Tag Archives: Aloe scobinifolia

Bloom Day October 2016

This October the garden has already turned its back on summer, and all but the grasses have been cut back.
I’m curious to find out how long the summer grasses can be supporting players to the winter-blooming aloes before the grasses are cut back in late winter.
(Of course, if we get rain, the grasses might be cut back sooner, but I’m not holding my breath.
In fact, I think I’ll plan a rain vacation this fall/winter. Glasgow averages 4 inches in November, Amsterdam over 3 inches.)

 photo 1-P1013566-001.jpg

The ‘New Zealand Purple’ castor bean has a thick woody trunk and should be removed, because it’s left plenty of seedlings to take its place.
But it’s playing so nicely with ‘Moonlight’ grevillea I keep putting it off.

 photo 1-P1013592.jpg

And the Solanum vine, ‘Navidad Jalisco,’ has had a lot cut back off the lemon cypresses and out of the Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ but is still throwing new blooms.

 photo 1-P1013489.jpg

Among other low-lying succulents, the aloes like ‘Cynthia Giddy’ shine unobstructed, but the big pennisetum grasses might have to be switched out for grasses of smaller stature.
Lomandras like ‘Breeze’ really would be preferable for size, although they lack the pennisetum’s sexy blooms.
(That ‘Ghost’ aloe on the lower left was recently added, a hybrid of Aloe striata that showed up at nurseries this fall. I love its almost agave-like chunkiness.)

 photo 1-P1013535.jpg

Here’s a photo I took the other day of a mass planting of lomandra. The scale is perfect for interplanting aloes.
Sun and water requirements are a good fit too.

 photo 1-P1013572-001.jpg

For example, Aloe ‘Topaz’ is struggling to be seen through Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ and phormium. I need to cut back that Verbena bonariensis too.

 photo 1-P1013510-001.jpg

‘Topaz’ supposedly prefers/tolerates some summer irrigation so should work well among smaller grasses and shrubs.

 photo 1-P1013506.jpg

Aloe scobinifolia has bloomed in July in the past and is much later this year. One of its record number of five scapes was lost to a mishap with a cat.
That’s Plectranthus neochilus blooming in the background, as it’s done all summer.

 photo 1-P1013571-002.jpg

More and more, I find this time-share aspect to the garden so absorbing.
Every plant on its game year-round with something to contribute, or at least get out of the way.
I’m a firm believer that the emphasis on garden “style” is misplaced.
If it doesn’t make sense for your temperament, for your climate, ignore styles. (If you can even figure out what your climate is anymore.)
In zone 10 there’s no justification for the slow death and decay cycle so beloved by the New Perennial movement. (Not when there’s winter-blooming aloes!)
And it’s a safe bet here in SoCal that we’re looking at building dry gardens for the foreseeable future.
So I can stop dreaming about thalictrums and veronicastrums for summer. Sigh…that ‘Black Stockings’ thalictrum is so cool.
But Amicia zygomeris has the height and some of that purply, bruised coloration to its leaves. I should bring that back for next summer.

 photo 1-P1013590-001.jpg

Aloe ‘Kujo,’ the Huntington hybrid. I lost a small plant so jumped at this big 2-gallon size already in bloom.

 photo 1-P1013492-001.jpg

This plant caught my eye on a nursery bench recently too. With leaves and flower color so reminiscent of Lobelia tupa, I couldn’t pass it up. Justicia sericea ‘Inca Queen.’

 photo 1-P1013502-001.jpg

Said to bloom on and off all year, heaviest in early spring maybe. Drought tolerant when established. Might have a tendency for disheveled lankiness.
We’ll see. The hummingbirds are already thanking me.

 photo 1-P1013582-001.jpg

This Kelly Griffin hybrid aloe has been blooming on and off all summer too.

 photo 1-P1013500-001.jpg

Aloe ‘Rooikappie’ is another year-round bloomer, heaviest in fall. My little plants are just getting going.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens collects Bloom Day posts from gardens all over the world, an invaluable learning tool for what’s working where.

Bloom Day November 2015

A blustery day for a change, this November Bloom Day. I hope it finds you safe and warm.
Daytime temperatures dropping out of the 80s have forced the realization that summer is truly over.
Yesterday we cleaned the house top to bottom, wiping away a summer’s worth of dust and grime from months of open doors and windows.
Furniture was tipped up and floors underneath scrubbed, curtains bundled off to the cleaners.
That right there is capitulation to the new seasonal reality of spending more time indoors than outdoors.

 photo 1-P1019382-001.jpg

But the short days ahead will have their interesting moments, apart from the holidays looming, especially with the winter aloes waking up.
Aloe scobinifolia’s blooms are lasting much longer in the cooler November temps. It bloomed last November and then again this past June.

 photo 1-P1019401.jpg

Yesterday I watched a hummingbird dart in and out among the flowers, finally choosing to rest on a stem to take a long sip.
A nice moment, the kind that seems to come ringed with a halo, leaving a charged atmosphere for a few minutes or so afterward.
And then the phone rings or there’s a knock on the door and, poof, the halo dissolves.

 photo 1-P1019443.jpg

The surrounding St. Augustine grass doesn’t seem to be inhibiting its vigor, and it may be foiling the ants and aphids.
Other stemless aloes, all hybrids, not species, have been ravaged by lethal attacks from aphids, which ants tuck in tight and unseen amongst the undersides of lower leaves close to the main stem.
The giveaway comes when the plump leaves start turning into potato chips. A ‘Moonglow’ was taken out in this manner, but I managed to salvage a large cutting that has taken root.

 photo 1-P1019449.jpg

The little hybrids are starting to bloom too. This one came unlabeled, but it might be ‘Christmas Cheer’

 photo 1-P1019426.jpg

I’m hoping full winter sun will darken the leaves on Aloe ‘Sparkler’

 photo 1-P1019389.jpg

Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’

 photo 1-P1019390.jpg

Gomphrena ‘Balboa’ made it through a difficult summer. We’ll see if it has a chance of becoming a staple like ‘Fireworks.’

 photo 1-P1019395.jpg

Lotus jacobaeus is glad summer is over, judging by its newly enthusiastic bloom cycle

 photo 1-P1019397.jpg

 photo 1-P1019398.jpg

Crithum maritimum is also responding to the cooler weather with another bloom cycle.

 photo 1-P1019445.jpg

Ricinus communis ‘New Zealand Purple’ with its tiny white blooms and spiky seedheads, brings the crimson-rich color of fall in a tropical form.

 photo 1-P1019419.jpg

Planted this fall, Eremophila glabra ‘Kalgoorlie.’

 photo 1-P1019418.jpg

A silver shrub with creme brulee-colored trumpets. I’m very excited to observe this one’s habits of growth next spring/summer.

 photo 1-P1019386.jpg

More dessert analogies spring to mind with Mina lobata’s candy corn blooms.
This vine can be perennial in mild climates, so I have hopes for more from the Spanish Flag next spring.


Bloom Day June 2015

 photo 1-_MG_1463.jpg

I documented the extent of the back garden earlier in the month. It’s pretty clear it’s a battle for inches here.
Relatively cool, overcast June means I’m still shifting plants around and planting some new stuff too.

 photo 1-P1017289.jpg

I’ve been playing around with the idea of a small patch of dry summer meadow the past few years, on a frustratingly small scale of course.
Threaded around all the big evergreen stuff is what’s become a rainbow sherbert meadow this year in raspberry, orange, lemon, lime.
Leucadendron ‘Ebony’ on the left, Lomandra ‘Breeze,’ euphorbias, Arctotis ‘Flame.’ Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ is perennial here, in its third year at least.

Continue reading Bloom Day June 2015

more on the east fence

 photo 1-_MG_1455.jpg

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.

 photo 1-_MG_1458.jpg

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.

 photo 1-P1015292.jpg

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.

 photo 1-_MG_1301-001.jpg

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.

 photo 1-P1017092.jpg

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.’)

 photo 1-P1017102.jpg

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

 photo 1-P1017068.jpg

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.

 photo 1-_MG_1302.jpg

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!)

 photo 1-P1016942.jpg

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

 photo 1-_MG_1464.jpg

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.


memorable Aloe scobinifolia

I’m terrible with aloe names. So many unnamed and/or forgotten hybrids brought home from plant shows.
But there’s one aloe I’ve recently acquired whose identity I’m betting will be unforgettable. And it happens to be in bloom, so let’s have a look, shall we?

 photo P1011899.jpg

Easy to remember because, first of all, it’s not a hybrid, so there’s just two words to its name.
Elegantly simple binomial nomenclature at work. Aloe scobinifolia, a stemless aloe from Somalia (aka Somalian Aloe)

 photo P1011870.jpg

Inflorescence in a capitate arrangement
(“capitate: of an inflorescence, with the flowers unstalked and aggregated into a dense cluster..”)

 photo P1011880.jpg

Memorable also for the pale, almost albino quality to the leaves. Doubly so because the leaves are smooth, spineless.

 photo P1011882.jpg

I love this blonde-on-blonde look with the variegated St. Augustine grass. In rainier times, I wouldn’t presume to keeping this rambunctious spreader under control.

 photo P1011891.jpg

Long-legged in bloom, about 2 and half feet

 photo P1011906.jpg

 photo P1011927.jpg

the Somalian Aloe, I have just two more words for you: simply unforgettable.

