Garden Tour 2015

I know, garden tour season is over as we enter the June gloom doldrums.  I’ve never been invited to take part in such an event, so I thought I’d give you a guided stroll through the mayhem that I call a garden.

A bit of history, I arrived at this house in 2007 to find a yard full of jade, rock rose (the non-native one), roses, geraniums and succulents galore.  Drought tolerant yes, but not the wildlife sanctuary and explosions of year-round color I was hoping for.  Over the next five years I transformed my yard with the help of Nopalito Nursery (RIP), Theodore Payne and Santa Barbara Botanical Garden.

It’s a mess, but it’s my mess.  An orchestrated pandemonium.  A mad cornucopia.  I only wonder what it would look like if we ever got a real rainy season.  Enjoy:


Front of the house gets close to a full day of sun so I put the sun-lovers out there.  Pulling up to the driveway, from left we have Refugio manzanita, Cleveland Sage, ‘El Dorado’ Encelia, another Cleveland Sage, then Pigeon Point coyote brush hanging over the wall in deep green.


On the left are the ridiculous enormous “Blissianum” buckwheats, a cross between Giant and Santa Cruz buckwheats.  The ever-popular “Canyon Prince” wild rye in the foreground with some Califronia fuchsia from the nursery.  Behind it is a “Paradise” manzanita, and way in the back is my Desert Willow, in full bloom.


That big boy in front is Lester Rowntree manzanita, doing its best to hide my Dr. Hurd manzanita slowly growing behind it.  To the right are sulphur buckwheats with a Rhus lentii behind them.  On the left is a Ray Hartman ceanothus.


Great Basin sagebrush in the foreground, with Dr. Hurd to the right and another Ray Hartman ceanothus to the left.


This magnificent ‘Ken Taylor’ barberry thrives in almost zero direct sunlight, protecting the wife’s office window with its sharp nasty leaves.


Side of the house gets barely an hour or two of sun a day, almost none in the winter.  I’ve got monkeyflower, barberry, ribes, monardella, irises and a Carpinteria californica way in the back.  That’s a mountain mahogany in the foreground to the left.


In the yard now, Salvia ‘Aromas’ spilling over into the walkway.  To the right is my herb garden, which has been taken over by the Cat mint in full bloom.  Center middle is Mount Saint Helena manzanita.  To the right is a ‘Snowball’ ceanothus.


To the left I went a bit overboard on the purple needle grass.  On the right is the sage garden, in the rear center is an Island bush mallow.


The sage garden, with over thirteen different species forming a lovely tangle.  The sparrows spend all day in here.


I’ve always had trouble on this hill, barely 2 hours of sun during the winter but it roasts in the summer.  I’ve settled on California fescues, fuchsias, wooly blue curls and some random buckwheats.  Up top are Sunset and Howard McMinn manzanitas.


Bird feeder/bath area is part to full shade due to the four oaks scattered about the yard.  Monkeyflowers, barberries, succulents and some creeping black sage.  Way in the back along the fence is the heuchera village.


Part-sun to full shade under another oak.  Hummingbird sage, chaparral currant, mugwort and the dudleya/juncus combo under the oak.  Toyon finally starting to get big after 3 years all the way on the left.


Gets pretty steep up the hill, 30-45 degrees in some spots.  Partly sunny at best, salvia sonomaensis and buckwheat dominate.  2 thirsty bay trees up top, sagebrush, Howard McMinn manzanita and Joyce Coulter ceanothus on the left.  Various currant species along the fence.


Steeper and sunnier.  Venegasia in the foreground.  Lemonadeberry, pitcher sage and more ground cover sage on the left.  Along the fence are the very happy Catalina perfume ribes.  Funky non-native yucca in the center a remnant from the previous owners.


All the way at the top now, best sun in the yard.  From the left we have Clifford Schmitt ceanothus, Santa Cruz Island ironwood, mountain mahogany and a sad elderberry.  Some more woolly blue curls in between, mimulus down in front.

All told, on less than 5,000 square feet of plantable land I’ve squeezed almost 1,000 plants representing over 200 species.  Yes, I have a problem.

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7 Responses to Garden Tour 2015

  1. Robert Feist says:

    Thank you Ron! I always wanted to see your yard.

  2. JJ says:

    Thanks again, Rambler, good to see recent photos and to absorb the diversity you have. I thought I was doing well with 130+ natives, but you reinforce how much can be achieved.
    And Robert, hi!

  3. Melody says:

    How often/long do you end up watering, in this weather as well as in the real heat to come?

    • ojairambler says:

      Possibly the most germane question in all of Ojai Rambler history, I considered talking about my watering practices but my desire to keep all the readers conscious made me reconsider.
      I tried drip irrigation I swear I did, but with so many plants and so many drip lines I spent hours every week repairing and mending. Instead I have a 75 foot hose and one of those sprinkler attachments that has 7 different patterns. The widest spray covers about 250-300 square feet.
      In the winter I generally do nothing, assuming decent rain once a month. If we get zero rain for multiple months in the winter you need to simulate a rain storm occasionally, I’ll have the sprinkler going for 2 hours in each section then move it. In the summer I like to give each 300 square foot area a good 2-3 hours about once every 40-60 days. Last time I watered was March during the heat waves, will probably do another round in late June, one in August and then hopefully that’s it.
      You can be harsher, but the plants will show it. I like my happy medium.
      Thanks for reading Melody.

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