Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saving the Marjories

 Above.  A one-time lawn became an area of not-super-thirsty roses and Hemerocallis over ten years ago.  Now the same area has become an even less thirsty area of Aeonium, Aloes, Proteaceae, and Salvias.  A new Grevillea, 'Peaches and Cream', replaces Rosa 'Flaming Peace' which moved to a location that better holds moisture.  It has not yet flowered. 

Below:  the first indication of a Protea 'Pink Ice' flower.  Wheee!
After recently measuring the amount of water used by each irrigation zone, I decided to radically reduce irrigation minutes on  three of the zones on the north side of the house.  With that reduction, and by watering only the mandated twice per week, and taking "navy" showers, we will more than meet our 36% required savings--leaving wiggle room to hand water plants in obvious distress on hot days.  The trick of course is to save only the mandated 36%, but not more.  It is cynical beyond belief, but the fact of the matter is:  use it or lose it.  If further cuts are made it will be that much more difficult to cut further. As we approach each billing date, I'll make sure we save just enough, but no more.  I've been checking the water meter every few days to see how we're doing. 
  
To reduce the water need of three north side zones,  I removed some plants (roses, sigh) and moved others.  Laundry grey water will supplement drip for the Syzygium hedge.  Fishy pond filter water, once sent to roses now removed, instead will go to the Pittosporum 'Marjorie Channon' hedge and to remaining plants in the back.  I still need to convert the hedge's drip system from homeowner drip to Netafim.  I will I will I will.  Soon.  So much to do.  

I removed the failing Azara microphyllas (another sigh) and moved Buxus 'Green Tower' into their spots.  Quite an improvement, if the boxwoods survive their move.  They have so far, but it's been cool and overcast.  Light, quick sprays from the hose to keep the foliage hydrated on hot afternoons.  This must continue until their roots start growing and functioning again.  

The Buxus were here:
Now they are here:
If the Buxus survive they will finally make a good screen for this spot.  I had Pittosporums here (moved; doing well on the east slope), then I had the Azara (too dry for them), now the Buxus.  Third time the charm?
What to do about the Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Marjorie Channon' screen on the north side has required thought.  The plants have been badly affected by the neighbor's untrimmed Eucalyptus and Palm trees that hung over and dropped torrents of litter down upon them.  Then there was the shade.  Pittosporum tenuifolium is not fond of shade.  Last year the palms and Eucalyptus got some trimming, and one palm was removed.  The Margies were a mess, though.  The tree trimmers tried to be careful but large branches and palm fronds showered down. 

Hanging over them, but now not as badly:

Then too late I discovered a different neighbor's trumpet vine was growing into the Margies, shading them further.  When the Euc branches came falling down, the vines that entangled the Margies  caught the falling Euc branches and snapped branches and stripped the Margie leaves.  Insult to injury.  

Trumpet vine tangles:
I hacked all the vines coming into the yard to send the vine elsewhere.  I noticed it is now invading a Eucalyptus instead.  Maybe it will strangle the Euc.  Wouldn't that be nice? 
I thought about removing the damaged Marjories.  As I pondered, I admired another shrub, Common Myrtle:  it sprouts new foliage from bare wood, a virtue not all plants have.  Conifers such as Cypress and Juniper--once the branch is bare, it's bare forever.  But Myrtle can produce new growth from a branch that has been bare for years:
And, while Myrtle-and-Marjorie-pondering, I discovered, so does Pittosporum 'Majorie Channon': 
Whee!
Based on those sweet new sprouts, I decided to rehab-prune the hedge instead of removing it.   The Marjories have been there since 2006, so they have a well-established root system, and have modest water needs.  They can handle a summer much better than could a newly planted hedge of anything--even a tough native.  So I've been cutting out dead wood, removing all the litter--working to rehab the Marjories and bring them back to beauty and health.   

No good deed goes unpunished--hacking away at the Marjorie mess I accidentally nearly pruned off one of my fingers a couple of days ago.  Rapid production of terrible curse words, delivered at an extremely high volume.  So too, blood.  Not to worry, finger reassembled and healing up.  In the meantime, typing and re-habbing more slowly.  

The Drakensberg daisies continue...
 The Pentas begin...
 And the Sweet Peas are done and gone.  Sweet they were. 

27 comments:

  1. But the finger tip does not grow new leaves like the pittosporum and the myrtle. Makes them easy to prune. Not so your finger. It needs to be reattached. I hope it mends well and that that is the only casualty you suffer from the drought. From experience in my family with cut finger tips the nerves do not regenerate and movement is a bit restricted.

    Speaking of restrictions ...

    There's something really odd about this water restriction thing and I'm not sure I like it one bit. Politics? Or greed? Or what? We are in the 36% tier here in Monterey Park, too. I got my water bill last week. No changes. No mention of restrictions. Same at the the last several bills. What is going on?

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    1. Finger is healing. Not as bad as I expected. Sad to say I've done this before--different finger--the feeling did mostly come back after several years.

