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back on the home front


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It’s finally happening.

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Miraculously, after a couple close calls resulting in an almost fatal wilt, Musschia wollastonii has survived and begun to hoist up that much-anticipated chartreuse candelabra of blooms.
The Madeira Giant Bellflower must be an unforgettable sight in bloom on its native cliffs of Madeira. As with Aeonium tabuliforme, the cliff face is what’s shaped that remarkable architecture. Some claim to grow musschia mainly for the leaves, but I don’t find them wildly exciting, possibly because it’s been struggling to survive here. Musschia is monocarpic, meaning it will die after blooming. Which also means I can now die happy, having seen it bloom in my garden. But what vigilance to get to this point! In spring I parked this pot right by a hose bib on the north side of the house for its daily shower.

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Also newly in bloom and slightly offbeat, Emilia javanica ‘Irish Poet,’ the Tassel Flower.
A delicacy that couldn’t compete in a waist-high, full-throttle summer garden, but it stands out fine in mine, which is in the process of undergoing accommodation to the ongoing drought.

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Emilia may be small, but it packs a big orange punch in its ‘Irish Poet,’ form, seed from Nan Ondra.
Many years ago I grew the species, which is a darker, burnt orange bordering on red. I much prefer the electrifying orange of ‘Irish Poet.’

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These pots give a sense of its scale. Last agave on the left was just brought home from the recent Orange County succulent show.

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Agave ‘Tradewinds,’ a blue-green striped potatorum selection thought to be a seedling of ‘Kissho Kan.’

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Diminutive emilia is barely visible on the lower left, unlike the fountain of Pennisetum ‘Sky Rocket’ in the distance.

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The plumes arch just where the Cussonia gamtoosensis canopy begins, a wonderful effect that’s unlikely to be duplicated next year as the cabbage tree continues to grow.
Today I watched for the first time as a sparrow landed in the baby cussonia, which to my mind makes it a real tree now.

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There’s also two big clumps of this grass fronting the lemon cypresses on the eastern boundary

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And another clump growing amidst Gomphrena ‘Fireworks.’ Both thrive on minimal supplemental water, which keeps them in trim, upright shape.

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The front of the cussonia border, which shows how Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ looks in its summer dormancy period here.
I can appreciate ‘Zwartkop’s’ skeletal form, as opposed to the giant ‘Cyclops,’ which was getting increasingly annoying in its off-season shabbiness, so it’s been pulled out of the garden to be grown in a container.
All the plants here are well adapted to low water use, except for a couple patrinia I foolishly included this year. Crambe maritima is doing really well, another plant I saw in several Portland gardens recently. Yucca, furcraea, gaillardia, adenanthos, coprosma, Pelargonium ‘Crocodile,’ anigozanthos, agastache, echium, Rekohu carex. A Beschorneria alba is in here somewhere too. Variegated St. Augustine grass is weaving through the legs of the aeonium and spilling onto the bricks. The iron pyramid was propping up a castor bean I recently pulled out.

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In ‘Cyclops’ place I decided to try agapanthus, something I’m as surprised to type as I was to purchase, having never brought one home before. This one is ‘Gold Strike,’ and it wasn’t easy to find. I wrongly assumed I’d have the pick of tender varieties in inky blues, even deep purples, all within a few miles’ radius of home. After all, they grow like weeds here. There must be a wonderful selection locally, right? And if not, there must be U.S. growers with extensive lists, right? Wrong on both counts. The best selection, of course, is found with UK nurseries. A couple years back I attended a lecture given by Dan Hinkley on what he’s up to at his new garden at Windcliff, and a good part of the presentation was on his new-found love of agapanthus. “How suburban!” I thought at the time, and “Dan’s going soft!” But as usual, Dan’s right. Mature stands are tolerant of drought, make a mid-summer garden look fresh again, and now I can’t wait to try them with Pennisetum ‘Sky Rocket.’ The deepest blue to be found locally is ‘Storm Cloud,’ but I’m not done searching around for other kinds with names like ‘Purple Emperor’ and ‘Night Sky.’ Still can’t believe I’m shopping around for agapanthus, though.

