Tag Archives: ‘ Amicia zygomeris

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.’

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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.

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

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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.

what am I missing?

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August 2013

I’m happy with the garden this summer, and there’s not much I would change, other than doubling its size if I could.
And if I could, then I’d find a spot again for Persicaria amplexicaulis. It loves the stiff clay soil here.
(I’ve been thinking about that clay soil a lot now that there’s rumors of a wet El Nino winter coming.
And here I’ve been filling the garden with succulents and drainage-touchy Mediterraneans. It’s always something.)
This Persicaria’s water needs are surprisingly modest to mediumish, probably similar to anizoganthos, and it handles full sun beautifully.
It’s one of the most reliable perennials I’ve ever grown.
Perennials generally hate zone 10 because we don’t let them sleep through the winter, which makes them grouchy and die.
There’s white and pink forms too if you find the red a little strident.
But a big clump like this leaves a big gap in winter. A gap that can be filled with winter-blooming aloes, for example.


July 2011

The persicaria with gaura, way back when my Yucca ‘Margaritaville’ still had impeccable form and was 1/8 of its current size.
That yucca has seen a lot of changes in the garden. It’s probably the oldest plant here.

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The yucca again with Geranium ‘Dragon Heart,’ another plant that needs a moister garden.
I spy catanache and the dark-leaved shrub Lophomyrtus ‘Red Dragon’ too. I need to find this great form of New Zealand Myrtle again.
I should have done a photo series through the years with that yucca as the linchpin in an ever-changing garden.


I still think I should be able to grow Lobelia tupa. I got this close to a bloom a few Julys ago.


And the clump appeared to be robust. A hot August was the end of it. Maybe afternoon shade?


I haven’t grown Calandrinia spectabilis, the Rock Purslane, in a few years and just planted a small rooted cutting I must have pinched from someone’s hellstrip.


It’s almost too common now because it’s easy, tough. The only down side is that it tends to quickly make a huge, unwieldy clump.
Also goes by Calandrinia grandiflora and Cistanthe grandiflora. Tender, from Chile.


Salvia ‘Purple Rain’ is a very short-lived perennial here. The Libertia peregrinans tends to fade away too. Loved them together. June 2010


Amicia zygomeris from Mexico is an oddball I’ve been thinking of again. Maybe I’ll try the variegated form this time. Might as well go odd whole-hog.
This plant laughs at heat, and I don’t remember it being touchy about requiring evenly moist soil. A giant thing, at least a 6-footer.


I wrote in June 2011:

The Amicia zygomeris planted last fall has been a mesmerizing presence that I’ve allowed to grow as large as it pleases.
Permissiveness the first year in the garden, discipline the next.
In a small garden, something’s gotta give, and this year it’s the crocosmia getting squeezed by the amicia.
Crocosmia is tough enough to take it and will be back in force next year

Uh, no, not exactly. I’m just now rebuilding stock of crocosmia again. I’m definitely missing crocosmia this summer.

snapshot of August 2012

August is always a truth-telling time in the life of a garden and a good month to take a snapshot of it. The hoses have been deployed this week to deep water the trees and soak the now bone-dry soil. Most irrigating up to this point has focused on containers and new plantings, but the mature plants can’t be ignored any longer. As far as the actual layout, it can be tricky to get lay-of-the-land photos in such close quarters, which is why I rarely perform this photo exercise. But some minor changes are planned for fall, so now’s the only time to make a journal of the garden as it exists this summer.

Agaves and succulents at the back porch are easy on supplemental irrigation

But I’m getting ahead of myself, as usual. First some context and lay-of-the-land descriptions and photos to get oriented for the August snapshot, hopefully not repeating too much from previous posts. There is no lawn or foundation plantings, in the back garden or the front. Though the garden is close to the house because the lot is small, we don’t grow plants up against this wooden bungalow. There’s trouble enough with termites and wood rot as it is. The plantings are mainly on the north and south sides of the house, and to a lesser extent the east side, which is currently getting the gate and hardscape cleaned up and is mainly dominated by a Chinese fringe tree. On the west beyond the garden gate is the business end, the driveway mess of cars, trash cans, tool sheds. The lot size is 5,750 square feet.

These photos are all of the back garden. I always describe photos at the top of the photo, which can get confusing, or so I’ve been told. From the garage and looking east at the back porch and pergola. The pergola attaches to the back of the house and also supports a roof over the back porch. A small “lookout” deck is atop the shed which houses the washer and dryer. Cushions on the lookout are just visible. We do favor a bit of multi-use, Swiss Family Robinson spirit in our projects. Amicia zygomeris in the foreground with Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline,’ a dominant presence in the garden this summer.


From the opposite side, looking roughly southwest. Ladder leads to the lookout.
Canopies of smoke tree ‘Grace’ and Caribbean Copper Plant, Euphorbia cotinifolia, nearly touch by August.

Crithmum maritimum and aeoniums with a potted bay.

The little bath house on the east side of the house, which now doubles as an aviary, potted bay in front.
A parakeet showed up exhausted and hungry in July.
More Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline’ at this end too.

The wayward parakeet has been tentatively named “Wingnut. So far, no reports of a missing parakeet in the neighborhood.
Wingnut does have a cage, but the wide-spaced bars give him free range of the bath house.
The fringe tree, Chionanthus retusus, can be seen just under the shade.

The narrow east side is mainly for tables and chairs. And pots too, natch.


Hello, kitty

The iron trough at the east boundary, which is the blue-stained fence. The Verberna bonariensis was neglected and died while I was away and has been replaced with some variegated pampas grass, red-leaved Hibiscus acetosella, and a chocolate salpiglossis from Annie’s Annuals, never an easy annual to grow, for me at least.

Salpiglossis likes rich soil but seems really sensitive to overwatering (and high temps — collapsed 8/13/12)
When I’m feeling brave I grow them, but just a few and only in pots.
Annie’s Annuals carries this dark selection ‘Chocolate Royal.’
Chartreuse background is from one of the three Monterey cypresses planted at the eastern boundary.

Looking to the west under the pergola, with the office door and garage wall visible. The huge burgundy grass blocking a view of the office doorway is again the Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline,’ which just had a much-needed thinning. It badly needs splitting later this fall, at which point a blog give-away may be in order. (Hoov, Dustin, any interest?) Stipa arundinacea in the foreground with a glimpse of tetrapanax.
The pot-bellied pig corgi Ein seems to have found an errant morsel of kitty kibble, an important part of his daily to-do list.


More of the tetrapanax. Just visible is the creeping fig-covered southern boundary wall and glimpse of neighbor’s roof beyond.
The burgundy bromeliad nestled under a tetrapanax leaf seems airborne because it’s part of a mossed basket on a tripod whose legs are buried in that Stipa arundinacea.
A grapevine threads through the top of the pergola.

Again looking west. The agave sits in a tall wrought iron plant stand that was probably made in Tijuana.

Lepismium cruciforme coloring up nicely in the sun.

Looking east under the pergola from a photo taken in June, but it still looks pretty much the same, if a bit fuller.
The kangaroo paws, fresh in the June photo, have been thinned out as they age and topple over.
Plantings in the foreground are just in front of the back porch and along the walkway.

In front of the porch looking west to the garage. Agave ‘Blue Flame.’
Flowers of the kangaroo paws have lost their clean June outline by August.

Behind the anigozanthos can be seen the Australian mintbush, Prostanthera ovalifolia ‘Variegata’

Slim, leaning trunk belongs to the tapioca, Manihot grahamii, in a large pot with Sedum confusum.
The intervals of yearly growth can be seen at the bends and angles to its trunk.
Wonder what happens if I cut it back hard next spring.

So many pots here under the pergola, a few hanging, but I never count.

The variegated grass is new to me this year, Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket,’ shown here with Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’

By August, plantings near the porch are starting to crowd the walkway that runs against the house.

