Bloom Day July 2017


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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.

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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.

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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.

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Euphorbia ‘Starblast White’

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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.

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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.

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Melianthus and kangaroo paws

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Agastache ‘Blue Blazes’

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Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ has justifiably earned its reputation for reliability, returning each summer here in zone 10.

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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.

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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.

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I’m hoping for more seedlings from this summer’s blooms for some insurance.

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Amicia zygomeris is a strong grower, pushing through the Salvia uliginosa and kangaroo paws.

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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.

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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.

This entry was posted in agaves, woody lilies, Bloom Day, succulents and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Bloom Day July 2017

  1. Renee P says:

    Lovely! A life guard tower is a good idea, but your garden also looks inviting enough to just take a deep breath and dive in… Maybe some scuba gear? Happy bloom day!

  2. Kris P says:

    I’m sorry that ‘Moon Lagoon’ is in retreat. Now, am I mistaken, or do I recall that someone was talking about creating more open areas in the back garden earlier this year? 😉 No matter, I love your crowded beachhead. You have more success with grasses than I do – or I just choose the wrong ones to try. I’m going to look for ‘Little Kitten’ – and that Eryngium pandanifolium.

  3. Nell says:

    I could look at those rusty red kangaroo paws against the cool blue Melianthus leaves all day long.

    Do the kangaroo paws go on and on, like the Glaucidium flavum that was in every month’s Bloom Day last year (gone?), or is this a peak for them?

  4. Alison says:

    ‘Karley Rose’ flopped all over when I grew it too. ‘Red Head’ is shorter and has been better behaved. I seem to have areas that are chock full, and other areas where weeds take over because I’ve been undecided for too long about what to plant. Your crowded beds have some wonderful contrasts.

  5. Denise says:

    @Renee, it’s funny that at one time we actually had a kind of lifeguard tower, a fort on stilts for the kids — and I planted that with vines that almost submerged it! But it’s great fun to look out and over.
    @Kris, I’ve been saying that for 20 years! One day I might carve out such a space, which would mean a huge reduction in planting area. I’ve got a smallish E. pandan. that might cooperate with being transplanted. Let me know if we should try for fall planting in your garden.
    @Nell, the paws won’t produce new stalks from the base this summer except for short side blooms, so this is peak bloom. I miss that G. flavum and wished it reseeded. I bought another that should be in bloom for next year.
    @Alison, that’s good to know about KR. I’ve got two and will happily replace both.

  6. Tim says:

    A visual and textural extravaganza! What’s not to love?

  7. Sue Webel says:

    I’m with Nell on the red kangaroo paws and Melianthus. I wish I could grow both of those here. Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’ got the heave ho from my garden a long time ago. Disorganized is a good word to describe it’s less than pleasing habit. Happy GBBD!

  8. Ross says:

    Gorgeous. Your pics and thoughtful, well managed approach are a reminder of why we garden. Just divine.

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