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A large mint bush near the ‘Cyclops’ aeonium was showing its age, so that was given the heave-ho recently too.
Prostranthera never gets older than a few years in my garden and is well known to be short-lived.
Waiting in the wings, outgrowing its pot was Eucalyptus ‘Moon Lagoon,’ which I intended on planting in the mint bush’s spot in the fall.
This is one of the mallee eucalyptus, which are more large shrubs than the towering giants Californians associate with eucalyptus.

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Never much inclined to wait, I called Jo O’Connell at Australian Native Plants Nursery, where I bought the eucalypt, to ask her opinion.
She said to absolutely go for it now, mid-summer, a woman after my own heart. And so it’s been planted.

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Speaking of suburban, how about some marigolds? (Now who’s going soft?)

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What an undeserving bad rap the bedding plants industry has given marigolds. The tall strains like this one, ‘Cinnabar’ from Derry Watkins, are so hot. If you don’t have a bias against orange, that is.

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And I don’t think there’s anything easier to grow from seed than marigolds.

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The grey shrub arching over the marigolds is Olearia virgata v. lineata ‘Dartonii,’ brought home from Far Reaches Farm a few years ago.
(“If you’ve hankered for a willow but lament your dry conditions, then weep no more.”)
It was so cool to see this shrub growing against the greenhouse at Old Germantown Gardens in Portland recently, where it was tightly clipped in a more columnar form.
The Agave attenuata is ‘Boutin’s Blue,’ formerly ‘Huntington’s Blue,’ not quite happy in full sun. In a large pot, it’s the Goldilocks of agaves and gets moved around quite a bit.

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Marigolds in the distance, the new Leucadendron ‘Ebony’ in the foreground, handling its first summer beautifully so far.
The sideritis to its right wasn’t so lucky, inexplicably collapsing a couple days ago, about a day after this photo was taken.
Every so often around mid-summer, this mysterious soil-borne wilt process takes out a plant.
I know in my absence the garden was watered really well for a change, and that might have kicked it off.
The sideritis was one of two self-sown seedlings I found this spring, so it was a gimme anyway.
I’ve already planted a couple Cirsium occidentale in its place.
(Seeing the cirsium almost in bloom in Scott’s garden in Portland was a nice moment too.)

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The Berkheya purpurea I brought home from Cistus a few weeks ago can just be seen behind the leucadendron.
The oregano-like plant is Calamintha nepeta ‘Gottlieb Friedkund.’ Fabulous plant I’ve been spreading around the garden. From Digging Dog.

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Another annual growing fast in the heat, Hibiscus trionum, seed also from Nan Ondra.

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Rudbeckia triloba is everything I want in a summer daisy, except for its moderate thirst.
There’s a chance that if it self-sows, the progeny will be better situated for drier conditions. Slim chance, but you never know. And there’ll always be gaillardia.

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Eryngium padanifolium in its second year, reliably blooming again, a great relief.

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The ‘Limelight’ Miracle of Peru seed around, and a few are always welcome.

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A potted Lotus jacobaeus has filled out well this year, much more so than when planted directly into the garden.

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Aristolochia fimbriata scoffs at any neglect I throw its way. No surprise that it was included on the sales tables at a recent succulent show. It’s that tough.

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Crassula pruinosa, also brought home from Cistus

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The crassula was tucked in at the base of Euphorbia ammak. That golden-leaved shrub thrives in pot culture, even the careless kind I practice.