Feather grass, centranthus, Sedum nussbaumeranium, Senecio anteuphorbium.

And this unnamed, Chrysanthemoides incana, a trailing, silvery succulent that spills onto the pavement in fascinating patterns.
A gift from garden designer Dustin Gimbel.

This Cotyledon orbiculata has really gained size this summer and also bulges onto the walkway.
The burgundy flowers of Lotus jacobaeus are threading through the Australian mintbush. Office/garage in background.

Euphorbia rigida is happy here as well.

White Centranthus ruber reseeds along the walkway too. I love the surge of plants at my feet, not to everyone’s taste, I know.

The walkway along the house heading west leads to a gate to the driveway or turns south into the patio in front of the garage/office.

This summer, in the border behind the agave in the beehive pot, grows canna, castor bean, ornamental corn, Helenium puberulum.
(Teucrium hircanicum bloomed here earlier, mostly bloomed out now. Very glad to have made this teucrium’s acquaintance this year. It’s already started to reseed into the brick patio.)

And Lysmachia ephemerum, a couple blooms its first year. Uncertain whether it will thrive here in zone 10. Scabiosa ochroleuca in the background.

Potted agaves on the office patio, house now in the background.

Burnished result from mistreating a potted jade plant.

It can be difficult to distinguish what’s growing in pots and what’s in the ground here, a feature of the garden in August.
Pots are for flexibility in changing things up. There are no hardiness issues with any of these plants.

This aeonium is in the ground. Though it came unnamed, by its furry leaves I’m guessing it’s A. canariense.

Swooping branches are Senecio anteuphorbium. Blue succulent is the Mexican Snowball, Echeveria elegans.

Sonchus and Agave attenuata ‘Kara’s Stripes,’ a pup from the front garden.

The pathway off the office patio ends abruptly now, but used to run east/west through the entire length of the border behind the pergola. I needed the space for more plants, and there’s still a bricked access path against the southern boundary wall to reach the compost bins.
Who needs redundant paths, anyway?

Self-sown Mirabilis jalapa ‘Limelight’ loves August


Looking west at the garage/office wall from deep in the border that curves around behind the pergola, through Persicaria amplexicaulis to the potted agaves on the small brick patio in front of the office. Slim trunk is the Caribbean Copper Plant, Euphorbia cotinifolia, a 15-foot tree here.
On hot summer days, you can hear the crackle of its seeds exploding, a sound I heard quite a bit last week.


Looking east through the persicaria at the trunks of the smoke tree ‘Grace’

As I’ve mentioned many times, this knotweed is an amazingly good perennial for zone 10, which puts it at the top of a very short list. Never complains when the border gets too dry, as it invariably does by July. Reliably returns every spring. The bees are all over it. Doesn’t get knocked down by summer rain because we never get any, which means I’d be able to grow the new Belgium varieties whose spectacularly dark flowers are so full and brushy they are considered fit only for cut flowers — if and when they finally make it to the States.

Looking east from the border behind the pergola and its grapevine.

Still in the border behind the pergola, looking west, sideritis in the foreground. This one may be Sideritis oroteneriffae.
I’m trying out quite a few of these Canary Island shrubs. From Annie’s Annuals & Perennials.
A nearby 6-foot Salvia canariensis and some other stuff was removed late July, and a barked access path was temporarily reinstalled to assist in the removal of the smoke tree ‘Grace.’ Either removal or a severe pruning.

Looking west past a yucca to the enormous girth of Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline’

Which completes, more or less, the snapshot of the back garden in August 2012. I know I’ll be glad that I did this sometime in January 2013.

saturday’s clippings 5/12/12

Quote of the week: “I can’t believe I burned down a tree older than Jesus,” philosophized a 26-year-old woman who torched a 3,500-year-old bald cypress known as The Senator last January, one of the 10 oldest trees on earth, while smoking a meth pipe in the tree’s hollow trunk. Orlando Sentinel story here.

Update on car jack stand planters written about here in Succulent Experiments. The repurposed window screen may cause the soil to dry out too quickly even for succulents. Growth seems to be in reverse gear rather than forward, so time to try something else. The pale green Crassula expansa never regained that lovely fluffiness. Full disclosure is in order because that post still gets an amazing number of hits. (Almost as many as The Tree Collard. Who knew?)

Artichokes were everywhere on garden tours this year. These chokes were growing in a hell strip devoted solely to artichokes.
(Doesn’t that make it a heaven strip?)

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Is it me, or does the subject of gardens and landscapes seem overly weighted down with polemics? Fashion, music, cooking, design — there’s controversy and sustainability subtext in some of these areas as well, and rightly so, but with gardens it seems to get especially overwrought. Be prepared to stand your ground among the welter of categories used like accusations: design-driven, plant-driven, natives, non-natives, edible, ornamental. Granted, with a garden comes responsibility for the health of the soil, creatures, finite resources — but after that’s been reasonably sorted out, I say let it rip. How to describe this approach? Maybe a good analogy to this unapologetically flashy kind of gardening I love is pop music — changeable, not meant to last, absorbing influences from all over the globe, interested in color and rhythm, no purpose other than to get your toe tapping and your eye dancing. Not monumental but fleeting. Riffing on the seasons. Pop gardening? Maybe I just need a break from garden tours for a while.

At home, summer’s jungle quickens. This castor bean plant which lives over frost-free year to frost-free year is already a small tree in May, about 8 feet high. With the trunk growing thick and woody, this will be its last summer then I’ll start over with some of the progeny that sprout around its base. The deep color of the castor bean seedlings has been true to its namesake ‘New Zealand Purple.’ Barely room enough for two in the back garden.

I love to see it with the amber grass Stipa arundinacea* More thinning on the to-do list this weekend. Tender Salvia wagneriana is an iffy bloomer, very sensitive to temperature and day length, and hasn’t had more than a dozen blooms at any time. Its saving grace up to now is its ability to throw sporadic blooms throughout a zone 10 winter, but that hardly earns it space for summer. Its fate will be decided this weekend. In fact, looking at these photos has me convinced it’s gotta go. (A few hours later, and Salvia wagneriana is gone, destined for compost, its absence barely causing a ripple in the jungle. A few nicotianas from the seeds Nan Ondra shared last winter, ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix,’ will be a much better fit here.) Another nicotiana, N. mutabilis, lived over the winter and is sending up bloom trusses to the left of the stipa/New Zealand Wind Grass. (Edited to explain that description was left even though photos are inexplicably no longer available.)


Strappy leaves are eucomis, and the little daisy is Argyranthemum haouarytheum.


Salvia canariensis was very nearly pulled out a few weeks ago for its sprawling, ungainly ways, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this huge salvia.
As an interim solution, lower branches have been thinned out, with lots more taken out today, pruning it into a vase-like shape as for a buddleia.
In a couple weeks it will lose that surprised “What a bad haircut I got” look. This is generally a short-lived shrub. Always grow it dry and lean.


The pale yellow hesperaloe is blooming this year, kind of a photographic moot point against all those golden kangaroo paws.


Longest-lasting bulb for pots has been Ornithogalum dubium, in bloom on the front porch over a month. More, please, for next year.

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An easy nasturium species for summer containers, Tropolaeolum peregrinum, the Canary Creeper.

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I know, I know, what a lot of plants. You’d think I just moved out of an apartment and finally got my own garden. But that happened over 20 years ago, and I’ve been gardening this way ever since.

*This grass is now known as Anemanthele lessoniana, but I’m just slow to adapt to the new name

Occasional Daily Photo 11/30/11

I switched out the 50 mm lens today for a 24mm to get a bigger view. I’ve been leaning on the 50mm like a crutch — for such a small garden, it just seems easier to manage with the 50mm. This wider view with the 24mm is as you’re coming in the gate from the east, and I’m pretty much backed up against the house with my camera. I’ve seen better camera phone photos than what I get with this 24mm lens, so more practice is definitely in order and/or a night school photography class.

