Thursday, December 29, 2022

Tenth Blogiversary

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.

Removal of the humongous Eucalyptus tree shown here in February 2013 was the biggest change we'd made to that date.  The decision to take it out was driven by a neighbor who complained that it blocked her view of the harbor.  I learned of the community's "view conservation ordinance" from her and bowed to her wishes, partly because the tree was planted uncomfortably close to the house.

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.

One of our 2014 projects involved carving out 2 new beds on the north end of the back garden.  The area in the foreground on the left had been occupied by a firewood-heated "snorkel spa" which we removed.  My husband made a dining table from the spa's lid, which can be seen in the distance on the patio.

Toward the end of 2014, we removed the large expanse of lawn between the driveway and the house.  I covered the area under the Magnolia with bark mulch as nothing grows well there.  I replanted the rest.  Some of those plants remain to this day, including the Phormiums, Lomandra and Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'.

The labor intensive projects continued into 2015 and 2016.

There was a mass of Yucca elephantipes along the property line at the bottom of our back slope that my husband felt was out of control.  Removing it turned out to be a miserable 2-stage process that began in December 2014 and continued into January 2015.  Heavy equipment had to be moved in through a neighbor's property to grind down the Yucca's stumps.  Removing the Yucca brought more light into this relatively shady east-facing area.

In March 2015 we removed one of the 2 peppermint willows (Agonis flexuosa) in the back garden, again at the instigation of the same neighbor who'd campaigned for removal of the Eucalyptus.  We'd hoped that would be the end of her "requests" but it wasn't.  I continued to have our trees pruned regularly but I refused her later demands for tree removals.  She moved out in 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.

After removing our last remaining lawn in December 2015, I replanted this front garden area between the driveway and the hedge facing the street in January 2016.  The area in the foreground was planted in succulents.  As these grew slowly, I added more soil, rocks and larger succulents to this area in subsequent years.  I'm still not happy with it.

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.

The work by the contractor's crew started in June at the back of the house where a section of the patio had to be removed to support an extension of our kitchen.  My garden was seriously disrupted by the renovation.  Construction materials were everywhere and there was a storage pod and porta-potty in our driveway for the duration.

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

Playing off an artist's "Coronavirus Tourism" posters, I published a few posts offering tongue-in-cheek virtual garden tours.  This photo is from a tour of my back slope in late April.  This area generally only looks good in spring after a decent rainy season.

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.

In August, it became apparent that our native Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) had died as that red color isn't normal.  The plant is susceptible to the same pathogen that causes sudden oak death.  The Toyon and the dying mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) I'd previously tried to save were removed later in the year.

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

After achieving full COVID vaccination status in April 2021, 3 friends and I met in Corona del Mar for our first outing since the pandemic started.  We toured Sherman Gardens (shown above) and had lunch at the outdoor Farmhouse restaurant at nearby Roger's Gardens.

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 worked on a cleanup of the back slope in late January/early February.  Among other things, I used concrete bricks left over from our 2019 home remodel to edge the lower area of the sloping bed on the left and added paving stones moved from other areas of the garden.  I planted a few succulents, mostly pups from elsewhere and we took out a sad fig tree.

The local botanic garden eliminated the docent role in favor of "guides" to assist with special events.  I wasn't interested.  I'd have considered returning as a volunteer with the propagation team but they eliminated the propagation unit as well.  While I no longer volunteer with the garden I do visit several times a year as a member.  I visited the butterfly exhibit in May.  This photo is of a Rothschild moth.

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

Over the years I've held many neighborhood giveways, featuring fruit, flowers, and plants (usually succulents).  This was my most recent, held in October, which included 2 kinds of persimmons, Euphorbia 'Sticks on Fire' and Agave 'Stained Glass' bulbils.

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


  1. Congratulations on your blog anniversary. I agree that with you in that it serves as a great way to record events that have taken place and see how everything changes. You have done a lot! It is so beautiful and such a stunning location.

    1. Thanks Phillip. I can't take credit for the location - we were lucky to get a house with a view - but my dip into my garden's history was a good reminder of how much it's changed since we moved in.

  2. Wow! A feast of garden and story. Many thanks for a decade of coherence, honesty, and dedication.

  3. I've missed reading your blog since the end of email notifications, so I'm glad you are on Instagram, too. Someday, when I have some time (ha ha), I plan to go back and catch up. I've followed from the early days if not the beginning and you have always amazed me with the big projects and the amount of work you put in to making your garden your own. It's been a beautiful transformation.

    1. Thanks Barbara. I don't know why Blogger shot down the email notifications. I know some bloggers link their IG posts to new blog entries but I don't often cover the same things on both mediums.

  4. Happy to write that all of that was familiar to me, and especially the saga of the tree-averse neighbor -- good riddance to her! Congrats on ten fruitful years of blogging, Kris!

    1. Thanks Denise. I can't say I miss that particular neighbor. I recently talked with another neighbor who mentioned her. Apparently, I wasn't the only one she harassed. That neighbor reported that our former neighbor once approached the tree trimming crew she and her husband hired to demand they lower the canopy beyond the limit the homeowners had established. The tree trimmers and the homeowners refused.

  5. Congratulations on 10 years of blogging! Wishing you all the best for 2023 and I'm looking forward to reading more posts from you :)

  6. Like Denise I too remember most (if not all) of these developments. I wish I could remember how I found you (maybe you commented on my blog?) or when I started reading. I am so happy to have been here in your garden in person (right after that remodel wrapped up!) and spent time with you at those Flings you attended—perhaps I'll see you in September in Philly? Anyway... Happy Anniversary, 10 years! Time flies. It will be 14 for me in March.

