Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Cleaning Up: First Steps

Our remodel is still hitting snags but nonetheless moving inexorably nearer to closure.  I've worn blinders for the past several months to avoid getting too worked up about the collateral damage to my garden.  It never looks its best at the tail end of our long dry season under any circumstances but some areas are looking truly terrible this year, especially in the back garden where work on our new kitchen spilled over into the beds surrounding the patio.  I've decided that a wholesale overall of several beds is in order but, until the construction workers are out of the picture, I'm holding off tackling anything anywhere near the high traffic areas.

Focusing on the little projects for the time being gives me some sense of accomplishment.

One of the first projects was pulling all the Lotus berthelotii I used as a groundcover on the south end of the back garden and replacing it with fresh plants.  Lotus is a short-lived perennial in my climate but after 2-3 years it was looking scruffy.  I planted daffodils (Narcissus 'Sunny Girlfriend') here too.  The upturned plastic flats are pinned into the ground to protect the new plants from raccoon rampages.

I've been doing some judicious pruning throughout the garden too.  Here, Agave 'Jaws' was in danger of being swallowed by Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' until I trimmed the latter plant back.

As I plan to sow seeds and plant bulbs in my cutting garden for cool-season flowers, it was time to dig up my dahlia tubers.  The plants had already taken a severe beating after 3 rounds of Santa Ana winds.  Technically, the tubers could stay in the ground all year in my climate but I need the space in my raised planters, and I don't want to risk rotting the tubers with the water my new seedlings will require.  Since I took this photo, I've cleaned the dirt from the tubers and have stowed them in the garage.

I still haven't pulled out all my zinnias but I've already tucked several Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) into the bed in the foreground where Dahlia 'Enchantress' once stood

I did clean out most of one raised bed, leaving just a few summer stragglers.  I supplemented the soil with compost and planting mix and sowed sweet pea seeds last weekend.  This week I soaked anemone tubers to plump them up before planting those as well.  I expect to sow larkspur (Consolida ambigua) seed this coming weekend.

I gave one of my large succulent pots a major rehab.  I couldn't bring myself to throw the Dyckia out so I painstakingly pulled the plant apart and included 3 divisions in the rehabbed pot.  We'll see if they survive the experience.

Mangave 'Red Wing' now serves as the pot's centerpiece, surrounded by (clockwise from the upper right): the Dyckia divisions and Portulaca 'Cupcake Lavender', Rhipsalis (?) and Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi' cuttings, Portulacaria afra (from the original pot), and 3 Echeveria agavoides.

Other pots in the same area could use a refresh too but they'll have to wait their turn

The window boxes attached to my lath (shade) house were also in need of a refresh and got one .  I usually plant both with the same mix of materials but, as their sun exposure is different, I took a different tact with each this time.  I left the existing Coprosma 'Inferno' in both but added Coleus (Plectranthus scuttellaroides) 'Redhead' and 'Wasabi' plus Calibrachoa 'Coral Kiss' to the first one and Ipomoea batatas and pansies to the second one.

Yesterday I dug out all but the thyme edging of this bed.  Asparagus fern (awful stuff!) has crept in from the bed across the way.  I think I got at least most of it out but I probably need to tackle removal of the masses of it on the other side of the path if I'm to have any chance of keeping it out.  I've no idea what to plant here as nothing I've tried thus far has done really well.  The soil is on the sandy side despite the supplements I've added and the area gets partial shade.  Any ideas?


Meanwhile, a neighbor seems to be working on a project too.  My husband and brother-in-law guessed it's a guest house but, as construction proceeds, it looks more and more like a gazebo to me.

What's your guess?


Planting is usually best done during the cool season here (October through April) but our temperatures are stuck on the warm side at present with no sign of rain in the forecast.  Like the remodel, I'm hoping for change on that front soon.


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

20 comments:

  1. Your ambitious work has me feeling particularly ashamed and lazy. I do need to get some cleanup done, but our mornings have been so cold, starting out below freezing and taking a while to reach any temperature comfortable to work in. Your refresh of that pot looks great! I potted up some Dyckias recently too, but inside the greenhouse, in the warmth.

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    1. I've read that it's actually good to leave leaves and dried flower stems and such in place over the winter months, especially in areas that have real winters (which coastal SoCal can't claim). I tore that Dyckia apart, even sawing some pieces where they were hopelessly conjoined so it'll be interesting to see if they can survive that kind of treatment.

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  2. I think your neighbors were inspired by your lathe house.

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    1. I wondered the same thing aloud to my husband, Tracy, but he poo-pooed the comment. We shall see. Signs are that the homeowner is doing the work himself in his off hours so I doubt it's a guest house, which would have to pass city inspections of all sorts.

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  3. It feels so good doing something positive out in the garden when construction is going on. Relieves some of the stress too. Funny how there are parallels between our gardens even when the climate is so different. The cooler temperatures and the rain did for my dahlias. I've dug them up too.

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    1. It was wind and a prolonged period of single-digit humidity levels that sucked the life out of my dahlias, Jessica. I wish it'd have been rain! We've none of that at all in the forecast for November, which is scary.

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  4. I think your gardens look lovely. I know it'a a difference in climate thing, but I find their greenery to be very peaceful.
    We're getting our first snow tonight/tomorrow, which is unusually early, but it won't stick, just look pretty falling. And next week one night it's getting down to 17. Now that is more like January weather. I hope this is not a sign of a harsh winter coming.
    Hang in there Kris!!! You're so close to the end.

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    1. It's difficult for me to even conceive of that kind of cold, Cindy. I'm a SoCal native born and bred. Stay warm!

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  5. You have been quite busy! I suppose this is your equivalent to our spring, when you are excited to be out working in clement weather again. Love the renewed pots and boxes. All freshened up and ready to grow!

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    1. Yes, fall is a bigger planting season here than spring because, at least theoretically, that makes good use of our relatively short rainy season. No rain in sight yet, though!

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  6. Hope that light at the end of the tunnel is shining a little brighter for you .Can't you just put succulents in that bed with the sandy soil ? I have good luck with Sempervivum in part shade , but maybe you get too hot for them .

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    1. Succulents are my fallback strategy for that bed, Kathy, but I'd really like something softer there. Sempervivums aren't really happy here - I've planted some (in partial shade) but they don't fare well in the long run.

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  7. I bet it feels good to get out there and make some progress? Just think of all the fun you have ahead!

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    1. And lots of shopping to do too! I'm having difficulty getting inspired about replanting plans at the moment but I suspect that's just another symptom of remodel fatigue.

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  8. I really like what you did with the Dyckia in the rehabbed pot. Looks great!

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    1. Fingers crossed that the divisions survive, Hans!

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  9. Empty space idea... 3 Aechmea blanchetiana clumps with a blue plant edging of some sort?

    You are way ahead of me on fall garden clean up. Your garden looks near immaculate again.

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    1. I just haven't shown the ugly bits yet, HB. There really is quite a bit of collateral damage spread about.

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  10. Two different sets of plants in your window boxes is more interesting, especially if the plants are happier.

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    1. I'm going to have to be careful keeping those sweet potato vines well watered, though - they're thirsty plants and we've got another round of high winds on the way this week.

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