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Really brightens things up. Corokia virgata ‘Sunsplash’

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Also doing really well in a container is the Shaving Brush Tree, Pseudobombax ellipticum

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And that just about takes care of mid-summer 2014.


contain your enthusiasm


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Creating a small, plant-rich garden in zone 8 can be a brutal business. Faced with so many tempting choices in such an agreeable climate, a small garden runs the danger of sinking into visual chaos. Wielding the power of refusal, the ability to say no more often than yes, is probably the most useful tool in the garden shed. It’s no surprise that some of the most visually impactful gardens are made by people that put their foot down, people with strong, angular ideas and sharp-elbowed opinions. Many of us with a tinge of the collector mania gladly put up with the chaos. What’s rare is finding a garden that manages to incorporate a strong love of disparate plants into a seamless design whole. Plant collecting and its byproduct, containers, are usually the enemy of clean, uncluttered design. Pots and containers often fill the porches, stairs, and patios of a more relaxed style of garden. That they can be deployed to create a rigorous, crisp picture can come as a surprise.

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Astelia and bocconia on square concrete pavers in Loree Bohl’s Danger Garden
The pot and the ‘Red Devil’ astelia were meant to be together.


In the Portland, Oregon gardens of good friends Loree Bohl and JJ Sousa, there’s obviously a similar love of pottery, matched with a love of architectural plants, some of which cannot survive year-round outdoors, and temperaments that will not compromise on good design. I love how both these gardens turn the old design axiom, to plant in multiples, on its head. In a small garden, such advice would result in a boring monoculture and leave the collector unsatisfied. (Horrors!) Loree and JJ flip the axiom around. Instead of multiplying plants for a strong impact, make multiples of containers, use repetition in their color and shape, and the result will also be a concentrated, heady experience that confidently leads the eye and rhythmically builds into a densely rich mise-en-scène, to borrow a theatrical phrase. Both gardens riff on a timelessly effective formula: the tension of nature’s most outlandishly gorgeous patterns and textures contained within well-defined boundaries. Edges aren’t softened or hidden, they’re accentuated and celebrated. The Portland gardens of Loree Bohl and JJ Sousa organize space like neat bento boxes, with sharp lines and angles providing contrast and staging opportunities for an extravagant collection of in-ground and potted plants that becomes much more than the sum of its parts. The strong lines frame the many containers as well as the lush, in-ground plantings, and there is frequent intentional interplay between the planted and the potted. Plants are shown to wonderful advantage in this disciplined approach, which shows that minimalism isn’t the only answer for a small garden that is asked to absorb a collector’s ongoing enthusiasm for plants and also read as a coherent design.

Continue reading contain your enthusiasm

Saturday clippings 7/26/14


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Melocactus matanzanus

The Orange County Cactus & Succulent Society sale is this weekend, where the buzz and gossip amongst the sales tables might very likely entice you into bringing home your first melocactus.
It’s possible that the recent visit to the Huntington’s Desert Conservatory is behind this atypical impulse buy.
(I also snagged a small Agave ‘Tradewinds,’ with lovely blue-green stripes and a couple bromeliads, much more typical of my usual succulent show purchases.)
I’m going to designate the melocactus my favorite plant in the garden this week, because if you go to Loree’s blog, the post prior to favorite plants references a great deal on the Personal Recollections of William Hertrich, the man who made the desert garden for Huntington. And here I just bought socks on Amazon for my youngest son and forgot to add Hertrich’s recollections to my basket. Damn.

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Eulophia petersii at the sale

Plant shows are so helpful in filling in gaps in understanding the life cycle of these often very slow-growing plants. I’d never heard of eulophias before this week, a desert-adapted orchid, so would normally walk right by these pleated green leaves with the bulbous bases, which I’m sure I’ve done dozens of times before at succulent shows.

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But I had just seen eulophia in a staggering full-bloom display earlier in the week at Solana Succulents, on consignment sale for hundreds of dollars.
So what those underwhelming leaves were capable of producing was still very fresh in my mind. Pots about one-sixth the size of the above container were selling for $50 at the show.

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The eulophia fit neither my wallet nor the Mini Cooper, so the only purchase I made at Solana Succulents was this smooth-leaved Dyckia ‘Naked Lady.’

