This photo was taken just as work was begun on transforming the property into a garden, in February, 2011.
This photo was taken last Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, from the same location.
This view may look weedy, especially in the early morning light on this brilliant Halloween morning. What you are seeing is the first bog, which is the green spot in the foreground. The dirt area is the overflow, if torrential rains ever come again. To the left, the tall bushes constitute the withy hide, and to the left is the big pond, although you have to take my word for it. Tall bamboo arches over the stumps of the palm trees in the above photo, which are trellises for roses and other vines. A nectarine branch is in the right foreground. The tall flowering plants are a native called fleabane. They reseed readily, and I allow them to because of several reasons. They grow five to six feet tall and help shade smaller trees and plants against the harsh summer sun, protecting them from sun scald. They also die off in the winter, making good hugelkultur material. The purple flowers, which are in the above photo now turning into fuzzy seed clumps, are attractive. The most important thing though is that they are excellent hosts for native insects of all kinds. Ladybugs, lacewings, spiders, and hundreds of tiny wasps and flies, many of which are parasitic, all love these flowers. All summer long they are alive with life. Inviting in the native pollinators, and growing a polyculture garden, is the first line of defense in growing naturally.
Allowing nature to define parts of your garden leads to happy surprises and lots of help from unexpected friends, such as bugs, birds and lizards. This kind of garden is endlessly interesting, with new things to study every day.
The following photos were all taken the same brilliant morning, Oct. 31, 2013. Here in San Diego county we were having what is called a Santa Ana, where warm, dry winds from the desert blow westward, as opposed to the more humid eastward flow of air from the ocean that we normally have. Santa Anas can bring heavy winds and make tinder-dry weedy hills a fire hazard, but this year we’ve been lucky and no major fires have happened. We even had almost 3/4 ” of rain, last week, which is practically unheard of for October. The warm Autumn sunshine was intense and lovely, and I had to take photos even though the light was too strong for good ones.