Sunday, March 10, 2013

Winter Walk-Off 2013

A few weeks ago, I read about the Winter Walk-Off, hosted by Les of A Tidewater Gardener. He explains the details of his challenge in this post, and it seemed like a lot of fun! Today, after daylight savings, it was actually light enough when I came home, so I grabbed my camera and walked on of my regular running routes, and took pictures around my neighborhood.

In the last week, all the ornamental fruit trees (mostly cherry and plum) have started blooming. There a lot of them around, most planted by the city.

Flowering fruit trees
 The white ones are cherries, the pink ones (like these in my neighbor's yard) are usually ornamental plums:
So much color
 As I was walking around, I noticed this tree, with it's odd combination of new leaves and weird looking green flowers:
Not sure what this one is? I'll have to remember to go look for it later in the season
 In addition to fruit trees, there are a lot of Palms in my neighborhood. However, this past winter has not been kind to them, and most of them look pretty bad:
Every one that's like the left and center pictures that I've seen around town looks dead.
 People have started cleaning up the dead fronds in many cases, which leaves the palm looking like this:
Funny looking palm trees
 In addition to the flowering trees, the city plants the same scrubs everywhere, leading to big masses of the same plants:
The scrub in the middle always looks like its covered in mold when it blooms. I don't know what it's called.
 I like the accidental combination of red berries and blue lavender in the upper right picture of that collage. I'm pretty sure the Lavender wasn't planted there, but the combo always makes me smile.
This also makes me smile - the effect of our near constant winds on trees:
That is a very large pine tree, leaning at a 30 degree angle

Same thing on the golf course, but with smaller trees
Yes, a golf course - who thought that was a good idea in the desert?!
They must spend a large fortune in water...
Even though there is a golf course in our neighborhood, a lot of people have created xeriscaped front yards. These are some of the ones I liked:
stream bed + palo verde tree. I would replace the blue fescue, I think
 This next garden is not at its best in the winter, but it should be gorgeous in just another few weeks:
There are two purple smoke bushes in there... I want one.

Their agave bloomed last year - hopefully they replace it!
 I've always liked this house with it's giant Optunia in the front. Those pads are huge!
Plus it has more all-season interest compared to the other garden.
 This next garden took a very different approach - going for more of a "Japanese" look:
Two pines/conifers and a stream bed. All the "dirt" is actually pea gravel
 I really like the bridge over the dry stream bed. I'm trying to decide if the Japanese-style garden elements work with the Mediterranean style of the house. There was another house with this similar-style lantern:
More Japanese style
 I've been thinking about garden art for my garden, and I'm not sure what would work well. I always like these lanterns when I see them in Japanese-style gardens, but I'm not sure about them with the style of houses that are in my neighborhood. More thinking required!

Of course, there were also several approaches that I didn't like as much - most of which share the "xeriscaping = rocks" idea.
Or fake grass for the stairs. I'm sure it's more durable and uses less water, but really?
 I do like the bold color on the garage door in the bottom left, and the cactus in the center picture. However, the cactus looked dead too, so we'll see how that goes. But all of those were still more area-appropriate than lots of (green) grass and cool-weather annuals, like this garden:
very colorful/cheerful though.
 This next garden feature has always made me scratch my head - it's an allee of willows (? I think), but they seem so close together. In the summer it's very pretty though.
There's about 6 trees on either side
 On my way back, I noticed a new feature on this house's fence: what looked like glass panels.
Maybe for a windbreak? But then it's facing the wrong direction for the prevailing winds
The last thing I noticed as I was looking at my pictures were some of the tree shapes against the sky - everything from willows glowing red in the sun, to London Plane trees and their seed pods, and Italian Stone Pine holding on to cones.
I wonder what made that Plane Tree in the middle have that kind of a branch shape?
Go visit Les's page for more links to Winter Walk-Offs around the world! Soon, winter will be over, and Spring will be here for real!


  1. That was fun! Thank you. The angled trees, astroturfed stairs and strange square branching all good finds.

    1. Thanks! Astroturf is always a good find :)

  2. I really enjoyed a virtual walk around a neighbourhood so different from my own - and I am so glad I am not the only one slightly later to Les' party! Love the canted trees, we get a similar thing here, with hawthorn sculpted by the wind into strange shapes. Good to see at least some people using something other than grass (grass? in the desert?!) for their front gardens, though why, given the wonderful array of stunning desert plants more people don't use them I don't know, it is the same in Arizona where my other half's Uncle created a wonderful garden from natives. He as pretty much alone in that.

    1. I don't know what the attraction is for grass - other than a nice negative space (as David would say). I can't say too much (I still have grass in yard too), but I'm glad you see there are better alternatives. Thanks for your comment!

  3. A fun look at a different type of neighborhood. The wind blown trees are amazing, you do have a lot of wind there.

    A few years back we had a big freeze kill all those same palms which we called Queen palms. Not too many being replanted now.

    An Asian-inspired garden can work almost anywhere if it's done right.

    1. I hope that if people replant, they replant with something better. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Thanks for the thorough tour of your area landscapes...nicer than I guessed, but with the usual, too. So much in your post - the wind-blown trees are a hoot...the use of plants that need s different climate like the dead queen palms (need warm, humid, wetter climes with acid soils, like Orlando FL), columnar cacti (those South American cacti look like a better fit for milder San Diego or even Phoenix winters).

    Some plants look like birches, and the willows even aspens...but can't tell the buds. If so, that's crazy, but some people just pour on the water. The golf course needs way less turf, i.e. the target courses one sees in a few GCs in Arizona.

    Great to see spring there!

    1. seeing spring is great! Your read on all those concerns is totally right. I wonder how things will change this year, given that we've had such a dry winter already. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Renee, I was going through all the entries in my Walk-Off for a wrap-up post. I thought for sure I had already thanked you directly on your blog, but I don't see it, so here it is again. Thank you for your contribution.

    1. Thanks for hosting Les! I had fun looking at all the entries.


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