Thursday, November 23, 2017

Backyard overhaul: slow but steady

In a recent post, my friend Kathy who blogs at GardenBook talked about the "hateful areas" in her garden. I can relate only too well. In recent years, it seems most of our backyard has become a hateful area. With our attention firmly focused on the front garden, the backyard has fallen into benign neglect.

That is about to change. Actually, it already has started to change.

The area I'm going to show you today is outside the dining room slider; the desert bed we created in 2014 is on the other side of the fence. A year ago, we had an 'Aristocrat' pear and a clumping bamboo removed (read about it here) to create a blank slate. The first new plants to go in were an Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea' and a Grevillea 'Flora Mason' (see here). In recent months I've been slowly adding more plants. This area only gets a few hours of direct sun but is fairly bright most of the day because of light reflecting off the house.

Let's take a closer look.


Farfugium japonicum 'Giganteum' (#7 below) is one of only a few "pre-existing" plants. This is what it looked like in 2010. The more the chocolate bamboo (Borinda fungosa) next to it grew, the more the farfugium diminished because the bamboo sucked up most the available water. But now that the bamboo is gone, the farfugium has made a comeback. While it would be happier (and bigger) with more water, I'm grateful it's hung in there all this time.

Most of other plants shown below are recent additions. #10, Aloe karasbergensis, is one of three aloes in this area. The other two, Aloe tomentosa and Aloe debrana, are to the right (not shown).


'Wood's Compact' manzanita (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Wood's Compact') — from a recent UC Davis Arboretum plant sale
 Blood lily (Haemanthus coccineus) — from the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory
 'Lemon Lime' nandina (Nandina domestica 'Lemon Lime') — from the Sunset Western Garden Collection
 'Meerlo' lavender (Lavandula allardii 'Meerlo') — from the Sunset Western Garden Collection
 NOID pincushion (Leucospermum sp.) — from Succulent Gardens. I'm not giving it the room a mature leucospermum needs because I don't expect it to survive for long. But for $10, it's a reasonably cheap experiment.
 'Duet' New Zealand flax (Phormium 'Duet') — from a recent UC Davis Arboretum plant sale
Farfugium japonicum 'Giganteum' — growing here for 10+ years
 'Orange Flame' correa (Correa pulchella 'Orange Flame') — from a recent UC Davis Arboretum plant sale
 Garnet geranium (Pelargonium sidoides) — from a recent UC Davis Arboretum plant sale
⑩ Aloe karasbergensis — planted in spring 2017



 Coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea) — gift from a friend, planted in spring 2017
 Carex oshimensis 'Evergold' — planted years ago
 Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) — planted years ago
 Cycas panzhihuaensis — growing in a pot for 5+ years; planted here in fall 2017
 'Lemon Lime' nandina (Nandina domestica 'Lemon Lime') — from the Sunset Western Garden Collection
 'Meerlo' lavender (Lavandula allardii 'Meerlo') — from the Sunset Western Garden Collection
 NOID pincushion (Leucospermum sp.) — from Succulent Gardens
 'Duet' New Zealand flax (Phormium 'Duet') — from a recent UC Davis Arboretum plant sale
 Aloe karasbergensis — planted in spring 2017
 Blood lily (Haemanthus coccineus) — from the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory



 Carex oshimensis 'Evergold' — planted years ago
 Cycas panzhihuaensis — growing in a pot for 5+ years; planted here in fall 2017
 'Lemon Lime' nandina (Nandina domestica 'Lemon Lime') — from the Sunset Western Garden Collection
 'Evening Glow' New Zealand flax (Phormium 'Evening Glow') — $2 special from Lowe's clearance table
 'Meerlo' lavender (Lavandula allardii 'Meerlo') — from the Sunset Western Garden Collection
 NOID pincushion (Leucospermum sp.) — from Succulent Gardens
 'Duet' New Zealand flax (Phormium 'Duet') — from a recent UC Davis Arboretum plant sale
 Aloe karasbergensis — planted in spring 2017
 Farfugium japonicum 'Giganteum' — growing here for 10+ years
'Wood's Compact' manzanita (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Wood's Compact') — from a recent UC Davis Arboretum plant sale



