Friday, October 9, 2020

Getting started

It's finally cooled down and the air quality, while not good, is much better.  Yesterday was the first day that actually felt like fall to me here in coastal Southern California.  We're expecting temperatures to rise again starting Sunday but, for now, I'm taking advantage of the improved conditions to get started on some garden projects.  Two trees are slated for removal and others are to be trimmed on October 29th but I felt I could get a bit of work done on my front slope even before the tree service crew troops in.

The initial focus of my attention was the south end of the moderate front slope across from my lath (shade) house.  It hasn't looked great for some time but a den set up by a gopher earlier this year at the slope's base made things worse, which finally pressed me into action.  My husband actually kicked things off when, just before the last heatwave, he decided to remove the three 'Mutabilis' rose shrubs I'd been talking about taking out for months.

This photo was taken shortly after the roses were dug up but their absence isn't all that noticeable

The roses, which came with the house, had never done well.  The photo on the left shows two of the shrubs (one nearly dead) before they were removed and the photo on the right shows the emptied space.


The day before yesterday, I started removing masses of dormant Aeonium arboreum from the area, as well as the Honey Euryops (Euryops virgineus) that partially hid the gopher's den.

The Euryops had grown too large for this spot and in any case  I couldn't do anything to clean up the mess the gopher had made without removing it.  I took cuttings of the plant in the hope of getting viable plants to put elsewhere or give away.

At one time there was a fairly neat mound outside the gopher's den but I flattened it considerably since I started working in the area.  The photo on the right shows the tidy opening the gopher had made.

This is what the space looked like after I threw in the trowel late yesterday.  In addition to pulling most of the Aeonium, I cut back the self-planted Cotoneaster on the upper left and cleaned up the clumps of Festuca californica next to it on the right.  However, I spent most of my time pulling up the opportunistic roots of asparagus fern.  I'll never get it all but I'd like to seriously slow its spread.

There's still a lot to do before I'll be ready to replant the area.  I have to dismantle the portion of the dry-stack curb the gopher tore apart and refill his hidey-hole with the dirt he excavated.  I'll also try to remove still more of the asparagus fern roots that riddle the area.  Then I plan to create flatter planting areas using the rock we saved after dismantling the indoor barbecue in our dining room during last year's home remodel.  That may be the toughest step as the rock we have isn't ideal - I'm hoping I can break some of it into smaller pieces.  When that's done, I'll add some planting mix and/or compost and replant.

I've got a few ideas in mind for replanting the area but I'm not hurrying the plant selection process.

When the mimosa tree comes out in the back garden, I'm going to redesign the area surrounding the patio to make room for a new tree (yet to be identified).  The succulent beds adjacent to the patio will be scaled back so these Agave colorata will probably need relocating and I think the front slope may be just the place for them.

In the meantime, I'm happier having a cleaner slate.

The photo on the left shows the area as I photographed it for my October 2nd wide shots post.  The photo on the right shows it when I completed my initial cleanup yesterday.

I'm sure I can find a few other things to take care of before the heat returns and the tree service arrives.  Best wishes for a pleasant weekend of gardening to all!


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

18 comments:

  1. That’s an impressive before and after!! BTW: for the last 2 years, I have seen Smart Plant brand of E virgineus sold at big box stores. This is likely a moot point, since this is likely the perfect time to start cuttings. What will you do about the gopher?

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    1. I think I actually got that Euryops at a big box store, one of maybe 2 purchases I've made there. Re the gopher, all signs are it's gone. The combination of the solar-powered sonic devices (I got 2 packs!) and the deterrent granules watered into the soil seemed to work. Persistence paid off!

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  2. Good work, and what a relief/joy to have cooler weather for a few days. 'Mutabilis' was a dud here--long, long gone.

    Is the gopher gone? What is the little tree with the pale leaves in the center of the cleared space? 'Springfire'?

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    1. The gopher appears to be gone but I've left the solar-powered sonic devices (8 of them!) in place. The small tree is a pineapple guava. It and a larger specimen came with the garden.

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  3. Wow, you have given this area the clean sweep. I love those big ole aeoniums. I can't grow them here except in pots and they would probably never get that big anyway. It is good that you can take advantage of cooler clearer weather. I will be interested to see what you plant in this area. That rascally rodent. I hope he is gone for ever. Have a great weekend.

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    1. It won't be hard to start more clumps of aeoniums, Lisa, but I need to hold off on taking and planting cuttings until the cooler temperatures are here to stay. The plants do need replacing periodically as the stems get tall and weedy over time. In this case, the gopher's activities underground may have also been a factor in their decline.

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  4. I had to look up gopher. It looks kinda cute but then so do squirrels and I’d do anything (legal) to be rid of them. I bet it feels wonderful to be out there gardening again after the summer heat. There is nowhere better to lose yourself from all the stress in the world. How many days is it now? 25? I remember saying at the last election that every day just got more bizarre. This one beats it hands down, I don’t know how you cope.

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    1. Yes, we have 25 days to go. My husband and I've already voted and sent in our ballots. We're tracking delivery, such is the level of anxiety this year. If what's happened during the last 4 years was content in a movie, I'd have said it was unbelievable. Even living through it, it feels that way. I half expect galactic aliens to arrive any day...

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  5. There is such satisfaction with cleaning out the old, less than stellar plants and starting with a clean slate. Looking forward to see the renovation completed!

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    1. I'm anxious to get the tree work done as that'll set the stage for next steps throughout the garden.

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  6. Looks like you've been busy. Glad it has cooled down and you can take advantage of the nice weather and get some things done. I never enjoy gardening when it's hot. The cooler weather rejuvenates both garden and gardener.

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    1. Conditions have been very good for gardening the past couple of days, Cindy. After weeks of excessive heat and bad air, it felt great to be able to tuck into work in the garden and tune everything else out. I can understand why winter can feel claustrophobic in colder climates.

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  7. The first photo in this post is very inviting - I love pictures of paths - and from a vantage point that isn't taken frequently. It makes me want to walk up and see where that path goes.
    Renovating a section in the garden can be a little daunting at first but extremely satisfying once you get into it. Loving Aeonium from afar (not zone appropriate), I wonder about it being "dormant": those in the picture look rather excellent to me.
    Good luck with the tree service. I hope watching them work isn't too painful.

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    1. I use that path regularly but others rarely pass that way. In full or part shade, with regular irrigation, the Aeoniums don't look too bad - they don't grow but they only partially curl up. In full sun with little water, they look sad but generally they do spring back when the rain arrives. Most, but not all, of my Aeoniums get at least partial shade and periodic water.

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  8. I've been feeling the same way about getting started in the garden again with the cooler weather and much, much better air quality! Just about the head out...

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    1. Happy gardening, Hans! Our air quality was in the green zone today for the first time in quite awhile, and it's forecast to remain that way through tomorrow at least.

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  9. Replies
    1. I know!. Once I get over the trauma of pulling stuff out, I get excited.

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