Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Less can be nice, too

The heat wave that started on Memorial Day isn’t letting up, so let’s go back to Morro Bay on the Central Coast.

Just up the street from the stunning succulent garden I showed you in this post is this property:

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It may seem stark, especially compared to the other garden, but I found the l limited plant palette and the high-contrast design quite appealing.

Minimalism is an interesting thing. It’s the antithesis of what I practice, yet I cannot help but fall for its promise of simplicity and serenity. A minimalistic garden is like the soothing sound of ocean waves (who doesn’t like that!) while my garden is like the frantic buzzing of a beehive.

Ultimately, though, our tastes and preferences are what they are, and we should embrace them. That means I’ll never have a minimalistic garden and I need to stop feeling guilty for being a hoarder and cramming too many plants into what little space we have.

But back to Morro Bay. This front yard is anchored by a relatively mature Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata var. aztecorum) Little River wattle (Acacia cognata). The other main players are Acacia cognata ‘Cousin Itt’ (a mounding form of the upright Acacia cognata), Grevillea ‘Superb’ (or similar), California gray rush (Juncus patens), Yucca ‘Bright Star’, and Agave ‘Blue Flame’.

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Typically I’m not a fan of dyed bark mulch, but in this case it sets the plants off beautifully.

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Agave ‘Blue Flame’

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Acacia cognata ‘Cousin Itt’ and Juncus patens

A handful of smaller boulders add a vaguely Japanese touch.

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It’s been two months since I photographed this garden, yet I’ve thought about it often. If only I could be happy with so little…

 

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16 comments:

  1. It takes so much discipline to be so restrained! Looks fab, and elegant!

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    1. Elegant is the right word. I'd never be able to leave well enough alone :-).

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  2. I've never seen ‘Cousin Itt’ grown so well! Like you I adore a minimalist garden, as long as there are interesting plants. Obviously I could never live with one though.

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    1. I know!! I recognized 'Cousin Itt' from 100 ft away. The coastal climate is perfect for most plants (except cactus and heat-loving veggies like tomatoes).

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  3. I'm the same, Gerhard. I appreciate minimalism but am utterly incapable of creating it in my own garden.

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    1. I think it's actually better if the homeowner is NOT a gardener. Then they won't be tempted to mess with it.

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  4. I don't think I've ever seen a Mexican weeping bamboo out in the open like that -- it's usually against a wall or jammed in with other plants. It has a really nice form! I still don't like dyed bark mulch...

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    1. I agree, you typically see Mexican weeping bamboo squished into a corner. I loved how in this front yard it mirrored the drooping habit of the Acacia 'Cousin Itt'.

      Like you, I wouldn't use dyed bark mulch myself but I don't find black nearly as offensive as red. There's a house near us that has the red mulch. Yikes...

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  5. I don't think that's Otatea, looks more like the full size Acacia cognata as a tree. First time I've seen a more mature 'Cousin Itt' and what it can do.

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    1. I'll be damned, you are RIGHT. I found a photo taken from a different angle that I completely missed. It shows it's a tree, NOT a bamboo: http://screencast.com/t/6rMp4JuoR.

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  6. The 'Cousin Itts' are blowing my mind. I have one and it is so pathetic.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean. I had two small ones (bought in 4-inch pots) that were struggling so hard, I finally put them out of their misery. But I'm tempted to try again in a different spot after I saw these in Morro Bay and equally good-looking ones right here in Davis (garden #2).

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  7. I can only echo the above comments...love minimal, can't do it, the 'Cousin Itt's are glorious!

    The peek-a-boo ocean view brings to mind cool sea breezes of the central coast.

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    1. I can't describe how wonderful the sea breeze is. Our motel in Morro Bay had a balcony overlooking the water, and laying there at night listening to the foghorn and smelling the sea air was heavenly.

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  8. I'm with all your other plant-addicted readers. Love the look, lack the control. You're right, we do have to stop beating ourselves up for hoarding plants and over planting spaces. It is what it is. Hooray for the differences!

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    1. I know! Not too long ago somebody said to me, "You do have a lot of plants." I immediately felt guilty for hoarding. I need to quit feeling like that.

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