Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wrapping Up Summer

 If you read my blog for inspiring pictures, you had better stop now and wait for another post! After a busy summer with grandkids and a few weeks on vacation I've returned ready to take inventory and start thinking about what needs to be done in the SJC garden this fall. The list is long as usual. You can see by this picture that the cheap obelisks I had picked up at a big box store years ago have been falling apart for some time now and my garden helper has patiently been trying to save them for the clematis to cling to as best he can. I have already ordered metal ones and they should arrive any day now. It looks like this one may have collapsed and uprooted this poor plant that is still trying to bloom in spite on being treated so poorly.

 The established oleanders that created the privacy screen around the house continue to succumb to oleander leaf scorch. We didn't remove any this year but it looks like there are going to be some spots that will have to be addressed. One area is really going to be a problem because it is an area where the neighbor's house is close to the fence and we are going to become very visible to each other quickly as they die out. Luckily they have been trying to manage the dying screen on their side too so hopefully we can work out a quick solution. I have seen plumbago suggested as a fast growing alternative and I think I might try it next as a colorful option.

 The new privacy screen we planted last year is thriving nicely and continues to fill in. You can kind of see the foliage behind the fence that is in a part of our other neighbor's yard that relies on rain for irrigation is dying out after years of drought. There used to be layers and layers of trees and lots of birds and wildlife back there. The demise is sad.

 The backyard beds are kind of a mess, and kind of okay. (By-the-way, I took these pictures this morning after the sprinklers had been on which explains why everything looks so wet) I had planted a bunch of drought tolerant, tall perennials that would look good in the summer, last year, but they are still kind of sad. I blame it on the thin soil in this area. I had removed the old lawn that had been treated with synthetic chemicals and pesticides leaving the soil thin and dead. I had underestimated the amount of time it would take to bring the soil back to health by top dressing only and that was a mistake. I really wish I had done the old fashioned double digging in this area (okay, let me be honest - I wish I had instructed someone else to double dig, I don't do much double digging myself anymore!). However the plants like the pepper trees that thrive on poor soil have grown like crazy.

 Even the succulents look like they are tired of this hot, dry summer. Many people don't realize that although cactus are succulents and can go long periods without water, all succulents are not cactus and do need regular water. These plants will get a good, long, deep soak this weekend that they probably haven't been getting since I have been gone.

 My other citrus trees are not producing much of a crop this year, but my grapefruit tree is going crazy with a huge crop. I am sure it is because I personally baby it by turning the hose on it when I walk by to go out to the pool on the weekends and leave it on a slow drizzle for hours. It gets the same amount of fertilizer as all the other trees but I think it gets a lot more water.

 The fall colors are starting to show on the grape vine tunnel and the Boston ivy. In our area even though the nights may be cooling down in September and October, some of our warmest temperatures of the year may still be ahead so summer isn't really over yet.

 The Moonlight Garden has some highlight and some low-lights. After planting about four different kinds of vines on the arbor going to the pool, the white mandevilla vine has finally proved to be successful. Also, my Duranta 'alba' is finally blooming. I think it had been a victim of wrong season pruning. On the other hand I have no idea what is going on around the big urn. Almost everything is either gone altogether or munched to the ground by rabbits. It could have been a broken sprinkler that in this heat can cause an area to die quickly. I need to go back and look at pictures from last spring to see what was there that we lost.

 And then by the looks of the lawn, the dogs didn't get their tomato juice every day. And it is looking very healthy and good which means the gardener turned up the frequency of the sprinklers while I was out of town so that it would green up in spite of the draught (it was driving him crazy). The mushrooms are a dead give-away.

While we were vacationing in Maui, it was encouraging to see the island that has also been plagued by drought in the past few year turning a lovely shade of green again when we flew in to land. Since they are often influenced by some of the same Pacific weather currents we are hopefully this means we will be getting some rain this year too. 

But back to my garden now and all the challenges that keep it interesting!