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I’m compulsive about planting something as soon as I bring it home. I tend to forget to water seed trays and cuttings, but if it’s in the garden I know I’ll keep an eye on it.
I planted the new dyckia as a ringer amongst a couple Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea.’
Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I’m thinking this placement kind of minimizes that rank plant show impulsivity I fall victim to, as in Nothing to see here, just a disciplined repetition of key plants..
I have an enormous clump of barbed dyckia to tackle one day, so this Dyckia nudum had instant appeal.

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Pachypodium namanquanum

This pachypodium at the show reminded me of the verbascum I once grew and can’t seen to find again.
(The verbascum was sold as V. undulatum. Furry, chartreuse leaves, it could have been Verbascum epixanthinum.)

Lastly, in case you’re in need of more bromeliads, and who isn’t, Rainforest Flora in Torrance is having a 20 percent sale this weekend and next weekend too.

garden chairs

A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Continuing my monomaniacal, object-specific tour of Portland gardens, which brings us around to chairs. Because I’ve always coveted chairs, all shapes, all sizes. Just ask my family. Found at flea markets, thrift shops and, yes, even curbside, we have way more than necessary indoors, so of course the obsession spills outdoors. Sculptural, practical, evocative of humankind at our very best. An unoccupied chair always strikes me as breathtakingly poignant. A single chair occupied speaks to contemplative moments, gathering strength for rejoining the fray. A group of chairs occupied, animated in conversation, is arguably the best civilization has to offer. High, low, rustic, elegant, I want them all.

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Continue reading garden chairs

Portland Pots It Up

There’s so many reasons for plants to spend some or even all of their lives in containers.
Aside from the practical reasons — fine-tuning sunlight, better drainage, more moisture, less moisture, special soil mixes, protection from chewing and digging creatures, the ability to shuttle plants indoors where a cold winter will be inhospitable and/or deadly — all these good and sensible reasons aside, containers provide strong graphic and framing opportunities that many of us find hard to resist. And it’s not like our infatuation with pots is new — the oldest pottery found in China dates back almost 20,000 years, so I’d argue that we’re just yielding to an age-old, irresistible impulse that impels us to seek out empty vessels brimming with so much potential. The gardens of Portland we toured exploited this graphic potential like nobody’s business.


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Euphorbia ammak would not survive the Portland winter were it not for the portability of the freckled chartreuse pots in Craig Quirk & Larry Neill’s Floramagoria garden designed by Laura Crockett.
A perfect example of the gorgeous joining hands with the practical. I love this soft color that blends so well with plants. (A year or so ago I found a pot with this same glaze at Rolling Greens in Culver City.)

Continue reading Portland Pots It Up

impressions of Portland gardens (in the zone of filtered sunshine)


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Since returning from touring gardens and nurseries in Portland last week, I’ve been haphazardly researching what makes the Pacific Northwest so full of great gardens and nurseries. Not expecting any definitive answer, just scrounging around for clues. Portland’s enviably soft light at 45 degrees latitude that famously attracts painters and glass artists is one clue. And to account for sheer creativity, I found assorted oddball theories, including one on the geography of personality, which shows the entire West Coast of the U.S. coming up strong in “openness,” which “reflects curiosity, intellect, and creativity at the individual level,” and registering low in neuroticism. (California comes in slightly more neurotic than Oregon and Washington, with the East Coast taking the prize for most neurotic.)


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And then there was the crackpot hucksterism of Erwin L. Weber, paid for by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce in 1924 to encourage settlement in the Pacific Northwest and woo development away from California: ““Filtered sunshine — sunshine filtered thru the clouds — and only a moderate degree of intense sunshine, as exists in the Pacific Northwest, is best for all, and vital to the development of the most energetic peoples…Intense and prolonged sunshine, as exists in the greater portion of the United States is detrimental to the highest human progress. History abounds with the annals of peoples who built up empires and civilizations under the temporary stimulus of intense sunshine. But this same intense sunshine later broke down the stamina and resistance of these peoples, thus causing the fall of their empires and the decay of their civilizations.” (In the Zone of Filtered Sunshine) In his sunshine-is-destiny theory, Mr. Weber appeared to believe it was the strong sun and not the Visigoths that brought down the Roman empire.


