Tag Archives: Aeonium ‘Cyclops’

potted plants on the move

The summer containers in nondrought-stricken gardens can become quite a virtuoso display.
I’ve understandably pared things down the past few years but am always amazed at how even a relatively small group of pots can exclaim “Summer!”

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All the pots scattered through the garden become candidates for a massed summer display.
I appreciate how growing a single species to a pot means it can be a focal point at one time of year and part of a big group display at another time.
A good place for summer staging is around the Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus retusus) which bisects the long, narrow patios on the east.
Now that the tree has fully leafed out and all the flowers have fallen, I’ve massed pots on either side of the tree to take advantage of its dappled light.
A chaise in dappled light isn’t a bad idea either. A Mid-Century Homecrest, it needs a touch-up of black paint but is the most comfortable lounger, like floating in zero-gravity.
(Thanks again to Shirley Watts for hauling it down from Alameda in her truck.)

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This group of pots has been gradually accumulating here the past month or so, pulled from all over the garden.
The chartreuse Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’ was moved in when it gained enough size to make an impact.
Unlike so many colocasias, this tropical reliably returns from winter dormancy year after year. I turn the whole pot on its side and leave it outdoors in winter.
I have lots of small, slow-growing agaves in pots, but I like having a couple good-sized potted agaves to mass for summer.
There’s a couple pups here of ‘Blue Flame’ and ‘Boutin’s Blue,’ both of which don’t mind some shade.
The golden Schefflera ‘Amate Soleil’ was fine in full winter sun but definitely needed dappled shade by June.

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The pots of mostly foliage are easy on the water budget, and water from the shower handles all the containers.
The latest addition is a big pot of cosmos, chamomile and silver-leaved horehound/marrubium, a gift to the bees.

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Looking from the other end, Cussonia spicata in the tall grey pot is doing so much better in the dappled light after wintering in full sun.
Variegated manihot, potted succulents, and closer to the table the huge Aeonium ‘Cyclops,’ also moved here to escape full summer sun.

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The base of the fringe tree is unplanted, covered with a mulch of its own leaves year-round.
The view after August rain last year (see post here). I’ve since broken that coffee cup, a favorite from a local tugboat company.
And Mitch took those wooden planters up to his garden in San Francisco.
Before my neighbor planted palms on his side of the fence, this little patio used to be a heat trap by mid-day and went mostly unused until evening.
As a native Angeleno, it’s taken me a lifetime to appreciate the slim footprint of the ubiquitous palms and the lovely shade they cast.

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I’ve been playing around with that tall iron stand for 20 years or so. When I saw photos of Maurizio Zucchi’s home, I felt both validated and incredibly envious.
The little Euphorbia ammak at its base has a long way to grow to make an impact. I’d so love to find some more iron scaffolding for this patio.
The twisty tuteur supports a marmalade bush, Streptosolen jamesonii, I’m hoping can be trained up through its spirals.
The empty frame is part of the floor grate to the broken heater we inherited with the house.

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Last summer the vine Mina lobata grew up the iron stand’s girders, wilting in the afternoon sun.
I found a seedling of this vine that’s been potted up to try in morning sun/afternoon shade.

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Potted’s City Planter was planted up last summer and has been bullet-proof ever since.

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Hopefully this will be the last time I move this monster pot for a few months.
Showing is one of two lamps salvaged from Warehouse No. 1, the oldest warehouse in Los Angeles Harbor.
Marty kept a little workroom in the basement of the cavernous warehouse when he worked for the Port of LA, so we have a strong affection for the old relic.

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The remaining rosette of the huge clump of dyckia I just removed this week from the front garden.
Dyckias and year-round tree litter are just not a good combination. I was so sick of the mess.

I know a lot of pots of tender plants are on the move out of basements and greenhouses, where they vacationed like winter snowbirds.
Sometimes I wonder if the pots in this frost-free garden don’t have just as many miles under their rims.

more on the east fence

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I might as well continue with the east fence, the dark blue/black of which can be seen in the distance looking under the pergola.
The pots shown yesterday are on the brick patio to the left of the cypresses, and the fence continues on to the right, hidden behind the cypresses.
I need to decide whether that yucca stays or goes now that it’s become such a shaggy beast after blooming last year.
Oh, and it was raining this morning (!) Well, the pavement was slightly damp around 6:30 a.m.

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The back garden wraps around the pergola like a horseshoe. Tetrapanax on the left. Yes, that is yet another collection of pots at the base of the cypresses.
The cypresses are Calif. natives Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Citriodora.’ The bricks on the right once formed a terrace.
Some years back and dozens of plants later, the terrace was scaled down into this narrow walkway against the south fence.

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A couple months ago Marty was standing on a scaffold of an old door and sawhorses on that narrow walkway to clip the creeping fig that covers the south masonry fence.
The creeping fig, Ficus pumila, gives the 5-foot fence an extra 3 feet of height, which completely screens us from the south.

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Looking at the creeping fig-covered south wall through the pergola last November.
Table was much less cluttered, the potted Agave ‘Boutin’s Blue’ was still plunged in the garden for something to look at in winter.
I liked the interplay of those two attenuata agaves staggered in height but removed the pot recently as summer growth enveloped it.
The variegated attenuata is planted in the ground.

