Friday, July 3, 2020

Wide Shots - July 2020

When we had our first real heatwaves in late April and early May, I feared we were heading toward a nasty summer season.  We didn't get our "May Gray" marine layer at all that I can recall but June was much more pleasant.  "June Gloom" kept our temperatures down most of the month and, three days into July, the marine layer is still holding, although it's already burning off quickly this morning.  I didn't recall that there was a name for the marine layer when it extended into July but I discovered it's called "No Sky July."  If we're lucky, this weather pattern characteristic of coastal Southern California will hold on for another month.

I took this quarter's wide shots at intervals over four days so you'll see some photos showing gray skies and others showing afternoon sunshine.  The marine layer usually lifts by mid-afternoon, if not earlier.  As I usually do, I'll start with the back garden.

This is the view from our back door looking roughly southeast toward Angel's Gate, the entrance to the Port of Los Angeles.  I hadn't yet deadheaded the orange daylilies (Hemerocallis 'Sammy Russell') when I took this shot.  Although I've attempted to pull some of the native California aster (Symphyotrichum chilense) choking a large area to the right of the fountain, I haven't made much progress yet.

View looking north from the back patio.  Due to an increase in critter problems, I'm letting the bird feeders here and on the south side of the house stand empty for the time being.

The peacock paid us a yet another return visit on Monday morning. He was very focused on the feeders.

View from the north end of the back garden looking south toward the patio

View from the patio looking further south.  I'm afraid that tree-sized toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) in the distance with its unusual red foliage is a victim of the pathogen that causes sudden oak death.  If confirmed, I'll have it cut down when I have other trees trimmed in the fall.

Looking back toward the patio again from the south end of the back garden, you can see the distinctive tilt of the mimosa tree (Alibizia julibrissin) I sought to save in 2018 by cutting out the front half of the tree killed off by infection brought on by shot hole borer beetles.  The tree leafed out and has some flowers but it's far from a healthy specimen.


As we round the house on the south end, we see the south side garden, which is heavy on succulents and other drought-tolerant plants.

I'm happiest with this part of my garden, although a persistent gopher is wreaking some havoc in the bed on the right

View of the same area looking west from a different angle.  This photo was taken from the dirt path behind the mass on Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'.

View of the same area from the small south side patio under gray morning conditions

And a final look at the area facing east with the harbor in the distance and the sad red-leafed toyon in the background on the right.  A sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is climbing the arbor on the right and a noID wisteria I've been trying to eliminate since we moved in has gotten away from me (again) and begun climbing the arbor's left side.


As we turn away from the harbor view, we enter the front garden.

This is the view from the south end looking north toward the driveway and garage

If you look downward and to the west, you can see my lath (shade) house on the level below, adjacent to the street.  We'll come back there later.

This is a view of the front of the house from the garden area on the west side of the driveway.  The two Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' have gotten quite large and could probably use a bit of thinning.

This is the bed to the right (south side) of the walkway to the front door

Here's a closer look at the bed on the far right in the prior photo.  Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' has gotten so tall it's threatening to eclipse Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' so I expect I should prune it back a bit.  The path on the right leads back to the lath house.

This is the area behind the plants shown in the prior two photos, where I recently installed three half-barrels to hold vegetables, flowers and herbs.  The tree in the center of the mulch-covered area is a Magnolia grandiflora.

This is the bed on the left (north) side of the walkway to the front door.  From this angle, the Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' hides an air conditioning unit, which is unfortunately still all to visible from other angles.  I haven't found anything to screen it more completely yet.  The rather bare tree next to the house is the Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana), not looking its best at this time of year.  It should leaf out more fully in early fall.

Not the most interesting photo but as this was one occasion in which my husband's truck wasn't parked in front of the chimney, I had to take a photo.  The shrub to the left of the chimney is Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', flaunting its red summer color.

This is a view from the far edge of the bed on the west side of the garage

This is another view from the garden area alongside the garage, looking at the succulent bed.  (The "bromeliad bed" I featured in my last post sits behind that Arbutus 'Marina'.)


On the other (east) side of the garage, we find my cutting garden.

View of the cutting garden from the driveway area

And this is a view from the gate on the other end of the space.  Since these photos were taken, I've removed most of the black plastic flats used to protect my zinnia seedlings and put tomato cages in place to support the growing dahlias.  All my summer flowers got a late start this year.


Turning our backs on the cutting garden brings us into the dry garden on the northeast side of the house.

