Welcome to Our Little Garden :)

Happy Monday, Sunshines!

Hope all is groovy with you. We had a lovely, mellow holiday weekend celebrating MAP's 77th and Bella's 3rd birthdays.

Over the past 2.5 years or so since we moved into our little casita, a few of you have asked for progress pics of the yard as I began the experiment that has become my love affair with gardening.

A few of you have also asked just how little is little - 3 bedrooms and about 1,000 s.f. is how little. People have also wondered how we manage with 2 adults, 2 teens, and 1 toddler in such a small space, and the short answer is that our space is just big enough for all of it to be comfortable and constantly useful and utilized, and we rather like it that way. Same goes for our yard, which probably covers roughly the same square footage, give or take a few. :)

When we moved in, the yard was minimally landscaped with a flipper's idea of just enough to sell the house. Which worked. Because it was just enough to sell us. 

A couple of Birds of Paradise as we entered the gate, which I proceeded to extract when I took a walk around the neighborhood and saw how big, scraggly and unwieldy they could get, specially since they were planted near the garage structure; a patch of grass at the end of the courtyard area that eventually got removed when we decided that lawn in our climate was a water and maintenance black hole as well as a summertime flea haven that was not remotely worth the effort and resources; and some old brown mulch in the back yard that was eventually raked over to one corner, leaving the back yard essentially a dirt and weed lot for at least a couple of years before we started doing anything with it.

None of the original landscaping remains, and we have slowly and gradually subtracted and added as time, motivation, desire, budget, and a reasonable eye toward sustainability have allowed. As with everything in our lives, it is a living, breathing, and ever dynamic work in progress. No huge single capital expenditures and no overnight transformations. Just a constant practice of care, adornment, affection, and enjoyment of the outdoor part of the place we call Home.

Now time for the grand tour... ;)

Our yard is L shaped, so I'll try to take you through it as though you were walking from the front gate around to the back yard.

This is the view as you enter our front gate. To the right was where the Birds of Paradise were planted. It's been through a few seasonal flowers and perennial ground covers, but we are settling for the time being on a couple of climbers for height on the bare walls and some red mulch for ground color.

To the far left, you can see my two "rusted gold" baker's racks turned plant shelves that I found on Craigslist for $20 each after I decided not to buy similar "antique" shelves in Fallbrook for $100 a piece. ;)

If you take a few steps into the courtyard and look behind you, a bougainvillea with an accidental cantaloupe vine flanked by some potted color.

We have these large terra cotta pots throughout the yard a) because I love terra cotta and b) because they're relatively inexpensive for that size pot ($20 at Home Depot). For my fellow San Diegans, speaking of a fantastic selection of planters at great prices, you should check out Planter Paradise in El Cajon.

As you turn back around and keep walking, our little al fresco dining area...

And to the right of the patio table, our money tree (our very first plant purchase for this house) flanked by a clearance plant whose name I can't remember at the moment to the left and a lovely hibiscus I received as a gift to the right.

When the hibiscus is in bloom, it is the most gorgeous color...

Across from that is yet another bougainvillea. They love this climate, and I love how their bracts look against white stucco. 

And just before the back yard, we have Bella's Beach (aka What We Did With That Useless Lawn). This was the most labor and cost intensive thing we've done to the yard to date. Took a lot of work to dig out the lawn and many, MANY bags of play sand to fill the space, but though I don't remember the exact numbers, I do recall that we recouped the sand expense in water savings within half a year or so. The sand does need to be topped off from time to time because wind and rain and such, but it's minimal now that it's pretty much filled.

The pansies to the right have been an inexpensive gift (and wonderful splash of color!) that keeps on giving since I planted them early this year.

Here's an earlier pic of the area from when we'd just put up our mesh shade tarp, which was the most cost effective shade solution we could find for the area. Details on that HERE if you're interested.

We got the picnic table unassembled at Home Depot for $98. Dean assembled it, and I stained it with a couple of coats of Thompson's Water Seal. We're about due for another coat, but it's pretty low maintenance, and it gives us 6 extra adult seats when we invite our friends over for a shindig.

And for our very latest yard improvement, the back yard, which we finally re-mulched with red mulch back in April after scrapping much more costly and permanent landscaping plans that involved decks and gravel. Just a few terra cotta colored pavers against several bags of inexpensive red mulch have made a huge difference in the visual appeal of the back yard.

That's Bella's balance beam to the left. Cheap entertainment for her while mom gardens. ;)

To the left of the path, you can see where we repurposed the gate that Dean removed from the fence as a trellis for our pink jasmine.

Straight ahead is the repurposed doggie gate trellis that we use to support our clematis. More about that HERE.

A closeup of the very first planter boxes we bought for this house. They've been moved a few times and now have to be reinforced with dried mud to hold the joints together, but that seems to be a totally workable solution so far.

And then as we round the corner to the rest of our tiny back yard, our two newer planter boxes, the first filled with my Great Compost Bed Experiment, and the second yet to get planted. (It's currently a drying area for all my garden clippings before they get thrown into the compost pile as much needed dry matter.)

And then Dean's little grilling and smoking area for which we are slowly seeking an aesthetically pleasing grill shelter as well as replacement lounging furniture to tie the whole area together better. I'm sure something gently used and to our liking will turn up eventually. We like the idea of giving durable goods a little extra life before they get dumped in a landfill somewhere.

And against our back wall, our two dwarf citrus trees (Mexican lime on the left, Eureka lemon on the right) and yet another bougainvillea in yet more of those inexpensive terra cotta planters.

And finally the view returning to the patio...

Having finally done something (minimal though it may be) with our back yard, we're now in a place where we no longer feel like negligent homeowners with a nagging repair from which we keep averting our attention.

This little yard has become my sanctuary where my daily meditation happens in the form of caring for the life that grows within it and marveling at the ongoing cycle of life, death, and renewal that is constantly taking place there.

No doubt things will continue to get added, subtracted, and rearranged as it pleases us (and our plants!), and I look forward to continuing to share the evolution of this space with you.

Thanks as always for your interest and enthusiasm. <3


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