Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Year in Review-El Presidio Gardens

Like any garden, there are ups and downs.  If there was a year that was difficult for me, it was this one.  I knew we'd hit this phase at one point but I didn't like it. It was a constant eye sore the whole year as we took out the old and put in the new.  I could put in a plant to "cover" up the issue but then regret having to remove it later on due to construction.  So this year the gardener hesitated often from purchasing plants.  Instead he focused on birds and found that exciting.  If anything, this has been the year of the bird and garden for El Presidio.  So let's take a stroll down memory lane over the past 12 months and find out what happened around here. 
 There are ups and downs.  The Jacaranda above was a wonderful story.  Saved from the historic freeze a couple years ago, this plant rebounded and grew to great heights this year.  It also produced blooms to the thrills of homeowners and hummingbirds alike.  It took 2 years for the tree to bloom again after the freeze.
 I worked on one side planter while researching plants for the other planters.  I also experimented with a Golden Goddess Bamboo on the sunnier side of our gardens and discovered it wouldn't work in that spot.  So I am using another hardier and TALLER bamboo.  It's upright and I can't wait to see what the homeowners think.  That project will be completed by this spring.
 In the garden, bird species began to fly in from around the neighborhood and call our place home. There were birds before but not like the variety we have here now.  Unfortuneatly, I began documenting with photos etc later than sooner.  We had what I believe to be Violet Crowned Hummingbirds during our summer rains here on the property 4-5 years ago.  It is a rare but not uncommon bird for Southern Arizona.  The rare part comes from it hanging out on our property in the city.  I remember the bird because it had uncommon coloring from other hummingbirds.  But once our pool was removed, the bird species disappeared.  Perhaps with the reintroduction of water, this bird will return once again. The above bird, the Verdin, made his first appearance at El Presidio this year with the introduction of the hummingbird feeders.
 Meanwhile the lovely rotting ramada had to go.  It was dangerous and bound to collapse on homeowners. My views on using wood in the desert have always been....DON'T!  Metal, rock etc are good choices. But wood is a lot of work and needs yearly coating from the harsh elements of our desert.  In May of 2012, homeowners would remove these wooden beams together and open up the space to the wonderful Live Oaks above our heads.
 One more area will need fixing down the road...the Front Entrance.  The beams have rotted well over the 30+ years of sun.  It will be our next task.  But we won't be redressing the area.  It will remain the same as it is the primary design of our unique community.  But the difference will be that we space out the new beams better and use less wood.  Many homeowners felt strongly about keeping this area as is.
 But the beams on the other side of the property were removed and the storage shed was reworked with a new roof.
 People came out and stuccoed the areas up.  The shed was then repainted.
 While all of this stuff went on, flowers still bloomed and I held hope.
 Total costs for this project ran a little under 2000 dollars.
 At one point, I would just look at my side garden.  It was alive and well with bird love:)
 But as you can see, El Presidio is a lush and vibrant space full of green.  What I found myself doing was stepping back and looking at the whole picture instead of focusing on the mess.
 I looked for the outward beauty around our place. The shot below was taken in our parking lot during a muggy monsoon evening.
 The rainbow was a real treat.
 And then, there was the filled in pool.  It drove me crazy!  This area of dirt is located in the middle for all to see.  I hated it but I also realized that we needed to save the money.  During that process, I researched and researched with other people the possibilities.  In November, the HOA gave me the green light to get all the people assembled to get started on the final phase of the pool.  I went with an HOA member and we picked out the fountain.
 On the side garden, I faced challenges with the weeping bamboo over the pathway.  I fixed the problem with some wiring.  Once the bamboo is large enough, it will create a shaded and covered walkway for homeowners.
 The garden is constant.  Some of the homeowners throw their trash everwhere and the battle is always ongoing, but I've found we've made some truly remarkable steps forward as a team this year.
 These columns were cut in half during the removal of the rotten wood. It opened up the area for several decorative pots and annuals.  I do love annuals if there is a place for them.
 Overall, the plants are doing well and have grown inches and feet around the property.  There's still much work to be done.
And while I've reduced our breeding feral cat population to zero, there are 3 males that have earned their right to stay on the property.  I just don't want them eating the birds.  That gets me a little angry.  Next year, I'll be posting once a week with updates from birding, travel and gardening adventures.  Tomorrow another "Year in Review" update.


  1. All looks wonderful. Very smart.

  2. What a beautiful Place! More than one of us would love to have such a garden close to home or even home... Congratulations on all these projects and realizations.

  3. I do enjoy seeing how your gardens are progressing and how all your hard work and persistence is paying off :) Look forward to seeing the fountain too eventually.

  4. Chris, your work at the El Presdio has paid off. Just seeing more birds and the flowers and plants doing well, you could not ask for much more. Well done! Have a great day and enjoy your birds!

  5. Happy New Year Chris! I enjoyed this post.

  6. i really like the use of those blue planters and the blue pot for the fountain, too. really nice!

  7. Beautiful pictures and your home and garden. Wow!.

    May you have had a nice Christmas.

    I love that beautiful humming bird with the blueish greens and blue.

  8. The garden is coming along great. I love that all the community can be involved with the decision making.

  9. Hi Chris,
    Overall, I would say that the correct decisions have been made. It all looks fabulous! I particularly like what you have done to the columns, they look much better as plinths for the blue planters. Looking forward to seeing more of El Presidio next year.

  10. The work you all have done with the gardens is wonderful! It is all coming together, and I know everyone is going to enjoy it so much! Love the photos! The rainbow reminded grandson and I saw the WIDEST partial rainbow I have ever seen about two and a half weeks ago. It was easily four times wider than what is normally observed. We had to be very close, and I made the mistake of trying to get closer before stopping the car to try to take a photo. It disappeared before I could stop. Yet, it's end seemed to be resting in the Catalina foothills, so perhaps there is a pot of golden hidden there somewhere! :-)


Thanks for stopping by!