Friday, September 22, 2017

The Garden at the End of Summer

Front Garden

Summer, with its triple digit temperatures, is not a good season for my garden.  Several days of temperatures over 110F and everything gets scorched.  Add the watering restrictions and only the hardiest survive, let alone thrive.  We are no longer under drought conditions, but, I am still limited to a certain amount of water at the lower, tier 1 billing rates.  I received the water bill for the latest billing period (July 19 to September 19) today and I went over the tier 1 allocation of 16 hundred cubit feet (billed at $5.67/HCF) and used 17 HCF; that additional 1 HCF is billed at tier 2 rates of $7.30/HCF.  The water portion of my bill for the period of July 19 to September 19 is $98.04.

We had a bit of rain, yesterday morning - enough to wet the ground but probably not enough to do much good.

The majority of these pictures were taken at noon with my cell phone camera.  My photography savvy friends will no doubt tell me that noon is not the best time to take pictures, but I am not entering any photography contests.  :)  A couple were taken a bit later in the afternoon, as I decided I needed one or two additional pictures.

Let's tour the front garden:

View from Front Door

Flower Bed Along the Walkway Leading to/from Front Door

The pomegranate tree is planted at the front because it is supposed to be lucky to have a pomegranate tree near the front entrance; it was a house-warming gift from the monks at the temple.  Every year, I lose some of the fruit to birds and some to passers by who help themselves!

I picked this fruit after I photographed it

This is the flower bed along the drive way.  I had planted several purple iceberg roses in this bed, last year (or was it the year before?).  There is one barely surviving rose bush, left!  The rest have all died.  Some African daisies (osteospermum) have self-seeded themselves and are growing, along with the few gladioli plants that came up from bulbs planted two years ago.

In Need of Replanting

The view of the flower bed along the walkway leading to the front door from the garden:

Front Flower Bed

The rest of the front flower bed:

Mostly Osteospermum and Dusty Miller

Even the succulents planted in the middle aren't doing well.  The garden slopes down ever so slightly, so the water pools at one end and that's the only place where you'll find more than two blades of grass!

Sun-scorched Succulents and Grass!

The succulents planted at the end along the side wall are faring well; the wall provides them some shade.  Euphorbia at the far end, some mixed succulents which are not seen in this picture, aloe plants, and a jade plant in the foreground:

Succulents Along the Side Wall

The top-heavy, self-pruning eucalyptus; it does provide some filtered shade to the front garden:

Even the lantana I planted along the front are struggling - they haven't grown at all in the three years since being planted, but, then, again, they haven't died, either!


The back yard gets the morning sun, but is shaded by the house in the late afternoon and evening.  It fares a little better than the front garden.

Back Garden from the Back Door
But first, a look at the side yard:

Side Yard
There are two different types of guava trees growing in the side yard.  The cherry guava tree at the far end is all but dead:

Cherry Guava Tree
I might cut it all the way down and see if it regrows.

The feijoa is doing a little better - lots of tiny fruit on it, but usually, by this time, they are ready to be picked!


When the garden looks as sad as it does, I find myself looking for and focusing on the the bright spots; they are there, but not always apparent at first glance.  Under one of the lemon trees, for example, along with the dried out fallen lemons, there are one or two self-seeded yellow four-o-clock plants:

Yellow Four-O-Clocks

The hibiscus plant is doing well, although its flower has already begun to fade when this picture was taken shortly after noon:

Fading Hibiscus Flower

Almost all the rose bushes have died, but, the few that are still alive are trying their best:

Today's Rose

Tomorrow's Rose
Oops!  Out of focus!  I tried again:

Not much better, is it?

Hidden among the leaves of the orange tree is a promise of oranges to come:

Baby Orange

There is still one zucchini plant surviving!  It never produced any zucchini but I kept it because it provides a touch of green.  However, the newer leaves look a bit like they might have developed mosaic leaf virus, so should probably be pulled out.

