Categories

Bloom Day July 2016

 photo 1-P1010053.jpg

I’m going to try a systematic approach, so bear with me.
Right outside the office, the planting is getting some height from the bog sage, kangaroo paws, and Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket’ showing a few blooms way in the back.

 photo 1-P1010011.jpg

Using the bocconia as a reference point, swinging east, away from the office, the Crithmum maritimum, an almost succulent-like umbellifer, is in bloom at the base of the bocconia.
The grass in front of the crithmum, Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails,’ is just getting started.

 photo 1-P1012674.jpg

Silvery plant to the right of P. ‘Fairy Tails’ is the Island Bristleweed, Hazardia detonsa, endemic to the Channel Islands off Ventura, Calif.
The tiny golden paint brush blooms are only interesting insofar as they elongate and further develop the plant’s architecture. I love the overall effect.

 photo 1-P1012679.jpg

Closeup of the crithmum

 photo 1-P1012715.jpg

Before leaving the office planting, I want to give a shout out to Calamintha ‘Montrose White.’ Frustratingly difficult to get a decent photo of the clouds of tiny white flowers.
But so cool and Grace Kelly elegant. The bees and I are wholly smitten. It is by far the best bee plant in the garden.

 photo 1-P1010018.jpg

A second clump of Glaucium grandiflorum has just started blooming behind the calamint.

 photo 1-P1012555.jpg

In the foreground of the first photo is this amazing, silver-leaved mat-grower whose name I never committed to memory. It may have once been known as a helichrysum. Hasn’t every silver plant?
Sold as a summer annual, it would be perennial here in zone 10. Even though planted spring/early summer during some easy-going temperatures, this one gave me the same trouble as Stachys ‘Bella Grigio.’
Both collapsed after a couple days in the ground. I pulled them out, set them in the shade, where they surprised me by fully recovering.
In both cases, the soil mix was incredibly fast draining. The heavier garden soil was wicking away all the moisture.
After recovery, the mat grower was moved back into the garden. Some careful hand watering has helped to reveal its true and sturdy dry garden temperament.
(edited to add mat grower’s identity: Chrysocephalum aplicata. thanks, Hoov!)

 photo 1-P1012573.jpg

The stachys will reside in a container for summer, and if it makes it to fall I’ll reappraise options for a spot in the garden.
I asked the nurseryman if this stachys was the real deal, as in is it trustworthy enough for use in landscaping projects? He assured me that it was. I remain unconvinced.

 photo 1-P1010037_1.jpg

Still near the office, Agave ‘Mateo’ with the Crambe maritima (that never blooms), orange arctotis, Ricinus ‘New Zealand Purple,’ succulents, sideritis.

 photo 1-P1010041.jpg

Verbena bonariensis finds support among aloes and agaves — as do I!
(Okay, I’m officially ditching that impossible systematic approach now.)

 photo 1-P1010032.jpg

Penstemon ‘Enor’ had the usual problems with budworms blasting the flower buds before opening, but the wasps seem to have sorted it all out now.
My theory is whatever insecticide suppressant is in use at nurseries wears off soon after planting. As ever, I’m always thankful for parasitizing wasps and hungry birds.

 photo 1-P1010015_1.jpg

Origanum ‘Rosenkuppel’ in the center, with yarrow and agastache.

 photo 1-P1010030.jpg

Yesterday I took out the largest planting of this oregano to try out Sedum ‘Blue Pearl.’
The oregano is a demure evergreen mat all winter but leaps into alarmingly expansive growth in summer. It suffocated a grevillea and threatened to do the same to other neighbors.
Like first world problems, similarly, these issues get filed under small garden problems.

 photo 1-P1010029.jpg

Calamagrostis brachytricha has about five bloom stalks. Prefers moist soil, but okay on the drier side.