      Water...odd here too. Perhaps the water companies are in the dark as well, or perhaps they are fighting the state because they'll be losing revenue. Today we got a single sheet of paper in the mail saying there is a meeting with the water company on the 4th of June at the local school, we can water outdoors only Tuesday and Saturday, we must save 36%, flow restricting devices "may" be installed if flagrant violations are discovered, the flow restricting devices cost $150 to install and $150 to remove. This is the first official notification of any kind we've gotten.


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  2. Your water company has a "use it or lose it" policy?! I was pleased to learn that ours is going to apply any unused portion of our monthly "budget" to any future overages, which seems only fair, especially given the size of our reduction target. I hope your company sees the error of its approach on that one. I think you're doing the right thing by your marjories.

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    1. We have a local meeting with the water company in a few days, and that issue will be clarified.

      Gardening just isn't so fun right now.

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  3. Hope your finger heals quickly & that the heavens open soon. Im in Western Australia & we have had water restrictions for years so I feel for you. Your garden looks fabulous & I am using it for inspiration (hope thats ok!)

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    1. Thank you Bec, you are very kind. Use away, but there are far better gardens for inspiration! Mine is such a jumble.

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  4. Glad to read your finger is healing. only the fright though, I also have done this once with my secateurs pruning roses. Terrible the troubles with the water and the watercompany. In this way you keep changing your garden, poor plants, poor you......

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    1. I'm very lucky to have the privilege of a garden. I work to never forget that.

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  5. Ouch! Glad to hear your finger is mostly alright now, hope it fully heals in no time at all. The perils gardeners face to care for their plants eh!

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    1. Thanks, M&G. Our plants are like our pets, only they photosynthesize instead of purr and bark. Though come to think of it, plants shed, too.

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  6. Wonderful post and photos dear Hoover, you have been busy and are doing a great job with your water saving. Sorry to hear about your finger, I hope it will fully heal soon; do you think you should have had a stitch or two?
    Beautiful images of your garden and flowers, I really love the variegated leaves on Pittosporums.
    xoxoxo ♡

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    1. Finger doing well. Glad you enjoyed the pictures--I also love the foliage on the Pittosporum--so dainty, with the cream edges like hand-painted works of art.

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  7. Beautiful garden, not beautiful 'considering' your water restrictions, just beautiful. Gardens and gardeners endure. Husband's always telling me, 'if it was easy, anyone could do it'.

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    1. Thanks! But it can't be that hard, because I can do it. ;^)

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  8. Yikes! Best wishes for a full and fast recovery for the finger, and thanks for the detailed info on your water reductions and usage: good to know, and good for ye olde historical record. Your garden is wonderful.

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    1. Thanks--the reduction work goes on...and on...

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  9. Bummer about your finger... I've done that too once - it was no fun. I had to look up Netafim. It sounds like a great company to be aware of. I was super-intrigued to learn more about their wastewater drip system technology. Keep us posted on how it works out, would you please? And oh, to have an entire hedge of Marjorie... such a beautiful plant. I'm glad you are able to keep it!

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    1. I will update--or it will become obvious if the drip system is working or not if things start dying. Now, back to work on Marjorie Row...

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  10. One of my biggest gardening fears is that I will prune a finger someday. Hope the damage is soon healed!

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    1. Take my advice: don't do it! Wear heavy gloves when you are tired or in a hurry or both. I know I will from now on.

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  11. Big owie! Hope all heals well soon!

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    1. Thanks, it's slowly getting there.

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  12. Left hand reaches in to grab a branch, disappears from sight into the leaves, right hand attempts to cut branch with sharp pruners -- I once got a nasty cut doing that, which would have been the end of my livelihood. And it sounds like you got a lot worse. Box, myrtle, pitts, all amazingly tough plants. Azara not so much. I've stopped trying with that one. So excited about your protea! (Which really means "Maybe mine one day too!") Now that I've toured your garden I know exactly the "zones" you speak of and can easily visualize your areas of concentration and success with H20 reduction. Heal fast! And thanks again for help with the aloe.

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    1. I'm thrilled about the Protea also--really anxious to see the flower. The 'Mini King' has no buds yet, but new growth. Best of luck for that Aloe...

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  13. Oh my, sorry to hear about your finger....i lost the end of mine in a heavy door being sucked shut. I still don't have all the feeling back in that tip. Speeding healing! It is hard to watch the drought from the swamp I live in (Houston)! I am a CA girl at heart and lived my first 42 years there. Coming from SoCal to Houston was like moving to a foreign planet. I might have been the only one that didn't mind our drought, nothing like what you are going through. And this May we had 18 inches of rain at my house....had some of my right-of-way plants float away in the last flooding. We need to pipe it to you all!
    On a positive note your Protea 'Pink Ice' flower looks ready to burst...that is exciting. Praying for you to get some rain!

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    1. Ouch, that must have hurt. Well, I'm sure it did hurt!

      As to Houston, it is a foreign planet, isn't it? I think that's been proven. 18 inches of rain in one month?!? I'm trying to imagine that. Please, pipe away...it won't go to waste!

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  14. I can empathize on several fronts: neighbor issues happen...just this morning we were reading about a big lawsuit brought by a woman whose neighbor had cut down trees on HER side of the property line (see, it could always be worse).
    I once mistook a green gloved thumb for a slug and tried mightily to snip it in half.

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