In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
July, 2012
Regional Report

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A drought-tolerant garden of friends' cuttings.

Clippings, Cuttings, Rootings, Sharings = Free Garden

In the waterless triangle at the bottom of our driveway, I've created a new drought-tolerant garden comprised of plants I've foraged from the rest of my garden and pieces shared by other gardeners. Oh, I do love freebies!

The space used to be inhabited by a cedar planted by my father some 60 years ago that had become an 80-foot giant and come down in last November/December's windstorm. I was astounded that it had fallen until I looked at its root system. Extensive though it was growing outward, some 15 feet across, it had reached only a couple of feet down into the soil, as it sat atop bedrock. Wonderful anchoring for our house up the hill, but surprisingly minimal as foundation for that huge tree.

With the tree gone, what to do? Plant, of course; but with what? And how to supply sufficient water just to get plants established, since I'd have to connect two 100-foot hoses to barely reach the area with a nozzle that shoots a strong single stream.

As I cut plants back on the hill for their overwinter opening up for rains to soak the soil following the storm, I retrieved excess clumps of Salvia leucanthaand Ruellia brittoniana 'Purple Showers', three kinds of plectranthus (one purple-flowered groundcover and two sky-blue tall growers, one with variegated foliage), achillea in two colors, and both yellow and orange bulbine. I thinned bearded iris, fortnight lily, and daylilies. From huge crinum clumps that had grown five feet wide and seven feet tall, I uprooted babies. Bulbs included yellow and orange chasmanthe, Dutch iris, crocosmia, paperwhites, and freesias, along with an early-spring seedling of statuesque Verbena bonariensis.

Now I had my excuse to purchase some plants I'd been hankering for: Buddleia davidii 'Nanhoensis' and variegated 'Santana', Caryopteris 'Dark Knight', Salvia clevelandii 'Winifred Gillman', silver lupine, four colors of mimulus or monkey flower, another color of achillea, echium, Eremophila glabra, Helianthemum 'Annabel' and Eriogonum grande rubescens (red buckwheat).

After two luggings of the double-length hose down the driveway with a chair to sit while heading the strong stream of water at the various planting niches, I knew I wouldn't continue this method even long enough to get the plants established. So I purchased the cheapest 100-foot hose and two 50-foot soaker hoses I could find and rigged them up to the hose bib at the back of the house, stringing the hose down the slope where it'll be covered by the ivy within a couple of months, and winding the soaker hose back and forth; it'll be covered with mulch later this fall. I'll use this watering system only to get the roots settled now, and then once a month or so during following summer heat spells.

This fall, following our first rain, I'll toss in some wildflower seeds.

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