This area has gotten jungle thick in places and needs some work, which I hope to give it before temperatures soar


Proceeding down the gravel path takes us to the back slope, hidden from view behind a hedge of Xylosma congestum.  After getting badly bitten by insects yet again while down there, I've been avoiding it for weeks.

I sprayed myself with insect repellent and suited up in long sleeves, tucking my pant legs into boots and did some very basic maintenance on this area earlier this week.  Most of the Centranthus ruber has gone to seed and little but the massive Bignonia capreolata is blooming here.  The Bignonia was planted by a neighbor years before our arrival when there was some confusion about the property line.  Although its trunk sits on our side of that line, it covers the neighbor's wire fence on the left (beyond our bay hedge on the left) so I can't really take it down even though it's nearly uncontrollable.


If we go back to the main level of the front garden and proceed down the mulch-covered path on its south end, we end up back at the lath house.  That area is bordered by a succulent bed that faces the street.

I haven't put all the shades up inside the lath house yet but will have to do so once the marine layer retreats

This is a view of the same area from its west side looking east

I'll close with a view of the succulent bed that faces the street.  The Xylosma shrubs we added three years ago to replace the portion of another hedge that had died out have finally gained substantial size and are now in need of shaping.  The seeds of the Mexican sunflower tree (Tithonia diversifolia) I sowed in the hope of filling the blank space left by two of the remaining Auranticarpa shrubs we removed earlier this year still haven't sprouted so I probably need to come up with a Plan B.


That's an overview of what my garden looks like in early July.  For those of you in the US, I hope you enjoy a safe Independence Day.   And when I say "safe," this year I'm not just talking of steering clear of dangerous fireworks.  Best wishes.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


30 comments:

  1. Great pictures. We are in Carmel Valley, just south of Monterey (Zone 9b, Sunset 15b). Do you irrigate any part of your garden? With all those succulents, do you ever get frost? We too have the occasional gopher, and cinch traps work very well to send them to gopher heaven.

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    1. I love the Carmel/Monterey area, Ed. My husband and I even considered relocating up that way at one point but circumstances prescribed otherwise. I DO irrigate most parts of the garden, although I'm still trying to give within the limitations established when we were officially in drought. My soil is more sand than anything else and just doesn't hold moisture well despite years of adding compost. I've got 3 rain collection tanks, which help, although I'm near empty at this point. We do NOT get frost. As to the gopher, I need to come to terms with his execution - I've been trying to encourage him to move on using sonic devices and granular deterrents watered into the soil but that's not doing the job.

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    2. Can gophers be trapped and relocated? Not suggesting to someone else's house, mind you!:) Raccoons are the bane of my existence. Have trapped them regularly for years now and relocate them down-river as long as they're not females nursing kits. I think we must not have gophers, so just curious about your options. They must be every bit as destructive to gardens as raccoons.

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    3. Gophers can certainly be trapped, Sandy. I don't know what guidelines, if any, are in place with respect to relocating them but as even this "semi-rural" area is fairly densely populated, I can only imagine what the reaction would be to dropping one in the local canyon areas. As with rats, there are no restrictions on setting kill traps, which is what many people do (with mixed success) - I've just had a hard time coming to terms with doing that. We have LOTS of raccoons but I can honestly say the gopher has been more destructive.

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  2. Thanks for the tour, Kris. As always, it's looking lovely. Hard to believe we are already into July - the heat has arrived in NE Alabama but it looks like we'll still be getting rain for a little while. Wisteria - it just hates to leave, doesn't it? Happy Fourth and safe days to you, too.

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    1. A prior owner apparently thought wisteria would be lovely on that arbor, Barbara, and put in two plants on either side of it. I managed to rid myself of it on one side but I think the roots of the plant on the other side must be established firmly under the house.

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  3. I loved the garden tour, Kris. I don't know how you keep up with everything - you must be out there working every day! Not a bad place to be, though ;) (unless it is above 90).
    We'll be staying put over the holiday weekend (not much different than previous years), but it does seem strange not to have fireworks and parades, so American Independence Day. Undoubtedly, they will still play Souza on the radio. ;)

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    1. Maintenance was a lot easier when the garden was newly planted after we removed the lawn. Two years of decent rain also made for rampant growth so I'm spending a good deal of time raining everything in these days!

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  4. Sorry to see your sad tree. It would be missed there.

    How does Pipig react if the peacock walks past?

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    1. Pipig has been sleeping during each visit by the peacock and peahens so I haven't witnessed her reaction, Diana. She's much more aware of our nocturnal visitors, like raccoons, possums and feral cats.

