GARDEN FANATIC: Planting while keeping a view

Spring has arrived, and after a season’s growth, it is time that our peppermint tree and Cajeput tree should be laced. I am wondering if my neighbors will do the same, as their trees have substantially obstructed our view toward the ocean and village.

We live in what the Sunset Western Garden Book calls the fuchsia belt — mild winters and relatively cool summers. Our often-foggy days, aptly called modified sunlight, provide the requisite atmospheric and soil moisture. Any location in your garden where you can relax without an umbrella or hat would be perfect for a fuchsia.

Plant forms vary from trailing types, which create spectacular hanging baskets to hardy shrubs. Flower sizes and shapes also have wide differences. Miniatures display peanut size flowers, while giants can exceed a small fist in diameter. Color ranges are limited to white, red, pink, and purples, but have combined to form hundreds of known varieties.

The past mild winter has meant that fuchsias are now blooming and will do so until cold weather revisits. Major pruning should occur this month to keep plants vigorous. It is recommended that all of the prior year’s growth be removed, leaving two healthy leaf buds per stem. Continued pinching of “leggy” growth throughout the year, will ensure a healthy and compact plant.


Rich, porous soil is essential for culture, as it is virtually impossible to over-water plants grown in hanging baskets and containers. Overhead watering is recommended for a number of reasons: humidity is maintained, pests are washed off and leaves are kept clean. Fertilization should be undertaken monthly with a liquid, complete-fertilizer.

The fuchsia gall mite has proven to be a serious pest, and actually prompted the decline of fuchsia production a couple of decades ago. Mite-resistant plants are now available, and early detection and removal of distorted tissue can control the problem. Whitefly and spider mites are also common pests. Washing foliage and the application of oil-based pesticides can discourage most pests.

It has not ever been easy in Laguna, to ascertain whether views trump privacy. Certainly the city has been struggling with this issue for decades. I just wonder, like Catharine, why some “privacy” trees have to be 40 feet tall or more. I think I’ll plant a new fuchsia, which is easy to grow and will continue to display an exotic flourish that will never block a view. See you next time.

STEVE KAWARATANI is happily married to view advocate Catharine Cooper, and four dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-8168, or e-mail to