The south garden has been a challenge for us since we arrived here. Flat and in full sun, with a southerly exposure, it was a lawn when we got here, and it wants to be chaparral. But it is right next to our house, and we need to think of fire safety.
The recommendation is - mainly hardscape in the first thirty feet. That is a bit dispiriting and probably futile here, where we have fences and trees and palms (next door) and etc. We just try to keep the fuel load down and keep things weeded and free of dead wood. Our maybe more realistic goal is to be able to manage a small, local fire. In the event of major fire - we are out of here! In fact right now - we have a big old fire truck stationed in our corral, while the new substation about a mile from here is being built - so response times should be - how can I put it - blazing fast?
I've been putting off working in this area, since the "meadow" failure - but as is our wont, Wood Rat and I just decided to set to this weekend and we cleared the area of weeds to create a blank (or anyway blanker) canvas to work with.
Ms Town Mouse mentioned that we discussed our different design approach last time she came up for a visit. I don't know if I can dignify what I do as "an approach." I need to move stones around, with a general idea in mind. That's what I was doing in the photo above.
I have a difficult time working from a drawing. When I did a bit of hands-on art, some years ago now, I enjoyed clay sculpture, and I really like seeing things "in the round." I do try to keep the design principles I've learned in mind, and think about what I want to see and experience in the garden. My garden, perforce, must evolve. Well, that's the current game plan anyway.
The shape shown above changed a bit over the course of the weekend. I'm standing at the steel post that used to hold up the prior owner's satellite dish (you can see it in the shot below). We think it "might come in handy" one day, so we haven't removed it as yet.
I nudged things this way and that till we ended up - up to this point anyway - with the look that follows, taken from the trellis you can see in the last shot:
Here it is from the greenhouse looking out.
Duncan takes credit for everything, of course.
I'm thinking of planting a lot of the Madia elegans (common madia) I've grown from local seed, letting this area be mostly a "madia fountain" this year - spurting seeds into the landscape where I hope the madia will naturalize. In summer their yellow flowers are cheerful. They themselves are not the best for fire - another common name for madia after all is "tar weed" - but I want to beef up the natives to compete with the non-natives that I'm trying to eradicate - though this year I've been short of time as far as weeding goes. Hate to let that go - you lose a lot of ground in one year. Maybe I can do some catchup later on in spring.
I need a plant palette that has low growing natives for the 30 foot defensible zone - I can try to grow blue witch next year, and other "fire follower" natives that can take full sun. I'm not sure if that will provide a complete look, or if we'll need to augment with some ornamental non-invasive plants for the garden aesthetic we want.
Unfortunately because of our little bunny friends - I'll have to put up a small fence around the mound, at least temporarily. I'm planning on a 2 foot wire fence, just staked into the ground. Till they are a bit bigger, I want to protect any baby plants we put here.
I hope to show another post in the not-too-distant future, with the babies planted and safe in their "playpen!"