Bloom Day September 2014

I think I’m finally getting the hang of this heat wave business. I’m taking a cue from the plants: Hunker down and just wait it out.

 photo P1010997.jpg

When I cut the melianthus back, this Gomphostigma virgatum found some needed breathing room. With a little extra irrigation, it’s revived enough to lightly flower.
A silvery South African shrub that likes more water than most silvery things, it was performing this pretty arching trick and dangling tiny white flowers over the clam shells this morning.
I saw this growing at Digging Dog Nursery in their display garden and asked for it, but it’s not currently listed in the catalogue.

 photo P1010992.jpg

Lavandula multifida, the fern-leaf lavender, when it doesn’t mysteriously collapse, stays in constant bloom. Two out of the original four planted last year remain.
They bulk up very fast and keep the garden and hummingbirds constantly flush with indigo flowers, but it does lack the eponymous scent.
I love having lavender back in the garden, even the unscented kind, and have another touchy one, Lavandula lanata, waiting to be planted when it cools down later in the month.

 photo P1010975.jpg

Included just because it looks so very icy cool, Aloe scobinifolia. And also because once it’s in the blog, I’ll have always have a record of its name.
It did have a bloom truss on it when I bought it a few weeks back.

 photo P1010905.jpg

Gaura is blooming in containers. So many new cultivar names for gaura these days, but they’re all short-lived so I don’t keep track. I only ask that gaura be white, not red or pink.

 photo P1010884.jpg

White also gives a very different character to Persicaria amplexicaulis

 photo P1011019.jpg

This is a total Bloom Day cheat, since I bought this Euphorbia milii ‘Amarillo’ yesterday.
But these fancy cultivars of the Crown of Thorns are in bloom all over my neighborhood, especially in the Cambodian-owned gardens.
One house down the street has dozens of these growing wall to wall in containers in the front garden, where they can be admired from the gate.
I got the impression last time I lingered at the gate the owners didn’t appreciate me seemingly stalking their prize plants, so it was time to get one of my own.

 photo P1010748.jpg

This sticky-leaved Cuphea viscosissima is very heat sensitive. I’m hoping it undergoes an astounding transformation when the weather cools.
It’s a volunteer seedling from plants I grew in the past, which surprised me since they looked so miserable in their short time in the garden.

 photo P1010706.jpg

A photo from August to show how tall it is for a cuphea, the blurry plant in the foreground. I’ve found a bee and a couple wasps snared by the sticky leaves, so that’s a mark against it too.
I didn’t take a new photo of the marigold Tagetes ‘Cinnabar,’ but there’s no worry or hand-wringing over these Day of the Dead flowers from Mexico during a heat wave.

 photo P1019946.jpg

I’ve been seeing photos of Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’ on blogs and reports of it hitting 6 feet, but I think this ‘Princess Caroline’ at 8 feet in one season is even bigger, if that’s an appealing feature.

 photo P1010791.jpg

Seeing this Solanum pyracanthum in a Portland garden made me realize the impact of different climates on this plant. Here it’s wispy and flowers early and at a small size, no matter how frequently I pinch it back. In Portland in July it was much more dense, with the leaves and orange thorns an arresting feature before it blooms. I’ve noticed that the castor bean plant similarly flowers early, while the plants are still young and rangy. Both the solanum and castor bean will act like perennials here too.

 photo P1010111.jpg

Lotus jacobaeus, famous for it’s wine-colored flowers, has a gold cast this year.

 photo P1010122.jpg

A short-lived perennial here, this new plant was brought in last year.

 photo P1010896.jpg

Winter-dormant Pelargonium echinatum has been in bloom all summer.

Since August’s Bloom Day, I’ve cut down the long-blooming Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ to the ground and stopped the near-constant irrigating of Rudbeckia triloba, at which point it collapsed.
I didn’t take photos of Russelia equisetiformis, the yellow form of the firecracker plant, which has been in constant bloom all summer, or the kangaroo paws, but otherwise that’s the September 2014 Bloom Day report I’ll be adding to Carol’s blog May Blooms Gardens, where she collects our flowering reports from all over the world every month.