"Winter" Walk-Off 2015

Aeoniums at their winter best

A Tidewater Gardener celebrates winter by hosting a meme about what's doing within walking distance;  this post is my contribution.  I put "Winter" in quotes, because it looks and feels like July here today. 

Not more than a mile down the road is the local fire station. 
 They allowed their old landscape (mostly lawn) to die.
(They are looking for a new home for those Cycas--seems a shame to trash those...)  It was vote day, too.  Special election to replace a state assembly person who term-limited and graduated to a seat in congress.  The two major candidates running to replace were term-limited out of other offices.  If you think term limits are a solution to something, know that here it simply turns elected postions into a game of musical chairs.  But I digress.
Last weekend new plants went in, all fire-wise, water-wise, and native to our area:
Of course right after they planted everything the temperature zoomed up to 90F (32C) and stayed there for four days. 
 Lots of new plants.
So, what did they put in?
Romneya coulteri:
 What looks like Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia:
 A manzanita (Arctostaphylos) of some kind:
 Baccharius  (been there, done that, yeccch):
 Rhus integrifolia, maybe, on the left, Toyon in back on the right:
 Umm, maybe a Penstemon? 
 Ceanothus
 Dudleya edulis, maybe
 Can't remember that one right now
 Carpenteria or California Bay? 
 Quite a lot of space to fill on the station's corner lot of at least 1/3 acre, I think:
 Their Sequoia is dying of drought--nearly all the Sequoias in the neighborhood already have. 
 One of their pines and a Liquidambar are doing okay:
 A single strawberry plant with pink flowers somehow showed up.  Hmmm. 
 Some native Iris
Coffeeberry (Rhamus) in front, Deergrass (Mulhlenbergia rigens) in back:
 Native plants just don't look like much when they are planted.  Are they going to mulch?
 Another Quercus there, circled. 
 A Mahonia looks like it got bleached by those 90F days:
 Besides the Dudleya, the only succulent was Opuntia litoralis
 An all-native garden can be disappointing at first.  Why not toss in $5 worth of native Lupine and California Poppy seeds to cheer up that first awkward year?  And I would have planted right after Christmas, not this late in Winter, but with a project like this on public land, delays happen. 

So, there's my 2015 "winter" walk-off.  I plan to update the progress of this project as the plants grow.  The only eye-candy I can offer comes from a house across the street from the fire station;  the first photo of the post is the urn by their front door, and this fine vertical display from their front balcony.  Note the drip irrigation line at the top middle of the photo:
In a few days, visit A Tidewater Gardener for more winter walk offs.

Comments

  1. Do they not know how valuable those cycads are? They could have bought all the plants they put in for the price they could get selling those cycads! Pasadena chips all the tree trimmings, etc. and dumps them at a local park for mulch anyone can take away for free. I scored 16 huge bags full of Pasadena's chip mulch this past weekend, enough to fill the back seat of the car twice over - imagine what that would have cost at a nursery. Anyway, I have to believe your city has plenty of chippings (and if they don't, the local tree companies would probably be happy to supply them in lieu of dump fees) to use for mulch on this project.Perhaps you could gently suggest this to the firefighters - if they're typical, they'd relish a project like mulching the new plants.

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    1. Cycas revoluta is a dime-a-dozen around here, but they are making the effort to find them a new home, I think.

      I'm not sure they have completed everything--the irrigation was being worked on and was partially excavated here and there, and all the empty nursery pots are waiting to be returned.

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  2. Why do people think they can buy a bunch of native plants and plunk them down anywhere? That little dudleya is going to be overwhelmed quite quickly. Is that why native plant gardens most always look so crappy? These plants must have cost well over $2,000. I estimated by counting one row and the columns at least 200 empties, then multiplied that by $10 a pot. Why, oh, why couldn't they have used a designer? I bet that if they offered to put a big sign up that the designed might have donated his/her services.

    On a more pleasant note, that's a beautiful and creative window dressing. I have that Senecio. It has grown down to the ground in its present location. I think I can dig it up, pot it and put it in the rain gutter over my porch. Gutter isn't being used for anything else.

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    1. As far as I know, a premier CA natives guy did the selection and placement. I did see a logic to the plant placement. Maybe they are not done yet--as previous commented the irrigation was exposed and being worked on. For now, the benefit of the doubt. There is a line of tall Canary Island Pines to the south of the property, so it's not all day full sun. I'll be watching to see what happens next.

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  3. I agree with you on gardens focused on native plants. Even a thick layer of mulch makes things look better (and is sorely needed in this case). But I think this project is a very positive step in the right direction for public landscaping. I certainly see a lot worse around here--still lots (LOTS!) of lawn.

    Our neighborhood has quite a few sequoias, something I will never understand. And birch trees! What will happen to those if this drought continues or gets worse?

