As a result of the sewer lateral I had to create a little improv garden for many of the plants in my mediterranean garden. They were just going to die if I left them out of the ground while I waited for the work to finish. I potted up what I could but some of them were too large for one gallon pots and too small for five gallon pots. Luckily last year I created a garden bed in my back yard that failed. I had to do a lot of traveling last summer during the hottest, driest part of the year and what was mean to be a garden full of Salvia and other hummingbird attracting plants died. The only survivors were a Kniphofia Flamenco, a Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’ and a Grevillea ‘Penola’. There was a lot of empty space. So I threw together a quick design and planted what I could. It isn’t perfect but I just had to get the plants in the ground quickly.
And this is what it looks like now. Not bad considering the horrible dry and hot weather we have had since they were planted. I’ve actually dispensed with my usual hand watering and used a sprinkler to get this garden established.
Altogether about a quarter of the plants in my mediterranean garden got to stay where they were, a quarter were moved to this new bed, a quarter died or were, and a quarter went into pots where they await a future garden.
I used to hate the chain link fence around this part of the yard but now I am relieved it is there. My new neighbor has a dog that always escapes her confinement while he is at work and runs amuck through the garden. This is the one part of my yard that I know is safe from her. Eccremocarpus and Cobaea are hard at work covering the fence so I can live with it.
Kniphofia Flamenco is a seed strain of South African red hot poker. It can be quite variable so it is best to only buy it when the flowers are in bloom so you are sure you like what you are getting. This soft orange and yellow is just what I wanted. Most Kniphofia grow near streams and moist areas and some are from summer rainfall areas of eastern South Africa so they do usually need some summer water to perform at their best but they do really well in California. Surprisingly this is one of the few plants that had survived in this spot from my former attempt at making a garden here.
I actually prefer these Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ in this spot than I did in their old home. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that they had to be moved.
This Lavandula pinnata var. buchii was enormous and in full bloom when it had to be moved and it wad dug up by some random construction guy who “helped” me. It had very little roots left and I thought it was toast. I got it back into the ground as quickly as I could but the entire thing just wilted and flopped over. I pruned it back almost all the way to the ground and in less than two months it has bounced back really nicely and started blooming again. Behind it is Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’, which was also a survivor of the originally planned hummingbird garden in this spot, is already getting ready to bloom.
Salvia ‘Aromas’ sulked for a while but has perked up now and started to bloom. I considered moving it back to the front garden but decided not to push my luck. There are only so many times you can move plants this time of year before they give up.
Phlomis purpurea is another sulker that didn’t like being moved. Interestingly I read recently that one of the adaptations of some species of Phlomis, in the hot, dry summers of the Mediterranean areas they come from, is seasonal dimorphism of their leaves. Their winter leaves are thicker and better adapted to photosynthesize and the summer leaves are thinner, smaller, and even hairier and better adapted to retain moisture. I noticed with the shock of the move and the onset of hotter drier weather that these plants lost their leaves and regrew smaller leaves and have now stopped wilting.
Curious about how the newly planted old bed is doing?
The above picture is how it looked in early March. The center strip is mostly California natives. Salvia melifera, Arctostaphylos ‘Sentinel’, three types of Eriogonum, Erigeron ‘Wayne Roderick’, and purple and white California poppies. They looked so tiny back then it was definitely a bit depressing starting from scratch just when the garden had been ready to take off.
Two months later I have to admit I am kind of shocked at how quickly they have grown. I think by next year this garden will be fully filled out and looking great. Despite the fact that they are now in pure sand and it has bee so hot and dry they are thriving on just weekly watering. In fact they are showing no signs of stress at all so I may start moving them to a twelve day watering cycle and see how they do.
Of course I wish the construction had never happened but I think the garden is coming along nicely.