I find it hard to believe I've been blogging for ten years. I wasn't sure if I was going to acknowledge this anniversary, or how I should do so if I did. But one of the benefits of blogging for that long is that I've accumulated a personal photographic history of sorts so I decided to dig into mine.
I'd thought about creating my own blog for some time before I did it but the final decision was made on a whim on the evening of December 29, 2012. My husband had gone to visit a friend and was late getting home so I plunged ahead without any kind of plan. I didn't even have a blog name in mind when I started. I considered 'Angel's Gate Garden' to reflect my garden's location overlooking the Los Angeles harbor but that didn't feel like a good fit. Then 'Late to the Garden Party' popped into my head and I was off and running.
My first post was about some of the changes I'd made during our first two years here. My photographic record was spotty at that time but the blog immediately had me taking more photos in the interest of documenting the garden's development. The photos I've included here represent some major changes but not all by any means. I trimmed them down but (warning!) there's still a lot of them.
2013 was a difficult year on a personal level. We lost both my mother and my mother-in-law within a period of roughly ten weeks between March and May. The garden was a source of solace and diversion for me.
|In 2013, I joined in on a variety of monthly memes. This shot of the back garden in November 2013 was part of a now defunct meme promoting wide shots of the garden. I also participated in monthly Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-up posts.
|Another wide shot taken in November shows the paths we laid and the plants I installed following the removal of the Eucalyptus
|Over a few months, I posted photos of garden walks with my cat, Ming. He was very ill with an inoperable condition but these supervised walks were regular occurrences to enhance his remaining quality of life.
2014 presented challenges too but, with our respective family issues largely behind us, my husband and I plunged into project after project, many of which involved removing the remaining lawn we'd inherited with the property.
|Sadly, we lost Ming in March 2018. He was 12 years old. He survived 4 years longer than his sibling, Max, who died of congestive heart failure. They were rescues and had life-long health problems.
|I was creating and posting photos of floral arrangements made from materials selected from my garden from my early blogging days but, in March 2014, I joined Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for In a Vase on Monday. I've been a weekly contributor ever since but this was my very first entry.
The labor intensive projects continued into 2015 and 2016.
|Drought was a major concern in 2015 and California declared restrictions on water usage (which were haphazardly enforced as far as I could see). These photos taken in November 2015 reflected our progress removing more lawn in our backyard garden.
|In September 2016, we brought in additional stone to extend the stacked stone wall on the lower level of front garden on its southwest side. I also added rocks, soil and plants to beef up this moderate slope.
|After a horrible heatwave in June, we experienced another almost as intense in late September 2016. I used everything I could find, including broken umbrellas, to give plants a little protection.
|In November 2016, we removed 3 dying Ceanothus shrubs from this area and replanted, adding still more rock in the process. The Ceanothus had formed a hedge just a few feet from the Xylosma hedge that faces the street. It was claustrophobic.
In 2017, while work continued in the garden, I explored gardens that weren't my own to a greater extent.
|I allowed Pipig periodic supervised playtime in the garden even though she'd scrambled off on her own a few times to my distress if not hers
|In March 2017, I joined 2 friends on a day trip to check out the "superbloom" that followed heavy rain earlier that year. This photo of the California poppies was taken in the Lake Elsinore area.
|In June, I attended the Garden Bloggers' Fling in the DC area. Barbara Katz's garden (shown here) was among my favorites.
|In late December 2017, my husband unveiled the lath (shade) house he'd built as a Christmas present
In 2018, I trained as a docent for my local botanic garden and attended another Garden Bloggers' Fling in Austin, Texas.
|We toured Jenny Stocker's garden on the first day of the Fling tour, which began with a downpour of rain that followed us much of the day
|We toured Donna Fowler's garden in Hutto, Texas (a suburb of Austin) on a sunnier day. Hippos are the community's mascot.
|Tanglewild Gardens, which specialized in breeding daylilies, was another stop
In 2019 everything revolved around our home renovation.
|We lived in the house throughout the remodel. To make that possible, my husband built a temporary kitchen attached to our bedroom.
|This was the old kitchen following demo in early July
|The work wasn't completed until just before Christmas 2019. This is the new kitchen.
|The fireplace wall was reduced by half when an indoor barbecue was removed. Among other things, we got new wood flooring, a new roof, and a new HVAC system. The house was also repainted inside and out.
Thankfully, the home renovations were completed before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, turning everyone's life upside down. Weekly lunches with friends came to a stop. Volunteer activities at the botanic garden came to an abrupt halt. Even grocery shopping became a challenge. The garden became both a sanctuary and my principal focus.
|Cruise ships were sidelined and most crews weren't allowed to disembark. The ships appeared in the harbor periodically to collect supplies.
|I had plenty of time to admire my own garden
|I did get some unmasked visitors. Peacocks and a couple of peahens paid me several visits in mid-May.
|A coyote strolled right past the back door in June just as Pipig and I were exiting the house. That occurrence put an end to Pipig's outdoor strolls.
|Wildfire smoke filled the sky in December, although there were no fires in our immediate area
2021 started out very similarly to 2020, with an overlay of increasingly hideous political issues. The arrival of COVID vaccinations brightened the outlook somewhat once we jumped through all the hoops necessary to get the shots. However, it was one of the driest years on record, and reinforced the shift in my plant palette to place additional emphasis on succulents.
|I cleaned up and replanted this moderate south facing slope adjacent to my lath house between November 2020 and January 2021, adding rock left over when the indoor barbecue's rock wall was dismantled in 2019
|I spruced up the street-side succulent bed in late February 2021
|In May, the Ginkgo biloba tree I ordered to replace the mimosa tree we'd had removed was finally planted
|I spiffed up the dry garden on the northeast side of the house in August
I don't know about you but COVID continued to be a gray cloud on the horizon in 2022 even as I moved about more freely, boosted against the variants that continue to emerge. I saw friends more frequently, usually in outdoor settings, but things haven't returned to the pre-pandemic version of "normal" as my thwarted Christmas celebration recently demonstrated.
|I spotted a large group of goats clearing foliage along the main road through my area in August and stopped to get photos
|We discovered a significant leak in our main water line from the street in June and had it fixed, only to discover evidence of another leak (our third within a year) in September
|We elected to replace the entire pipeline between the street and the house, which was done in late September, causing major disruptions within a large part of the garden
|After relaying the stone path, I replanted the bromeliad/succulent bed along the northwest property line in October after the pipe project was completed
This blog hasn't only documented my relationship with the garden, it's also allowed me to look at it with a more critical eye. I've hashed out ideas for changes and received valuable feedback from those of you kind enough to read my posts and offer comments. I've made friends along the way, some of whom I've met in person and many who I know only through the written exchanges that I value greatly. I can't say with any certainty how long I'll continue blogging but I've no near-term plan to quit. I post regularly on Instagram as @krispeterson591 but I haven't embraced that media as a substitute for blogging.
Best wishes for a wonderful start to the new year. May you enjoy good health, happiness, and colorful days exploring the beauty of nature.
All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party