 photo 1-P1010016_1.jpg

Ruby grass, Melinus nerviglumis, was recently added to fill gaps where I took out a couple clumps of Elymus ‘Canyon Prince.’
I love the elymus, but it also needs a bigger garden to develop and play out its rhythms. And possibly a more wind-exposed site.
One clump of elymus tentatively remains.

 photo 1-P1010037.jpg

And yes, Margaret, there is a fast-blooming puya. Not the sexiest, but the quickest to bloom.
And Puya laxa’s very prickly leaves are like silvery tillandsias for full sun. It’s a notorious spreader, so it remains in a pot.
Since this photo, a navy-blue flower has opened, barely discernible in the overall scheme of things.
Even though it’s not one of the flamboyant turquoise beauties, I do appreciate the quickness to bloom, tall, stemmy structure, and the gorgeous leaves.

 photo 1-P1010035.jpg

Bulbine ‘Athena Compact Orange’ blooming through a carpet of horehound, Marrubium supinum.

 photo 1-P1010034.jpg

A second clump of bog sage mid garden with Verbena bonariensis. The black bumblebees and hummingbirds go for the bog sage, the butterflies favor the verbena.
The bog sage, Salvia uliginosa, has elbowed out Crocosmia ‘Solfatarre’ this summer, so there will be some shifting around this fall.

 photo 1-P1010024.jpg

Just giddy about summer-blooming Aloe ‘Cynthia Giddy’

 photo 1-P1010020.jpg

Possibly Aloe ‘Christmas Cheer’ giving off some July cheer too.

 photo 1-P1010016.jpg

Mid garden crescendo with Agastache ‘Blue Blazes,’ Achillea ‘Terra Cotta,’ eryngium, glaucium, oregano, verbena, anthemis, bog sage, melianthus.

 photo 1-P1010001.jpg

Indefatigable Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ bulwarked by Senecio medley-woodii. Anthemis ‘Susannah Mitchell, kangaroo paws.
Berkheya purpurea obligingly keeps sending up one bloom truss after another.

And that, give or take, is a wrap on July’s Bloom Day.
Check out our host’s site May Dreams Gardens for more blog contributions to July Bloom Day.

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.

51st Annual CSSA Show & Sale at the Huntington July 1-3, 2016

It’s that time again.

 photo 1-P1017220.jpg

 photo 1-P1017224.jpg

 photo 1-P1017226.jpg

Mammilaria bombycina, Mexico photo 1-P1017261.jpg

The Cactus and Succulent Society of America is holding their 51st Annual Show & Sale at the Huntington July 1st through 3rd, 2016.
It’s going to be a long week until Friday. Hope to see you there.

friday clippings 6/24/16

Little Diego next-door has taken upon himself the challenge of learning drumming. In the last couple months, he’s been practicing on whatever is handy, whether it be pots, pans, buckets, gates. It was hard to tell at first how invested he was in his new-found chaotic project. I suspected it was just a goof to annoy his mom, but he has persisted for at least a few months. And today I could detect for the first time his discovery of pattern and repetition. I mean it was just the usual wild thrashing and then, boom, he was controlling the beat. A momentous day for the little guy. He lives just on the other side of the east fence, against which the three big lemon cypresses somewhat muffle his practice sessions.


 photo 1-P1012538.jpg

For muffling little drummer boys, privacy, beauty, bird sanctuary, the cypresses are incredibly valuable to us. But of course I couldn’t just let them be cypresses.
They’d be perfect as scaffolding for vines, right? But not at the expense of harming them, of course. And that’s a very fine line, I’ve come to find out.

 photo 1-P1012532.jpg

I’m still amazed that the Solanum ‘Navidad, Jalisco’ from Annie’s Annuals has become this happy.
It was planted against the fence, in the dry soil amongst the cypresses, with not enough light, and seemed to be puny and languishing for forever…until it wasn’t.
This is all so new, that a plant has actually followed orders: Get in there, don’t mind the awful conditions, and climb that cypress, will ya?
And it’s possible the solanum may be too obliging and eager to please. Because when it comes to choosing between the cypresses and a rollicking, rampageous vine, that’s an easy choice to make.
Little Diego has lots more practicing to do this summer.

Have a great weekend.


my new earrings (via collaboration of Molly M Designs & Roberto Burle Marx)

You know how one thing leads to another, and before you know it there’s a new pair of earrings coming in the mail? Let me explain.
There’s a Roberto Burle Marx exhibit right now at the Jewish Museum in New York (review here, “The Builder of Jungles” by Martin Filler.)
I admit to being slightly confused as to how a museum exhibit could possibly do justice to the work of the great Brazilian modernist landscape architect.
But Burle Marx was an outsized, protean artist, “a painter and sculptor; a designer of textiles, jewelry, theater sets, and costumes; a ceramicist and stained-glass artist.”
Therefore, he’s eminently worthy of an indoor exhibit, though I have to agree with Mr. Filler that:
The primal presence of nature—even in this designer’s highly stylized manner—is needed to fully explain the atavistic magic that emerged from his jungle fervor.”
(If you’re going to the Olympics in Rio this August, in addition to the famous Avenida Atlântica, the Copacabana boardwalk, you’ll want to research some Burle Marx-themed road trips.)


 photo 13ROBERTOJP3-blog427.jpg

Avenida Atlântica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, via The New York Times

After reading the NYRB review, I confess my next thought was on the low-brow side: museum shop!
Maybe there were some special prints for sale made for the show, such as a print of this:


 photo burle-marx-rooftop-design.jpg

Burle Marx’s design for a rooftop garden, Ministry of Education and Health, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1938, via NYRB

or this:

 photo 13ROBERTO-master768.jpg

“A detail of Roberto Burle Marx’s design for the garden of the Ministry of the Army in Brasília from the early 1970s.”
The New York Times – “Revisiting the Constructed Edens of Roberto Burle Marx

I didn’t find a print, but did experience an aha! moment discovering the jewelry of Molly M. I was beginning to think I was hopelessly tone deaf when it comes to jewelry.
It’s gotten so bad that I’ll find myself at work completely denuded of any ornament, having forgotten to wear even a wedding band before leaving the house. What’s wrong with me anyway?
My indifference to jewelry all my life never really bothered me much, but I’ve begun to notice the emotional attachment people feel to their rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Frankly, I’m a little envious of that attachment. So I had a couple Etsy sessions recently, dutifully scanning the sites for something to spark an interest. Nothing. Hopeless.
Until I saw the laser-cut creations of architect-trained Molly M in the Jewish Museum Shop tying into the Burle Marx exhibition.

 photo quill_2_1_1024x1024.jpg

Finally, jewelry I actually desired. Now I get it! The Tropicalissimo Quill Necklace made a convert of me.
But a necklace is a big step for the newly converted, formerly jewelry phobic. Maybe there were earrings on Molly M’s own site?
Yes, there are Quill earrings available, as shown in the above photo.

 photo radial_1_1024x1024.jpg

But at almost 2 inches in diameter, I opted for something smaller in “Radial,” made of “natural and charcoal stained birch.”

You can read more about Molly M here. I think I may have found, via our beloved Roberto Burle Marx, the cure to my jewelry phobia.

Occasional Daily Weather Report 6/20/16

We thought we’d have the whole house fan installed before the long, hot days of summer, but there’s been a few hiccups.
When it finally arrived for pickup at a local big box store, it was shipped without instructions or necessary hardware, so that set us back a couple extra weeks.
The current heat wave may have won this round, but we’ll be ready for the next one (fingers crossed).
118 in Palm Springs yesterday, 100 in our own Long Beach. Hotter today.
Smoke from the Sherpa fire fills our skies, making a fire 100 miles north seem uncomfortably local.
Highway 101 around Santa Barbara is open today but has been subject to closures.
Garden lovers will also worry about Lotusland when that area burns, but as far as I can tell it is far enough south that it’s not in imminent danger.

 photo 1-P1012443.jpg

Buckle up. It’s the first day of summer.