    1. Thanks Loree. I'd followed your blog (and Denise's) before I started blogging so I suspect I commented on your blog and the rest was history. As I recall, you, Denise, Sue (Idyll Haven), Tammy (Casa Mariposa), and HB (Piece of Eden) were among my first commentators.

  7. I enjoyed reading your ten year anniversary post and congratulations on such an achievement. It was very interesting to see your progress in the garden over that time, and I remember some of the more recent events. I’m overawed by all you’ve managed to do in the time you’ve been recording and the energy you’ve expended in doing it.
    I’m glad your neighbour moved out…I very much dislike it when people insist on chopping down trees unnecessarily.
    It’s New Year’s Eve here, and I wish you good gardening, good health, and good rain for 2023!

    1. Thanks Jane and best wishes for a happy new year to you as well. That former neighbor considered trees "messy" and literally had just a single small tree (no taller than 5 feet) on her property despite living there nearly 50 years.

  8. A beautiful retrospective! Happy blogaversary! Your garden, your bouquets, and your blog posts are always wonderful!

    1. Thanks Beth! Best wishes for a healthy and happy new year to you and your family!

  9. Congratulations on 10 years of blogging, Kris - that’s quite an achievement! I first stumbled upon your blog when studying for my Diploma of Horticulture. One subject in particular involved researching plants suitable for my local conditions. Lots of the plants I was interested in were mentioned in your blog. Your detailed real- life accounts of how each performed in your garden were really valuable to me during my studies and still are today. And I do enjoy the Pipig updates 😉 A very happy and healthy New Year to you and yours and I look forward to enjoying and learning from your blog in 2023.
    - Horticat

    1. Thanks for sharing the back story of how you came to find my blog, Horticat. It's interesting and I'm glad my blog could be of service ;) I'm pleased that you created your own blog too and I look forward to seeing more of your posts in the future, acknowledging that your have a lot going on right now and may not often be able to spare the time. Best wishes to you and your family for a happy new year!

  10. Happy Tenth Blogiversary, and here's to the next 10!
    It's a beautiful thing to be able to look back at the evolution of a garden, our own and others'. (At some point I realize that I evolved right along my garden...).
    I checked the link to your very first post. It was fun to see your absolutely charming old garden (and kitty), suited for a different climate. I can imaging the challenge you faced adjusting to heat, dry climate and a much bigger lot when creating your new garden oasis.
    The best New Year to you an your husband, filled with lots of satisfying hours in the garden.

    1. I love the notion of gardeners evolving along with their gardens, Chavli. I expect that people who learn to love and care for gardens gain an appreciation and respect for nature - and the threats imposed by climate change - and the world needs many more of those.

      Although my former garden was only 15 miles north of my present one, the current one is 10+ degrees hotter on average during the summer and more exposed to the elements. The cat shown in that first post actually belonged to a neighbor but she and her offspring lived in our garden. My husband even built a little stair to make it easier for them to get over the wall and I facilitated the adoption of 2 of the kittens. My own spoiled indoor cats, Max and Ming (and later Pipig), had to make do with a screened catio.

      Best wishes for a wonderful new year, and thanks for your always thoughtful comments.

  11. Happy 10th Kris. This was a very enjoyable retrospective-fun to see all the many changes in your garden over the years !

    1. Thanks Kathy! I'm glad to say that you're one of the people I connected with in person through the blog connection. Hopefully, we'll cross paths again sometime soon.

  12. Many congratulations on ten years of blogging Kris - it takes some doing! What a great record you have of your garden's development over those years. I think that we perhaps 'met' through Cathy's meme and it has been a pleasure to visit your blog ever since. Wishing you a most Happy New Year xxx

    1. I was glad to meet you virtually "in person" via Cathy's Zoom call, Anna. Hopefully we can do that again sometime in the new year. Best wishes for a healthy and happy start to 2023!

  13. Happy 10th blogiversary, Kris, a significant achievement! I've enjoyed watching your garden evolve through the years and seeing this retrospective brought many memories of that journey. Looking forward to many more years of seeing your lovely garden. Eliza

    1. Thanks Eliza! I hope your travels will bring you to SoCal again sometime in the future. I'm sure you could use a break from your difficult winter conditions one year or another. Spring arrives much earlier here than in your part of the country ;) Best wishes for warmth, good health and joy in the new year.

  14. Congratulations on reaching your 10-year blogging milestone. Your garden has quite a history and I have enjoyed seeing many of these projects underway and look forward to future developments in your garden. Happy New Year to you and your husband.

    1. Thanks Susie. I'm happy that you were one of the people I connected with in person due to blogging and our mutual association with IAVOM. Best wishes to you and your family for a happy new year as well!

  15. Congratulations on your tenth blogaversary! I much enjoyed reading all the bits I remember as they happened, the crabby neighbour, the coyote. A relief to have a fire hazard eucalyptus gone. Mariposa is a once was a blogger from Blotanical days - she wrote such a gracious and happy goodbye.

    We too have lost Chocolat and Aragon here since I started blogging (and Henry in Porterville on my old blog)

    1. Thanks Diana. Every so often, a trip down memory lane is worthwhile.


I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions! Google has turned on reCAPTCHA affecting some commentator IDs so, if you wish to identify yourself, please add your name to your comment.