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    1. I'm in the pro mulch camp. Keeps the soil from getting so brick-like, adds nutrients slowly over time.

      I think the move to a xeric garden at the fire station is a positive step also. Their lawn always looked sad. I admit I think a mix of natives, succulents and other xeric plants (South Africa, Australia) makes a better design and more interesting garden than all CA natives, but tastes vary.

      I've got no problem with lawns for kids to play on, but there too many lawns that are not played upon, just watered and mowed with gasoline-powered machines, over and over and over. What's the point of that?

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    2. My take on lawns: It's conditioning (people are used to them) and/or inertia coupled of a lack of knowledge regarding alternatives. I'm always surprised by how little some homeowners are willing to invest in landscaping when they don't hesitate to spend tens of thousands on other home improvement projects.

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  4. Corethrogyne (Lesringia) filaginifolia "Silver carpet" is the plant you weren't able to identify. Sue

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  5. You're right: it's so, so, so late to be planting natives (particularly after a dry and winterless cool season). Those woody ones are sure to resent the amount of water they're going to need to get through the warm season. What do you reckon, percentage-wise, they'll lose the first year?

    And are they going to be using drip line on these suckers?! What a disaster waiting to happen.

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    1. I don't know what will happen. Rumor had it that a native plants guy of great knowledge did the selection and planning--we'll see what happens...

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  6. Your "can't remember this one..." is maybe Sphaeralcea ambigua or similar? I agree with you on the seeds... do I foresee some guerrilla gardening? :)

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    1. Too late in the season for seeds to sprout, I am afraid, and no rain in sight (could cry).

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  7. While the plantings may look awkward, I applaud the fire department for using all native plants, especially since they are also fire-wise and water-wise. Luckily the California native flora offers many choices. A nearby fire station here partnered with the local university's botany club to put in a native, pollinator-friendly garden, and used plants donated by the botanic garden where I work. Everyone knows that firemen have reputation for cooking, maybe now they will get one for gardening. Thanks for playing along again!

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    1. My pleasure being part of Winter Walk Off. I so enjoyed your snowy post--so very sick of hot and dry weather here. It seems as though it's been summer for four years.

      I used to see the fireguys out on Saturday morning mowing that lawn. They really are part of our neighborhood, so I wish them success.

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  8. They're trying - I'll give them credit for that. Too bad about the timing but perhaps it was dictated by plant donations or the availability of their expert. The fire station near us, also about a mile away, has done a surprisingly good job on planting in their vicinity but it was planted in increments. I love the vertical "curtains" on the nearby house - it reminds me of photos I've seen of the Succulent Cafe in Oceanside.

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    1. Yes, they are trying. You never know what's going on with a project.

      I looked up the Succulent Cafe--wow! I'll have to try to stop there sometime. It looks cool.

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  9. Interesting project. An "installed" garden always looks a bit awkward at first but as it grows in, I bet it will surprise us all. David C. is always telling us to be patient and think of what the garden will look like when the plants are mature. Of course, I would want more succulents and cacti because they look cool and are drought tolerant.

    So sorry about your continued drought, heat, and dying trees!

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    1. I like succulents and a Palm/Cycad or two mixed in with the native shrubbery because it adds architectural shapes and foliage color--the native shrubs tend to form a mass of nebulous small leaves most of the year. There are really no large, dramatic leaves for textural contrast in CA natives.

      When I look at your blog photos, Outlaw, and see foliage or pavement wet with rain, I can only sigh.

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  10. I'm another one who loves natives and appreciates the FD's efforts. I hope the plants thrive. (Has something been nibbling on the opuntia? Hmmm...) That display on the balcony is terrific! Off to pray for rain...

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    1. Praying for rain here, that's for sure. We live on a hill where drainage is never a problem, so I think success is likely given some patience.

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  11. A project like this that replaces a bank of English ivy has looked like (insert expletive of choice) for at least three years. It's a worthy cause, but like you say, some poppies or something would help with the transition. Here's hoping your walkabout subject will enjoy rapid growth.

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    1. I hope so, too. There is great potential. To see big Ceanothus full of flowers every spring there would be a treat!

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  12. The garden will look wonderful once the ground has been mulched and the plants all grow to fill in the spaces with beautiful foliage and flowers. One of our local fire stations has planted out their garden with masses of hardy native plants and an abundance of Anigozanthos, yellow kangaroo paws, it all looks beautiful.
    xoxoxo ♡.

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    1. Your local fire station sounds beautiful! Blogging opportunity? :)

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  13. Too bad it got in the ground so late, but most definitely an improvement over dead lawn. I'm so sorry it is so dry where you are. We only skipped winter once, and even just that feels weird to me. I can't even imagine four years of summer.

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    1. You are quite right--much better than a dead lawn. The potential is there, and is something to be happy about.

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