Sunday, June 21, 2015

Evolution Of One Garden Section Over 15 Years


Protea 'Pink Ice' bud.  
 
Our property slopes downhill from west to east, with a flat level pad in the center of the property, on which the house sits.  In the back, the property slopes more steeply west to east, and also south to north, down from the level pad.  When we first moved in, the area behind the house contained a half dozen Eucalyptus trees, a half dozen Erythrina trees, plus several palms, fig trees, Loquats, dead stumps, and a Crassula ovata the size of a washing machine.  The adjacent homeowner had planted them all when the land was vacant.  We had all that removed.  Version 0.1, 1999.
Looking north:
 photo housedriveway_zps0d7a704e.jpg 
Version 1.0 (2000-2005) was half St. Augustine lawn, part rose bed, part stairway, and part Prunus caroliniana hedge screening out the property behind.  The lawn was for Hoover and Teddy's use, but they never particularly like it.  I don't have the greatest photo from that long ago, but this gives you an idea.
Looking west:
 In 2005 the area started to change.  There were several flooding and erosion episodes due to heavy rain run off uphill of our property.  While it did not endanger the house, it was a mess.  I had to repair that block stairway in the photo above several times.  We added retaining walls to the east (down hill) of this area and a concrete culvert to control erosion.  The retaining wall on the left of the grass was extended to where the worker is kneeling, so we could gate off the whole back area and get rid of the fence that enclosed the lawn.   
Area version 2.0 (2005-2013) was roses and Hemerocallis seedlings I had hybridized for fun.  They did fairly well, but the area needed generous water.  Too much water.  Drainage is too sharp.  The roses were growing, not thriving.  Again, not a great photo.  I didn't realize I'd be blogging about this ten years later.  Same flagstone in the same spots, area somewhat flattened, to give you an idea of location.  We used the soil removed to flatten the area behind the retaining walls built down the slope. 
 
We flattened out the slope a bit, at about version 2.5.  We completed the culvert along the entire back of the property in 2012.  The drought arrived and come 2013 I removed almost all of the roses and Hemerocallis, leaving the area nearly empty due to the drought.  The drainage culvert is visible below the fence at top right:      photo ugly5996_zps8355e277.jpg
Area version 3.0 is now Australian, South African, and Madagascar plants, plus Salvias for the hummingbirds.  Protea, Leucadendron, Aeonium, Aloe, Maireana, Kalanchoe, Phylica.  The Ligustrum hedge is growing well and will soon provide a tall screen:
 Recent purchase Eucalyptus 'Moon Lagoon' will go in this area.  There are two roses left to move, which at this point must wait until autumn.  One rose is right behind Aloe thraskii, the other at lower right of photo.  The Euc will get one rose's spot, the Phylica, the other.  
It's hard to tell but this area actually looks pretty good in person.  
Looking east: 
For the tuteur, I changed out a crown-galled climbing rose for a Bougainvillea--unfortunately pink, but the stems of 'Moon Lagoon' are pink, and Protea 'Pink Ice' is also in the area, so the pink Bougie will not be alone.   
It is bracts that make Bougies so colorful. The blue arrow points to an actual flower.
I wish this was on purpose:  the bold silhouette of Aloe thraskii contrasting with the lobed lace of Grevillea 'Peaches n Cream', but it was a fortunate accident. 

Kalanchoe orgyalis from Madagascar will form a dense,
low shrub.  These three were from a six-pack of tiny plants last year.  They've grown considerably:
Seen recently at Plant Depot, there in the 24-inch box is what the trio will mature to:
Adjacent to the Kalanchoes,  the short-lived Trichostemna lanata is doing well surrounded by black Aeoniums.  The Aloe castanea is just below the Trichostemna--it will take a while to become large.
 
The xeric plants seem very happy--happier than the roses were, on a fraction of the water.  The three tree Aloes--thraskii, speciosa, and castanea will provide architectural silhouettes to contrast with the blobby shapes of shrubby plants.   

