Moving along in the garden

Moving along in the garden with purchase of five iris 'Wilder than ever' for the front.  For the back, mostly seeds right now except one 5 gal Monardella odoratissima which lives up to its name with a powerful and wondrous wild mint scent 

Brent - via iPhone


Pope's genius of place

Alexander Pope is credited with the phrase, "genius of place" in the context of garden design.  Much like wines have terroir and architecture has regional aesthetics, gardens can have this sense of regional belonging too.  I think that genius of place is what I would call a sense of place, regionally appropriate, scale appropriate, and in the natural service of its design principles.  Pope may say it better, below.

See this web page for additional commentary on the Earl of Burlington and Pope: https://misfitsarchitecture.com/2015/03/18/architectural-myths-16-genius-loci/

Moral Essays Epistle IV.
Of the Use of Riches
To Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington

ARGUMENT The vanity of Expense in people of wealth and quality. The abuse of the word Taste. That the first principle and foundation in this, as in every thing else, is Good Sense. The chief proof of it is to follow Nature, even in works of mere luxury and elegance. Instanced in Architecture and Gardening, where all must be adapted to the genius and use of the place, and the beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it. How men are disappointed in their most expensive undertakings for want of this true foundation, without which nothing can please long, if at all; and the best examples and rules will but be perverted into something burdensome and ridiculous. 

In all, let Nature never be forgot.                      50
But treat the Goddess like a modest Fair,
Nor overdress, nor leave her wholly bare;
Let not each beauty everywhere be spied,
Where half the skill is decently to hide.
He gains all points who pleasingly confounds,   55
Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.
Consult the genius of the place in all;
That tells the waters or to rise or fall;
Or helps th’ ambitious hill the heav’ns to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale,               60
Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
Now breaks, or now directs, th’ intending lines;
Paints as you plant, and as you work designs.

-Alexander Pope 1688–1744

"In classical Roman religion, a genius locus (plural genii loci) was the protective spirit of a place" - Wikipedia
Genius plur. Genii - the superior or divine nature which is innate in everything, the spiritual part, spirit
lŏcus   - a place, spot; loci - single places; loca - connected places, a region.

I previously posted about a Garden Sanctuary design exercise / talk that I attended.  This blog post seems to be in a related vein of meta-design or something for which I have yet to identify the appropriate concise description, so I'm filing it under garden design.  Other possibilities: design philosophy, meta-design, motivation, design underpinnings.  The list goes on.  Since I'm more of a "here's an example of how to do it" person, I'm having trouble finding an description that works for me.


0.01” rain; 0.31" rain for the season

11/2/17 0.01" just a guess - it was a small amount
11/3/17 0.13"
11/5/17 0.15" overnight rain
11/21/17 0.01" trace overnight
12/20/17 0.01" 

We would definitely have more rainfall by this time in a "normal" year, and there's still plenty of time to make it up, provided the recently-reformed ridiculously resilient ridge (RRR, a high pressure ridge over the Pacific ocean that forces storms to the north)  resolves into a more favorable weather pattern.

For more commentary on the RRR see the California Weather Blog

Brent - via iPhone


Forgotten garden TO DO list that I just stumbled across

All of these have been done already, or are overcome by events (OBE). Go TO DO list, go!!

~Clematis ligusticifolia (Virgin's Bower or Yerba De Chiva) located on front fence.  Confirmed purchased from Annie's in 2013 as "Western White Clematis“ Move from the front fence - needs shade to part shade.  Move to S side yard by fruit trees? By Western Redbud?

~Erigeron glaucus (Seaside Daisy) from pool area where it doesn’t thrive to another area (slope by hot tub? Rose garden? Adjacent to fr. lawn path?).  Don’t know what selections I have.  Generally seems to have adaptable soil, moderate to regular water, and part shade (inland).  Shade and water is probably the issue.  Even though I’m not that far inland, it’s very exposed in my back yard, I water infrequently, and the soil is poor where they are located.  10/22/16: Juli agrees that we can try it in the rose garden in front, providing I'm willing to move it again if it doesn't work out (no doubt by her definition).  I agree.  I watered this one well 10/23 & 24 prior to digging it up for the move.

~Heteromeles arbutifolia, (Toyon) 8-15' H x 10-15' W per TPF.  Move from container to neighbor’s yard just past N fence gate.

