Let it Rain in CA!

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It's a miracle!  It rained, no actually, it poured (well, for CA it poured) most of the day yesterday!
Just in time because what few plants I have in the yard needed some H2O attention soon and since we're being rationed now in the East Bay I try to conserve as much as possible.  Which brings up the question of to buy a rain barrel or to make one ourselves. 

The main problem I have with the rain barrel is the complete lack of aesthetic design involved.  Now give this to me and I could come up with a dozen attractive barrels that would integrate into your landscape design much better. (Ha, there's my million dollar idea!)  If we can't find the material to make them this weekend then I would like to go for the Aquabarrel 30 gallon complete kit.  My only issue is the overflow design, ok along with the lack of aesthetics, and trying to capture that into a perforated line that leads back into your planting bed or alternative planting area.

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So, here is the beginning of the front yard.  I'm engrossed in English planting books at the moment so we went for a very classical layout of the hardscape to start out with.  After attempting to walk through the rain to the car yesterday I do regret putting in the decomposed granite because it does become very soft when wet.  In the summer its perfectly fine (although you do have to watch it with high heels) because it stiffens back up.  At some point I think I will replace the walk with more stone.  I'm was holding off on the planting only because of the severe lack of rain this spring, but I think I will start laying out a plan that has an English border feel to it with as many draugth tolerant plants as I can put in for the foundation.  I love bulbs, spring and summer, so that's where I will splurge a bit.  I'd also like to integrate a herb garden so I think I will line the pathways in a modified Square Foot Garden that's more linear that sqaure.

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I have also found that you can't believe everything your Sunset Garden Book tells you.  They don't recommend a Red Twig Dogwood in our area, but mine is thriving and the bark looks wonderful this winter!  Test plants out and if you can find a similar spot in your yard or garden that has characteristics that the plant needs (i.e. shade, part-shade, well draining soil) then give it a try.  I put my redwood north facing in a shady, protected spot and it seems to like it.