Hi hi hi! I’m back! This time with the conclusion (yeah, right) of my front yard saga. This is the third of the three blog posts that have been postponed because the hell that has been my life for the past 7 months, not just because of cat drama, but also a lot because of cat drama. Of course the past week of trying to put this blog post together was no exception, Daffy landed back in the hospital because her seizures returned, came home for 2 days and then was hospitalized again from symptoms from the stress of her seizures (she stops peeing, it’s weird, they don’t know exactly why yet). Luckily we seem to have all the meds calibrated (at least for the time being) and at last I can bring you some pretty pictures of a space we’ve been talking about for more than a year (and we started construction on 2 years ago). I always talk about it, but things take time. Especially things that literally have to grow :). Alas, because it’s been such a long process there’s going to be iPhone pics that I took peppered in here, I just say that so you don’t confuse them with the actual real photos Sara took and think she’s somehow become a subpar photographer. I’ll note when they are mine. We talked and talked and talked about it last year, and I left you with the very beginnings of my urban garden by Down to Farm.
Summer came and went, we had a decent amount of luck with some herbs, chard, cherry tomatoes, and peppers. There was an early heat wave that made the harvest a little weak and a learning curve on my part. We didn’t shoot the space because I wanted to let the passion fruit grow in and it needed to cool down before I could plant the surrounding garden of pollinators. The passion fruit grew so fast, which I was expecting, especially with all the opinions in the comment section about it taking over all of Los Angeles if I wasn’t careful. It was on track to be my new ficus hedge (a hedge I planted in 2018 that is now easily 15 feet high, don’t worry you’ll see it later). Here’s a bad iPhone pic from TWO MONTHS after we planted it:
The passion fruit understood the assignment: Cover the ugly back of my neighbor’s fence ASAP. You can see the summer plantings here, right before harvest, this is mid-October. It finally cooled off and we could plant in the planters and along the perimeter of the garden without fear of all the plants getting burned. By November 5th it looked like this:
I know, my glorious hedge! And the passion fruit! The box at the bottom of my stairs for someone to trip on!
The fall planting was my favorite. Here’s a list of what Eden from Down to Farm planted while I sat around and talked her ear off:
- Red Veined Sorrel
- Romaine & Little Gems
- Red Leaf Lettuce
- Parsley, Cilantro, Rosemary, Dill
- Calendula & Pansy Flower
So many leafy greens and herbs. I constantly had food to pick from, we had an herb-y salad almost every night for months. It was perfect because I could pick as needed and didn’t have the guilt of lettuce going bad in the fridge before I could get to it. I’ve never had luck with cilantro and let me tell you, my cilantro and parsley are (still) going crazy strong. Whatever Eden does to her soil: it is magic.
Along the perimeter of the fence and the front wall, we planted every type of sage a person can plant. Russian, white, Texas, and baby sage. All the sages. Oh and my favorite, Mexican Tarragon. They all smell AMAZING, the bees and hummingbirds agree.
We let it grow in a little and shot the space in December…
You can tell the time of year by the garland, snowflakes in the window, and wreath I guess 🙂
Before we talk more garden, let’s take a moment to appreciate my flea market vintage folding table and perfectly patinated 40/4 chairs. If you are curious, like I was when I found them in 2013, they are called 40/4 chairs because 40 chairs can be stacked in 4 feet…stacks. Both have had former lives before me, spent time in different areas of our past homes but have been sitting in my garage for years. I was doing one of my 123942374/year garage cleanouts (a must when you are a hoard…erm, stylist) and had a lightbulb moment. I thought it would be more of a work surface for the garden than a place to sit but it’s actually very nice out here during sunset and we’ve found ourselves here for happy hour more than once. The over-the-table rod is from Anthropologie and it’s sort of a stylist must-have item. For tabletop shoots when you have to hang florals or candles or whatever it’s a nice tool to have in the ‘ole kit. This one lives here though, through the torrential rain and everything. I’ve hung two solar-powered lights on it, along with some iron botanical garland that just gets better with weathering.
Oh look! I even set a scene for ya’ll. Can’t harvest a simple salad without setting a scene can we??
To the left of this photo is the walkway to the gate. We talked in one of the last posts about how it’s a little *too* much space in my opinion. These L-shaped corten steel planters from Veradek were perfect for filling that empty space and delineating between the walkway and the garden.
The steel turns color with time and exposure to weather. These were in the process in December and with all the rain they have changed even more. Check out my instagram stories today to see some current snaps of the garden and planters.
