Category Archives: pots and containers

we have a winner

The Muradian pot will now reside in the care of Jon in Baltimore, Maryland. Congratulations! I’ve sent you a PM.

 photo 1-P1013331.jpg

It turned out to be fortuitous that the pot was set aside pending the giveaway, because these new shelves came crashing down Saturday with a sound Marty likened to the “wreck of the Hesperus.”
That would be my doing. I’m guilty of overloading it with just one more pot…every week or so.
It’s been strengthened and rigged again, and amazingly no plants seem to have been lost. I couldn’t bear to take a photo of the carnage so here’s the semi-tidy aftermath.
Lots of pot shards to sweep up, but nothing precious. The orphaned plants are already shaking off the trauma in their new digs.
It’ll be in the mail this week, Jon.

Muradian pot needs a good home

I’ve never planted this pot made by Fresno-based potter Mark Muradian, whose pots are at all the succulent and cactus shows in California.
It’s just too precious for the way I shuffle things around constantly. 5 and a half inches wide and tall, including feet.

 photo 1-P1013211.jpg

So this will be a low-key giveaway, no tie-ins to Instagram, Facebook, etc., just for the hard-core readers (you know who you are!) but U.S. only.
If no one wants it, then I’ll finally plant something in it, maybe the little Pachypodium namanquanan that’s bulging out of its current pot.
If only one person comments and needs it, it’s yours. I’ll close this out in early September.

Happy Monday!

at the Inter-City CSSA Show August 2016

The funny thing about hard-core succulent shows is there’s often non-succulent treasures on the sales tables too.

 photo 1-P1013206.jpg

On arrival, I made a quick circuit around the tables and immediately became fixated on these decidedly non-succulent leaves.

 photo 1-P1013194.jpg

And the mottling on these stems. No name tag, no price.

Continue reading at the Inter-City CSSA Show August 2016

31st Annual Inter-City Cactus Show & Sale

31st Annual Inter-City Cactus and Succulent Show and Sale
The LA County Arboretum in Ayres Hall
301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
Saturday, August 13, 2016, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday, August 14, 2016, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

 photo P1018470.jpg

By a bit of trickery with angles, the stunning bloom of Urginea maritima seemingly belongs to a boophane at a past CSSA show.

 photo 1-P1018157.jpg

A year ago, August 2015. Within days after this photo, Opuntia microdasys was chewed into disfigurement by a worm I failed to notice in time.
Before the worm, it kinda looked like two parents herding a gaggle of opuntia kids, didn’t it? That’s dad pointing to the left.
But the gymnocalycium is in bloom again. Purple echinocereus looks exactly the same.
I think I’ll pass on the opuntias for now. But the best part of the Inter-City shows and sales is you never know what you’ll find that speaks to your plant-loving soul.
Hope to see you there.

a week in plants, continued

I so rarely document thoroughly, before and after, that I thought for once I’d push back a little against those slacker tendencies.
This small project is an easy place to start. In the last post, there were four ‘Cousin Itt’ acacias added under the fringe tree, and that was theoretically the end of it.
Where we left off, I was going to leave space open to sweep in the leaves and not plant bromeliads because it’ll be messy with the tree litter, etc., etc. I am so full of shit, it still astounds me.
No way can I leave something half-planted like that. In for a penny, in for a pound, always.
So this morning the burning question was: What other dry shade-tolerant stuff do I have lying around?

 photo 1-P1012918.jpg

There’s this huge potted Lomandra ‘Breeze’ that can be sawed into two big clumps. Rough treatment, but I seriously doubt one can mistreat a lomandra. We’ll see.
A potted Asparagus retrofractus to billow between the two lomandras, all kind of hitting the same shade of bright green so the mix of plants isn’t too patchwork.
A few bromeliads for big crazy colorful rosettes, tree litter be damned. As shallow growers, it’s easy to change your mind with bromeliads.
I’ll probably remove them before they get buried in leaves over winter.

