end of month February 2016

Since it’s the last day of February, I suppose it’s time to admit defeat and clear out all the drafts that never made it to proper posts.
There’s the draft post tying in to last night’s Oscars, where I muse about how each spring in the garden seems like a new production, with brand-new plot lines and star turns.
It’s possible that’s due to my background. Like one-half of all Angelenos, I’ve taken screenwriting courses and once worked for an Academy-Award winning screenwriter (Abby Mann, Judgment at Nuremberg). So my brain might be wired to see even gardens in a dramatic framework. To me even the smallest garden expresses themes about shelter, sanctuary, earth, sky and water, friendship, risk, yearning, fecundity, what it means to live a good life and really how minimal are the resources that actually requires. Light and space are big garden themes for me. Some garden productions are hardscape heavy, mine tend to be plant intensive. For me it’s always the most exciting production in town. All on an indie budget, of course
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That draft was never developed, and now that the awards are over it’s a bit stale. (I did love Spotlight, so hooray for its best picture award. George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road was an awesome spectacle, deserving of all its technical awards. Marty saw The Revenant and loved it. I can’t take that kind of punshiment from a movie but admire the effort. Loved DiCaprio’s acceptance speech on the urgency of climate change.)

I had a draft post on how the back garden is getting heavy with aloe & anigozanthos. Aloe for winter bloom, kangaroo paws for summer.


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Little Aloe conifera’s bloom continues to reveal more luscious, custardy color.

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No, my garden kangaroo paws aren’t showing bloom stalks yet.
Feeling a little anigozanthos-starved, I promised myself if I saw any in bloom at a nursery, I’d bring it home.
Meet ‘Bush Tango,’ medium in height, in comparison to a tall variety like ‘Big Red’ just a few feet away.

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At least I think this is ‘Big Red,’ hopefully correctly labeled. I can’t remember if I saw blooms on it last year.
The dark green, strappy leaves of ‘Big Red’ are in the foreground to the left of Leucadendron ‘Ebony’

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With a little bit of cheating, I can have a view with both anigozanthos and aloes in bloom. Aloe ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ in the distance.

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I wanted to write also on how well the santolina orbs are coming along. This summer they should really be…I don’t know. Profoundly orbful maybe.

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In that same mood of If I See It, I’m Buying It, I sprang for a big container of Phormium ‘Black Adder.’
Fooling around with this phormium in small sizes was getting nowhere.
Phormiums either become huge, unmanageable monsters or melt away after five leaves. No middle ground here.

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The phormium was planted into the spot held by a potted Agave ‘Ivory Curls.’

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I absent-mindedly left the hose trickling all day on this melianthus last week. First irrigation crime of the new year.
Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’ slurped up every drop. This variety does appreciate more moisture than the species, in my experience.

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Then there was the post over the huge excitement of my first beschorneria coming into bloom.
I so rarely see them locally, I wasn’t sure if they liked Los Angeles enough to bloom. And then I found these one day, here

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It’s a little taller than this today. From Annie’s Annuals ‘Martin Grantham Hybrids.’

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This old table base got a new salvage top I had stashed away. Its previous top was succulents (see here and here.)

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I took this photo of the rhipsalis, but you can see more of the table in the background.
If I read myself right, I planted the table summer of 2013. Amazing how the succulents held on, with the table pushed out of the way between two cypresses at the fence.
I moved the table out to clear the area for…

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A stock tank I purchased last fall. It holds a couple salvias, an astelia and other things in pots as they show new growth.
Like lilies, a dahlia. A catch-all this year. Maybe next year there’ll be more of a plan. Another tank waits to be drilled.

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Poppy time continues into March.

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Gerberas too.

Onward into March!

Bloom Day February 2016

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This warm weather (90 again today!) is pushing an early spring. The first bloom of the many reseeded Papaver setigerum obligingly opened this morning for Bloom Day.

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Meanwhile, the winter-blooming aloes aren’t ready to yield the spotlight yet. Aloe ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ is building up into its ladder-rung bloom formation.

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Aloe cameronii just this week started opening lower buds on its bloom truss, immediately setting off territorial hummingbird disputes.
You can make out the rosettes of reseeding poppies threading their way around a leucadendron.
I’ve been thinning poppies like mad. Editing the spring garden, leaving in poppies for punctuation, pulling out excess for clarity, is becoming a welcome recurring spring ritual.
The umbellifer Orlaya grandiflora resows, too, and is always at least a month later than this poppy. Tragically, I haven’t seen any orlaya seedlings at all this year.

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This year’s salvia will be Salvia leucantha ‘Santa Barbara,’ a dwarfish variety with all-purple flowers and bracts.
It’s a widely grown salvia here. Left to its own devices, it quickly becomes overgrown and bare-legged. Pruning it down to the base late winter keeps it manageable.
It blooms so well here that it’s worth growing as an annual and restarting woody, overgrown plants frequently from cuttings.
An experiment this year with grass Leymus ‘Canyon Prince,’ to see how they match in size and vigor.
More poppies visible to the left, with white flowers of Melampodium leucanthum.

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Lots of yellow this February, from acacias, from the pyramidal-shaped blooms of aeoniums.

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More yellow from the Feathery Cassia, Senna artemisioides

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from Sedum dendroideum and other succulents

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Little golden trumpets from Eremophila glabra ‘Kalgoorlie,’ its first year in the garden.
I really, really admire this little shrub so far and can’t wait to see it bulk up into an even bigger, silvery, gold-flecked presence.

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Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’

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There’s been pink, too, from this anisodontea from Annie’s Annuals, ‘Strybing Beauty.’
It’s been blooming lightly all winter, despite being planted a couple feet from the back wall, in the band of shade that is now rapidly disappearing from the garden.
Each day sunlight spreads over more and more of the garden like an incoming tide.

That disappearing band of shade is my cue to get the Dates to Remember back up and running. (The Venice Home & Garden Tour is back this year!)