Naked behind a screen in the garden

I stumbled across a good article about Naked Ladies the other day - Amaryllis belladonna, not Playmates.  The author, Joan Bolton, comes from nearby Santa Barbara so her gardening know-how would appear to translate well to Los Angeles.  Browsing her blog I quickly stumbled across some information that I thought would be more immediately useful in a post called Splendid Hedges.  Recall that I just posted how I need to hide a neighbor's front yard with a hedge or screen.

Here's the naked view from my front yard this morning.

My property is slightly higher than the neighbor's and the scrawny roses currently planted along a low wall don't provide enough height to hide the garbage cans and piles of brick in the neighbor's yard.   There's also no amount of planting that I can do where my walkway meets the retaining wall, and that's the area that I'd like to screen the most.  On the one hand, I admire the neighbor for having the balls to buck the wall to wall green grass trend and plant an orchard instead.  On the other hand, I don't want to look at their garbage can storage area.

For purposes of continuity, I briefly considered extending the fantastic (you'll have to imagine the sarcasm in my voice) Eugenia topiary  into hedges or adding more Eugenia as a dedicated hedge, but after about a nanosecond I concluded that I was going to demo the incongruously-placed and uninteresting layer cake topiary. (A highly innovative stacked sphere topiary is visible at left in the above picture.  Imagine many similar but purposeless topiary sentinels, like Easter Island statues.  Ugh.)  So, no Eugenia hedge for me.

I then spent a good long time thinking and reading about native plant hedge solutions, but it turns out that native hedge plants may not be the best solution.  Most hedge plants tend to be taller and broader than I need or want and they don't address the gap where the concrete walkway abuts the retaining wall. But, while I thought I was thinking about hedges,  my mind apparently was spinning up other ideas.

It turns out that there may be a partial hardscape solution: Extending the ornamental fence that already exists on the front side of my property might do the trick, provided I grow low arching shrubs in front or climbing plants on it.  This would definitely be a harmonious solution that would take up the minimum of space.  There may even be standard fence panels that are a bit taller than those I currently have that would give it a bit more screening.  The picture below is a crude mockup of how it might work.

Extending an imaginary line from the top of the large white-flowered rose in that picture says that I would only need to overtop the fence by a foot to two feet to get all the screen that I wanted. 

I haven't had a chance to closely observe it, but I think that the sun exposure in this area of my garden is partial - it's shaded by the Jacaranda street trees in the PM and by the house in the AM. Foggy days are likely too.  This kind of exposure is consistent with the mixed success that the previous owners apparently had with roses in this area. 

To cover the planting gap where the concrete meets the wall I'll want vines or arching growth that I can tie or train to the fence.  This narrows the selection process nicely. This seems to be the short list:

Calystegia macrostegia (Morning Glory Vine). My locally native variety has small white flowers but the Channel Island selection "Anacapa Pink" has large pink veined flowers. Evergreen.
Clematis ligusticifolia (Virgin's Bower or Yerba De Chiva). Winter deciduous.
Lonicera hispidula (California or Pink Honeysuckle) - a vine-like shrub that has relatively sparse growth. Semi-evergreen.
Vitis 'Walker Ridge' (Walker Ridge Wild Grape). Smaller selection. Winter deciduous.

Put one of those on a small fence and I won't feel so naked any more.


  1. Have you considered doing an espalier? Last December, Connie did a talk on "California Natives for Espalier and Narrow Screens/Hedges." She discussed their use in a Craftsman-style garden, but showed us examples in other situations, including something planted along a wall with what looked like less than a 6-inch wide slot at the side of a driveway.

    In particular, if you want something trained along a fence, this could be a good solution.

    Anyway, the plant list can be found at http://www.nbs.csudh.edu/biology/projectsound/habitat/default.shtml

    In case you haven't heard, the Project Sound website is up and running, and there are a number of plant lists. On the linked page, scroll down to the "Plants by Growth Form" section.

    I've been rethinking my own choice for a narrow space by my front porch; I thought a vine would be good (Distictis buccinatoria--not a CA native, but drought tolerant), but the vine is being troublesome-- it takes less than a month to extends its long "arms" halfway across my porch! Perhaps a shrub would be easier for me to manage.

  2. I have been holding the idea of an espalier in the back of my brain. I like fruit tree espaliers but I'm going to go off and review the link you provided right away for some more ideas. Thanks!