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Friday, July 25, 2003

Hedging my bets

I finished the trimming of all the geometric beds in the front garden this morning, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures provided by the marine layer.


As I was working on this project I finally developed a plan to insure that this is the last time I need to do it. The beds are overcrowded and many of the junipers are simply being swamped by the azaleas. I am already planning on removing 2 of the smaller beds and starting a collection of more cottage-type planting. The area could use a bit more color as the azaleas only bloom once a year. I think this would really help to cut down on maintenance and, for the first time, I could institute some better irrigation systems


I am a big fan of soaker and drip systems, but this area has defied their use by the shear size. Currently, the area is watered using retrofitted lawn sprinkler on high risers to reach above the plantings. The downside to this, besides the obvious evaporation issues, is that it also waters all the paths. This leads to the only major weed problem I have in the entire garden. It would be a pleasure to solve it.


I will keep you informed of the changes I hope to make here. Wish me luck!

Willows

It seems I not the only one with troublesome willows. Over at Cold Climate Gardening is the description of how a recent storm put the end to a grand old willow and almost took out another tree with it.


I still have one weeping willow in the back garden. Cleaning up the other day I noticed quite a bit of rot, right at ground level. Sprouting toadstool/mushrooms attracted my attention and it appears they may have been growing on one of the large roots at the base of the tree.


We recently had this willow trimmed and after a bit of "sunburn" the leaves returned in full force. The tree had been getting crowded out by surrounding tress, but these were removed in a recent rehab effort.


My willow doesn't sound anywhere near the size of the one that fell, but I would hate to lose it, as it effectively screens off a large portion of the back yard.


Via Cold Climate Gardening

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Book

cover


California's Gardener's Guide


My friend, Liz, introduced me to this book today when was visiting. It is a great quick reference, with one plant per page. It would certainly be easier to navigate than the Sunset Western Garden book I carry around. Great for the beginning California gardener.

Time for a change

I took advantage of the cooler temperatures this morning to attack the trimming of the geometric beds of azaleas and juniper in the front garden. This is always a major job and I dread it. It only takes about 2 hours or so, but my arms are like jelly by the time I am done.


Today, I only got about halfway done before my arms gave out. I was also getting frustrated as I noticed that the plantings are steadily deteriorating. Azaleas and juniper are really not designed to be cut with hedge trimmer. It cuts up the leaves of the azaleas and it leads to all sorts of problems with "naked legs". This is a common problem effecting hedges and dense shrub plantings where the lower 1/2 of the plant doesn't get enough light and stops growing leaves. The plants are also overcrowded, so several of them have died back completely.


Since these planting are over 15 years old, I think it is time for a change. I inherited the garden from the previous owners and most of the planting work, but these are getting on my nerves. I am thinking that I will select the strongest azaleas and a few juniper for transplanting elsewhere and then uproot most of the rest of the plantings. I am thinking of converting the geometric beds into something much more freeform. Nice naturalized clumps of azalea to match those in from the of the porch.


I have already started the transformation of a circular bed in the center of the garden. A pine tree once grew in this spot, but when it died I planted it into wildflowers. Recently I added 4 clumps of purple fountain grass and it seems to like the location quite well. Now that it is established, I think I will remove the ring of azalea and juniper to open up the bed and allow the fountain grass to be seen more easily.
Wish me luck and....Keep digging!