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.
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.
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:
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.
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,
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.