~(some at TPF 10-27) Fragaria (Strawberry) for rose garden ground cover. Species Name: Fragaria chiloensis 'Green Pastures'. Common Name: Green Pastures beach strawberry

~Sisyrinchium bellum (Blue eyed grass) for rose garden ground cover.  Two of the species acquired from PVLC on 10/22/16 at their sale.

10-25 at TPF: Sisyrinchium bellum                  1G     Blue Eyed Grass     50     $9.00

~Rhus integrifolia (Lemonade berry) - Got one from PVLC sale on 10/22/16 with the intention of using it where the salt bush is, completely throwing away my idea for Malacothamnus fasciculatus or Dendromecon harfordii.   In the light of the next day I think I should go back to M. fascicualtus as a replacement for the salt bush plants.  Juli indicated that she wanted a climbing rose on the pool equipment iron work, and I didn't agree with this given the differing water needs for the rose versus the rest of the hillside.  She was still insistent.  Now I have to rethink everything in light of competing water and light issues.


A reason for poison ivy (and oak?)

"What we see in the data is that poison-ivy often trades understory dominance with knotweed. That is, when knotweed isn't the big boss, poison-ivy usually is. The difference is that whereas knotweed knocks everyone else out of the system, poison-ivy is more of a team player. Many other native plants can co-occur with it and it even seems to create microhabitats that help tree seedlings get established."

Brent - via iPhone


Water consumption in the presence of leaks

water consumption

The whole house was replumbed Oct 28-30 due to numerous obvious leaks that I found and plugged.  From the data I conclude that there must have been 12 hundred cubic feet (hcf) of water lost over the previous 3 months due to leaks, since my baseline usage is about 7 hcf.

All of that went into the soil under the house which happens to be be quite porous, fortunately.  Too bad the leaks didn't occur during winter when they would count towards my baseline consumption for water allocation purposes, a touchy subject with me since my normal 6-7 hcf/month is already at the low end of local usage.


Rain 0.15; season total 0.29”

11/2 0.01" just a guess - it was a small amount
11/3 0.13"
11/5 0.15" overnight rain
11/21 0.01" trace overnight

Brent - via iPhone


A tree’s genetics picks its fungus

From Ars Technica, an interesting study about the Pinyon pine and its fungal associations.

Researchers took seeds from drought-tolerant and drought-intolerant trees, then exposed them to soil containing fungal communities from both drought-tolerant and drought-intolerant roots. Even when grown with the opposite soil, the seeds ignored the local fungal community; both drought-tolerant and drought-intolerant seeds still cultivated the same species of fungus as their adult forbears.

It turned out that the inheritance of the fungus is what actually made the different trees drought-tolerant or drought intolerant; seeds from drought-tolerant mothers only grew larger than their drought-intolerant cousins when in the presence of their attendant fungi. The tree’s genetics simply helped it recruit specific species of fungi.


Pima Country Public Library circulates seeds too

"In addition to books and DVDs, in 2012 the Pima Country Public Library system became one of the first in the nation to circulate seeds. Aspiring gardeners can look up varieties electronically, put seeds on reserve and check out 10 packs at a time. Availability changes with the seasons: By mid-September, tomato seeds are long gone, but many other seeds — including dill, arugula, cucumbers, the flat white teardrop shapes of squash seeds, and the small dry beads of tepary beans — rattle in paper envelopes. Participating branches offer support as well as seeds, such as gardening classes, brochures, and, of course, books. The greenest beds flourish with flowers, herbs, vegetables and an idea: That public libraries can be resources for local food growers as well as local readers."

See more High Country News (http://www.hcn.org/articles/communities-tucsons-seed-library-fosters-food-sovereignty-in-a-desert).


0.03" rain so far in September

We've had a couple rain events so far this month.

9/3/2017 0.02" rain
9/21/2017  0.01" rain

I'm not taking this as a harbinger of a wet water year and you shouldn't either.  Still, it's nice to settle the dust and in some cases help with brush fire control.


0.2" rain; 25.72" season total

The forecast was for 10 to 20% chance of rain.  This time of year in LA that usually translates to no meaningful rain.  However, this time was different and we got 0.20" in a series of showers over my back yard.  Mountain areas had unexpected snow as well.

Given recent history, I feel reasonably confident that the graph below is about all that Nature has to offer us until the start of the next rainy season. As you can see, rain has been plentiful this year, particularly in comparison to previous years' low rainfall.  While the state has declared the drought over, I'm not convinced that it is; entirely due to the large previous overdraft of groundwater that doesn't really get counted in the state's assessment of drought.