Zucchini Plant

Remember the bed where I planted green beans and okra?  Well, the vegetable plants came up just in time to get scorched during the first heat wave.  In the meantime, the preparation of the bed disturbed some of the roots of the nearby curry leaf tree, and when the curry leaf tree roots get nicked, they send up new growth!  I now have a bed of curry leaf plants!  I should call the Sri Lankan stores and ask them if they want some plants - they sell for upwards of $10 a plant at the Indian stores!

Baby Curry Leaf Plants

In one corner of the back garden, between the side wall and the back wall, the yucca plant and a schefflera plant are growing very happily:

Yucca and Schefflera

Did you see something else in the picture?  No, not the euphorbia growing along the backwall to the left, but on the ground; yes, that white round thing:


I am not familiar enough with mushrooms to identify this one beyond "white with brown spots"!

The pink oleander is doing well, at least, the one that can be seen:

Pink Oleander
There is a second pink oleander plant next to it, but it can't be seen because this monster of an euphorbia is growing in front of it and covering it all up:

Monster Euphorbia
It was grown from a small cutting and has grown to over 8 feet in height!  My gardener friend has cut it back time and again and it probably needs to be cut back, again!  It seems determined to take over my back garden!  I've cuttings growing in other places along the back wall and the front garden, too.  I think I'll take a few more cuttings and then, have it cut back to give the second oleander a little breathing room!

Speaking of plants determined to take over the garden:

Variegated Schefflera
It was bought in a plastic planter and we kept it under the shade of the calamondin tree with the intention of planting it somewhere, eventually.

From the back
When we went to move it, we found that it had planted itself, through the pot! 

The roots grew right through the pot!
This spot under the pine tree (grown from a seedling given out at an Earth Day celebration about 27 years ago) is another micro-environment.  It looks messy because the dead pine needles have got caught in the branches of the monster euphorbia, growing next to it (and there is another euphorbia on the other side of the pine tree):

Under the Pine Tree

But the shade of the pine tree enables these dayflower plants to grow:

Dayflower plants (and a gazania in the foreground)

It has the prettiest little blue flowers:

Dayflower (Commelina)

Another blue flower in my garden:

Plumbago and Lantana Hedge

The plumbago and lantana grow along the side wall behind the garage and the shed.  It was severely pruned back earlier in the summer and has grown right back.

I wish the lantana in the front will grow like this!

Closer to the house, these plants are still waiting to be planted!  The two grape vines and the lemongrass:

Grapes and Lemongrass

We are enjoying some cooler weather right now (highs of only in the mid 70s), but, it is supposed to warm up again into the mid 80s next week and low 90s by next weekend.  Very typical autumn temperatures for us.

Autumn is the time to start cleaning up the garden.  My gardener friend started, this evening, with the front garden.  He pulled out the dead rose plants and weeded that bed and trimmed back the osteospermum in the adjoining bed.  We will continue to concentrate on the front for the next couple of weeks before we tidy up the back.   

Hope you enjoyed your tour of my garden at the end of the summer.  How is your garden doing?  Better than mine, I hope! 


  1. Thank you for the tour Bless. There is plenty going on in your garden. It's fascinating to see the different plants you can grow because of the climate.
    It's beginning to get cooler here and a bit more damp. I think the grass will still need cutting twice more before the Winter months. By sharp contrast to yours, it's catching it while it's dry enough that can be a problem. X

    1. Thank you, Jules. You are more than kind. I need to learn to plant what will grow and take it from there. :) Good luck with breaks in the rain to mow the grass.

  2. I very much enjoyed the tour of your garden. You have a lot of interesting and pretty plants, some of which I've never seen or heard of. Is there an alternative to grass for you lawn? I don't know how grass ever survives the heat and dry conditions you regularly have.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Live and Learn. Some of the alternatives to grass include artificial turf (I can just imagine what the stray cats would do with that!), gravel or small rocks. A lot of people are having their yards professionally done with the gravel or small rocks. Some look very nice with different colored rocks. I just haven't got around to doing any of it.

  3. Love the Plumbago and Lantana Hedge and that little blue Dayflower. The expense and restriction on water makes it a difficult challenge. I am glad that you have your gardener friend to help you.

