Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Wide Shots - April 2024

The quarterly wide shots I take in spring are generally my favorites.  I took those presented here last week in the days leading up to our most recent rainstorm.  Although spring's wonderful surprises are still unfolding, there's already floral color everywhere.  Back in early January, I'd feared we were facing a dry year but the rain we've received since then has given the garden a major boost.  When the "water year" total is tallied at the end of September, it may not equal last year's remarkable total but, even if we get nothing more, it will exceed the average for Los Angeles County.

I'll start my tour of the garden as I usually do at the back door.

View from the back door looking in the direction of Angel's Gate, the entrance to the Port of Los Angeles.  I replaced the woody Echium webbii next to the fountain last year and, although the new one is bulking up nicely, I'm not sure it'll bloom this year.  However, the Dutch Iris are providing a nice punch of blue color.

View of the north end of the back garden.  As you can see, I've yet to cut down all the dunce-cap flowers of Aeonium arboreum.  The Hippeastrum 'Luna' bulbs I bought in late 2022 were a good investment.  After they flowered in pots in 2023, I planted them in the bed in the foreground on the left and they're now producing flower stalks (which are difficult to see behind the potted Iris).

View from the north end of the back garden looking toward the patio.  Although there are relatively few flowers in this area at this time, I'm pleased with the variations of color provided by the succulent foliage.

This is the view from the back garden's midpoint looking south,  The beds on either side of the flagstone path that were looking a bit bare in January are virtually full now.  I pruned out the most damaged section of the Helichrysum 'Icicles' in the foreground but stopped short of removing the whole thing.

View from the south end of the back garden looking north.  In addition to the Dutch Iris, you can see Arctotis, Felicia, Narcissi, and Osteospermums in full bloom.  Noticing that lily foliage is emerging too, I dropped wire cages around those plants after these photos were taken to prevent the rabbits from chewing them up.

This is where we pivot west to view the south-side garden.

A few Aloe striata are blooming, along with Euphorbia rigida, Gazanias, Leucospermum 'High Gold', and Metrosideros 'Springfire'

View from the small south-side patio looking south

View of the same area looking east toward the harbor.  The Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' shrubs on the left side I cut back severely in January are finally recovering, albeit slowly.  I sowed the bare area with California poppy seeds but apparently I acted too late as there aren't many seedlings.

Next, we head down to the lower level of the front garden.

This path leads down that way, curving at the peppermint willow tree in the background

The floral color in this area is limited to Aeoniums, Euryops chrysanthemoides, and self-seeded Osteospermums at this time of year

View of the area looking north.  I'm having some regrets about having allowed the large self-seeded Pyracantha below the Arbutus 'Marina' tree to stay.  That slope is steep enough to make pruning the shrub difficult.

View looking east past the lath (shade) house in the direction of the path that takes us back up to the main level of the front garden

We're now on the south end of the main level of the front garden.

View looking north in the direction of the driveway.  The shrubs of Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' in the foreground have hidden the flagstone path from view but it's there and passable.  The large shrub with the orange flowers is Grevillea 'Superb', which blooms all year.

View from the Magnolia tree looking south

View from the front door area looking southwest.  The roots of the Magnolia tree make it difficult to grow anything directly underneath it so I resorted to growing plants in barrels and pots.

View from the driveway looking east in the direction of the front door.  I never got around to pruning the 2 tree-like 'Copper Glow' Leptospermums on either side of the front path so now that has to wait until the shrubs finish blooming this summer.  The lavender flowers shown in the beds on both sides of that path are Dutch Iris 'Pink Panther'.

View of the garden bed on the south side of the door.  The seasonal standouts in this area include Lavandula multifida, Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', Leucadendrons 'Cloudbank Ginny' and 'Safari Goldstrike', Leucospermum 'Spider Hybrid', and Narcissus 'Geranium'Pennisetum 'Rubrum' is past due for its annual haircut.

View of the garden bed on the north side of the front door.  I still haven't done anything about replacing that Coleonema 'Sunset Gold' that's been shaped like an oversized box.

View of the area to the left of that north side bed.  The house came with a climbing 'Joseph's Coat' rose alongside the chimney but it's no longer in good shape and I'm not counting on it to flower.

View of a cross-section of the front garden from the chimney pointed southwest, offered just because I like this particular angle

View of the front area on the side of the driveway adjacent to the garage.  It looks its best at this time of year when there's a lot in bloom, including Arctotis 'Opera Pink', Iris douglasiana, Lavandula stoechas, Polygala myrtifolia, and Pyrethropsis hosmariense (Moroccan daisies).

On the other side of the garage is my cutting garden.

Some of my cool season flowers bloomed early and others are late.  For example, the peach foxgloves have been blooming for a month or more but the mixed color group I grew from plugs, while huge, have yet to produce a single flower stalk.  And one variety of sweet peas has flowered for nearly 2 months while the others have yet to produce buds.  Meanwhile, I can almost hear the Dahlia tubers in storage whispering that they should be planted this month.

