Spring/Summer Project 2017 Update #2

 Though its beauty level is still low, I'm happy the back gully area has rejoined the garden.  It's been abandoned for several years due to two things:  our five year drought, and the neighbor's pestiferous trees that hung over the area. 

The drought required rethinking plants to minimize irrigation requirements, and those pestiferous trees shaded out many plants and dropped damaging fronds, litter, and tree limbs.  Now, most of the problem trees are gone.  It's great to be able to enjoy the area again, and to replant on a theme of minimal watering and maximum native bird and butterfly habitat. 

A Salvia 'Amistad' sucker will soon provide flowers for the hummers:
The old pergola is gone.
Lizards hid in the pieces before I got the pieces into the trash. 
An inexpensive (plus on-sale) patio umbrella provided a little shade while we waited for the new pergola.  A place to sit and consider the area and think through how best to proceed. 

 The Eremophila 'Red Splendour', a recent purchase, went here:
 We'll be able to sit and watch hummingbirds feed from the flowers.
Another hummingbird lure near the Eremophila, an already-blooming Salvia 'Amistad':
  The boxwood removed from the Eremophila's spot was replanted a couple of yards away, where the ground holds moisture a little better.  It will be shaded until late autumn.  The shade reduces stress so the boxwood can re-establish itself:
While I sit under the umbrella, I ponder Pittosporum 'Marjorie Channon'.  More and more, I think to remove the 'Marjoie's.  Lots of new growth, but some of it is dying.  Insufficient water?  Some sort of borer pest killing off stems (due to insufficient water)? Neither of us is happy.
New growth + new dead growth.  Troubling.

 Another issue is that all the 'Marjorie's lean southwest at nearly a 45 degree angle, a little because of our Santa Ana winds, but mostly because they were straining for sunlight due to the pestiferous palms, peppers, and Eucs.
Arrow to indicate how they lean.  They all lean, but the angle is most easily seen there on the left:
Do I cut them nearly to the ground and see if they'll grow back straight?  Water them a lot more?  Or, do I replant with something that will be able to live on winter rain alone?  Long-term, that option seems the wisest.  Our water cost is ridiculous, and it will continue to get worse. 
The sight that continues to motivate me to create a screen:
 Would replacing the Pittosporums with California native Toyon or Rhus work?  Advantage:  good screen on winter rain alone, native bird habitat, native to this exact local area.  Serious disadvantage: slow growers!   

Another idea:  have a section of chain-link fencing installed, and plant a couple of Bougainvilleas to grow upon it.  Once the Bougies fill the fence, shear them once a year to create a solid privacy screen.  Advantage:  fairly fast, will live on winter rain alone in a few years, dazzling color in the warm months.  Disadvantage:  is a section of chain-link going to be weird?  Is the fencing really needed?  Bougainvilleas are not as beneficial to native birds, although butterflies visit the flowers (good).  

The Metrosideros 'Springfire' is settling in rapidly and already growing.  I expect once established it needs some, though not a lot, of summer watering.  Zero would be better.  How about a 'Springfire' hedge? 
This space was filled with roses that suffered some from drought but more from the neighbor's trees dropping litter and from crown gall.  There are two survivors.  What to fill this space?  Anything?  The 'Springfire' Metrosidoeros can be seen on the left.  I planted a native Eriogonum and native Milkweed as an experiment.  The Hoheria augustifolia though well watered and shaded, died in the summer heat.
A new groundcover  Eremophila glabra, 'Grey Horizon' aka 'Blue Horizon'.  Add that here?
Thinking, thinking, ponder some more.  Some spare Dahlias have been a cheerful summer filler in the lowest raised bed:
 The pergola is now done.  Columns went in on Monday:
 Pergola completed on Tuesday:
 Nothing elaborate, just a place to drink coffee in the morning, or bird watch in the evening.  Aluminum, so no maintenance, no termites, no dry rot.  

What's next?  More thought. 

Comments

  1. If you're willing to give them extra water at first, toyon can be surprisingly fast growers.

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    1. Yes? Okay then! I have seedlings coming up. I'll be moving them in there.

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  2. "pestiferous trees"...I rather love that word! (pestiferous, but I do love trees too)

    Naturally I think the Bougainvillea idea is brilliant!

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    1. Isn't that a great word? Not all trees are pestiferous, of course. Bougies are so water-wise, it would be a responsible choice.

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  3. Aaaaahh! Just let me pour myself a cuppa and have a good think-through under the new pergola.

    Re: screening planting - A picture of berried Toyon at A Growing Obsession a few years ago put me firmly in its camp. Ever since, I've wondered why so few western gardens have it; you've answered that question.