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Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’ was seen in quite a few of the gardens, a plant that needs to be widely available in Los Angeles.


Weeding through a lot of apocryphal stories and wacky theories is an entertaining byproduct of high-speed Internet, but it invariably leads to a condition that This American Life contributing editor Nancy Updike describes as “Modern Jackass,” which involves expounding at length on a topic about which the speaker actually knows very little. So I’ll stop with the crank theories. Because there is one indisputable, geologic source of all that splendor: the spectacularly fertile Willamette Valley, which stretches from Eugene at its southern end to Portland at its northernmost. As far as I can tell from my admittedly superficial (Modern Jackass) inquiry, this valley was scoured and tumbled by massive ice movements, then filled and refilled with water up to 50 times, when enormous silt deposits were built up, leaving an astonishing depth of loam known as the Willamette silt:

During Pleistocene time, large-volume glacial-outburst floods, which originated in western Montana, periodically flowed down the Columbia River drainage and inundated the Willamette Lowland. These floods deposited up to 250 feet of silt, sand, and gravel in the Portland Basin, and up to 130 feet of silt, known as the Willamette Silt, elsewhere in the Willamette Lowland.” — from “Influence of the Missoula Floods on Willamette Valley Ground Water.”


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Great nurseries are the keystone for supporting a vibrant garden culture, and the Portland area is blessed with dozens of wonderful nurseries, including the three we saw on the tour: Pomarius Nursery, where we had the pre-tour cocktail party, Cistus Nursery, to which I’ve made several pilgrimages in years prior to the tour, and Joy Creek Nursery, also previously visited with friends a few years ago. (The last two have mail-order catalogues, by the way.)

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Commercial dahlia growers beautifully exploit the Willamette silt. Hops grow well here, too, supporting all those microbreweries.

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About 70 miles inland from the coast, Portland can get hot in summer. It can and it did. A couple days over 90 were outright sweltering.

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But generally Portland’s climate brings warm, dry summers and chilly, damp winters.
Fluctuating warm/cold spring temperatures keep the gardeners sharp and the nurseries busy.

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An occasional colder-than-average winter can bring sad losses, but all the gardens we toured were fearless in pushing zones.

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Coddling tender plants has been turned into an art form by Portland gardeners.

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Heading into Portland from the airport, my seat mates on either side of me on the MAX were respectively (a) attending the World Domination Summit and (b) a conference on plant biology.
From the outset, I knew the next few days were going to be interesting, and the exuberant, plant-rich gardens of Portland never let up off the throttle.

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(And now a word from the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling sponsors, who can all be found here. These sponsors and the volunteer planners make the Fling one of the best garden tours around.)

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More on Portland’s gardens to come.

Bloom Day July 2014

It fell from midnight skies. It drummed on the galvanized – Joni Mitchell, Paprika Plains

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Marty’s been reciting those song lyrics ever since the rain came and fell in exactly that manner Monday night.
We all raced out the kitchen door when the first drops began to dance on the corrugated roof over the pergola.
(Rain fell on the garden bloggers in Portland, too, just in one garden. It was thrilling.)
I spent most of Monday planting what I carried home in my suitcase, so to get a little rain after a midsummer planting is my kind of heaven.
My clothes and other Portland Fling swag will be arriving via UPS in a couple days…

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In other exciting news…ahem…the dasylirion outside the front door opened the flowers along its roof-topping bloom spike.
Above photo taken before I left for Portland.

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Will dasy ever get that gorgeous pre-birth shape back?