Sometimes, opening this gate after a long day, the garden still has the ability to surprise even me. It’s as though the garden proclaims, Here nature triumphs! Yes, even in November, it’s still a busy, busy garden. I’ll never be able to practice simplicity of gesture when it comes to plants. But there’s more bare ground exposed than this telescoped view implies, and as the “soft” perennials of summer die back, what’s becoming apparent are some of the star plants for a zone 10 winter, such as agaves, yuccas, grasses, and euphorbias.

The agave is an attenuata hybrid ‘Blue Flame,’ one of two, the other out of frame. At the base of this agave to the right is a clump of the hardy cranesbill ‘Bertie Crug,’ which survived some tough conditions this summer, including very dry soil and the typical overcrowding I inflict on plants. Bertie managed to bloom through it all, even if her dark pink blooms were mostly hidden by her neighbors.

Just in back of the agave is one of two big Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ that I tried like heck all summer to keep from becoming deformed by overcrowding, just for this moment in fall thru winter when they gain size and really start to shine. The small-leaved, creamy shrub on the extreme right is a variegated prostanthera, or Australian mintbush. Deep golden yellow flowers dotted mid frame are from Amicia zygomeris, which seems to be responding to a strong cutback and cooler temps with a sunny flush of its typical pea flowers. The dark red grass is Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline.’

If it weren’t for the little heater I’m running in the office this grey, chilly day, the view out the office window onto the garden could almost be mistaken for summer. (Except for all that bare soil.)

Bloom Day September 2011

No use in dancing around the fact that my Bloom Day posts can be a bit repetitive. Seems it’s the same cast of characters every month.
But if you’re in zone 10 and lack the space for big herbaceous drifts but still looking for months of bloom, you can’t go wrong with any of the following.

The dahlia I posted on earlier in the week, ‘Chat Noir,’ livens up the roster this month, nestling up to silvery Athanasia acerosa.


Continue reading Bloom Day September 2011

Foliage Follow-Up August 2011

Thank goodness Pam at Digging hosts a Foliage Follow-Up to May Dreams Gardens Bloom Day. The blooming lineup in my July Bloom Day post can stand in with very little revision for August. Holding down the fort and keeping the hummingbirds and insects happy in August is the same bunch of long-blooming salvias, gaura, knautia, echium, verbascum, euphorbia, Persicaria amplexicaule, kangaroo paws, valerian in bloom since early summer. I throttled back on annuals, so not much new is erupting into blossom this August. Gardens for me are still all about the eruptions, not the staid, unchanging formalities, but this year August looks a lot like July and even June. Would I take a couple lines of track from the High Line, including every last grass and perennial, and plunk it down in my garden? Oh, hell, yeah. I’m a wannabe prairie garden companion. But that would leave me with nine months in a very small garden staring at nubby perennial crowns when there can be evergreen grevilleas in bloom in winter. (Why must the garden be such a heavy-handed teacher of compromise? Work with what you’ve got. Bloom where you live. Know thyself. I get it already!) With the last rainfall over four months ago, arid zone 10 can sometimes turn planning for flowering herbaceous plants in August into a dogged military campaign, but planning for gorgeous leaves is a walk in the park.

Arundo donax ‘Golden Chain,’ Phormium ‘Alison Black,’ Aralia cordata ‘Sun King.’


Continue reading Foliage Follow-Up August 2011

June Leans In

Look away briefly, and June overwhelms winter’s carefully laid plans.
Since spring in Southern California really gets going in March, by June plant growth is at full throttle.
The agaves, succulents, and Mediterranean evergreen shrubs have presented a sedate, enchanting picture all winter and spring.
By spring, I’m ready for a riot, for a zero-to-60 surge in vegetation that constantly teeters on tipping into chaos. I’m ready for summer, in whatever surprising form it will take. This year the mid-border perovskias I planned to enjoy late summer have been swallowed whole by June. I should have pulled out the burgeoning self-sown quaking grass Briza maxima to make way for the perovskia, but enjoyed the grasses’ dangling lockets far too long. Two eyrngium have disappeared under a huge gaura’s skirts, but I count this year a success, since one E. planum has managed to flower and may now hopefully reseed.
What looks like ample space in February is no match for June’s sharp elbows.