 photo 1-P1012908.jpg

Still too bare for my taste, but if the acacias like it here they can get over 4 feet across.

 photo 1-P1012911.jpg

This no ID rhipsalis seems to be growing in an upright clump, so it gets to be the fifth “acacia.” Very root-infested soil in this spot.

 photo 1-P1012912.jpg

A ringer for the acacia, right?

 photo 1-P1012915.jpg

Lost the name of the foreground bromeliad I’ve had for years.

 photo 1-P1012907.jpg

Neoregelia ‘Dr. Oesser Big Spots’ was brought home this weekend from the sale/show at Rainforest Flora in Torrance.

 photo 1-P1012906.jpg

Neoregelia ‘Martin’

Aechmea 'Samurai' photo 1-P1012903.jpg

One of the many gorgeous bromeliads at the weekend show that didn’t come home with me, Aechmea ‘Samurai.’
If only I’d had this planting scheme before the sale. Overplanning has never been my strong suit. It’s always been spontaneity or bust.

 photo 1-P1012921.jpg

I tucked a potted variegated monstera, also from Rainforest Flora, behind the asparagus against the fence, but there may be too much slanting afternoon sun for it.
If the sun isn’t too strong, I’m going to check into espaliering it against the fence.

 photo 1-P1012930.jpg

Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’ marks the new planting for wayward paws that have been used to digging here and kicking up leaves.
I’ll keep you posted on the fate of this little acacia experiment.

In a Vase on Monday, (courtesy of the OG)

 photo 1-P1012782.jpg

Peter/Outlaw Gardener, that indefatigable daily blogger and all-around nice guy, raffled off some vases recently.

 photo 1-P1012776.jpg

(And look who’s a winner!)

 photo 1-P1012801.jpg

I found this fat little echeveria in the front garden and unceremoniously pulled him up by the roots to welcome Peter’s vase.
(Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting In a Vase on Monday.)

 photo 1-P1012812.jpg

A vase that mimics a Notocactus magnificus doesn’t need much accompaniment, but I dragged some stuff off the mantle for the occasion.
This dried bloom of an Allium schubertii has lasted eons. The little green pedestal vase came home with me a few weeks ago.

 photo 1-P1012813.jpg

The bulb in the garden disappeared long ago. There’s not enough winter chill in zone 10 for this allium to thrive here.

 photo 1-P1012807.jpg

Thank you so much, Peter! And one raffle deserves another, though I doubt I can find something as worthy as your vase. I’ll have to give it some thought.

bromeliads for hanging planters? (yes!)

A lot of my bromeliads swing from on high now.

 photo P1011333.jpg

And it all started with an act of generosity back in January of 2014.
A gift from Reuben, after our joint flea market venture.
(It’d be fun to plan another flea market escapade for winter, or maybe a pop-up shop. But these are plans for cooler weather.)

 photo P1011992.jpg

At first a single bromeliad, Aechmea recurvata ‘Aztec Gold,’ made its home here.
(Nice to see that yucca and coronilla again, both plants that have moved on, leaving behind progeny that pop up from time to time.)

 photo P1014257.jpg

I bet you know where this is going. When have I ever left well enough alone, or been a one-bromeliad-per-sphere person, so to speak?
By April 2014 there were two.

 photo 1-P1016997.jpg

By June of 2015, there was lots of company.

 photo 1-P1012739.jpg

 photo 1-P1012732.jpg

 photo 1-P1012729.jpg

It’s actually been thinned out a little since 2015. Some of the bromeliads grow too large and get moved out into pots.

 photo P1019618.jpg

There are terrestrial, ground-dwelling bromeliads, which can get enormous like the alcantareas, and epiphytic, tree-dwelling bromeliads.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, that first aechmea was a good choice, being an epiphytic bromeliad, with roots adapted to clinging to trees.

