Shopping Center As Garden

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A local shopping area--admittedly it is mostly concrete, asphalt, and modern capitalism--some how managed to come off as a kind of garden on our visit Sunday.  Perhaps it was the glorious autumn day...
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...but as we walked around, it managed to feel like a garden. One could walk from one area to another looking at plants rather than store fronts or merchandise--at least a gardener could.  This place was finished just as the real estate bubble burst in 2008, so the surrounding empty land, intended to be crammed with housing, still remains empty, and there are empty store spaces still, waiting for higher traffic, or lower rents.  
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Very unusually for a Southern California shopping center, the plantings give the air of a savannah or prairie mixed with the more usual palms.  The parkways are crammed full of Dietes bicolor, creating from the roads what appears to be a grassland.  
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If you see a fresh small pot of Dietes bicolor at the garden center you would be overwhelmingly tempted to buy it.  It's an incredibly tough plant that fresh and new is a beautiful clump of grassy foliage with sweet yellow flowers held above.  
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 However after a few years, it's a tight, coarse, impenetrable mass of really dead grey foliage mixed in with newly dead brown foliage, soon-to-be-dead yellow foliage, and the fresh green foliage and yellow flowers that tempted people to buy it in the first place.  It's simply impossible to remove only the dead foliage, and the plant becomes so tight and full and solid in the ground, it is difficult to remove it at all. 
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The shopping center's Dietes has not quite yet reached the horror stage, but I am curious to see what will happen--will they mow it to the ground and let it sprout back, with a permanent stubble of dead leaves showing prominently at the baseThat's the usual scenario.  I'll be watching to see what they do with it.  The grassland effect is so intriguing--if only they had used a more maintainable plant! 

Masses of Strelitzia are also to be seen, and they also eventually become a problematic mass of dead and living foliage, but they're still far from that stage.  They were blooming and beautiful.
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Scattered here and there as foundation hedges is bamboo.
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There are palms in pots...
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...and those twee spiraled junipers, also in pots, and some killer glorious to swoon about Yucca rostrata specimens underplanted with Agave attenuata...
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and in a rather dark breezeway leading to shops, an immaculately maintained koi pond.  It is too shallow to be comfortable for the fish, but the level of maintenance is excellent, and the pond was not overstocked.  For a koi keeper, it's good to see that.  I wonder how they manage to keep the gravel bottom clean.  The effect was gorgeous...
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...the rippling water made the gravel appear to ripple as well.  
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There were, apparently, shops and restaurants there too, but I neglected to look at any of them.
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Comments

  1. We have a few garden centres in the Uk that have either actual gardens or sections with mini gardens created to show what the plants look like when mature and mixed with suitable planting.

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    1. We have some of that here too, though your UK examples are probably better!

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  2. I could stare at the Yucca rostrata and Agave attenuata combo for hours.

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    1. Me too! Attenuata switched out for 'Blue Flame' might be even better.

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  3. That's my kind of shopping trip. But you must have gone there originally to actually buy something. Interesting to hear that a mass of strelitzia gets impenetrable when older - what do people do then?

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    1. We went to see the movie "Flight", because Dear Husband likes airplane movies. The airplane scenes and were terrific. The rest was Lifetime-Channel-Movie-Of-The-Week with A-List actors.

      Strelitzia--people try to dig them up, then surrender and hire someone to dig them up.

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  4. WOW Joni Mitchell would be proud. they didnt pave paradise!

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    1. At least not all of it, thankfully. :)

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  5. Great place! Shops and restaurants? Who needs that? I wonder if burning would be a workable management technique for Strelitzia? How deep should a pond be for optimum koi comfort?

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    1. Burning? Hmm...the roots go way down. :(

      Five to six feet is considered good for long term health and comfort. Koi like to swim up and down, up and down--and if they end up at 24"-30" in length, they need some depth to do it. Keepers with very expensive, large show Koi often build even deeper.

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  6. The composition of the first image is superb.

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    1. Due to the composition of the plantings! :) Thanks!

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  7. This reminds me of some of what I saw in Fort Lauderdale this past summer. Even the most modest of strip malls had impressive landscaping. At one place we went my family went in to shop, while I stayed out to photograph. I believe there must be some fairly strong zoning ordinances that require developers to put in good landscaping.

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