0.27" rain; 25.52" total rainfall

9 Apr 2017 0.27" rain last night.

Another storm is slated to hit the area Thursday, but the lights are starting to go dim on this winter.

Sent from my iPhone at great expense


Weed cloth always fails


Check out Emily's article, linked above.  

I have to admit that I used a permeable cloth between a sand + gravel + paver walkway and the underlying soil. I don't remember where I got the idea to do so, but in that situation the idea was to keep the lower sand bed of the walkway from intermixing with soil.  The hope was that it would extend the life of the pathway.  There was little area to grow weeds and I don't know well it worked, since I moved from that house. However, I never had the expectation that it would be weed-free.

Emily responded in another forum and stated that she might be the source of that erroneous advice.  Currently, and based on studying paths over their life, she didn't recommend weed cloth for that use. 

I've pulled up enough failed weed cloth used in other more "standard" applications that I would never use it with its original intent in mind.   I can also imagine that any path repair involving a prior application of weed cloth would be many times worse than if weed cloth had not been used in the first place, so I'll let the expert lead here and agree that I [now] can't see any use for weed cloth.

My photos of failed weed cloth look strikingly similar to Emily's - rather crappy for a "garden".


0.02" rain; 25.00" this year!

Recent rainfall:
21-Feb    0.33  
26-Feb    0.05  
5-Mar    0.02  

For a grand total of 25.00", a banner year of rain.

I was fortunate to have captured more of that in my back yard than in earlier years by using a new gutter drain that I fortuitously added last summer.  Before that I might have lost a lot of that rain to run off.  The added water should give our garden extra legs in the summer, for which I am thankful
Rainfall totals in 90275 2011/2012 to 2016/2017

The last time we saw significant rainfall in the 20"+ range was 2004/2005.  Going by the recent typical endpoints of the rainy season, we have a few more storms to get out of the way before the end of the season, so I don't expect the rainfall total to stay at "only" 25".


3.37" rain; season total 24.6"

This isn't even the latest - there was a day of drizzle that added on, but you can still be amazed at 24.6" of rain as of Feb 19th!  That's huge for the LA area.   Notably, the rainfall on 18 Feb brought about twice as much to the Santa Barbara area only 100 miles to the north, and got them out of the worst of their drought.

11-Feb    0.24"    21.47"   
18-Feb    3.09"    24.56"    6"+ in Santa Barbara
19-Feb    0.04"    24.60"   


2.81" of rain; season total 21.23"

2/7/17 2.81"

A banner year for rain, with 21.23" in my back yard so far.  As I write this (on 2/10, I'm not quite up to the moment in my reporting), more rain is falling.

If you are not from Southern California, you might not appreciate how beyond normal this is.  To put it in perspective, between 1944 and 2010 in Los Angeles, only 6 years had greater rainfall during the entire winter season than we have to date!   Interestingly, those 6 "high water marks" all occurred in water year 1977 or later, which seems to be a statistical anomaly that it's tempting to blame on climate change.


0.56" rain; season total 18.42"

3 Feb 2017 0.53" the main storm
4 Feb 2017 0.03" overnight
That season total is a lot of rain for us!

More storms are rolling in right now.


0.49" rain completes the last storm; 4.99" storm total; 17.86" season total

I mentioned previously that I had taken a rain gauge reading mid way through the last storm - the rain was so intense and prolonged that I thought it might overflow.  It turns out that we only accumulated 0.49" more.

22-Jan-17 0.49" (plus prior 4.5" measurement) = 4.99" for the storm system.

We're in a sunny trend now and for the next week at least, according to the weather report, so there will be plenty of green growing things in the yard.

4.99" of rain is the largest amount of rain that I've seen locally reported for this storm, which is unusual for my location.  Normally I measure less rain than nearby cities.


4.5+" rain in recent storm; 17.37" season total

19 Jan 2017 0.87"
21 Jan 2017 2.6"
22 Jan 2017 4.5" rain..

...and the 22nd wasn't even over when I took that reading of 4.5".  I was concerned the rain gauge would overflow so I drained it mid-afternoon.