Gladiolus papilio ‘Ruby’

I’ll tell you the same story I told Marty before work this morning, when he caught me around sunrise, barefoot and still in pajamas, crouching in the garden, snapping away with the camera.
Back in March of 2014, I sent off a terse but plaintive e-mail to Sue Mann of Priory Plants in the UK:

Just wondering if your nursery ships bulbs to the U.S. — specifically, Gladiolus ‘Ruby,’ which currently has no source in the U.S. Thanks for your help.”

With Sue’s cheerful and steady cooperation, the bulbs were in my hands on April 2, 2014. I immediately planted them in the garden, which was absolutely the wrong thing to do.
The garden seemingly ate them for lunch, and there was no further sign of my precious gladioli. Until spring 2016.
In hindsight, I know now to always pot up rare little bulbs and corms while they make size and multiply.

This spring I noticed some bulb foliage that seemed a bit more substantial than all the ipheion, sparaxis, and other little bulbs that have accumulated over the years.
Instantly I realized that these leaves could very well belong to ‘Ruby.’ A tense vigil over several months ensued while I waited for a sign.
A couple of days ago a sliver of red gleamed through the tight flower bud, and identification was confirmed.
Bulbs truly are among the most resilient of life forms.


 photo 1-P1012425.jpg

So what’s the big deal, you ask? ‘Ruby’ is a hybrid of the South African species Gladiolus papilio, which has a tall, purply-brown flower with grassy leaves.
Coming from South Africa, the species glads are a natural choice for Los Angeles’ similar climate and won’t need chilling like many of the more traditional garden bulbs do.
(As it turns out, though, ‘Ruby’ is said to be hardy if mulched well.)
I’ve tried a few species gladioli and never really fell in love…until I saw photos of ‘Ruby.’
I think it was one of Dan Pearson’s top picks in an article in Gardens Illustrated.

 photo 1-P1012439.jpg

She’s got it all — great proportions (flowers not too big/not too small), graceful bearing, good height, strong stems, rich color.
From another UK nursery, Broadleigh Bulbs: “It combines the depth of colour of a modern hybrid with the growth habit of its species parent.”

 photo 1-P1012423.jpg

I want about 50 more this instant, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.

 photo 1-P1012437.jpg

Moving plants around as I constantly do, ‘Ruby’ ended up in quite a crowded spot. I’d much rather see her in a less tumultuous setting.
It might be best to lift the corms in the fall and move them to the safety of a pot, where they’ll hopefully increase into dozens more. And very soon, please.
Warm thanks again to Sue Mann of Priory Plants for going to all that trouble to send me a few corms, which I promptly lost, then despite the odds, found again.

P.S. 6/20/16 — I promised to send photos to Sue when ‘Ruby’ bloomed, and this is her response:

I am so glad they survived for you. Once they get going, they multiply quite quickly, and in fact, I think they will probably grow better in your climate than they do here!. I have just been potting up some more today. When I get a lot of little corms, which are too small to put out into the garden, I plant them in old polystyrene fish boxes, which are about 14″ x 9″ x 6″ deep. Quite gritty soil – after about 6-8months of growing on, they are ready to be potted up into individual pots, or out into the garden. When they are in flower, they are instant sellers! I’m going to a plant fair on the 19 July, so they should be on flower for then.”

revisiting a local succulent garden

I haven’t revisited the garden I posted about here in person, though I’d love to.
But I did find outtakes, photos that, for whatever reason, I didn’t include with the original post, mostly detailed closeups that were repetitive.
Some people have no trouble at all with intricately complex, multi-layered plantings. And they make it look so easy.

 photo 1-P1017050.jpg

Photos were taken in December, when autumn leaves clung to the plantings but were swept off the walkways.

 photo 1-P1017042.jpg

 photo 1-P1017067.jpg

Fine jewelry, hand-made shoes, a good meal, exciting painting and sculpture, all things universally appreciated.
Yet how many appreciate the knowledge and craft that went into this?

 photo 1-P1017024.jpg

 photo 1-P1016999.jpg

 photo 1-P1017022.jpg

 photo 1-P1017014.jpg

 photo 1-P1017017.jpg

 photo 1-P1017038.jpg

Among so much generalized plant blindness, there are occasionally those who can really see.