    I was just thinking if our weather changes the end of next week it is tine for some pansies and mulch to go in the front where I pulled stuff not doing so well. Our front garden grass did terrible this year but the back looks ok. Still cutting grass but we are now in a moderate drought.

    1. Oh, pansies are so pretty! I hope your weather changes soon and you can get your fall planting done. Hopefully, the grass will come back nicely, next year. Our drought lasted 5 years, so everything but the hardiest plants suffered.

      I might have mentioned this before, but my gardener friend is the nephew of my late neighbor K. My mother and I did the garden when we first moved into this house; I used to mow the lawn with a regular push mower (I still have it in the shed!). However, towards the end of my pregnancy, I was on bedrest and when I went to the hospital to have my daughter, the lawn was overgrown. K noticed it and had her nephew mow it for us. She said he would have done the back, as well, except he couldn't access the back since the gate was locked. So then, my mother and I decided that we'll have him help us with the yard and that was more than 24 years ago. :) That's why I call him my gardener friend - he's more than my gardener; he's a friend who does my garden for me.

  4. It's scorched alright, but you still have flowers and some fruit, so yay! I can't believe the nerve of people picking your pomegranates without asking first! You should put up a sign pointing out that it is trespassing and stealing and threatening prosecution. It might not do anything but they won't be able to claim "they didn't know", grrr.

    I have the same dayflowers as you do, in my side yard! I think my roses are done too but I won't prune them back until about January. We have barely gotten any rain since the hurricane so I have to remember to water my potted plants every few days. I've left them in the bushes alongside the house where we had put them in the hope that they would be less likely to fly around during the storm because I want to re-mulch the berm on which they usually are and I've ran out of mulch. Greg is supposed to go get some today. My serrano peppers are doing well, along with my papaya seedling and that's pretty much all that's growing in my garden right now.

    I hope it doesn't get hot again for you, you just took down your AC window unit!

    1. I really need to put up a fence or wall, with a gate across my drive way! But then, again, I've seen people lean over my neighbor's fence to pick lemons off her tree! I generally plant my fruit trees in the back, but the pomegranate is in the front because it is supposed to be lucky.

      January is a good time to prune roses; that's usually when I prune mine, too.

      It won't get hot enough for me to want a/c. 80s and 90s are comfortable for me. It's 11:45 a.m., right now; 72F outside and 65F inside the house. I am wearing sweats, socks, a scarf around my neck, and a knitted poncho because I am feeling cold! LOL.

  5. I love your blue flowers, in fact I even love blue weeds like chicory and vipers bugloss here. Right now we have wild purple asters which always remind me of the Michaelmas Daisies that my grandmother grew in her garden, along with Goldenrod, another plant that grows wild where I live.
    My veggie patch is a disgrace as my radishes didn't fill out at all! In spite of all the rain, my lettuces just bolted, and I think I needed to improve the soil. Maybe a green thumb would help! We have had a couple of tomatoes, and the wild blackberries did well.

    1. True blue flowers are special, aren't they? The reason for the blue plumbago flowers is the temple often asks us to bring red and blue flowers, in addition to white flowers for certain special prayer services. White flowers and red flowers are easily available, but blue flowers are not as common (we used to often resort to white carnations that had been dyed blue). With the plumbago vine, we have blue flowers almost all year round.

      I'm sorry your vegetable garden didn't do too well. I hear you on the green thumbs!

  6. I recall all your beautiful rose bushes. Would they do well if you transferred them to containers? Would be such a shame if you lost your last surviving beauties.

    1. Carolyn, you might have a point there, with the container grown roses! I must give it a try. Thank you for suggesting it. :)

  7. Loved looking around your garden Bless. The fruit trees are my favourite, I would love to be able to pick lemons, oranges and pomegranates from the garden. It amazes me you have so much greenery and colour considering the conditions. Nature always finds a way :) xx

    1. Thank you, Suzanne. I, too, like the fruit trees. I don't think I've bought a lemon in the past 25 years! I would like to get another peach tree or maybe a tangerine tree (or both). But, maybe I should concentrate on planting the grape vines and watering the orange tree! :D


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