I don't have final figures, but I noted about another half inch on 22 Jan, which make the total for that storm about 5".  This seems to be a greatest amount of rain reported among our local cities including Long Beach which had flooding at only 4" of rain, which they reported as a record for one day's precipitation.

Sent from my iPhone at great expense


Broken hoe

I like the design of this hoe.  I had a memory that it might be called a skiffle hoe, but I probably made that up.  "Scuffle hoe" actually returns search results using Google.  In any case, it does a far better job at weeding than a standard hoe due to the way the angle of the blade glides in the top layer of soil as opposed to digging down into it.

broken scuffle hoe with young California poppy
It's broken now after several years of service.  I'll be looking for a replacement since the rain has brought up all sorts of weeds and this is just the sort of tool to demolish them when they are young.  The one drawback of this hoe was that the spring steel of the blade wasn't sharpened and it didn't take an edge easily. The one I have resembles the "Luster Leaf WW100 Original Winged Weeder" which the ad copy claims is sharpened, but it's not. Nonetheless, the blunt edge worked well enough to break off weeds.  Other triangle and diamond-shaped hoes with a similar cutting angle also seem appealing so I might give those a try.  Those tend to look like they have an actual sharp edge. 

Alternative designs like a "hula hoe" aren't the right tool for me based on prior experience.


Eat your heart out, Mexican feather grass!

Aristida purpurea 'Chino Hills' at RSABG with monolith in background.
Aristida purpurea 'Chino Hills' at RSABG
This is Chino Hills purple three awn. I think it's a bit strange to have a grass selection, don't the prolific seeds dilute the original selection after a few years? What do I know.
Aristida purpurea 'Chino Hills' at RSABG
San Marco growers notes "Originally collected by Dylan Hannon (RSABG) in Tonner Canyon (Chino Puente Hills-Orange County near LA County line)"


Rain 1.16"; season total 9.40"

12 Jan 2017 1.16"

Quite a bit of rain, with more on the way.

Of course the news has been full of receding drought concerns.  A secondary news item that sometimes follows is that the drought is defined by surface water.  This is the most important caveat.

Ground water usage and replenishment are not well measured, tracked, or inventoried, and what you don't know you have you can't keep track of.  Measuring by ground level subsidence, we've kept withdrawals well ahead of replenishment for many years, a fact that is only now coming to light.

Sent from my iPhone at great expense


Aesculus califonica (Buckeye) at RSABG

Here's an Aesculus Californica at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. This seems to be one of their favored trees, since I saw more than just the two in this blog post while wandering the trails on Jan 4. The one below was particularly striking from this angle with the agave in the foreground.


Repetition in the color purple

Repetition is one of the fundamental building blocks of gardening, yet sometimes I find it hard to get right.

Here's a couple repetitions in the color purple that I happened to notice recently. In neither case do the purples exactly match, but that doesn't seem to matter for their impact, which I have to admit is better in person.  Perhaps this has to do with the color punch being small in the field of view when there in person versus dominant in the field of view in the photos.

The first photo is from RSABG.  You'll have to imagine the salvia when it's larger, but to my eyes there's a clear visual link between the butterfly garden ornament and the flowers that enhances both 
The second of photos below is from my back yard.


"Normal" comments enabled again

I had some feedback that the Google comments that I had enabled were not optimum, so I've switched back to more normal comments that don't require a Google sign-in.

Rain 0.35"; season total 8.24"

11 Jan 2017 0.35"

This makes the season total 8.24" at my house.  I (and most of the state) are above average by all measures as you probably already know if you read the news. 

Sent from my iPhone at great expense


Beautiful native grapes

Here's a beautiful way to plant native grapes that was brought home to me in stunning color while I visited Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens on Jan 4.  The juxtaposition of leaf colors in these native grape hybrids or cultivars takes this to a whole new level.

1.05" rain; 7.89" season total

9 Jan 2017 1.05"

Sent from my iPhone at great expense


Rain 0.8"; season total 6.84"

5 Jan 2017 0.8"
This has been a banner year for rain, so far. More is on the way as I'm sure anyone who has a pulse in California could tell you. Wildflowers are going to be good this year!
Sent from my iPhone at great expense


Rain 0.02"; season total 5.99"

31 Dec 2016 AM 0.02"

There's more on the way later today according to the weather forecast. Our total to date this season is well above typical, but our heaviest rains are usually in February, so keep an eye on the weather and don't count your chickens before they're hatched.

Sent from my iPhone at great expense