For comparison, here are some semi-"before" pictures. December 2008:
And even as recently as May 2010:
It took me several years to figure out what kinds of plants would grow here, but in the past couple of years, I think I finally solved the puzzle! Here's another view from this month:
There's very little bare dirt left anymore. There's still some, particularly on the drier side of the yard, and particularly during the winter. But there's little enough that I can now easily compose most pictures so that the dirt doesn't show. That's good enough for me.
Now, on with the rest of the pictures from this month. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is always the star of the show here in July. I fully intend to plant lots of yarrow at our new house. I don't need to transplant any of it, because I have plenty of seeds.
Last year in July, the Hooker's evening-primroses (Oenothera hookeri) were nearly as big of stars as the yarrow. This year they haven't bloomed as prolifically, probably because I got sick of them reseeding all too prolifically and started yanking them out by the hundreds.
I always love to see the yarrow blooming next to the turkey-tangle fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora). I think the flowers resemble each other just enough (though they're very different sizes) to make a perfect combination.
I've never seen turkey-tangle fogfruit for sale anywhere at all. As far as I know, the only way to obtain it is to find it growing like a weed between sidewalk cracks, which is one of its favorite locations to grow. I suppose that its weedy tendencies are the reason no one sells it, but I think it deserves to be sold. It's not perfect; it does disappear in the wintertime, which is truly unfortunate. But except for that one downside, I think it's pretty much the best inch-high groundcover imaginable. Here it is in the process of swallowing up my stepping stones.
Western buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is another plant that I've come to greatly appreciate. Its only downside is that it does need regular watering in the summer to keep its leaves from turning yellow and falling off. Its upsides are that you can't possibly drown it and that it looks very much like a traditional garden plant and always appears beautifully pruned and shaped despite never having been pruned or shaped in the least.
Here's a closer view of it.
And a view of it with Boston in the background.
Bees and butterflies like it too!
Next to the buttonbush is the red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), which recently bloomed for the second time. I don't think I'll plant a red-twig dogwood at our new house, only because they tend to spread to form thickets. The current one's branches are all drooping to the ground under their own weight, which is the precursor to its most common method of reproduction: branches take root where they touch the ground. The branches of mine don't seem to have taken root yet, but I expect them to start any day. Depending on how many of them take root, this might require either a big or a small amount of ongoing effort to keep a plant from taking over the yard.
I'll probably grow pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo) again at some point. This pumpkin plant currently has a dark green pumpkin on it that is the size and shape of a watermelon.
We have the most gigantic tomato plant (Lycopersicon esculentum) ever this year, but it's hard to photograph because it's so gigantic. Most of the bottom left two thirds of the picture below is a tomato plant. I will grow new tomato plants next year at our new house.
This coyote mint (Monardella villosa) in the front yard is destined for the window planters in our new front yard. The black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) can stay behind, although I might eventually try a closely related species.
The California fuchsia (Epilobium canum 'Calistoga') has spread enough that I can take some of it with us and also leave some behind.
Next month, we'll have a garden (well, the earliest beginnings of one, anyway) that isn't overlooked by an apartment complex.