Don’t laugh, but I really did worry this spring that there might be some gaps and (gasp!) bare soil this summer. I thought I was being much too generous with spacing as I split up grasses over the winter and prepared what’s mostly a succulent and shrub garden for summer. Even while the spring poppies were filling in, the garden just seemed roomier this year. Yet a friend recently joked that what the garden needs now is a lifeguard tower. Quite a few plants have become submerged under summer exuberance, the umbellifer Crithmum maritimum for one, and assorted others like buckwheat Eriogonum crocatum, Salvia argentea, Achillea ‘Terracotta,’ etc., etc.
That’s winter-blooming Aloe cameronii foreground right with Verbena bonariensis, which has seeded throughout.
The small patch of white blooms are from new-to-me Euphorbia ‘Starblast White, a double form of ‘Diamond Frost,’ which is perennial here.
Hard to tell from this jam-packed view, but there actually is a gap this summer, and a rather large one, evidenced by the bare stubby branches to the left of the echium. That’s what’s left of Eucalyptus ‘Moon Lagoon,’ planted from a gallon in 2014. It’s regrowing from the base (lignotuber), but the origin of the dieback of this mallee shrub is an unsolved mystery, so its overall health and viability is still a big question mark. I waited until all growth in the 6X6′ canopy seemed well and truly dead before cutting it down, thinking the branches might host new growth. Some new growth had fitfully occurred since the dieback started in spring but always withered away, which unfortunately sounds like a soil/disease/wilt problem.
Several aloes are in bloom, like ‘Kujo,’ seen to the right of the large pot in the previous photo. Planting aloes deeper in the garden, not right up against the hardscape, which creates perfect Argentine ant farm conditions, seems to be lessening the attacks by ants and aphis.
Euphorbia ‘Starblast White’
Grasses, grasses, grasses. I could sit up in a lifeguard tower surveying a sea of grasses for hours. There’s seslerias, Aristida purpurea, Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails,’ ruby grass Melinus nerviglumis blooming. Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’ pictured above might be a bit too disorganized for a return next year. Lovely blooms but haphazard growth habits.
Whereas Miscanthus ‘Little Kitten’ seems very promising. The grassy clump stays low and full, with the blooms swaying tall overhead, the ideal performance for a small garden. With bocconia, buttery Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’ in the distance, Leucadendron ‘Winter Red’ foreground right.
Melianthus and kangaroo paws
Agastache ‘Blue Blazes’
Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ has justifiably earned its reputation for reliability, returning each summer here in zone 10.
Cotyledon orbiculata, one of my favorite succulents for summer bloom because of those long stems and dangling flower clusters the color of summer peaches, with silvery, dudleya-like leaves.
I’m completely infatuated with the giant Eryngium pandanifolium, first planted in 2013, despite the long, whippy leaves and their sharp hooks. Now growing a few feet from the south wall, we’ve found a spot we’re both comfortable with, which is great because it deeply resents disturbance.
I’m hoping for more seedlings from this summer’s blooms for some insurance.
Amicia zygomeris is a strong grower, pushing through the Salvia uliginosa and kangaroo paws.
There’s probably six calamints in the garden, and I can never get a decent photo of any of them, but I’m finding them indispensable for summer. The bees think so too.
I need to either scale back summer garden ambitions or build me one of these.
Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts the monthly Bloom Day reports on the 15th of each month, and is nice enough not to mind if you’re a day or two late.