Spring Project 2016

Above, the new project area.  
--Red arrow: the neighbor's problem Eucalyptus.  The other neighbor's problem Ficus are behind the fence at the top of the photo.  
--Blue arrow and small red circle: A golden Duranta, partially destroyed when a huge portion of the Eucalyptus fell into our yard.  
--Big red circle: stump of 'Swanes Golden' Cypress smashed by the Euc-fall.  
--Blue circle: Clump of burgundy (sterile) Pennisetum 
--Red lines:  temporary stairway of blocks
Project on-site supervisor:
 The slope needs a rehab, obviously.  It's a difficult area because of one neighbor's Ficus benjamina roots, another neighbor's Eucalyptus trees, the steepness of the slope, the drought...a lot of issues.  This is not a primary place in the garden, but I'd like it to look good without using much water.  Water restriction is necessary beyond our drought because of the Ficus trees next door.  At one point I pulled out all the huge surface roots the Ficus trees sent down the slope.  I then completely stopped irrigating the area to discourage the roots from returning. 
Please stay out of my soil!

The Duranta was great for a while.   At certain times of day, the bright chartreuse foliage would stand out from dark shadowed background of Eucs and Ficus, a cheerful, glowing splash against blackness.  Unfortunately, it needed regular watering that it didn't receive.

A post-Euc-smash shot of the partly-grown-back Duranta.  I loved the splash of bright chartreuse foliage amidst all the dark green. 
After the neighbor's Euc came crashing down and smashed the Duranta and Cypress, the Duranta partially grew back, while the Cypress did not.  I cut down the Cypress and left its stump to dry.  One thing gardening experience has brought me is to let large stumps, tree or shrub, dry out completely before removal.  I left it two or three years, and it popped right out with a couple of shovel shoves.  Saved hours of misery!

 In the next photo, Salvia leucantha, (circled in red) planted long ago before the Euc began to hang over the area and before the flippers planted those dreadful Ficus, made do on nearly zero moisture.  I watered it just a couple of times last summer when it really drooped, and it was fine--and bloomed!  I plan to leave the Salvia, for a while.   The Duranta needed more water than I gave it, and often looked stressed with burnt foliage and bare spots.  
The Salvia blooms in late summer despite minimal irrigation.  I don't know how the Nandina along the fence survive, but they do despite no water at all beyond the 6" of rain we got this winter. Tough plants.  I fear watering them will enable the Ficus roots to come roaring back.
Here's what I've done so far:
 I (regretfully) removed the Duranta--there was a sucker left I potted up--they are tough, if sufficiently watered.  The Pennisetum is gone.  

I've repaired the Nandina planter cups along the fence--they provide extra soil for the Nandina roots, and also function as a stairway of sorts on that side of the slope.  The Ficus roots pushed them all up so they were no longer level or stable.  Ficus roots killed and removed  All but the topmost cup is fixed (red arrow).  One valuable lesson gained from working on slopes is to dig out a small foothold when necessary, for safe perching while working (blue arrow).  I used the foothold constantly when adding the larger planter cup to the right of the blue arrow.
The new large planter-cup, made of scrounged blocks, has been a safe level place for me to stand while repairing the Nandina cups.  This new cup will become the home of...'Austin Griffiths' Arctostaphylos...maybe.  'Austin' is currently planted in a fairly shaded area;  it may need more sun.  In this planter cup it would receive morning and early afternoon sun followed by shade for the worst of the afternoon heat--seems right.   

I thought to somewhat replicate the golden splash of golden Duranta with the Hakea salicifolia 'Gold Medal' I impulse-bought a few weeks ago.   
Whoa...has that grown already?
Not as intense a splash of gold, but also not as thirsty, no spines like the Duranta has, and reportedly very tough.  'Gold Medal' gets quite large (12' at least), so it would shade out the Salvia leucantha after a while, but I have to put it somewhere (famous last words for impulse-buy plants).

So that's project progress so far.  This project has been relatively easy, or is my brain still on Spring, so I'm oblivious to the effort involved?

Brain still on Spring: three of  the new 'Dee-lish' rose, and one 'Ascot'.   


  1. A fun new project area! Do all your plant selections grow without supplemental irrigation at all? Or do you plan to do a little watering in the center of the slope?

    1. No, they will need some water, minimal but some. Some drip lines are in the plan.

  2. Wow! A lot of work.
    I didn't realize Ficus roots did that. It's one thing we don't have to worry about, here in Central Texas.

    1. I'm sure you have awful trees there, just different ones-- there's an awful tree for every climate! ;^)

  3. La idea la tienes muy clara y el resultado va a ser un exito. Mis felicitaciones desde Plantukis

    1. I espero que sea un éxito. Gracias, Raúl!

  4. I like your onsite supervisor! We have a few too. :) I have a large variegated duranta that sits in full sun and gets little to no water. Maybe it's a different cultivar?

    1. That spot is super dry and the soil is very light and poor--I ended up saving the sucker and potting it up and soaking it with water--it looks great. So it might end up back there, somewhere--a little better watered. The supervisor is great--I watched him eat bugs! My kind of boss. :)

  5. You are one hard working lady! I loved the yellow splash too, but I'm sure you'll come up with something even better...and sturdy enough to withstand another crash???? Roses…I could almost smell them. Thanks again.

    1. I had the neighbor's Euc trimmed (with their permission) so crashes would be (hopefully) less likely. The roses did have a beautiful fragrance.

  6. It can't be too easy if you're working in the current heat. The cleaned up area looks good. I think I said it before, but I love that Hakea.

    1. I started before the heat wave--it was a pleasure to be able to work in cool weather!!!!! Since the heat began I do a bit, retreat to the shade, do a bit more, retreat to the shade, etc.

      So you understand that I couldn't resist the Hakea? Whew! It's not just me! :)


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