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  5. Your garden looks like a botanical garden. So much to see. I really like the chimney shot for this time of year. It looks very patriotic with the red shrub white chimney and house and the blue flowers (agpanthus???) on the right. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Ha! I didn't even process the fact that that shot offered a red, white and blue nod to the holiday. I hope you enjoy the day, Lisa!

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  6. It's beautiful no matter what the weather. And a peacock in the garden...very nice!

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    1. Most gardeners here dread peacocks as they're known for eating plants, pooping all over, and screaming their heads off. Interestingly, all my peafowl visitors thus far have been entirely quiet. I have had to watch out for the pooping though ;)

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  7. It's filled in lush and beautiful, despite the critter issues. And I'd never heard of "No Sky July"! It's uncanny how the calendar page was flipped over, and now the overcast has disappeared, with blue skies at 8 a.m.

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    1. We probably haven't heard of "No Sky July" because it's exceptionally unusual, Denise. Yes, the marine layer here has been gone by 8am for the last 2 days as well but at least it's not nasty hot, just a little on the warm side.

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  8. Happy Fourth to you! (thanks for the beautiful e-greeting) We've got the heavy marine (inland marine?) layer sticking around here most mornings as well. This is not the July I ordered!

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    1. Sorry Loree. I hope you have sunny skies for your birthday at the very least!

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  9. Lots of growth this year, extra from our Miracle April. Your 'Peaches and Cream' looks quite large! From all angles amazing how great your garden looks despite the "S" season's arrival. The "mostly succulent" area looks particularly beautiful.

    'Safari Goldstrike' will give you lots of bouquet material if nothing else, wow it is tall. My theory is that the April rain made a significant impact on plant growth this spring, more so than does a "Miracle March". I'm cutting back a lot, everything here is starting to look overgrown already.

    Some Toyon here and there in the neighborhood have died, the really old ones.

    Thanks for the beautiful e-card, left me smiling. We need that now.

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  10. I haven't previously pruned 'Safari Goldstrike' as I generally do at least annually with the other Leucadendrons so it's been allowed to do what it wants up until now. I think you're right that this rainy season had a more noticeable impact than even the prior season's off-the-charts rain but maybe the combination of 2 years of good rainfall in succession combined to create what we're seeing now.

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  11. How you keep up with all of your large gardens with beautiful views is beyond me. Weeds must not grow in California. Everything looks lush and lovely.
    I'm glad you're still getting your marine cloud cover. It would be a real treat to have something like that to at least give one a few hours of gardening time.
    It has been in the 90's for a week and the extended forecast shows the same for another 2 weeks. It feels like pure hell. I have a small window of time to garden from 6-8am, so that's where I'm heading now. Then after that, I usually need a nap from heat zap.

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    1. The marine layer is burning off earlier each day and we're heating up but luckily we haven't experienced the high temperatures much of the country to the east of us is enduring at the moment, Cindy - at least not yet. You may have higher humidity too, which makes things worse - at least our heat is a "dry." I sometimes regret our move here as, while it gave me the larger garden I'd always wanted, we don't get the cooling breezes directly off the ocean that we enjoyed in our former beach city location.

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  12. Wow Kris!! I love the wideshot views of your gardens. I really didn't understand the scope of your space. I really love the different themes of your gardens. We've been in 'June Gloom' too after nearly a decade of hot and early starts to summer. While the tomatoes are unhappy, I love the change to cooler mornings even if store bought tomato sauce may be in my future.

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    1. It's looking like a "No Sky July" isn't in the cards this year, Jenni, as our marine layer is burning off earlier each day but at least it hasn't been wicked hot yet (with the exception of those 2 early heatwaves in late April and early May anyway). I'd be willing to give up tomatoes for a cooler summer. As it is, some kind of critter (I suspect a rat!) has been chewing my 'Early Girl' tomatoes right on the vine.

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  13. Looking superb, as ever Kris!
    We have ‘No Sky July’ too, quite often as it happens. Mostly with wet stuff falling out of it. It seems our ‘new normal’ (climate wise) is a warm Spring (this year exceptionally warm) cool wet summer and, if we’ve been really good, a warmer autumn. I’ve even been shifting plants around today, in July! It’s getting so I can do that pretty much all year.

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    1. How I wish our "No Sky July" came with rain as well, Jessica!

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  14. Wonderful panoramic views. I'm just gushing over your variegated Aeonium.

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    1. Aeoniums are my go-to filler for open spots when I've no idea what to plant. I literally cut rosettes and stick them in the ground and they grow into large clumps. Unfortunately, the variegated Aeonium 'Sunburst' produces fewer offsets.

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