the areas are near the property line) that things will fill in but it will take a season or two. I actually ended up planting a bit closer than I otherwise would have (i.e. on the lower end of the "width" ranges given), for that very reason and I hope I don't end up regretting it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm prone to cramming too much into a space too, Margaret. I always figure that I can either keep things cut back or remove some plants when things get crowded - in other words, I delude myself!

      Delete
  9. What a remarkable amount of growth in only a year! I'm guessing all the ingredients were right: high-quality, healthy young plants; good soil; and, crucially, that deep-soaking winter rain. Thanks for getting the same angles as the first-year shots; same-spot/different-time photos are endlessly fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The plants looked healthy from the start. My biggest concern is whether the citrus trees will crowd one another but then they may be dwarf varieties.

      Delete
  10. This is so heartening to see.. for the owner and for me. I am worried about how stark my new terrace borders are going to look when I first get them planted. The walls look to be similarly proportioned, about three feet high although my three beds are likely a little wider. But it doesn't take long for plants to fill out, especially given a bit of rain. I wonder if I can make space for a fruit tree or two. Something like a fig would do brilliantly against a wall here, if I could control its size.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's some good guidance on the web about managing fig trees, Jessica. Apparently, it's best if they're cut back by half their first winter to promote branching and control their size and they can be pruned hard in future years to manage both size and shape. Regrettably, that wasn't done with the tree I inherited with my garden and my attempts to belatedly whittle it back were fruitless (literally).

      Delete
  11. They lucked out planting right before the best winter rains in a long, long time. Looks great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It looks like they installed a decent drip irrigation system too.

      Delete
  12. Oh, that is encouraging, isn't it?! I'll look forward to your updates on this garden. Oh, to have citrus year-round. I do have a Meyer Lemon, but it has an interesting existence with limited sun in the summer and a cool, sunny sunroom existence in the winter. I love the idea of a terrace garden--especially in your climate!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Southern California used to be a leader in citrus growing until Florida took the title. Our climate is well-suited to it, although citrus greening disease (fatal for the trees) is an ongoing threat here now. I've got 4 citrus trees, all inherited. My lemon bears fruit year-round, except when the crop is knocked out overnight by an extreme heatwave, which has happened twice.

      Delete
  13. Replies
    1. They're making the most of the circumstances they have I think!

      Delete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions!