Lackluster Landscape Update

September last year, I asked myself the question, “What does a mid-century modern landscape look like?” (Click here for the original post)

Being that a year has passed and there has been more money spent at Home Depot than I’d like to admit, let’s cut to the chase and talk results.

Before. Fail.
Before. Fail.
After 1 year of planting and watering....
After 1 year of planting and watering….

Um…. Yeah, so not remarkable success on the hill. As it turns out, all it took was water to bring the original ice plant back to life, and I planted some different variations in the bare spots. It’s amazing how ice plant can re-populate after being pretty much scorched to death by the sun. The weeds were also amazing, so we had to throw some cash at mulch. Nothing worse than paying for MULCH.

Landscape After (1 year) 005 Landscape After (1 year) 006 Landscape After (1 year) 007

The flowers and jasmine that you won’t see died. I had visions of jasmine vines growing like weeds, providing us with fine-smelling privacy from our neighbors, but the dying plants mock my best efforts. Maybe that’s why I don’t generally deal with flowers. It’s an “I’ll dump you before you dump me” sort of dynamic. I knew I’d kill them….or the soil would, or the sun would, and it happened. Even after adding Amend to the soil and watering like the dickens, they wilted away almost instantaneously.  I’m leaning towards more drought-tolerant succulents in the future.

"Green Apple" wins the award for "Best Grower in Caca Soil"
“Green Apple” wins the award for “Best Grower in Caca Soil”

I won’t entertain you with stories of my newly installed sprinklers rotating themselves to water my neighbors slope, and me, getting soaked in my pajamas at 6:30 a.m. trying to re-adjust the sprinkler heads. Three.Different.Times. Evil poltergeist sprinkler heads.

I will however, share with you an example of how when not aimed at  your neighbor’s yard, a little water can go a long way.

BEFORE: Favorite plant and ferns
BEFORE: Favorite plant and ferns
AFTER: Busting at the seams with tropical beauty.
AFTER: Bursting at the seams with tropical beauty.


The following section is still a work in progress. Meaning I started the work, but then lost interest in killing myself over the yard.

Before: Remember the ugly shrubs?
Before: Remember the ugly shrubs?


After: The ugly shrubs and I are 2 : 1. I replaced the unlucky guy with this plant. A philomenondenroaoamenopeana.
After: The ugly shrubs and I are 2 : 1. I replaced the unlucky guy with this plant. I think they call it philomenondenroaoamenopea.

Okay, technically, it’s a version of Philodendron (“big leaf” I think) and it’s doing quite well in the shade. I’m hoping it will grow tall and wide enough to disguise the rotting fence. One thing at a time, people.

(If you’re looking for ideas for your own yard, this month’s Sunset Magazine features a special “Water-Wise Design Guide” and offers great ideas for your fall planting.)

The lesson here is mid-century modern landscape means different things to different people, and certainly different plants for different soils. You have to work with what you’ve got. The mid-century modern movement aimed to create a seamless transition from the indoors to out. Nature, whether in the form of tropical or succulent, is to be enjoyed and appreciated. I’m hoping that at some point these beautiful plants will draw my visitors eyes, and butts, outside.




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