7 am: In a couple of hours strong sun will
replace coastal cloudiness.
This is a small water-wise garden in Serra Mesa,
San Diego CA, 92123. with few, if any, exotic
plants. The sustainable whole is larger than
the parts – it is about plants and trees that
survive with little watering. Here is where
Anders begins most of his days amongst grouped
combinations of various succulents, many of
which are bonsai cut, colorful bougainvillea,
Japanese honeysuckles, Australian tea bushes,
mature rosemary, lantana, several sages and
geraniums to identify a few.
The garden’s working art project name is “8611”
“8611 is another living canvas in this amazing
gallery called Earth.
“8611” watering needs are reduced by brick, rock and
dirt that make up a majority of the 75 feet by 27
feet garden: 2025 square feet. The brick/paver
walkways divide the garden into three background
fence theaters and three theater/groupings that
run down the center of the yard east to west.
The yard benefits from southern exposure as well
as northern light. This helps with the filming
and documenting of “8611’s” daily activities and
visitors: insects, reptiles, birds, mammals and
self-reflections. Anders looks at all the gardens
he is involved with as movie sets
Good morning! Color here, color there and
behold texture everywhere.
One of the goals of the garden is to redistribute
as much water across the yard that the house,
already using a water saving regime, takes in.
Re-used water captured with large coffee cans in
the kitchen and bathroom
sinks supplement evening coastal condensation and
morning dew. Water that is warming up for showers
and washing dishes is also captured and taken out
outside and given to plants that indicate
water would be beneficial.
Use as little water as possible and reduce the amount that leaves the property.
Each coffee can moves as much as 2.8 pounds of
water. This water management program continues
throughout the day providing Anders healthy
breaks from his digital and multi-purpose
paint/music studios. On average, there are 10 water
runs a day: roundtrip is 133 steps from the kitchen,
173 steps from the bathrooms and 120 steps from
the art studio. Win-win for all flora, fauna
involved as well as Anders’ art/photo/music projects.
From any vantage point there are shapes and centers of interest to enjoy.
There are trees in “8611”: liquid ambers, Italian
cypress, two pine trees and a pepper tree.
None of these are watered but keep living and
growing. Several need to be topped every two
years or so, especially the pepper tree, to keep
them out of power-telephone-utility lines.
Without watering they continue to grow. One
exception has been the Purple hopseed trees,
which should not have been planted in this region,
and have all died except one on the western
shaded side of the house. Their trunks remain
in the yard as bird perch snags and reminders
that things are changing. One visitor to the
yard commented that the bare trunks
were sculptural in nature.
Mocking birds are singing and bees buzzing another day is underway.
The past couple of years, when looking at the
big picture, were hard on the garden’s oleanders –
could be climate change or… The Peruvian apple
cactus flowers and fruit production dramatically
increased during the past three years. The start
of 2019 was wet – very wet and all the succulents
plumped up and grew like crazy storing water to
last them for a long time. Morning dew is usually
enough to keep them growing. Anders only waters
the flowering non-succulents. Summer is coming
and “8611” will adjust.
Here the art of self-reliance, survival and
strength grows and grows.
Much of this yard is cuttings taken from itself to
be planted in other areas. And many of the plants
were cuttings from a hilltop Circle Drive
property in Escondido. And many of the cuttings from
“8611” have help start a succulent garden in
Allied Gardens, San Diego CA.
And cuttings from the Allied Gardens property have
gone to neighbors’ gardens. And… This is
the nature of succulents – survive with what
is available and always spreading
in numerous ways.
Another gallery-garden visitor takes it all in
at the end of a day.
This is neighbor Wesley on the afternoon of May 3,
2019. He is aware of the transplanting that took
place during the day near this wall where he is
sitting. All the cats, and most likely the nocturnal
visiting skunks and possum, are aware of and inspect
any changes in the garden. They do so because the
garden is part of their lives – here they hunt,
rest and observe. Anders has watched cats watch
Anders gardening like we watch a cat playing
with a piece of yarn or a lizard.
©2019 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.