It’s time to chronicle the progress of the garden in Fort Bragg (CA), this a monthly update on progress with the new garden. At the end of the year I will post a summary so you can see the changes throughout the season as the garden matures and I learn my way around.
A new garden is exciting and definitely a learning experience; often by trial and (many times) error as well. It’s a challenge to learn the soil, climate (not to mention mini climate zones throughout the garden), as well as how the sunlight changes through the year. All those influence what will flourish. The soil of the Fort Bragg garden is very different from that in Oakland. Fort Bragg has sandy soil which is very low in nutrients (Oakland was clay), but Fort Bragg drains nicely which was a problem in Oakland. It is also quite acid due to all the conifers surrounding it, Oakland was more alkaline. Both gardens are cursed with browsing deer; but add rabbits and gophers in Fort Bragg (plus the occasional mountain lion and bear). In Fort Bragg I am about 1/2 mile inland from the coast, so thankfully I don’t have to worry about the salt spray.
The garden came with mature plantings of rhododendrons, Lily of the Valley bush, bottle brush bush, ferns, and a few azaleas. The rhododendrons bloom in late March into April and May. They are gorgeous. In planting additional garden beds my preference is to have flowers throughout the seasons, emphasizing plants for pollinators and birds. I was shocked to hear almost no birds for the first year we owned the garden, that was 5 years ago. Since retiring we have spent most of our time at the house and the birds have found us…much to my joy (after spending many dollars on bird seed and feeders). We now have flocks of junkos, chickadees, song sparrows, goldfinches, robins, hummingbirds, and an occasional thrush (seen for the first time last week). The property sings.
As you saw in last month’s garden post, hellebores do well here. They have been blooming continuously since late January. They were among my very first plantings when we bought the property because nothing eats them. They have not only thrived in a long bed beside the garage, but self seeded themselves as well. They are happy with very occasional summer water and a side dressing of compost in early winter. You can see pictures in my post from last month. This year I planted 5 new ones of various colors, some in a new island bed with a transplanted rhododendron and a couple of azaleas.
Dahlias do very well here, the Mendocino botanical garden is famous for their dahlia show. In Summer that area is completely booked for weddings and other events. Before putting the house on the market, I dug up most of the tubers from the garden in Oakland. Here is the beginning of a new dahlia bed. It needs to have a lot more compost added to enrich the soil. I am reluctant to put them in with the rest of the plants because their water and nutrient needs are so different. But I originally put them in pots, where they did not thrive. So, hopefully they will sprout once the weather warms and I can move them to a new home which meets their needs.
The Daffodils are blooming (both in the garden and pots) like crazy, new ones coming out almost daily.
There were several mature plants that the landscaping stager used in the Oakland garden. The ones in the ground I left for the new owners. But the ones in pots I brought to Fort Bragg. This lilac vine will grace the railing near the front door, blooming in winter. I understand it is a native of Australia and only needs a deep watering once a week or so, which will suit the other plants nearby nicely.
The bearded iris tubers I transplanted from Oakland seem to like their new location in full sun along the driveway.
Along the side of the back patio I planted a row of candy corn (Manettia Luteo) along with lime colored creeping thyme and some red sedum. The candy corn plants are supposed to reach a shrubby 4 feet at maturity, be drought tolerant, and a magnet for hummingbirds. We shall see if they live up to their hype.
They look a little sad at this point but I see new growth.
I am a sucker for hummingbirds, this mature bottle brush tree has been a favorite for the local Allen’s hummingbirds. It is just starting to bloom, and I have seen a couple of males at the feeder in the last few weeks. The Allen’s migrate and are just now returning. I have read that the males will stake out a territory before the females arrive. Last spring there were several nests in the tree as well as a nearby rhododendron; I was buzzed when I passed close by them in the garden.
The flowering current beside the garage is starting to bloom. The new growth is a lovely shade of green which sets off the bright pink flowers.
And lastly there are a couple of rather messy island beds, recently dug and planted.
I found digging garden beds very therapeutic and calming. They keep expanding in size and may eventually have a nice even shape, or maybe not.
I planted sweet peas in a half wine barrel. They are one of my favorite flowers, my English grandmother always had a trellis of them in her garden outside London. They are just getting started but should take off as the weather warms. The wire baskets are there to protect them, or at least give them a bit of a head start.
Most of the plants in the garden are listed as deer resistant, but nothing is really safe if the deer are hungry. We are starting to look at fencing which will keep the deer outside and our dogs safe inside.
Thanks for the garden pics and the update! Cant wait to get up there to see it all in person and YOU!! LOVE your blog!
Thank you Dianne, hopefully everything will be blooming in May. Looking forward to seeing you.
You’ve been busy! I enjoyed the garden tour very much. Can’t wait to start playing in the dirt again. I think I’m developing a serious case of cabin fever with winter nowhere near ending over here.
Thank you Angie. A new garden is such fun, full of dreams. I hope spring comes your way soon.
Looks like the Garden of Eden, sans the snake!
Thanks Teresa, a few gopher snakes would be the only welcome kind.
It already looks good- I can’t wait to see the pictures as the gardens start to really bloom!
Thanks for sharing
Your garden is looking amazing! I can;t wait to see it later in the year! The rhododendron looks so strong and all those buds 🙂
It is frozen here, very unusual and even more so this late in March!
Week after next will be dedicated to planning and planting, this is such an exciting time of the year. x
The planning and initial planting is one of my favorite parts. The weeding, not so much.
I am so lucky, my husband doesn;t mind weeding at all so I have to admit I haven’t done it in years! 🙂
You are lucky! The garden is not my husbands “thing” although he is happy to build things like raised beds for me. He does do some hauling of compost and soil which saves my back. But weeding, no way.
Well, I have no raised beds, strictly no DIY here but he is happiest in the garden or at the allotment and grows the most wonderful flowers and veggies. I don’t have to weed so I like to think of it as teamwork as I cook 🙂
No nice to see growing things! My main garden has SO much snow – it borders my neighbor’s drive and she got a snowblower and is now blowing all that snow over. There’s about a foot of snow still in the yard and three to four feet of snow on my garden. Uggg! But it will all be gone soon enough and then I can assess the damage from my years helping out the folks. I’m very intrigued by the Lilly of the Valley bush (I love lily of the valley and mine escaped in my absence, that much I know…) and since we’ve been upgraded from zone 3 to 4 a few years back, maybe I might be able to sneak one in!
They are huge in my front garden but we are in zone 9b. The Bush unfortunately doesn’t have much scent but the bees love it.
Hi Liz, I’ve been googling up photos, does it look kind of ratty when out of bloom?
No, you can prune off the finished flowers. It stays bushy.
They stay bushy but I trim off the dead flowers.