 photo P1011436.jpg

Now you know as much as I do about these plants with the fabulously plasticine, kaleidoscopic leaves and flowers as colorful as tropical birds.
Like succulents, these are forgiving plants that don’t punish ignorance.
A more organic approach than my sphere is an option, as seen in this example in the cloud forest section of the Huntington Botanical Garden’s conservatory.
Bromeliads are mossed and fixed to the branch by florist wire or fishing line (further instructions here).

 photo P1010013.jpg

There are thousands of species of bromeliads, pretty much all of them native to Central and South America (the neotropic ecozone.)
Some of the more familiar are the ones we make upside-down cakes with (pineapples) and the wildly popular air plants/tillandsias.

 photo P1015152.jpg photo P1015150.jpg

Some enthrallingly kinetic examples of tillandsias from local nurseries and plant shows.

Photobucket

Rest assured, there are great minds out there applying themselves to devising methods for displaying tillandsias.
Above is the Airplantman Josh Rosen’s Airplant Frame seen at Big Red Sun in Venice.
Seth Boor in collaboration with Flora Grubb designed the Thigmotrope Satellite.

 photo P1010528.jpg

Another hanging arrangement with tillandsias from my garden. I incorporated most of these into the sphere.

 photo 1-P1012741.jpg

The takeaway here is, this growing arrangement has legs. The plants thrive on very little input from me.
For truth be told, for all my enthusiasm, I am not the most technically gifted plant caretaker.
Requiring little soil, mostly just moss, tolerant of dryish conditions, appreciating a refreshing spritz with the hose once a week. And that’s it.

 photo 1-P1010845.jpg

In fact, the care for shade-tolerant succulents and bromeliads is so similar that I combine them in shallow planters.

 photo 1-P1012763.jpg

As rain forest understory plants that can absorb nutrients and moisture through their leaves, I’ve always assumed, for Los Angeles, shade is the safest best.
But some bromeliads can tolerate a surprising amount of sunlight, as long as it’s not strong afternoon sunshine. I’m trying out a few under an acacia tree with grasses.
The best leaf color is obtained by exposure to as much sun as can be tolerated without leaf burn.
There are surer ways of sorting out light requirements for the different species, of course, like consulting a reference book.
Bromeliads for the Contemporary Garden,” which I haven’t read, looks promising.

Nice-sized specimens, however, do not come cheap. I like looking for deals on small pups at bromeliad shows, like the upcoming show August 6th & 7th at Rain Forest Flora in Torrance.

You don’t happen to have a sphere lying around? What the heck, it’s mid summer. Go ahead and treat yourself. Salvage yards are full of interesting possibilities.
And Terrain offers a very similar Hanging Planter here.
Potted’s Hedge Hanging Planter would work just as well.
Or get to work with a branch and some fishing line.
I’ve got an empty hayrack that I’d love to see overflowing with bromeliads.
More images of bromeliads from AGO can be found here.

 photo P1015635.jpg

more shelves

I don’t have any travel plans this summer, so July’s rhythm has been work, work, work, decompress in garden, shower, repeat. And I don’t really mind because the garden is so absorbing this time of year. At least once a day I stand as close to the center of it as possible, on a rapidly disappearing access path, like Moses parting the Red Sea, to study the fleets of winged insects that visit. They’re the perpetual fireworks of the July garden. The air space is thrumming with the familiar bees, bumblebees, wasps, lawn skippers, hoverflies, but there’s so many that are nameless to me. Like the British research ship-naming contest, they may as well be Buggy McBug Faces. I was even convinced the other day that the tiny and rare El Segundo Blue butterfly paid a visit. Since its only known remaining habitat is under the flight path of LAX, that’s unlikely. But when your identification skills are sketchy at best, anything is possible, even rare blue butterflies.


