Sunday, February 28, 2016

Update On Electrical Substation Wildlife Habitat (Wildlife Habitat?!?)

Above, bees in the Agave flowers
Back in May of 2011, nearly five years ago,  I blogged about a Southern California Edison electric substation, where the vast turf lawn was removed and replaced with a climate-appropriate landscape.  That post is here
Compare the newest google earth shot:
Update time.  The small starts of grass have grown into a meadow.
The Manzanitas are in flower...
 Everything has filled in.
 Rosemary,  Salvia greggii, Cercis.  Lawn doesn't provide much habitat for birds.  This does:
 Acacia and Geijera
 Several different grasses

 Far prettier than a brown and yellow Bermuda grass lawn
  Despite the thunderous roar of traffic, birds.  It was difficult to discern through the deafening traffic roar, but the twitters and peeps of birds could be heard.  With so much natural habitat lost in Southern California, places like these offer food and shelter for bees and birds. 
 The initially orderly Agave army has offset and merged into an Agave carpet, and is blooming.  Below them is another striking mass planting of Aloe striata.





 A carpenter bee in the Salvia clevelandii:
 A blue Agave hidden behind Salvia greggi
 The Cercis, shrubs not even knee high when first I blogged, are six or seven feet tall now (~1 M). 
 Crepe Myrtles are still dormant;  I don't know what color the flowers are--perhaps I'll check back come summer.
 The Agave flowers made a good echo of the enormous electrical towers.
 Pretty successful, wouldn't you say? 

25 comments:

  1. PIcture that gif of Jack Nicholson joyfully, if slightly perversely nodding while sporting what looks to be a clerical collar.

    This is great. Publicly-funded landscapes -- apart from turf-oriented parks and recreation places -- are finally becoming somewhat sophisticated down here. Too long it's been azaleas and icebergs and nandina and "color," all of which are fine on their own and in the right setting, but together strike a very familiar, dull, and dispiriting chord and are not well-suited to weekly mow-blow-shearing regimens (because virtually nothing is but turf). It's unnerving to see islands and parkways looking vastly better and more thoughtful than many private gardens, but that's the way it should be if they're going to set an example. Then again, it's kind of a chicken-egg deal, because azaleas and co. were popular choices of cost-cutting contractors precisely because they had a surplus they were looking to unload. Now that popular tastes have somewhat altered, wholesale growers are full of exactly these species you've photographed. So maybe the change originates out of shifting tastes after all, or from contracting companies whose designers are fully trained.

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    1. Had to look that gif up. It's a white t-shirt inside a black sweatshirt.

      It's encouraging, isn't it? Support for education in the US is going down the toilet, but at least landscape design education seems to be really improving. Wonderful stuff being done.

      I sigh whenever I see azaleas here. The designer of our original garden wanted to plant them--south facing, in full sun and reflected heat. Even back then in '99 I knew that was nuts. Our working relationship never recovered.

      The maintenance appears to be trained also, they mow down the grasses once a year, properly, instead of buzzing them into shaving-brush shapes.

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  2. It all looks wonderful dear Hoover, every plant seems to have thrived and the grasses are lovely. The mass planting Aloe Striata looks beautiful, I'm sure there is plenty of food and shelter there for many birds and small creatures.
    xoxoxo ♡

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    1. Ironic isn't it that lawns are deserts, in a way. Bird deserts.

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  3. Really fantastic! I looked back at the original post and am amazed to see how things have "naturalized". It's just beautiful! (Is there an updated satellite image I wonder?)

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    1. You are so smart. People named "Alan" tend to be that way. Photo added!
      '

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  4. Lovely! Thanks for the revisit. Is it generally designed for people to wander through?

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    1. Most of it is visible from the sidewalk. It's not really a garden with paths--though it could be. Because of the 100,000 volts behind the wall or whatever is back there, probably not something the electric company would encourage. I was thinking a few small water sources--water recycled over a flat stone--would make it an even better bird sanctuary.

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  5. It's impressive! After looking at that mass planting of Aloe striata, I'm now thinking I need more of those.

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    1. Massed they make for an easy and dramatic late winter show, don't they? The 'Iceberg' rose of Aloes?

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  6. This is amazing - and so incredibly, gorgeously better. Reading your post, I wondered about watering to establish the small plants; yes, there it was in your first post. I wonder whether the established landscape could now survive without water. Maybe up here, but not in your neck of the woods, I suppose. But I bet it takes a lot less water than the turf did. Thanks for the re-visit!

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    1. I got the sense it was being watered. But no way does it need what a lawn needs, and it looks so much better. The lawn there always looked terrible.

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  7. I wish they would do something similar around here.

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    1. It supports birds, who have lost so much habitat, and who eat mosquitoes and flies...it's their planet, too!

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  8. Oh wow, what a fantastic idea. That looks amazing. I can think of so many areas around here that could be improved in that way... but they continue to be covered in dead patchy lawns.

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    1. If we humans don't support our local wildlife, we aren't going to have any.

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  9. So inspiring! I wish utilities and public institutions elsewhere adopted this mindset. Your last photo is killer--agave flower stalks mirroring the electrical towers.

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    1. Amazing, isn't it? Even with safety spaces of rock and concrete around the tower-bases, there's plenty of room for bird-habitat. And that lawn sure was ugly!

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  10. Cause for celebration...even if you don't happen to be a bee.

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  11. Thanks so much for this encouraging update. I'm reading Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West right now, and am struck by how well this fits into the authors' principles & techniques. In particular, I love the division of the space into squares with the footpaths in between: practical for maintenance, legible as a human-designed planting, but not dominating the square footage. And I am completely smitten with those bright yellow powder-puff Agaveblooms -- in and of themselves, but even more with the way they're arranged on those handsome, tower-like stalks. Wonderful.

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    1. Bee and hummingbird food, too! :) I've been observing over the past year how a garden planted appropriately can be totally alive with birds and butterflies. The gardens especially in Arizona where we vacationed, so full of butterfly plants--butterflies everywhere--it made the garden sparkle.

      Sounds like a good book--I'll have to look for it.

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    2. James Golden of Federal Twist has a great review (and his garden is one of those used as an example in the book).

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  12. That looks great. I'm always encouraged when places that don't have to make this kind of effort. It looks like it definitely paid off for them, and the birds!

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    1. The cynic in me says, "they just had the ratepayers pay for it", but as a ratepayer, this is a project I am happy to have helped fund. More bird habitat, less mow-blow.

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