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The coprosma has grown considerably since November.
I love what this line of evergreen shrubs and trees is doing: the dark red coprosma in the foreground, grey, thin-leaved olearia, then the blue acacia.
(Coprosma ‘Plum Hussy,’ willow-like Olearia virgata v. lineata ‘Dartonii,’ Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea.’)

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The famous shine on the coprosma’s leaves really leaps out against the matte quality of its neighbors.

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This is the scale I usually cover, what’s happening at ground level, like this Aloe scobinifolia about to bloom.
This summer/fall-blooming aloe also bloomed last November, not long after I acquired it.
Carex testacea reseeds, variegated St. Augustine grass spreads by runners and needs a watchful eye. Dry soil keeps it in check.

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Looking from the west at the east fence last November, which shows how the garden wraps around the pergola.
The tetrapanax blooms had yet to be cut down. The potted cussonia has been repotted and moved to afternoon shade.
The bare branches of my neighbor’s peach tree are now leafed out, filling that gap to the left of the cypresses.
Is my obsession with privacy in the back garden showing much yet?
(I can probably date that obsession to when, at 13, I discovered the neighbor boy had been spying on me through my bedroom window…
and then started inviting friends over for the show. It didn’t help that I already had a crush on him…loser!)

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Potted Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ holds the cussonia’s corner now, luminous at sunset.
Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’ gets a nice glow too.

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The neighbors are, intentionally or not, working well with us on the plantings along the east boundary, which has now achieved almost total privacy.
There are some questionable choices, though.
A California Pepper Tree, Schinus molle, was planted by a neighbor just outside my southeast corner, which will eventually screen out that powder-blue building.
It’ll be nice to lose the Rear Window vibe, but when the Pepper Tree fully matures, I just might have a shade garden until mid-day.
Seeing these photos, I urgently need to decide if that yucca has become incredibly overbearing or if it’s holding it all together.
It would definitely open up the garden if we parted ways, and rather than a solitary verbascum I could plant three in its place, or a leucospermum, etc, etc.


Occasional Daily Weather Report 1/2/15

The thrumming of little portable heaters has been the constant background noise here at home in these brand-new days of the new year. A post-holiday chest cold has descended on the entire household, which has left me fit for nothing but shuffling around the garden in between extended bouts on the couch, getting up only to make more tea. The recent rains have brought on a wealth of germination, with new self-sown seedlings turning up every day to inspect and identify as friend or foe. The self-sown poppies are already small plants. A new book is the perfect companion when home sick, and I’ve had this Christmas present, Vintage Industrial, at my side quite a bit, relieved to discover lots of in-depth history amongst the beautiful photos. Temps the past couple nights made a rare and alarming descent into the mid 30s, setting a record at Los Angeles International Airport on January 1, 2015, of 36 degrees. (Please stop snickering, because that passes for cold in January in Los Angeles.)

But thankfully that’s not low enough to cause any real trouble in the garden.


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The hybrid Aeonium ‘Cyclops,’ for example, is hardy down to 25 degreees.

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The cold does a nice job of inducing even more ruffling of the leaves

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Unlabeled, but what looks like Aloe capitata in bloom at the base of the potted aeonium.

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Bromeliads and potted succulents unphased by temps in the mid 30s.

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More warmth in the orangey overlay to newly acquired Aloe elgonica

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Last photo before I return to the kitchen to warm the kettle again. Some bright winter color on the paler version of the pork and beans plant, Sedum rubrotinctum ‘Aurora’

Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year!


succulents in spring

Prowling around the garden yesterday with this or that new plant in one hand, spade in the other, looking for planting opportunities where I already knew none existed, it seemed more constructive to put the spade down and pick up the camera. This small group of succulents right outside the kitchen door may be overgrown and out of shape by the end of summer, or changed up on a whim, so a spring portrait seems like a good idea at the moment.

The tall green pot holds a young Agave americana var. striata. I’ve been told never to select green ceramic pots, any color but green, since it will only blend into the background. Sometimes blending into the background is the point, though. Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ leans in, with Cotyledon orbiculata, the latter two planted in the garden. The thin red tips on the cotyledon just slay me.


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Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ is recovering from a winter of snail depredation. The snails mercifully eat mostly the older leaves lower down on the stems.
Last year Solanum marginatum grew here and was a small tree by the end of summer.

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This photo was taken on a different day, after an early morning fog.
I love that loosely incurved rosette shape that this hybrid inherits from Aeonium undulatum.
‘Cyclops’ is potentially a giant that may very soon become much too large for this small corner.

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This baby Agave victoriae-reginae was growing in the ground but became engulfed by surrounding plants, was rediscovered, rescued, and given a safe haven in a small pot atop a larger container. Small agaves can become engulfed and forgotten when one too frequently prowls the garden with a new plant in one hand and a spade in the other. Froth of lime green Sedum confusum on the right.

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Backing up a bit to include Aeonium balsamiferum, spilling out of a smaller pot.
I like the echo of pot rims and rings from this angle and the tension of containment and surge.
Sliver of a trunk on the left is a 6-foot Manihot grahamii also growing in this pot, its canopy an increasingly receding tuft of leaves as the maturing trunk twists and elongates. The yellow flowers are from the bulging Sedum confusum.

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Back further still. What a happy community they’ve made for themselves, for this brief moment in spring anyway. Self-sown bronzy Haloragis erecta threads around the pots, always choosing to seed at the garden edges.

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