Ferocactus diquetii photo 1-P1012575.jpg

I did get out to the CSSA show at the Huntington last week. Here’s a splendid Gymnocalycium friedrichii as proof.

 photo 1-P1012667.jpg

I brought home just a couple plants, an Agave colorata and Euphorbia multifolia, but like clockwork, every summer I become convinced I need more shelves.
So Marty helped me rig a new shelving system, which gets lots of the pots up off the ground.

 photo 1-P1012620.jpg

Not that I have anything against pots on the ground, but I like options for closer, eye-level inspection too.

 photo 1-P1012653.jpg

Sturdy potted plants are fine at ground level.

 photo 1-P1017032_1.jpg

Last summer I massed lots of sturdy stuff against the east (blue) fence.

 photo 1-P1012610.jpg

But the little treasures have a better chance of survival if they’re right under my nose.
Little side tables and shelves, a garden needs them too, right?

 photo 1-P1012643.jpg

I found these shelves at Building REsources in San Francisco last spring. They reminded me of old ironing boards.

 photo 1-P1012618.jpg

The diamond perforations looked ideal for drainage. I saw great potential, but Marty wasn’t convinced with any of my early design proposals.
This arrangement suits everybody.

 photo 1-P1012648.jpg

Euphorbia multifolia is temporarily cached in that lime green swirly pot.

I’ve seen this exact pot sitting on a neighbor’s porch a couple streets away, but have never seen it anywhere else, flea markets, etc.
A collecting friend gave me this one when it became chipped. What are the odds of there being two in my neighborhood?

 photo 1-P1012596.jpg

The shelves are hung against the bird house/bath house. I like this corner for its morning sun/afternoon shade.
The ferny plant is a young Acacia cardiophylla. I thought the parakeets would appreciate something leafy to look at.

 photo 1-P1012687.jpg

Now that they’re hung, I’m wondering if they shouldn’t have been painted first.

 photo 1-P1012658.jpg

The shelves are rigged so that unhooking them for painting would be incredibly easy.
And the spray paint has really been flying around here lately. Someone cleaned out a garage and unloaded boxes of spray cans on us.

 photo 1-P1012665.jpg

Marty has done all the painting. I come home from work, and there it is, the marvel of fresh paint.
For someone who has had a lifelong tolerance for rust, I’m growing alarmingly fond of fresh paint.
I can’t seem to move beyond black though. Marty had repainted this metal jardiniere in its original orange, and it was gorgeous.
But my eye kept stuttering and tripping over it. I guess that’s called a focal point, right? I needed it black, and Marty reluctantly repainted it again. What a guy.

 photo 1-P1012608.jpg

And this old aquarium stand with those great hairpin legs got some fresh black paint too.
The marble top also came from Building REsources a few years ago.

 photo 1-P1012668.jpg

Fresh paint is great, but some old finishes are too good to cover. I found this galvanized table really cheap at a great shop in San Pedro.

 photo P1012663.jpg

This shop is so good, with such great prices, that I’m hesitant to name it.

 photo 1-P1012564.jpg

Okay, that would be incredibly selfish. It’s House 1002 on Pacific Avenue.

 photo 1-P1012640.jpg

So the question remains, to paint or not to paint? If we do repaint, I’m leaning toward repainting the shelves their original color, not black, but I’m open to suggestions.


holiday hangups (happy 4th of July)

I’ve been pushing for the long weekend so hard, I was convinced most of yesterday that it was Friday and kept wishing everyone a happy holiday. Not quite, but almost there.
Today a broken camera, an overlooked deadline, and a forgotten mid-day dental appointment means I won’t get away to play at the CSSA sale until the weekend.
It’s predicted Californians will be driving in record numbers this holiday weekend, with San Diego, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco among the top destinations.
Might I suggest avoiding the Harbor Freeway between 10 and 11 Saturday morning? That’s all the time I’ll need to get to the Huntington. Thanks awfully.

 photo 1-P1012299-001.jpg

Do try this at home: Furcraea macdougalii, ‘Angelina’ sedum, ‘Jitters’ crassula and echeverias, Roger’s Gardens

And during the bravura, explosive celebrations setting off car alarms on my street all weekend I’m going to try to keep in mind :
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort,
and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day
.”
― David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

Have a blast this 4th of July weekend.