I recently took a look back at the evolution of my backyard borders. In what may become a periodic exercise focusing on different areas of the garden, this week I took a look at my north side garden or, more specifically, the northeast side garden, which is separated by a fence from my cutting garden (formerly the vegetable garden). This area was definitely not on my radar as one of the first areas to tackle after we took possession of the property in December 2010. I can't entirely explain why I started on it but, in retrospect, I think it probably looked like a more manageable project to tackle in the spring of 2011. I'd retired but my husband was still working so I was mostly on my own when it came to garden projects. And even though I wasn't working, I was heavily involved in dealing with family issues as my stepfather's health was rapidly declining and my mother was ill-equipped to deal with his health issues or even her own needs so I had only so much time to give to the garden. I estimate that the northeast side garden is roughly 625 square feet in size, making it just a little smaller than the back garden of our former townhouse. Perhaps a third of the area was covered in lawn and the rest contained several fruit trees surrounded by gravel. I thought I could gradually chip away at renovating it without any major issues.
Of course, once again there are no "before" photos. In this case, there wasn't even a photo I could pull off the original real estate posting. The earliest photo I have was one taken by my brother in late December 2011, a full year after we'd moved in, when he and my mother were here for a pre-Christmas lunch.
|My brother's photo was taken from the back area looking toward the house. It's funny but it looks much smaller to me than it currently does, stuffed to the gills with large plants.|
I remember my efforts to kill the lawn by laying down plastic. As I recall, that was only semi-successful - or, more likely, just too slow given my usual level of patience. I ended up digging out the lawn I didn't manage to kill, with some weekend help from my husband. I collected the gravel surrounding the fruit trees and used that to create a gravel pathway stretching from the paved area adjacent to the house to the fence marking the property line with our neighbor. I encountered an unexpected complication in the form of a plastic weed barrier someone had laid below the gravel under a layer of soil. I'm still not 100% sure I got all of it out, although I haven't found any more for years now. I did more planting that year then I'd remembered until I checked my spreadsheet. Not everything I planted survived but what did includes Correa pulchella 'Pink Eyre', Dorycnium hirsutum, one Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola', Lavandula dentata, two Leptospermum 'Pink Pearl', some Osteospermums, two Phormiums, Rosmarinus 'Huntington Carpet', and Senna bicapsularis.
I didn't start blogging until late December 2012 so my photographic record of my garden activity in 2012 is sparse.
|These photos were taken in the second quarter of the same year. The daylilies shown in the photo on the right did relatively well but I later moved all of them to other parts of the garden that received more water.|
I didn't do as much planting in 2012 as I did in 2011 but the first of my Agaves went in during the latter part of that year, along with a few other plants that can still be found there: two Abelia grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated', Coprosma 'Plum Hussey', and Globularia x indubia.
|This photo, taken in August 2013, is one of the first to show Agave ovatifolia, still very small at this point after a year in the ground|
According to my records, I didn't do a lot of planting in 2013 either but I did add two Leucadendrons, 'Ebony' and 'Chief', both significant features of my current garden.
|This photo, taken in early August 2014, doesn't show much change in the area's overall structure (although it's a lot less colorful that the 2013 photos taken during the spring period)|
I added several more Agaves, including Agave vilmoriniana, in 2014, as well as the first Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite', a plant that now dominates the section of the area nearest the house. My husband and I were more focused on the back garden during this period.
|This photo was taken at the end of June 2015, when our drought was at its height and water restrictions were in effect|
Most of my additions to this area of the garden in 2015 were small but my very first Mangave ('Bloodspot') was planted there that year. There are now six Mangaves there. The changes in 2016 and 2017 were also minimal.
|Photo taken in late June 2016|
|Photo taken in early July 2017|
More happened in this area in 2018. In April of that year I published two posts addressing problems and changes to the area (which you can find here and here). Among other things, we pulled out a cherry tree that come with the property, as well as the large Grevillea 'Penola' that had abruptly gone into decline.
|Photo taken in early July 2018 after the cherry tree, the Grevillea, and one of the guava trees were removed|
In late 2018, I planted a Callistemon viridiflorus, obtained with the assistance of Tamara of Chickadee Gardens'. I also pulled a mature Salvia clevelandii to provide space for a Psoralea pinnata. The latter was purchased to help screen portions of our garden from a neighbor's newly constructed second story house.
In 2019, we undertook an extensive home remodel and gardening took a backseat once work began in late June.
|The Osteospermums and Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite' were looking particularly colorful in this photo taken in early April 2019|
|This photo taken from the rear section of the area looking at the house in July 2019 shows the door to the temporary kitchen my husband added to the back of our house for use during our kitchen remodel|
Thankfully, work on the house was completed before Christmas in 2019 but then the pandemic happened. I don't show record of planting anything new in this section of the garden in 2020. Plant shopping options were limited and we stayed closer to home. I tackled a couple of small projects elsewhere in the garden but the only work that happened in this area was general maintenance.
|These photos were taken in early July 2020. Other than that some plants were seriously overgrown, it looked fine.|
I spent time cutting back overgrown plants this week before taking a new set of photos of this garden yesterday morning.
|I gave Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite' a major trim to reveal Leucadendron 'Ebony' behind it but 'Sprite' could still be taken down another notch|
|I also tip pruned Psoralea pinnata (aka kool-aid bush), to the left of the red-trunked strawberry tree (Arbutus 'Marina'), to remove the majority of its spent flowers|
At some point, I'm going to need to address the overcrowding of Agave ovatifolia, which hasn't been permitted its rightful opportunity to shine.
|The Cistus on the left may have to be moved as it's obscuring the view of Agave ovatifolia from the gravel path|
|Between the planter, the Cistus, and the neighboring octopus agave, the whale's tongue agave is getting lost. There's always something that needs doing. I also need to cut back the ivy creeping up from the back slope...|
That's it from me this week. We're looking forward to a cooling trend here, although we were spared the worst of this week's heatwave as other areas sizzled. Whatever your weather, I hope you enjoy a pleasant weekend.
All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party