Slapped upside the head by winter on the first day of spring…

The last 10 days or so has brought California’s Central Valley a little much needed rain. Even more important has been a small improvement in the mountain snow pack from which our summer water availability is determined. With all due deference to those gardeners on the east coast huddled in their homes as another nor’easter bears down and even our SoCal compatriots for whom even a small downpour may mean mudslides on ground denuded by last year’s wild fires–we still get a little excited by a little rain, even this one which, despite the cold nights, seems almost tropical.

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A good drink for the new Ila side bed–even a small rain tends to back up the storm drains!

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This morning’s downpour affirmed that our grading of this newly lawn free area in the front garden has allowed the water to soak in without too much run off. The brick serve as a temporary visual reminder of a casual path from the near the front door to a future Little Free Library.

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This is the second underground drainage pipe we have found in this yard which was brought to the street and terminated in an upward facing drain without coring the curb to let the water flow out! We had the one on the Ila side cored only a few weeks ago and just made yet another call to our concrete drilling friend for this one. Seems as though bad things comes in threes and so I fully expect one more to appear before all is said and done.

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Only a few new things have found a place in this bed so far–several of which have been in my ‘holding area’ since my fall 2017 nursery rounds. Much of what we left from the original border which wrapped the lawn is well established enough to withstand some drought. I am focusing on unthirsty plantings for the new additions. While the area has automatic sprinklers the hope is that we will be able to both reduce the number of heads and the amount of run time significantly. Top left is Ozothamnus diosmifolius ‘Dark Pink’–common name dark pink rice flower–selected specifically as a contrast in form to the bank of indian hawthorn in the background. To its right is Phlomis purpurea–purple Jerusalem sage. The bottom photo is Salvia mellifera ‘Wild Bill’ which is purported to develop a gold variegation along the edges of mature leaves when it is grown in full sun. This is one of the newest of the black sages introduced by Monterey Bay Nursery  and is a sport of Salvia mellifera ‘Calamity Jane’.  All three of these will require minimal watering once established but can tolerate varying levels of irrigation with good drainage. Fingers crossed, full steam ahead on this bed once it dries out a little!

5 thoughts on “Slapped upside the head by winter on the first day of spring…

  1. That seems like a lot of trees for that front yard. The redwood and olive would fill it without the crape myrtle in front of them, but would not be as colorful.


    1. You are so right, Tony, and probably not a combination I would have selected! The olive is a major headache for me every year between the fruit and my allergies to the blooms. The redwood is “borrowed landscape” as it sits on our neighbor’s property. Massive rains today make me think I need to be careful what I wish for!

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      1. We live among the redwoods here. Homes are built around them rather than redwoods getting planted into homes. They are very limiting to gardening. Not only is the litter an herbicidal problem, but the shade is very dark.


      2. Fresno is obsessed with adding redwoods to every residential lot, large or small. It is really a travesty as for the most part they do not do flourish in the bone dry and hot summer air. Additionally they are all planted way to close to each other. We have three along out back fence line within about a 25 foot stretch–very crowded limb structures, poor air circulation, just nothing positive about it at all. We had two more on the other side of the yard which we finally removed after watching them struggle for the 9 years we have been in this home.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. There is no rhyme or reason for that sort of thing. London plane and crape myrtle get used for everything here. Crape myrtle is often used as a dinky shade tree on huge lawns; while London plane us used as a street tree where the parkstrips are only two feet wide. I never get a straight answer from anyone when I ask about it.


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