 Leatherleaf fern (Ruhmora adiantiformis) — from Annie's Annuals; planted spring 2017
② 'Lemon Lime' nandina (Nandina domestica 'Lemon Lime') — from the Sunset Western Garden Collection
 'Evening Glow' New Zealand flax (Phormium 'Evening Glow') — $2 special from Lowe's clearance table
 'Meerlo' lavender (Lavandula allardii 'Meerlo') — from the Sunset Western Garden Collection
 NOID pincushion (Leucospermum sp.) — from Succulent Gardens
 Blood lily (Haemanthus coccineus) — from the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory



 Renga lily (Arthropodium cirratum) — from Annie's Annuals; planted spring 2017
 Paintbrush or snowbrush (Haemanthus albiflos) — from the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory
 Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) — planted years ago
 Leatherleaf fern (Ruhmora adiantiformis) — from Annie's Annuals; planted spring 2017
 Cycas panzhihuaensis — growing in a pot for 5+ years; planted here in fall 2017
 'Lemon Lime' nandina (Nandina domestica 'Lemon Lime') — from the Sunset Western Garden Collection



 Chinese ground orchid (Bletilla striata) — gift from a friend, planted in spring 2017
Renga lily (Arthropodium cirratum) — from Annie's Annuals; planted spring 2017
 Paintbrush or snowbrush (Haemanthus albiflos) — from the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory
 Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) — planted years ago
 Leatherleaf fern (Ruhmora adiantiformis) — from Annie's Annuals; planted spring 2017
 Cycas panzhihuaensis — growing in a pot for 5+ years; planted here in fall 2017


This area still needs proper mulching and more rocks. But the groundwork has been laid. What's required more than anything now is patience because these plants need time to settle in and bulk up. Alas, patience is not my strong suit...

11 comments:

  1. You've woven together a lot of wonderful plants. I've killed a few of them, like the leatherleaf fern but then ferns of all kinds seem to hate it here (or maybe I've just been too stingy with water). I hope the Renga lily works for you - it's been very happy in dry shade here. I've divided it so many times I'm not sure I can even count the number of plants I currently have.

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    1. In the spring I bought two (tiny) Renga lilies at Annie's Annuals based on your success with them. They've made it through the hot summer but haven't grown much. Maybe they're busy building a root system...

      The leatherleaf fern has surprised me. It did get a fair amount of sun in the summer and in spite of that it looks good.

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  2. What fun! So many fabulous plants...please post frequent updates. Oh and I’ve got to find a place for that Farfugium...

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    1. I will. I consider quite a few of these plants as experiments.

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  3. So many nice plants! What are your thoughts on mulch & rocks? I'm taking notes here, as I think about my own areas that need a refresh...

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    1. Renee, that's a debate for the ages. In the front yard I opted for gravel in the beds that are succulent-heavy and bark mulch for the areas with mostly perennials. In this bed, I'm planning on using mulch as well because it just seems more appropriate. Plus, hauling gravel all the way around the house, through the backyard and into this far corner would be a lot of work...

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  4. Looking forward to seeing how the changes you have made recently will evolve. Great start so far!!

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    1. Thanks, guys. As always, I barely know what I'm doing. A lot of fumbling in the dark. But I find it exciting not knowing what the outcome will be.

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  5. You have no idea how relieved I am to know that I'm not the only garden blogger with garden areas of benign neglect. The Farfugium looks so much lusher and shiny now that it has no competition from the bamboo. Well done. I'm working on my "hateful areas" this winter, but it's a slow slog.

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    1. I think most bloggers have hateful areas but don't necessarily show them. I'm guilty of that as well. You should see the area near the garbage and recycling cans. Even I shudder in horror at the sight.

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  6. Looks good to me. The summers in your area are so hot, the shade is probably beneficial to even usually sun-loving plants.

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