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Tapestry hillside in just 3.5 years; when the Adamsons of La Jolla started, it was only ice plant.

The starting point for Evelyn and Bill Adamson's garden was, in her words, "a beautiful hill covered with awful ice plant." In just 3 1/2 years, the Adamsons transformed the hill--behind their house in La Jolla, California--into the colorful tapestry shown here.

With a profusion of flowring ground covers, ornamental trees and shrubs, and fruit trees, as well as annual and perennial flowers and vegetables, the hillside has lush, intensively cultivated look--but it takes only 2 to 3 hours a week to maintain and uses relatively little water. Most of the ground covers were started from inexpensive seeds or cuttings. And many of the plants are fire-retardant or contain a low volume of burnable fuels. Outside this mild coastal climate, consider substitutions for the more frost-tender plants--such as kalanchoe--mentioned here. Creating the garden ... now's the time

With rains mostly past, it's a good time to set out plants. Here's how the Adamsons created their garden.

To ready the overgrown hillside for new plaintings, they removed existing big-leaf ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) over a period of six months; taking it out all at once could have led to erosion or soil slippage during heavy rains. Working up from the bottom of the hill, they pulled out odd-shaped 100-square-foot patches and replanted as they went. A few native sage, ceanothus, and toyon along the hilltop were left. Some 200 steps, most of broken concrete, wind up the hill.

The couple hauled the ice plant to the top of the slope to fill in a small erosion-carved ravine. In six months, the pile composted into rich loam now planted with asparagus, artichokes, and an avocado tree. Most other soil is unamented. Finding the best ground covers

AS soon as each area was cleared, Mrs. Adamson planted seeds of many different kinds of flowering ground covrs. Some of the champions in this winner-take-all contest are snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum), dianthus, trailing gazanias, candytuft (Ibersi sempervirens), African daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum), and perinwikle (Vinca major).

Some ground covers were easier to start by poking unrooted cuttings directly into the soil. These include rosea ice plant (Drosanthemum floribundum and D. hispidum), croceum ice plant (Malephora crocea), and white, pink, and red ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum).

To provide quick color and temporary fillers while the perennial ground covers filled in, Mrs. Adamson sowed flowering annuals such as sweet alyssum, pansies, and violas. As ground covers and shrubs grew, they smothered the annuals.

Deeper-rooted trees and flowering shrubs prevent soil slippage and add different heights and textures to the garden. Some are good for cut flowers. The Adamsons planted wherever they found space, using white, yellow, and blue marguerites, bottlebrush (Callistemon), euryops, gamolepis, oleander, and pyracantha.

The Adamsons are growing a wide variety of ornamental and fruit trees--the costliest ingredints in the hillside potpourri. Fruit trees include avocados, lemons, limes, oranges, and peaches. Ornamental trees are Japanese black pine, Mediteranean fan palms, Ficus benjamina, arborvitae, and deodar cedar. Vegetables on hilltop terraces

Vegetables grow best on level ground where water and fertilizer can penetrate evenly. The Adamsons carved several 3-to 4-foot-wide, 10- to 15-foot-long terraces (like theone in the inset, left) into the hillside. Among warm-season vegetables are cucumbers, tomatoes, scarlet runner beans, and peppers. Cool-season crops include several kinds of lettuce and onions, broad beans, artichokes, asparagus, and strawberries.

The Adamsons' entire 60- by 180-foot hillside gets over head water from 12 impact sprinklers controlled by three valves. Mr. Adamson simply laid the pipe on top of the soil and let the ground covrs grow over it. In midsummer, the garden is watered once a week for about an hour.

Mrs. Adamson fertilized the garden for the fist time last spring. In late fall and early winter, leggy ground covers are cut back and bare or thin areas are filled in with new plantings.
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Title Annotation:Evelyn and Bill Adamson
Publication:Sunset
Date:Apr 1, 1984
Words:636
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