Friday, May 17, 2024

Side gardens can be colorful

I focused on my back garden for this month's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post, published on Wednesday, but other areas of the garden are showing their colors this month too.  Today's post spotlights the smaller north and south side gardens.

The north-side garden is a relatively dry area containing numerous succulents and other drought-tolerant plants but at the moment it sings of spring with frothy pink and white flowers.  I've set the stage for the floral closeups with a few wide shots.

The pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) lining both sides of the gravel path is one of the best signs of spring I can think of

View from the concrete stairway leading down to the back slope, looking west.  (My cutting garden sits on the other side of the fence in the background.)

This is the east side of the garden area, where a massive Leucadendron salignum 'Chief' hides the slope's stairway.  The Xylosma congestum hedge that runs the full distance of the back garden ends there.  You may notice that I still haven't cut back the mass of ivy that's crept under the hedge from the back slope.

Clockwise from the upper left are: mix of Centranthus ruber, Centranthus ruber 'Albus', Dorycnium hirsutum (aka hairy Canary clover), Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', and Oenothera speciosa in closeup

A variety of Pelargoniums, clockwise from the upper left: Pelargonium crispum 'Lemona', P. 'Lady Plymouth', P. 'Orange Fizz', and P. 'White Lady'

Closeups of Grevillea sericea (left) and G. 'Scarlet Sprite' (right), both of which produce a large volume of small flowers and bloom for several months each year 

There are a couple of blue notes: Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia' (left) and Lavandula dentata (right), the toughest lavender in my garden

Clockwise from the upper left, a miscellaneous collection: Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi'; a mix of Erigeron karvinskianus and the weed, Geranium incanum, growing up through a mass of rosemary; a half-eaten gauva (Psidium guajava) still on the tree; and trailing Lantana montevidensis peeking out front behind an Agave ovatifolia

I think of my south-side garden as a succulent bed but, although succulents dominate the space, there are a substantial number of flowering plants surrounding them.  Once again, I'll set the context using a handful of wide shots.

View of the area looking west

View of the same area looking east

View from a small patio looking south

View of the border from the dirt path behind it.  This is the area I renovated in February after we removed a sprawling Agave 'Blue Flame'.

Another view from the dirt path, showing the area in which the back garden blends into the south-side garden

Leucospermum 'High Gold' is the most prominent floral feature in the south-side garden at this time of year

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' with what may be the first flowers (right) I've seen since it was planted in November 2016

The rockroses bloom in periodic flushes.  From left to right are: Cistus 'Grayswood Pink', C. x skanbergii, and C. 'Sunset'.

Grevillea 'Moonlight' (left) still blooms only sporadically while Grevillea 'Poorinda Leanne' (right) is finally putting on a good show

Clockwise from the upper left are a variety of flowering plants: Aeonium 'Kiwi Verde' (they're everywhere!), noID Delosperma, self-seeded Gazania 'Gold Flame', Hymenolepsis parviflora, Lagurus ovatus (aka bunny tail grass), and Pelargonium peltatum in lavender and burgundy

There are a couple touches of blue here too: Limonium perezii (aka sea lavender, left) and Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud' (right) , a virtual weed albeit one with pretty flowers

That's it for me this week.  Our cloudy skies are expected to persist for at least the next ten days, if not through the end of the month and well into June.  Along the Southern California coast, the morning marine layer generally hangs on well into the afternoon.  If we're lucky, we get a few hours of sun in the late afternoon.  The good news is that the marine layer keeps our temperatures down.

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


  1. I love your south-side garden. It'd be difficult to pick which view I like better, looking east or west, but if pressed I'd select the west facing direction. The majesty of the strawberry tree tips the balance.
    Thanks to the marine layer, the photos come out better, well saturated and vivid. I think it's a blessing.
    Do you ever get to eat any of your guavas? They evoke intense memories, both flavor and scent (which not everyone likes).

    1. I've never been interested in the guava fruit and this is the first time I've noticed the critters going after it when it's ripe. The fact that it was eaten in place on the tree makes me think that the culprit was a rat (perhaps the same one I spotted going after the rotten strawberries in my compost heap). In contrast, the squirrels like to grab the immature fruits, burying them in the garden like nuts.

  2. That wide view of the south side garden is PERFECTION! Dang, that is beautiful. Your design hits from every view/direction. I do love the pink primrose by the path.

    1. That south-side area took its time coming together, Tracy. As I recall, most of the 'Blue Glow' Agaves started from small pots I purchased when they were relatively new introductions to the trade :) Most of the empty space between plants has disappeared over time, which makes weeding and other tidying up downright difficult.

  3. All the plants and views are exquisite, but that wide shot view looking west really stopped me with its design and beauty. Wow--the Leucospermum 'High Gold' with the succulents and the pathways--beautiful! Also, the rock roses are so lovely, too. Beautiful side gardens (and all your gardens)!

    1. Thanks Beth! The only negative with rockroses is that they don't make suitable cut flowers ;)

  4. I think your side-gardens are bigger than my entire garden! They're looking lovely and very colorful.

    1. All I can say is that it's probably a good thing that I didn't get my wish of a 2-acre garden 12 years ago when we bought this property, Loree.

  5. Non-stop beauty! I love your garden and esp. the west view with the blue agaves, dabs of orange euphorbia and leucospermum 'High Gold'. That one puts on a marvelous show! Eliza

    1. I still live in dread of all the agaves blooming at once in that south-side garden, Eliza. I started the majority from very small plants but most are large enough to bloom now. One 'Blue Glow' did produce a bloom spike last year but that plant defied expectations and lives on; however, it has pups coming out one side, suggesting it may bloom in the near future, which will probably be the end of it.

  6. A lovely spring display. Of course, I always zero in on your Leucospermums. The half eaten guava would annoy me. The pest pressure is one of the reasons we stopped growing raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. We would have to build a small fortress around each plant for only a handful of berries each summer - not worth the effort or the unsightliness.

    1. The guava tree came with the garden and we never eat the fruit so I wasn't upset by that particular theft, although it was weird seeing the fruit still on the tree, signifying that the culprit was probably a rat. I hate taking our trees (even when they up and die on me) but I've entertained the idea of removing that guava as it drops gobs of leaves on the agaves below it each year. Unfortunately, the tree's removal would probably require pulling up the agaves so it remains.


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