First Views - March at the "Country Mouse Estate"

Here's how things were looking here on March 1, 2013, for our First Views meme in which we step back and take a look at garden spaces rather than focusing on flowers or small groups of plants. It's now March 3 and I've been continuing the work of mulching and fixing edging stones and weeding and generally pottering about. I've been a busy little mouse so far this year - and the dry sunny weather, while not good for growing things, is great for getting a gardening mouse out of doors. So here's a look around our place...

Looking down our driveway towards the road, you see a natural and lightly managed area. I'd like this to look a little more showy but conditions here are a bit difficult - hard to water. That douglas fir leaning out on the left is going to have to go, I can tell.

Moving back a bit we see "hummingbird hill" - another area that's hard to grow things on. Clay-ey soil on a slope - it dries out quickly. And it's got Oxalis pes-caprae! I've been working from left to right so the left side is a lot more clear of it now than the right - as I poop out before I reach the end. I'm curious to see how it behaves next year, if I'll see less oxalis sprouting there on the left. There are also two shrubs hiding near the top - one an australian whose name I forget, one a native mallow - and I hope they might start to at least poke up a bit over the Mexican salvia before the year is out.

Rotating to look up hill from mid-driveway - I took out a very large sprawling ceanothus shrib around the bird bath. I'm sad to lose its lovely blossoms but it was very big and sprawling indeed, and - I'm going to keep to our local native ceanothus going forward.

The hummingbird sage has bloomed a bit since this photo. It's looking very nice. I still have to figure out what to put along the path and under that honeysuckle there where the light is hitting. The wimpy Ribes sanguineum in front of the window is taking on a little heft this year, I'm glad to note. Och! I forgot to include the Ribes growing on the other side of Dad's cottage! They have been doing very nicely and are blooming.

Here's the front bed on the other side of the path - I'm still mulling over what to do with it. Quite sunny here but later afternoon shade. Last year's alum root (Heuchera micrantha) and naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum) do not look very attractive. A baby Ceanothus papillosus is growing in the wire cylinder. I don't know how fast or slow they grow - this is my first time growing them successfully from seed.

Turning round we see Dad's new garden beds doing nicely, and catching the dawn light, and my ever present garden companion Duncan. Also since this picture, I've been tucking more Clarkia rubicunda, Ebpilobium canum, and Eriophyllum confertiflorum (aka purple chalice clarkia, California fuchsia, and golden yarrow, respectively) into gaps and nooks.

Turning back to the main house and taking the path to the main door, the Bee's bliss salvia opposite the door and porch is looking gorgeous this year - in the couple days since this shot it's really flowered a lot. Steps down to the chaparral - an area I need to do some work on, but am not going to do much this year.

The succulent bed has filled in tremendously - I can't wait to see the blooms. 

I decided to take the rest of the photos from the upper deck. After taking this photo of the south garden and dry creek bed, I worked on mulching the beds and fixing the edging here and there. I've also planted things here and there but they are too small to see as yet. More on this another time.

Just another angle on the same south garden area. I'm just so chuffed that this garden is finally taking on character that I think will last for a good long while.

A few things in the growing out area of the upper deck, facing east. The bulb boxes are all sprouting (they are behind the bit of trellis on the right) - Calochortus alba, Zigadenus fremontii (actually it has some other name now that I forget), Chlorogalum pomeridianum, and The Mystery (AKA fairy lanterns, Fremont's star lily, soap plant, and - The Mystery!).

Mr Wood Rat has been busy laying decking out over the garage and new garage addition he built last year. Actually he's nearly finished this now - then it will be on to building railings. I'm thinking of putting galvanized steel horse trough planters up here for some veggies - been looking at posts about how to do that.
Just a quick look down into the pool garden - nothing much new here. Lots of weeding to do, some trimming, some adjustments. Should be quite colorful in a few weeks. The other plan here is to put a four foot bamboo fence along that far side so the whole garden has a nice enclosed look (but allowing you to still look out over the north valley beyond the pool). Roll on warm days and family playtime in the pool!
The other end of the pool garden, showing the stairs up, pool shed, and deck outside our bedroom - with shady plant growing out area there at the bottom. Most plants are going to new homes in the next week or two, either on our property on that of friends. The container plants their in the corner of the stairs and pool shed need a refresh, but that's a low priority for me right now. Sadly, the hot tub doesn't work any more - the heater went kerplooey and we are not sure what we want to /can afford to do now. The pool also needs a vacuuming. 

It seems a bit unreal sometimes, when I look at all this spread we own and are developing here. Who'd a thunk a working class Glaswegian like me would ever end up on three acres out in the Santa Cruz Mountains - I am such a lucky person and I appreciate every inch of it and every moment I get to spend here. It's good to take a few moments each month and size up work progress, make plans, and just appreciate things. We hope you will share your First Views with us, too. Mr Linky awaits your link below.


I love seeing your gardens and they have such great bones as they are beginning to have so much that works with the natural landscape and using natural materials...I just love the stone work. Looking forward to some of the completed projects and I love your Dad's cottage and beds...what an idyllic setting for all of you!
NellJean said…
You HAVE been a busy mouse! I think it's more a matter of hard work rather than luck that you have such a lovely place.
Jason said…
Looks like you are off to a good start this spring. Your succulent bed looks great! I'd love to join in on first views this month but all I'd be able to say about all my beds is that they are covered in snow! Maybe next month I'll have something worth showing.
You seem to handle your difficult spots so well. We live on a slope, and it can be quite a challenge. Thank you for hosting!