Following the path through the cutting garden brings us to a gate which leads us to the north-side garden on the other side.

I'm generally happy with this area after the changes I made in January.  I recently added more bricks to the left side of the gravel path to blend in with those originally installed by my husband to widen it.  At the same time, I dug up 3 good-sized agave pups, all of which I moved to the succulent bed I'm renovating in front of the garage.  I didn't bother removing all the seedlings of pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa), though - that's a lost cause.

The gravel path in the north-side garden takes us to the concrete block stairway that leads to the back slope, which is thoroughly hidden behind the hedge that runs the length of the back garden's main level.

View looking down.  The property line between us and our neighbor on the south side lies just beyond the lemon tree in the flat area at the bottom.

The relatively small, mostly flat area along the property line is home to my tree-like Ceanothus arboreus, 2 Pittosporum 'Silver Magic, 5 Drimia maritima and lots of ivy I've yet to cut back.  The latter is a Sisyphean task.

View from the bottom of the slope looking up.  The bearded Iris next to the Agave attenuata are getting ready to bloom.  Within 3-4 weeks, the slope will be looking much more colorful.

The only sections of the garden I haven't shown you are the succulent bed on the west side of the garage and the street-side succulent bed.  The succulent area next to the garage is still undergoing renovation so I'll share an update on that at another time.  I'll end with the street-side succulent bed.

This bed could use a touch of additional color but that's a project for later this year

That's it for this quarter's wide shots.  I'll be back with another general update in July, when we should have an idea as to whether Mother Nature is going to be kind or turn up the summer heat.

All material © 2012-2024 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


  1. The garden has indeed benefited for all the rain you have received. It looks fantastic. Love the little pops of colour from the many iris.

    1. I think I may be maxing out on my use of Dutch Iris, Elaine. I've gone a little crazy planting more bulbs every year.

  2. I feel I am more familiar with your garden after following the wide shots for a while. With memory what it is, :-D, I can't tell which part of the massive garden is my favorite, it probably changes with the seasons or the light... Today though, the first "south-side garden" (#6) stopped my breath: I just love this saturated view. The blue Agaves, orange-blooming Aloes and gorgeous trees in the background: a definite scene stealer!
    (Could your tree service include the Pyracantha?)

    1. The south side garden consistently looks good, regardless of whether or not anything is blooming. I'm hoping I can eventually achieve similar success with the renovated bed in front of the garage.

      Asking the tree service guys to prune back that Pyracantha is probably a good idea ;) I usually try to handle anything of a manageable size myself but I should probably include the slope factor to my criteria!

  3. I am a sucker for pictures of paths, and you have DELIVERED! Everything is flourishing with the rain, and the shot with the agaves is fantastic.

    1. Thanks Tracy. We've been really lucky getting rain well above "normal" 2 years in a row. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that, since records have been kept, our 2 "water year" total stands as the 2nd highest in LA's history, only exceeded by the rain in 1888-1890!

  4. I wish you could have heard the noise I made when I paged down to the "pivot west to view the south-side garden" shot. Wowsa! Your Grevillea 'Superb' looks to be ginormous, what a beauty. Finally when saw the chimney I thought "Joseph's Coat rose"! I am no fan of roses but have always loved that one, especially yours with the chimney stone as a backdrop. I am sorry to hear it's not well.

    1. In a funny coincidence, I looked at Grevillea 'Superb' this morning and thought she really needs pruning! Even though I cut stems for flower arrangements fairly often, the shrub appears to be attempting a takeover of sorts.

      I don't give my roses enough water and I haven't even tried to fertilize them this year. The area occupied by "Joseph's Coat', squeezed between the chimney and the driveway, is literally less than a foot wide so I imagine its roots are also crowded.

  5. Everything is looking so lush and colorful, Kris. Clearly the garden is happy for the rain you've received this winter. It is really looking good. You've done a beautiful job! Eliza

    1. Thanks Eliza. Two years of above average rain has made a huge difference. The Los Angeles Times reported that, since records have been kept, the total rain received by downtown LA during the last 2 water years is second only to the total measured in 1888-1890! And the current "water year" won't be over until September 31, 2024. Although our rainy season normally ends around mid-April, there's still a chance of a freak storm or two before them.

  6. A lavender-colored pink panther? That seems an odd naming choice even though I just read it supposedly has a pink blush. Your paths look so pristine. I may try the same thing in a limited area this year and see how the creeping thyme holds up. I had a massive die-out of it last year - too dry, but maybe it would do better in this particular area. I am enjoying all of your leucospermum blooms.

    1. I read that the 'Pink Panther' Dutch Iris is officially known as 'Panther', although now commonly sold as 'Pink Panther'. I convinced myself that there is a faint pink touch in the flower but it's really lavender ;)

      There are some areas in my garden where creeping thyme isn't at all happy. I've been trying Ruschia nana (aka carpet of stars) there. I can't say I like it as much but it does seem touch once established. I also buy a flat of creeping thyme (specifically 'Elfin' thyme) to fill in spots where it dies out every couple of years.


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