    My impulse would be to plant it anyway, and beyond it grow something fast and temporary until the Toyon is actually doing some screening. Which means extra water and attention for at least a few seasons, to make sure neither the quick or long-term screen suffers -- but any cake-having&eating scenario involves some extra resources.

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    1. Toyon is native to this very area, and I have seedlings coming up every year. I'd better go have another cuppa under the pergola and ponder some more. :)

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  4. Congratulations on getting the pergola in! I understand the appeal of the toyon and it does make a great screen (I inherited a huge specimen on the south end of my garden) but I love the idea of a 'Springfire' screen. I thought "pestiferous" must be a made up word until I looked it up - now it may become a regular feature of my vocabulary.

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    1. Thanks!

      That word came into my head (inspired by the neighbor's trees) and I thought: is that a real word? I looked it up, too. A very appropriate word for certain plants!

      I hate to give up on the 'Margies' because if nothing else they are well-established if damaged, but the dead new growth is worrisome.

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    2. The 'Springfire's are also hummingbird lures.

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  5. The new pergola looks like a perfect place for a hammock! Nice! Have only seen a small one once - I like the idea of Toyons - the berries are beautiful in the fall! Mind you, probably since they are not hardy up here, a Bougainvillea screen sounds absolutely dreamy too.

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    1. Thanks!

      The Toyon is a good shrub. There's one leaning over our fence from the uphill neighbors and there are seedlings here and there for the taking. I'm leaning that way now, but the color of Bougies, and the hummingbird attractor factor of 'Springfire', and the possibility of the 'Margies' recovering leaves me thinking some more.

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  6. Your roses look splendid! I wish I could send you some rain, it's been raining almost daily here for one month and I really need some dry days to work in my garden.

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    1. I wish we could trade--I'd be happy for you to have some of our dry sunny days in exchange! Best wishes for gardening weather (for both of us).

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  7. It is always encouraging to me to read your posts and realize that although your garden is lovely you, like I continue to struggle with some areas. I sometimes get discouraged because my garden never seems to reach the level I would like - and in recent years with our changing climate that goal has become even more difficult. I find it very helpful to see how you deal with your garden challenges.

    I love your new pergola, what a great choice. I continue to shore up my old wooden pravilion. I had no idea anything so nice was made of aluminum. It looks great!

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    1. I try to keep in mind that the most vexing problems are also the most educational. (I have to repeat this to myself quite often when it gets frustrating.)

      I too am in search of an ever more enchanting garden. Surely it is worth the effort.

      The pergola may not have the highest level of charm, but in our at-risk-for-wildfire area, the aluminum is the wise choice, and the no-maintenance material is the sane choice. Compromise is wise. This winter I'm going to try training a few of the bazillion volunteer Nasturtiums up the pergola. That might work and add a bit of charm.

      Garden on! We'll get that enchanting garden eventually, right? :)

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    2. I know so little about your conditions or what you can grow there that I don't really have any advice to offer, other than to say that after spending 3 or 4 hours pulling exhausted California poppies and weeds from my front beds, I spent about an hour thinking, thinking, thinking, just like you. I need to put some perennials in their place, but whatever I use has to not mind our lack of summer rain and my lazy watering.

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    3. Hello Hoover Boo,
      It's always great to read your gardenstory's. Your pergola is so beautiful.
      I can imagine how expensive it will be give the garden the well needed water.
      Have a wonderful day.
      Rosehugs Marijke

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    4. Alison, 3-4 hours?!? That's a lot of pulling! Hopefully it wasn't roasting hot. Nothing like weeds to motivate, right? It will keep you out of Micky's shorts, anyway! ;^)

      Marijke, Thank you, and have a rose-filled week end!

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  8. I vote a million times over for toyon and rhus over bougainvillea. Add in a carpinteria if you have a full sun spot and just wait because you can't rush progress. You'll be rewarded with amazing views from your new coffee spot. ;) I think you might be able to train the pittosporums up a bit with an anchor and some rope. If we can do it with bonsai, why not actual size?

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    1. It's pretty sunny there since the overhanging Euc, Peppers, and Palms are gone. I thought Carpenteria liked some shade? It would be interesting to try one. I don't want to rush, I just don't want the new neighbors to plant something that is going to loom over the fence and drop branches and smash whatever I plant, or shade everything out again. If they see a good screen of plants, they might feel they can leave that area empty.

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  9. So I came to comment on the word "pestiferous" and found others beat me too it :)

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    1. A word every gardener needs when a four-letter one would be inappropriate.

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  10. I vote for a hummingbird choice.
    Love watching our sunbirds on Melianthus and aloes thru the living room windows, and they come bug hunting on the potted Ficus when we sit on the patio.

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    1. Me, too! Grevillea, Salvia, Eremophila, Aloes, Callistemon!

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