Alarmed? Not really. This is where it gets exciting. The gauras last year barely stirred into life.
The perovskias are struggling somewhere amongst the haloragis and quaking grass, meant to rise up with the Persicaria amplexicaule.
Sure, many of these plants are easy thugs in areas with summer rain. I’m just grateful for the lush drama they bring to my summer-dry garden.


The Amicia zygomeris planted last fall has been a mesmerizing presence that I’ve allowed to grow as large as it pleases.
Permissiveness the first year in the garden, discipline the next.
In a small garden, something’s gotta give, and this year it’s the crocosmia getting squeezed by the amicia.
Crocosmia is tough enough to take it and will be back in force next year.


I’m keeping a careful eye on this Lobelia tupa, moved last fall to this roomier spot.
Nothing is allowed to encroach on this lobelia, not even Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish.’
(The California poppies are long-lasting in this year’s coolish spring/early summer.)


I’d never subject anything really special to the border melee in June. That’s what containers are for.

But the pots lining the border do see a fair amount of action. Gaura lindheimeri leans into a potted sotol. Geum magellanicum gets support from potted Agave titanota*.


Onslaught of Salvia cacaliifolia barely held in check by a potted, battled-scarred A. americana. This salvia is flowering so well in this spot, I’m giving it a lot of latitude.
Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga, the ‘Finger aloe’ disappearing under Teucrium ‘Fairy Dust.’


Evie among the hellebores, begonias, and compost buckets against the shady back wall contemplates the pushy, shoving garden spectacle of June.


*A guess at this unnamed agave’s ID. Input welcome.

Bloom Day April 2011

Southern California, a mile from the ocean, zone 10, spring a couple months ahead of most of the country.

With the grasses joining the frothy euphorbias in bloom, there’s now a supercharged atmosphere that animates the garden.
I love it when plants start to inhabit planes other than just ground level and do so with very little bulk. The see-through plants. Aerial fizz.

Pennisetum spathiolatum shooting skyward amongst anigozanthos.


Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea,’ the golden woodrush. The bluer leaves are the Tradescantia ‘Concord Grape,’ now blooming, this photo taken a couple weeks earlier.


Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’


Continue reading Bloom Day April 2011

A Year of Euphorbias

Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ is capable of an exceptionally long season in zone 10, basically year-round.
And not just spitting out a few blooms, but flourishing.


A cultivar of E. hypericifolia, it is a true perennial here in zone 10. Extremely drought tolerant and handles my heavy clay soil well. In colder zones, it has become a go-to component of summer container schemes, quite an amazing step up for a common U.S. weed known by such names as Black Purslane, Milk Purslane, Eye-Bright. (I can’t imagine how any euphorbia with its irritating sap could earn a moniker like “Eye-Bright.” unless red eyes are considered bright.)

Not much to look at up close, EDF is all about supporting the team. It has never self-sown in my garden. In fact, there is very little information available on starting it from seed. As far as I can tell, unless gardeners in colder zones take cuttings, new plants must be purchased each year (the perfect trademark plant!) Last year I trialed a new cultivar with bronzy leaves, ‘Breathless Blush, a complete nonstarter, in my garden at least.


While EDF froths and foams year-round, Euphorbia rigida is on the typical euphorbia calendar, beginning bloom late winter/early spring in zone 10.


In summer EDF’s growth is more dense, more floriferous,, but the open ground of winter provides enough elbow room for this little euphorbia to cleverly hike itself up amongst these plants to grab its share of winter sunshine. (Amicia zygomeris, phlomis, salvia, and prostrantherum.) I admire plants that show initiative like that.