May 4, 2019

May 4, 2019 - Morning in a water smart garden in Serra Meca, San Diego, Ca. Photo by Anders Tomlinson
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, 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 most days begin for Anders in his urban garden: grouped
combinations of various succulents, many of which are bonsai cut,
colorful bougainvillea, Japanese honeysuckles, Australian tea bushes,
mature rosemary, lantana and geraniums to identify a few.
The garden’s working art project name is “8611”


“8611 is another living canvas in this 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 wall 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

Looking west in water smart garden in Serra Mesa, San Diego CA.  May 4, 2019 7am.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.
Good morning! Color here, color there and 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 bathrooms
sinks supplements evening coastal condensation and morning dew. Water
that is warming up for showers and washing dishes is also taken out outside
and given to plants that indicate water would be beneficial.

May 4, 2019 - Morning in a water smart garden in Serra Meca, San Diego, Ca. Photo by Anders Tomlinson
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 the power-telephone 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.

May 4, 2019 - Morning in a water smart garden in Serra Meca, San Diego, Ca. Photo by Anders Tomlinson
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.

cat on wall at water smart garden in serra mesa, san diego, ca. May 2, 2019. photo by Anders Tomlinson
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.