Bloom Day June 2016

In June, it seems like everywhere you point the camera, something is in bloom.

 photo db444063-3e25-4d31-ba95-88c526e889cc.jpg

Glaucium grandiflorum wants the entire garden for itself, so there’s been lots of ongoing, strategic pruning.

 photo 51232938-7973-4fa9-8d00-7bb3f84a43b0.jpg

The blooms of Eryngium planum eventually slide from silvery-green into blue.

 photo P1012129.jpg

Berkheya purpurea has matured into several big clumps and probably won’t stop there.

 photo eecc44ab-c77c-4a0c-9e6d-602acb0ba558.jpg

‘Enor’ was planted in spring from gallons, just two, plus a ‘Pike’s Peak Purple. I like the almost dierama-like effect from the the tall, smaller-flowered varieties of penstemon.
And I always fall for the darkest colors. ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Raven’ are similarly dark-flowered varieties.

 photo 11f15871-d70f-41d1-9d4a-74ad948dbb81.jpg

Salvia uliginosa is unapologetically robust. I’m already making mental notes to split this clump in fall.
I think this might be the salvia to interplant with big grasses.

 photo P1012279_1.jpg

Chocolate Daisy, Berlandiera lyrata, unlike Chocolate Cosmos, really does scent the garden chocolate. As long as the sun is out, that is.

 photo 734b498e-2431-4f68-93d2-5711f8576fac.jpg

Small, frost-free, the back garden chugs along year round, so summer must share ground.
And I’m partial to long-lasting flowers with a strong architectural presence. (Which means BD posts can be a tad repetitive.)
Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ returns for at least its third year, same footprint, no reseeding, reveling in the driest, hottest conditions. It’s a performance so perfect as to be almost artificial.
Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’ is the buttery daisy. Agastatche ‘Blue Blazes’ is barely noticeable, just starting to gain height. The latter two are both new this year, though I’ve grown them in the past.

 photo 126e6926-6b46-4544-aed8-b8e4ccbadf99.jpg

A similar effect can be had from the succulent Cistanthe/Calandrinia grandiflora (long-stemmed, screaming magenta flowers), but clumps of calandrinia seem to double in size overnight.

 photo ec6018a8-8d1d-4c7d-b62d-7c255130629d.jpg

Agastache ‘Blue Blazes’

 photo b0c94389-4857-4757-bf91-035fb99e8330.jpg

Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’

 photo 937bf403-2778-430d-a8c5-8b1d24381ae6.jpg

I thought the ‘Terracotta’ yarrow would never bloom. It was playing by the rules and waiting to make that fabled third year leap.

 photo 9f980b56-229c-49c1-95f7-93018af24c3a.jpg

The kangaroo paws aren’t nearly as tall as they should be. Steady irrigation before and during flowering seems to be key.
I put El Nino in charge of the irrigation this winter, and what a slacker he turned out to be. At least in Southern California.

 photo 075d9caf-9af9-476f-be98-1730a1ee78f4.jpg

I’m loving the bright chartreuse new growth on Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’

 photo 1bc40cf6-c063-4bb7-ab90-c431cd653da6.jpg

The Pittosporum crassifolium ‘Variegatum’ was a recent indulgence.

 photo 17911e24-079c-4b0c-b740-4d1d13d38e78.jpg

Even in June, flowers just aren’t enough. Let’s give it up for leaves.

 photo 88d80a3b-5391-416d-96e1-8ba0e65fe711.jpg

June is a month not to be missed for Bloom Day news, which Carol collects for us at May Dreams Gardens.