The planter on this side of the garden is also helpful for keeping people from falling out of this space. You see, the ground ended up getting raised quite a bit higher than the math in my head thought it would (I know, shocking) when drainage was put in, dirt was put in and leveled, and of course, a couple inches of gravel added some height as well. Even though from the sidewalk, the stucco wall is a few feet high, it should have been a couple feet higher. The plants on the front of the wall add a few feet of height and obviously, the raised garden bed blocks some of the side wall but this particular corner felt a little dangerous. This planter is my much less expensive fix than adding to the wall.
We used pots I had around and mixed them with Veradek’s lightweight and versatile Pure Kona Planters. We used one in the back house backyard makeover, and two here. Side note, you can also see the difference between the corten steel planters from that shoot when they were in the process of changing vs this one (that shoot was about 6 weeks before, and about 300 days of rain somehow).
As you can see from my updated photo, my blueberries are coming in now! I was worried because apparently, you need another blueberry bush close by to pollinate with it in order to get berries? Well, I guess there is one because my bush is with child! Lol. I’m not a garden scientist but I’m going to give credit to all the pollinators that attract tons of bees and hummingbirds that are growing in so nicely…
I could write a whole blog post about my love for Mexican Tarragon (which isn’t Tarragon at all)…but I’ll save you. I’ll just say this: if it grows in your area: get it. The smell alone is everything.
I’ve talked before about the benefits of using Down to Farm. They have a lot of options of services: they make custom beds, do seasonal planting, irrigation, do upkeep and care, as well as harvesting. I obviously needed all the things. In December Sara captured Eden, who is now one of my favorite people – and not just because she’s a garden whisperer, doing some winter harvesting.
I apologize for the harsh shadows, it was December, and we were chasing the light around all day. Despite that, what an urban dream, right?? This 16’x16’ foot space has been transformed! It’s amazing to have a vibe-y space to sit and a garden that literally feeds us. Practicality and beauty together is my love language. More glam shots of Eden…I mean, the garden…
Also – look how freaking pretty the garden is. I am living for the purples and greens. Like I said, every night I would come out and pick a salad. It lasted for months, probably 5 months? Someone do the math on how much money I saved and mostly – let’s be honest – shame I saved from not throwing away unused bags of lettuce. I also found my salads were so much more tasty because when buying from a store I would try to get less ingredients so less would go bad before I could eat it all which made my salads, well, boring. When I would go out to the garden, I could pick more or less of this and that which made each salad more novel and thus, more exciting to eat. I also made my own dressings every few days with all the fresh herbs.
My personal favorite was discovering red mizuna. It’s the red lettuce in the basket on the right. It’s peppery and dare I say, meaty? And yes, obviously I grew edible flowers and yes, it’s for looks.
And we ate the salad and all lived happily ever after.
Of course, there was garden DRAMA, which is what I know you all just live for.
Ok. This is still hard for me to talk about…I noticed when we were shooting this that the right side of my passion fruit was looking a little sad. Like, it was dying? Maybe? BUT WHY?? I wasn’t sure at the time, but I also wasn’t too worried about it because we planted two, and honestly, one was more than enough. Passion fruit vines are no joke, as we have talked about in length in the comment sections about this garden. The next week I was confident it was dead and cut it out.
See? It was kinda fine. I knew the other vine was more than enough to fill in the space soon. Two was too many for the space anyway, right?? January came and went. February…March…
By the time we got to harvest in March the whole garden was more wild. I had gone out of town twice for long periods of time and couldn’t keep up with what the rain was doing to the garden. It was an absolute jungle and most things had gone to seed.
Wild right? This is why I should have at least paid Eden for upkeep while I was gone. I feel like there was a lot of waste because of my neglect. Lesson learned. But, if you can look past this HUGE garden, you may be able to see…MY OTHER PASSION FRUIT VINE WAS DYING. Then I remembered, way back in the recess of my brain, that my neighbor Ben had told my husband about how proud he was about smoking out a gopher that was killing his grass.
Smoked it out.
And obviously, INTO my yard.
I wasted no time and called a gopher exterminator. I wasn’t playing around. The guy was like, “You cool if we get rid it” and I had a twinge of guilt and then looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Do what you need to do” because THIS:
He had also taken out a couple of the plants around the passion fruit. So we are currently back at square one with the passion fruit. I ripped it out and replanted, this time with a gopher guard around the root ball. The good news is I planted it around this time last year and it grew in so fast and nicely. The bad news is, well, the gopher is no longer with us. I do feel bad about that. Also now I’m paying a guy to come by once a month to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Here’s where we are now…
It’s a little sad for sure but hopefully, it will grow in fast, and in the meantime all the other plants are helping obscure the fence more than last year, so that’s nice.
Fire off in the comments if you have questions about the garden and I’ll make Eden answer and head to Instagram for more video content!