by november of 2007 most of the initial renovation of the dana point residence was complete. we tore out one of the two lawn areas and replaced it with columbian gold flagstone, removed almost all of the flax and fountain grass in the side planter, demoed the raised planter along the back fence / bbq area and replanted it, and replanted all of the pots on the property. i would have to say that the trickiest part was definitely the demo of the old plants and the lawn simply because dealing with that amount of green waste was rather new to me. it takes an awful lot of sheer strength and sweat to manipulate that much earth and plant material. the other most intense part was moving the heavy flagstone from the street all the way to the back of the property. i think at the time it didn’t dawn on me to use a wheelbarrow and my helper and i just humped back by hand almost 2 pallets of flagstone. yikes.
the real fun part about this job was that the client was pretty easy to please. they basically just left it up to me and were way cool about whatever i decided to do, even if it deviated from the designer’s plan. i more or less stuck to the plan, but made a few adjustments here and there based upon plant availability and personal preference.
there were 4 large pots like this to utilize. we left this one in the planter and potted it with the largest Euphorbia ingens – candelabra tree – we could buy, the other two went to either side of the outdoor fireplace and were planted with 25 gallon spiraled cypress evergreens. the 4th pot was moved under some trees in a shady area and planted with Clivia miniata – kaffir lilies – that were salvaged from the landscaping.
this is where i first started getting a taste for using succulents in pots.
the area behind the bbq was planted with clumping blue grass – Paspalum quadrifarium – and Abelia grandifloria “Edward Gaucher”. initially i thought this planting turned out very nice. i really like when plants fill in an area and can soften the hardscape. after the planting began to take off the owners kept asking me to cut it back until i just couldn’t keep up any more. i think this meant their view of the dana point harbor was being impeded. very nice planting and plant choice, but poor selection based on sizing needs. though after several years of gardening in southern california i have realized beyond a doubt that the most important aspect to homeowners is their ocean view, and they are willing to do anything it takes to maintain and enlarge this aspect of their home.
the area to the left of this photo that was originally planted with overgrown breath of heavens was replaced by a row of 1 gallon boxwoods and back planted with Gaura lindheimeri. i really love Gaura. it’s a great plant that takes off quickly, flowers profusely, has great movement in the breeze and can tolerate cutting back seasonally. sometimes it tends to get aphids pretty fierce though.
the owner eventually thought the Guara’s got too big as well and had me replant the area with hybrid tea roses. we basically moved the roses from a different section of the yard where they were getting too much shade. we then moved the Guara’s to the shadier area where the roses were and they basically crapped out instantly. and then i replanted that area another time. too be continued in part 3 of course. the lesson to learn is this: it is incredibly difficult to choose plants perfectly based on size requirements and sun and shade requirements unless you have a ton of experience doing so. i am so fortunate to be gaining insight regarding this exact thing. each time i put a plant in the ground i learn something new in regards to soil type, plant material, water requirements etc…. it never ends.
the last photo i leave you with are some pots that we replanted with some horsetail – Equisetum hyemale. before i planted the pots with horesetail they were planted with a variety of dying annuals that were starved for attention and had seen better days. a good lesson i have learned regarding horsetail is to never plant it unless you can completely contain it – unless of course you don’t mind that it runs everywhere and becomes a complete nightmare to deal with. one time i had this woman ask me to remove horsetail that was running rampant on her hillside. let’s just say the roots break off rather easily and make it mind numbing to get rid of. keeping it in pots or in raised contained planters is the best and most aesthetically appropriate way to deal with horsetail. oh yeah, and keep it well watered at all times.
there are of course other areas of the project i didn’t explain or take photos of. that will come together in part 3, as you will see that yet again we transformed this yard when the owners decided to sell in 2009 and new owner moved in rather quickly. this is usually the end of a good thing, but in this case since i was doing the maintenance as well, i was called upon to help restructure what i have just showed you. and all for the better.
until part 3 …
enjoy the gardening