• Then and now, a slope full of blooming shrubs

    by  • March 25, 2015 • Drought tolerant plants, Garden

    In a series of Then and Now photos, it’s satisfying to look back nostalgically to see how far we have come.  Bought in 2000, and in a completely natural area, we’ve striven to preserve the beauty of our 7 acres near the Sierra foothills of California, as we make a place for ourselves in this beautiful spot. The house was started in February 2004 and finished in December 2005, lived three months in a trailer here and the garden was started in earnest in 2006.

    Our house was built on a slope and I attempted to stabilize the bare clay downward slope with shrubs that were drought resistant, deer resistant and that bloomed!  All this on a budget.  I only planted  gallons and 4″ plants.


    2005 September 2005 Before we move in

    September 2005 Before we move in in December and the slope is covered in straw.  I added pine needles to cover the bare ground.


    June 2006 4' plants and wildflowers

    June 2006 It looks so bare with sparse 4″ plants and a smattering of wildflowers


    June 2006 With gallon and 4 inch plants

    June 2006 Planted with gallon and 4 inch plants,…will there ever be a garden here?


    June 2007 Lots of progress

    June 2007 Lots of progress!

    What I planted:

    3 rosemary
    3 Santolina
    Artemisia Powis Castle
    3 Spanish Lavender, along the top edge
    Common thyme
    3 Variegated Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris Limelight
    3 Red yarrow
    2 Orchid Rockrose
    1 Cleveland sage
    Assorted Coreopsis from seed
    Black-eyed Susan
    2 yellow Jeruselem sage, Phlomis
    1 Pink Jeruselem sage, Phlomis
    3 ‘Easter’ lilies
    Shasta daisies
    Cosmos, (quickly eaten by deer) worth a try!


    April 2008 Young plants are healthy

    April 2008 Young plants are healthy and filling in.  The deer pass bu and I watch.  I’m relieved that they pass these by.

    From the front, lavender in bloom, rockrose, Rose ‘The Gift’ and French lavender.  The three dark green plants are Santolina, now overgrown by rosemary!


    April 2008 I can see I planted too closely

    April 2008 I can see I planted too closely. In 2009, all I did in the garden was transplant plants!



    May 2010 In peak bloom

    May 2010 In peak bloom.  This makes waiting worth it!

    The blooming slope creates a mosaic of rich color.  I’m happy! The clear yellow in the center is the Jerusalem sage, Phlomis fruticosa.  Deer resistant, lush with its furry leaves and has what I call ‘Dr Seuss’ flowers, three to four ball shaped flowers on a center stem, below.

    Jerusalem sage, Phlomis frutescens

    Jerusalem sage, Phlomis frutescens


    May 2010 Many colors of foliage

    May 2010 Many colors of foliage

    I can highly recommend the combination of Rosemary, Variegated Artemisia ‘Limelight,’ Jerusalem sage and Artemisia ‘Powis Castle.’


    May 2010 View from the top

    May 2010 The view from the top.  Rock rose goes brilliantly with Spanish lavender


    Rockrose and Purple Euphorbia

    The very striking Orchid Rockrose and Purple Euphorbia together


    May 2012 Now, completely filled in

    May 2012  Now, completely filled in

    The rampant rosemary overgrew both the santolina and the variegated Artemisia, (Lime green in front.) How can you hate it, though,..it blooms twice a year and its edible?


    By April 2014, the Rockrose is overgrown

    By April 2014, the Rockrose is overgrown and this year I trimmed it quite a lot, which it doesn’t like.  I hope it will cooperate.

    May 2014 Lovely slope and lessons learned

    May 2014 Lovely slope and lessons learned Look back at the first picture to see how this pine tree grew!


    The slope is watered with one drip line at the top edge, with four or five 1 gallon per hour sprayers set for 1/2 hour twice a week from mid-July to mid September or wheever the 100º heat ends.

    I cut the French and English lavender just past full bloom to bring inside and to use for crafts.  I trim the rosemary, artemisia, thyme, Jerusalem sage and Cleveland sage  in the Fall.  I prune the Rose hard, so it doesn’t block the view. Nothing else needs a thing.


    Things I would do differently:

    I’d plant rosemary on either end of the slope for balance, and fewer than three!
    Fewer rosemary would have prevented it overgrowing other desirable plants like the santolina.
    I’d plant the rockrose lower down the slope, so it wouldn’t block the view.
    I’d prune the Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ tightly to avoid the rangy look it’s has had.


    May 2014 The slope is very well stabilized

    May 2014 The slope is very well stabilized by the rosemary, rockrose and Cleveland sage, especially.


    Then and Now-The stamped patio

    Then and Now-The back slope 2012


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.