swept away

eerie light 1/19/21. The cactus in the large pot was oh so carefully rermoved yesterday to be planted elsewhere (Myrtillocactus geometrizans). Aloe ‘Moonglow’ behind the pot. And the leucadendron is flaunting its first cones!
Aloe ‘Moonglow’ opened to hummingbirds and bees this week
cones on Leucadendron ‘Jester’!

Busy week, weather-wise, democracy-wise. There was a sweet piney scent to the air the morning of the 19th, which meant the wind had shifted and was coming from the east. I smelled it before checking the weather vane, which confirmed it, and instantly knew the Santa Anas were back in town. I’ve never been a fan of fierce winds, but it seemed right in character for Tuesday, that sweeping change was literally in the air.

Instigating the strong winds and wildfires was a wave of low pressure scooting down the Golden State coastline and intensifying offshore. Counterclockwise winds around the area of low pressure channeled cool air southwestward over the crest of the Sierra Nevada, accelerating it downhill with gusts in spots topping hurricane force, or 74 mph. Reinforcing it was high pressure over the Great Basin of Nevada, which provided a pressure gradient — or change of air pressure with distance — that boosted winds blowing from land to sea, or offshore. —

Powerful Santa Ana wind event kindles January wildfires in California

The battering wind smacked doors shut in the house. Instead of my usual Santa Ana wind jitters, the sound of doors slamming was oddly reassuring on Tuesday…

This morning the sky is rich with portents of rain. And a fairly good chance of rain too, according to forecasts.

new plantings would really appreciate some rain, like Grevillea ‘Poorinda Blondie’ and the recently moved Yucca rostrata. Very exciting to find a dozen or so poppies germinating in the gravel around the grevillea. I’d love it if they were the ladybird poppies (P. commutatum) but it’s more likely they are the old standby Papaver setigerum, the dwarf breadseed poppy.

I’ve been tinkering with the new rocky area plantings that went in on Election Day and tightening up associations. Agave geminiflora ‘Leaping Lizards’ was planted yesterday to strengthen the theme of linear and grassy leaves, hoping to avoid the plant rummage sale look (if that’s even possible for me!) I like how the thread-leaf variegated agave and Agave bracteosa ‘Monterrey Frost’ can hold a conversation on the thickness and thinness of leaves, on variegated back lighting, in a similar rosette form.

for me variegation brings the fizzy bubbles to a planting

My eye immediately wants to compare and contrast how the two agaves differ, so there’s a discerning link made with a continuity of shape — but obviously I’m making the effort to find some coherence!


Agave geminiflora was moved to the tall cylindrical pot and brought in close to strengthen associations with other spiky outlines like the two Yucca rostrata. The variegated Carex ‘Feather Falls‘ are meant to echo the variegated squid agaves. At ground level (other than calamint), I’m trying to avoid anything deciduous or winter-dormant — the newly planted and deciduous Euphorbia cotinifolia tree is another exception. Instead of winter-dormant grasses I’m planting restios and carex. But it’s all very young and frustratingly theoretical at the moment!

The no-deciduous plants rule is already broken by a clump of alstroemeria at the lower left of Agave weberi ‘Arizona Star’ — since it was dormant at the time I forgot it was even there.
Now probably the rarest plant in the garden, caudiciform Calibanus ‘Lotusland’ (naturally occurring cross of beaucarnia and calibanus discovered at Lotusland, where early on it fetched an exorbitant price at auction) — I was terrified of committing it to the garden but ultimately decided to free it from its pot and plant it in the ground. Good thing too because the roots were already vigorously circling the bottom of the pot.
waiting for rain, newly acquired Aloe marlothii tucked in among the Silver Teaspoons kalanchoe, sideritis and leucadendron

I just might be able to get the myrtillocactus in the ground before the rain arrives, but first must find the thickest pair of gloves we own. I don’t know about you, but I find it so invigorating to take even a brief break from doomscrolling that I’m restless to tackle something like these “floral-inspired fossils,” using bits from my own garden.

Have a great weekend!

This entry was posted in agaves, woody lilies, climate, design, journal, Occasional Daily Weather Report, succulents. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to swept away

  1. So much to love! You’ve been busy. My winter garden work consists solely of clean up as windstorms move through and bring debris over and over. Oh wait! I have been cutting back an overgrown ceanothus. It was my plan to get to it before any blooms started so I wouldn’t be tempted to leave is (again). Success! It’s now just two foot long stumps that I need to dig out.

  2. Denise says:

    @Loree, I remember your ceanothus removal project. Can’t wait to see what replaces it!

  3. Kris P says:

    Those were some fierce winds! When I saw the title of your post in my feed, I thought maybe you’d had a weather-related catastrophe so I’m glad that’s not the case. It appears that we were engaged in similar tasks over the past few days – taking things we like and trying to fit them into a pleasing collage. As to the events of the 20th, without closing my eyes to the arduous challenges faced by the new administration, I feel like I can breathe again (if not also being able to move around as I’d like to do in public). Enjoy the rain! We got a quarter of an inch since last night and I got soaked this morning trying to collect everything coming off the roof that my tanks didn’t get.

  4. Denise says:

    @Kris, your use of the word “collage” gets pretty close to working with succulents and bromeliads. I like that. I just hope the president harbors no delusions about bipartisan cooperation. He had a front row seat on that fantasy as VP. Enjoy the rain up on your hill! With just the one day of light off-and-on rain here, everything is so clean!

  5. Gerhard Bock says:

    So much to look at but I particularly loved seeing your Calibanus ‘Lotusland’ in the ground. Please keep us posted on it’s growth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *