In this, the second phase of my first annual garden tour I am taking you outside our North Garden gate wandering clockwise and into the abyss of my back yard.
Starting with my Brown Turkey fig tree which you can see is just outside the North Garden gate adjacent to the north perimeter of the yard. I’ve created a transition of gravel to grass with some sq. ft. stepping pads. This treatment has worked really well here as they serpentine on around the fig tree lending a bit of artsy to the landscape.
I’ve been plucking the ripe figs each morning. Every 3 days there is usually enough to quarter and store in the freezer with honey and orange syrup. Very soon I will have enough for a few batches of our yummy “Fig Fantastic” jam! One of my favorites!
In the raised bed behind the fig tree, up against the wall, I have relocated my trailing blackberry vines this year. I had been allowing the mother root to self-propagate in my little “volunteer” plant bed that is along side my patio. I have dug up, pruned down and transplanted the best of the baby suckers into this bed quite close together. I am unsure of the exact variety of trailing blackberry it is as I was given the original cutting by a friend who also didn’t know. It does have thorns ( which deters the chickens ) and grows better here in zone 9b than the newer thornless varieties.
The grid is for keeping the chickens from digging up the newly planted roots . In the spring I will add the trellis system for support. I have high hopes for harvesting a first crop of berries next season from the 2nd year canes that are in this bed now. It will likely be a few more seasons before I harvest a pies worth or enough for some jam from the whole bed. Fingers crossed!
My strawberry tower that is also sandwiched between the fig tree and the Valencia gets new rhizomes as needed from the “volunteer” bed in the dormant season. I do have plans to move the strawberries to a bigger bed that will be in my new “Grand Garden” that is designated to begin this fall.
Below is the matriarch of my gardens as she is today, standing sentry in view of all three of my garden plots; “North Garden”….the future “Grand Garden”……and my “Micro Orchard”. This Valencia tree is responsible for getting me outside and busy making adventurous gardening plans. She also keeps an eye on the chickens as they love to dust bathe underneath!
And right now the 2014 crop is growing as expected. I pay very little attention to this tree but for 2 times a year. Starting in February/March, this tree yields an impressive crop of sweet, juicy oranges. Her beautiful globes of orange provide us with a freezer full of juice and since 2010 we have been putting up jars and jars of the best no-frills marmalade ever! We call it “Simply Orange Marmalade” and it is available for sale to our local community. Soon after harvest I prune suckers, dead wood and fertilize with citrus feed and leave it be at that. The tree is watered with a controlled automatic system that is hooked to a timer.
Turning to the right from the orange tree you have this view of the “three sisters” at the east wall of the yard. I really enjoy the big fluffy lilac flowers of these crepe myrtles as they begin to bloom in the summer. They are also just the right height creating a privacy screen of the neighbors house behind us.
My favorite is the impressive display of their fiery blaze in autumn!
Drawings are in the making for the “Grand Garden”. Hopefully a grouping of 8 raised beds, 7 half wine barrels and a seating vignette all starting back at the crepe myrtles creeping out toward the center of the yard.
Currently in the perimeter bed along the grass flanking the myrtles, I will be planting artichokes. One Globe artichoke is already on its way to maturity. I am nursing another 4 that will be planted next spring. Since artichokes are perennials they can be planted as one would plant most other shrubs that like sunny spots with even some light shade. We plan to enjoy the chokes as well as the strange but unusually beautiful purple flowers. A large enough harvest is certainly a few seasons away but in the meantime these plants are amazing as a focal interest in any garden!
As for the sea of grass…well my chickens love to wander and graze on it. It is these girls that are keeping the “Grand Garden” plans at bay until I have figured out how to keep them happy in a coop and pen arrangement. They do do-do on my patio which I just spray off. Not all that bad (no smell….good fertilizer) but I do dislike it. As for me…. I hold a bit of ambivalence in committing to this grass exiting project as it’s square footage was intended to be used as a kickball/croquet and badminton court when our kids were in town….although that is a rare occurrence. I realize that I will be responsible for more gardening chores; but the payoff is far more rewarding than watering and mowing a lawn.
If you walk out beyond the chickens and stand between the pottery just off the grass and turn around, you get a great view of the back patios and the house where I have placed the non-veggie shrubs and flowers. The pretty things that we like to see as we sit at the patio table or lounge on a chase.
Some plants are already well established like the wisteria, azaleas and day lilies. The dwarf Satsuma was a great choice and is off to a good start in the center bed surrounded by the day lilies. Day Lilies are popular here in So Cal. A perennial that is drought tolerant and easy care. Snails love day lilly but I have chickens and chickens love snails!! HA! In the spring I usually plant annuals like petunia when I can find the lavender or periwinkle ones! Other plants are years old and reside in pots that I brought from our last home……Ponytail and Pigmy palms…..a Fiddle Leaf and Benjamina ficus.
Other perennials keeping company with the day lillies are: Alyssum, Mexican Star, Dahlia, African daisy and Azaleas. All planted so that I have something blooming each season.
- Azalea Snow Frost
All of this you see here is a mere 6 yrs new. However the pictures below show what we started with in 2006! These pic’s are a little tease and if you are interested in the whole house and yard makeover, look for “The Makeover” post soon to come.
Whew! Quick….close your eyes…. scroll down and then reopen!
Below is our north patio today 2013
Trailing up and along the right patio pergola is a Chinese wisteria. I like having coffee out on the chase lounge on a cool spring morning as its blooms dribble along just overhead. Wisteria is an aggressive invasive plant and is best grown on a strong support trellis then kept pruned to size. I have found that brutally pruning my wisteria during the summer months to keep it from taking over my house facade and roof serves to provoke some terrific blooms in the spring! In spring there is an explosion of long dribbling purple flowers that give the house facade a splash of color! …..silly me…I never took a picture of all the blooms on the trellis! I’ll post one next spring.
This final view of the tour is the long expanse of our garage wall that faces north into the yard. The garage and connecting fence divides the garden you just toured from the chicken coop and “mini orchard”. We are in mid transition of having taken down 2 of the 3 lattice supports spaced on the wall in which white bower vine is growing. The azaleas in the bed will stay. Plans are to include this wall and the shady bed in our “Grand Garden” plans. This wall is somewhat of a stumbling block and requires some creative thinking as to what to do with it. Although the lattice and vine was doable, the wall is just too shady most of the year therefor the bower vine never flowered but it was beautifully green!. We may plant more camellias as they would thrive in this shady zone or how about including a giant antiqued farm-style wooden plaque with the namesake THIS ONE TREE ” cottage foods” etched into the wood?
When I get my drawings done and when cooler weather is upon us I will post pictures of the plans, measurements and elevations we came up with. Nothing will be in stone as I would love to have some input, ideas and/or suggestions from you out there before we start this huge undertaking.