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15-foot dasylirion spike disappearing into the jacaranda tree. Unlike agaves, the dasylirion will supposedly persist after blooming.
I’ve had this plant countless years and had never seen a bloom before. We’ve dubbed this bizarre scene “Bee Town.”

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The Silver Vase bromeliad surprised me with a bloom. Aechmea fasciata.

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Spring-planted Aristida purpurea thinly blooming

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Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket’

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The pennisetum with the unstoppable Gomphrena ‘Fireworks.’

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Castor bean’s mace-shaped seedpods are popping up throughout the back garden.
Since the garden looks pretty much like June, I’ll keep this abbreviated so you can move on to other July gardens at the Bloom Day hub, Carol’s blog May Dreams Gardens.

how Alison got her stripes back

So very glad to find a moderate-sized phormium, a true 4-footer, I was willing to overlook the fact that many of this New Zealand Flax’s leaves age into a dull olive green, losing the pale bands that are the inspiration for the alternate name ‘Golden Alison.’ Locally, this phormium goes by ‘Alison Blackman.’


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‘Blue Glow’ agaves, small Australian shrub Brachysema praemorsum, Furcraea macdougalii in the center, phormium off to the right, all tolerating the parched conditions in the front gravel garden.

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The unseasonal heat wave in May blistered some leaves, so a thorough cleaning was undertaken shortly afterward. And that’s how Alison got her stripes back.

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This phormium, bred by Barry Blackman, a nurseryman in New Zealand, was named in memory of his late daughter.


the French Laundry’s Culinary Garden

One score and seven minutes ago our partners brought forth on this town, a new restaurant, conceived in finesse, and dedicated to the proposition that all food is served soigné.” –
Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry celebrating its 20th anniversary July 6, 2014.


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When my oldest son Mitch traveled to the Isle of Skye off of Northern Scotland just to eat at The Three Chimneys is probably when I first realized he was getting fairly serious about eating good food. For his photography services, he has been known to accept payment in the form of a meal at a favorite restaurant. That right there is a pretty good illustration of the kind of business sense that runs in my family.

Mitch visited The French Laundry over the weekend, about an hour north out of San Francisco in Napa Valley, in the town of Yountville. Mediterranean winter wet/summer dry, zone 9ish, a climate very much to a grape’s liking. I can’t even imagine the pressures involved in running a working kitchen garden that supports a world-class restaurant. You can read more about the process on their Facebook page. The French Laundry was inducted into The Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012. Jacket required.

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The menu for July 6, 2014.


sunday clippings 7/6/14

I think the conversation left off with brillantaisia, the salvia look-alike I stumbled upon at the local city college. Except it’s not really a salvia but a member of the acanthaceae family. I did go back for photos and also had an odd encounter with a woman on a bike, who pedaled up to me and matter-of-factly imparted an account while I snapped photos about three youths who were chasing her, trying to steal her bike. Concerned and alarmed, I turned fully toward her and away from the gaping flowers of brillantaisia, whose tall stems were blowing in the twilight sky at my back, and anxiously scanned the campus, which was empty except for me, the woman calmly straddling the bike, and Marty & Ein waiting a small distance away in his VW bus. Did she live close by? Yes. Could we load her and the bike in the bus and take her home? No. Did she need an escort home? No. Confused by her flat demeanor, which didn’t square at all with the account of attempted theft, I repeated the questions again, trying a different order, but she declined all offers of help, never letting up that steady, slightly unnerving gaze she had first fixed on me. I studied her face, too, and could gather about as much information from her inscrutable expression as I could from the brillantaisia, which somehow came to be growing on this chain-link fence behind me and this mysterious woman on the bike. The woman and what she really wanted from me will forever remain a mystery, but it was easy enough to find out some information on the Giant Salvia:

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Brillantaisia subulugurica (or possibly b. ulugurica) on a chain-link fence at Long Beach City College.

