Year End 2016 Review

 Last year at this time we were anticipating an El Nino winter.  Heavy rains would bring an end to our drought.  A small garden bloggers get-together at the Huntington was a highlight of January.
  The other was one good rain, and we awaited more.

February brought heat waves instead of rain.  Trees in the neighborhood continued to die.  

The front project, converting a rose area into a succulent and Australian plant area, was mostly complete, though growth and refinement continues.  
Here's the growth and refinement:

March brought the unexpectedly good show of Leucospermum Yellow Bird.  

OMG, it was so little!  Just about every one of those stems with a flower on the end of it has now branched into a dozen stems, each with a flower bud on it.  The 2017 show may stop traffic.
March ended dry.  We began to realize El Nino would not arrive.  
This is not heavy rain:

April brought Peak Rose, such as it was.   And little rain.  
Yet long-established roses managed somehow. They got what rain water I managed to collect.

 April also included completion of a second modest garden project on the northwest of the property.  The projects this year were minimal and modest. Establishing new plants in a drought year is difficult.
Our very welcome autumn rain helped!
El Nino became El No Show for Southern California, though the northern half of the state fared better.  

May was flowery, despite the failure of winter rains.  
 We prepared ourselves for a dreadful summer.  Visits to the Huntington were a welcome distraction.

 The Dreadful Summer arrived in June.  

It was too hot to be outdoors.  A terrible heat wave made Blondie ill, while plants scorched and died.  I spent a lot of time indoors cleaning things. 
 Foliage newly emerged on the Japanese Maples fell off, and I feared they were goners, though they managed to refoliate--somewhat.  New Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait' was June's consolation. 

July:  Chili Thrips arrived to ruin the roses.  
Heat helped ruin everything else.  Well, not the Aloes and Agaves and Dahlias and Grevilleas and Proteas and Geranium 'Rozanne' and the baby Oak tree.  
And Lagerstroemia! 
   Somebody else that liked the heat:
August:  the house got cleaner, the garden got worse.  
 We visited Portland.  The roses were fabulous--no Chili thrips there!  Also it wasn't hot. 

The Inter City C&S show at the LA Arboretum is always a highlight of August.  

September, more indoor imprisonment and whining about the heat.  Blondie Koi began to recover.  One former rose area of the garden too dry for roses has become the spot for Protea family plants and Aloes.  
Which isn't so bad:
October brought a fun vacation to Ruth Bancroft Garden and UCSC Arboretum.  

 It finally started to cool off, and we even got a little rain.  Spring planted Grevilleas that sat all summer suddenly grew rapidly.
 Grevilleas:  thumbs up! 

November.  Oh, dear. 
 A national election between two awful candidates brought a sense of dread.   
 A little more very appreciated rain brought the roses back from Chili Thrips ruin.  Cooler weather meant we could garden again--a relief, comfort, respite from dread.  Another rose, please.
 December brought more beautiful roses, weather actually appropriate to December, and then rain! 
 Then more rain!  
 It's even raining now!  

So 2016 began and ends with a mix of caution and hope.


  1. Nicely done! Beautiful photos too. Your current photo of the progress in your front garden makes me want to run out for another couple of flats of Dymondia before the next storm arrives this afternoon. The rain has been a major mood booster and another storm will start the new year off in style. Is it too soon to hope that ridiculously resilient ridge of high pressure has finally been sent packing?

    1. I emptied all my barrels into the garden yesterday in anticipation and they are mostly filled again! A mood booster indeed.

  2. I sure hope that you get more rain in 2017. Your garden looks stunning and I love the transformation of your front area.

  3. I don't know how you did it, but your review makes 2016 look good. (Happy New Year!)

    1. It wasn't all bad...I hope '17 doesn't make it look great, tho.

  4. Hi Gail, loved to see your garden year in review. It is amazing how much happens in one year, isn't it?
    The refinement of your front yard project really rocks! It was good before, but now it is amazing.
    As always loved to see the photos of your roses. So beautiful!
    It is raining in San Diego right now, too, and makes me feeling so hopeful for next year. I know it is kind of fooling at this point, but being hopeful simply feels just so much better than being pessimistic. I even went so far and ordered new roses for the next year!
    Happy New Year to you and your loved ones! I so wish, it will be a good one for our gardens as well.
    Warm regards,

    1. You are 100% right, being hopeful feels better, and it think it does help. I just planted a new rose, a 'Valencia'--my way of being hopeful. Happy New Year back to you, and may your roses and garden be beautiful in '17!

  5. So happy that your roses overcame heat, drought and thrips. They look beautiful. Heavenly to have this rain, yes?

    1. The rain is heavenly--I wonder if I'm dreaming it. Hard to believe it is finally happening. Still raining here at 8:46 pm. Wheeee!

  6. What a great look at 2016. Our get-together at the Huntington seems like a lifetime ago now. Hopefully I'll make it down that way before too long.

    1. Seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago, both. Time is strange. Happy New Year!

  7. Your garden is beautiful; the koi pond is so lovely. I wonder how you keep the raccoons away from it. We have a couple of families of raccoons who come through our yard almost every night. They like to ruin things with their little hands and eat whatever they can find.

    1. Thank you Rachel and Happy New Year!

      The koi pond has vertical sides. Raccoons need a beach--a way to gradually wade into a pond. With vertical sides, they can't wade in. Also the pond is rather deep. These two things do a lot to keep the koi safe. If Heron are spotted in the area, we net the pond as well.

      We do have Raccoons around, but they seem to stay outside of the walls.

  8. Here's to a happy, healthy, prosperous (and wet) 2017! There was a lot to celebrate in your garden last year despite the drought and rain. Thank goodness Blondie recovered!

    1. Yes there was plenty to celebrate...very fortunate we were.

  9. Despite the year's vicissitudes, you always found something beautiful to show us. I wish I would spend my indoor hours cleaning instead of just curling up with a book...but a new cookbook has me cooking up a storm, so I'm not all bad. Our kitchens and our gardens will sustain us in what look to be some difficult years ahead.

    1. Cooking! Dear Husband does that around here. (Thank goodness!)


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