The hummers battle over Salvia and Aloe flowers and will get another new food source in the Grevillea.  Milkweed seeds I tossed around last fall will fill space while shrubs grow.  (And provide Monarch habitat). 
 Roses are still plentiful in more moisture-retaining areas of the garden.  Gardens evolve as the skill and knowledge of the gardener advances and as tastes change.  I don't regret much, except not getting better pictures of the overall area as time passed.  I had to go through a lot of dreadful out-of-focus close up photos of roses to find what not-great shots I did find.  
No, really--it does look good in person!  But there's always version 4.0...
 Going through all those old photos, I did find a funny shot of Hoover from back in 2003, with a rose on his head.  He's really mad I made him pose.  I can tell by the look in his eyes. 
 I miss that dog.  Sometimes it's good to remember, and sometimes it's good to forget. 

18 comments:

  1. What an exhausting photo set; my back and knees and crooked neck have sympathy pains. All worth it to see Hoover, though.

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    1. My aching neck is in complete solidarity with your aching neck. Ow!

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  2. A dramatic change, and very interesting evolution and change of planting with the latter/current hugely influenced by the drought? Fine choice, looking more exotic than ever. I like the old stone stairway prior to the flooding. Hoover looked adorable, fortunately memories live on.

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    1. Drought, the outrageous rates of our for-profit water company, a newer interest in Proteacaea and Aloes, etc.

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  3. love your garden, & I think it looks good in the photo's too, you have done a tremendous amount of work!

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    1. Thanks...it's work, but it's fun work.

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  4. Oh Hoov! Those eyes.

    I do hope to see your garden in person some day. In the meantime I enjoyed the retrospective. You've certainly not been one to call the job done, always improving.

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    1. You are welcome any time! In the meantime, I'm hard at work trying to make it worth seeing.

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  5. What a great post. I love reading about the evolution of a garden, or in this case, one section of it. You did a great job documenting the dramatic changes. My favorite version is the current one since you're using plants I love. I'm very envious that you can grow bougainvillea, protea, and of course that K. orgyalis; it would require heavy protection here in Davis.

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    1. I'm enjoying the process...I'm sure I'll get it right eventually.

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  6. I'm impressed by all the work that went into these renovations, as well as by the results. A Crassula the size of a washing machine! - that's scary (mainly because I have 2 of those plants in areas that can't support washing machines). Hoover's look says to me "I'm tolerating this only because I love you".

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    1. The Jade plant weighed about 400 pounds and had a root system about one inch deep. Crazy plant.

      I think he was thinking, "The things I do for food..."

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  7. I can't wait to see what v3.0 matures into -- I think you've got a great mix now. (Until something goofy happens and CA starts getting 40 inches of rain a year...)

    Love the Kalanchoe orgyalis -- the mature specimen is so beautiful I'd consider growing it in a pot here. If you can get it in a 6-pack it must be easy to grow and propagate...

    In 10 years you'll be saying "I didn't know that I'd be video blogging so didn't take many videos in 2015..."

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    1. I'll take the 40 inches of rain. Drainage is excellent; everything would be fine!

      The Kalanchoe is very easy indeed, and slow growing, perfect for a pot. Video...I can barely take still photos...

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  8. Dear Hoover, great photos, you are an amazing woman to have achieved this beautiful garden, adapting the plants as the garden landscape changed and evolved, your 'Beloved' also. So many wonderful photos of plants, the Kalanchoe Orgyalis are very attractive and Grevillea Peaches and Cream is lovely with its ferny foliage and the flowers are always delightful. I feel exhausted reading this, I have dug out large sandstone boulders and levered them out of the ground in an effort to find soil but my days of removing rocks are over, I find it too difficult now. A cute photo of Hoover wearing a rose.
    xoxoxo ♡

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    1. We all do what we can manage. But the love always shows, no matter what!

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  9. The expression on Hoover's face really is priceless.

    "It's hard to tell but this area actually looks pretty good in person": If it looks any better in person than it does in photos, it must be gorgeous for sure. And the Trichostema looks great! May it live long and prosper.

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