02 February 2010


NOTE: I will probably have to update this entry to make it coherent or something. Believe it or not, I took this picture with a flash in the middle of the night to attenuate the squalor. This is my front yard. It has suffered for many years while I directed my attentions to the back yard, and then to my children. But the time has come to fix it, and I need your help.

For various reasons, an olive tree is going to be the main feature. I might even be crazy enough to plant a fruiting variety, and make my kids cure olives for me when they get older. Four is good age to start working with lye, right?

Around this olive I wish to plant a kind of mini-garrigue, mostly of subshrubs and annuals. The plantings will be artificially dense in a vain attempt to suppress the weeds, and require no summer water. Thus: mediterranean-climate plants. It would be nice if it looked "good" in a front yard kind of way year-round.

I want a limited color palette of blues, whites and yellows, though lavender will be involved, by decree from on high (my wife) -- I will probably stick with L. x intermedia cvv. I'm also into Eriogonum latifolium and E. umbellatum; Penstemon heterophyllus and maybe palmeri. Sisyrinchiums. Salvia chamaedryoides, open to suggestions for California natives. For annuals, I'm looking at the usual suspects from Larner Seeds.

A spiky Phormium would be so sweet in here! Sorry, no: mediterranean only, dude. I'm considering (Hespero)Yucca whipplei or various Aloes or even Watsonias. Nothing too sharp: I don't want my kids to lose an eye (I've got a Puya out back for that purpose). However, anything to discourage the cats from shitting therein is a plus.

So what should I plant? Something I HAVE TO TRY? Something I listed a boondoggle? Crowdsource my yard!* Before you jump in, consider these limitations:

  • approx. 17x15"
  • north-facing: FULL sun all summer, total shade all winter
  • soil is clay, but with decent drainage
  • this is Oakland, CA coastal sage scrub, zone 10A (alleged)/Sunset 17

*ironic. but srsly., please help!

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