From the Flora of Zimbabwe:

Soft-wooded aromatic shrub or even rarely a small tree, up to 5 m tall. Leaves opposite, more or less broadly ovate, sometimes purple-tinged, 10-40 cm long, often cordate at the base but lamina running back down into a winged petiole; margin coarsely toothed with small and large teeth. Flowers in a more or less open, branched purplish inflorescence, 10-40 cm long. Corolla pale to bright blue, mauve, violet or purple, 2 lipped; upper lip 25-52 mm long, covered with purplish glandular hairs; lower lip 17-40 mm long, 3-lobed. Capsule 25-45 mm long, glandular-hairy. Worldwide distribution: Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe.”

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Cuttings have already rooted, and I’ll probably trial the plants in large trash bins like these.

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They can be had cheap from the big box stores to hold big shrubby stuff like Salvia ‘Amistad.’
It dawned on me just a few weeks ago that I had no salvias for the hummingbirds this fall, and these large pails were perfect for a last-minute course correction.

Everyone has probably seen these articles shared on Facebook by the time I mention them the old-fashioned way on a blog, but it’s always worth linking to anything Michael Tortorello writes. His recent piece for The New York Times, Botany’s New Boys, held a particular interest because I keep bumping into these young botany boys at the community garden. Last week one of them regaled me with his enthusiasm for fungi and visions of cash-crop success with shitaki mushrooms grown in a month’s time. Where will he get the spores? I asked.
You guessed it, a TED talk is the answer: Paul Stamet’s “6 ways mushrooms can save the world.” (Transcript here.)
I always fantasize about airbnb’ing our house when the TED talks roll into town about a mile away every spring.

Even with the recent news that Facebook has conducted covert psychology experiments on unwitting subscribers, it seems foolish not to get on board when there’s such a wealth of garden-related stuff being shared. I was introduced to Carolyn Mullet’s page when she asked permission to use a few photos, and found she has a knack for sourcing gardens that I never see via other sites like Pinterest.

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Carolyn asks on her Facebook page how are California gardens faring in this miserable drought. Lots of choices among tough aromatic herbs and small shrubs, succulents, grasses.

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Sometimes being in a tight spot can inspire new ideas. This mother of a drought makes invention a necessity.

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I’ve been half-heartedly (six months now) cleaning up my FB account and streamlining it more for garden-related stuff. Maybe I’ll finish that project one day, and then I’ll link stuff like this:
“Sowing a Garden One Knit Flower at a Time,” Smithsonian article on artist Tatyana Yanishevsky

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What’s sowing and growing in my garden is Mina lobata, the Spanish flag vine. I love it when treasures like this self-seed.

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From the recent CSSA sale, Aloe cameronii has found a home.
Confined mostly to the front garden and containers, succulents are increasingly sneaking into the back garden, which means it’s slowly developing into a drier garden too.

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Also from the sale, variegated Agave x leopoldii will cool his heels in a container for a while. Tag says “choice hybrid of A. schidigera?”

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Lots of those containers find their way under the flea market display pipe stand, which I still can’t bring myself to dismantle.

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There’s always something new and full of potential to fasten to it which would otherwise be forgotten and tucked away in a drawer.
I think I’m allowing this indulgence because, otherwise, we’ve really been clearing stuff out. Really.

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Some of those containers have been migrating to the east patio, which is more dappled sun.

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I clocked our “June gloom” lasting until 2 p.m. last week. But June has unfortunately been well-trained not to spread that lovely grey morning quilt into July.
In July it simply disappears, and like a switch has been flipped, those 70 days become 90 days.

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For those 90-degree days, the golden-leaved tansy ‘Isla Gold.’

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So good with the melianthus.

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The Miscanthus ‘Cabaret’ in the metal tank loves the 90 days too, which have pushed it to the top of the pergola.


I’ll be clearing my desk to get away to Portland for the garden blogger meetup later in the week, so there may not be any more non-stories about women on bikes and whatnot until I move this mountain of work out of the way. But I’ll be needing occasional distractions, so please keeping documenting July in your gardens and I promise to do the same as soon as I can.