Tag Archives: dry shade

a week in plants, continued

I so rarely document thoroughly, before and after, that I thought for once I’d push back a little against those slacker tendencies.
This small project is an easy place to start. In the last post, there were four ‘Cousin Itt’ acacias added under the fringe tree, and that was theoretically the end of it.
Where we left off, I was going to leave space open to sweep in the leaves and not plant bromeliads because it’ll be messy with the tree litter, etc., etc. I am so full of shit, it still astounds me.
No way can I leave something half-planted like that. In for a penny, in for a pound, always.
So this morning the burning question was: What other dry shade-tolerant stuff do I have lying around?

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There’s this huge potted Lomandra ‘Breeze’ that can be sawed into two big clumps. Rough treatment, but I seriously doubt one can mistreat a lomandra. We’ll see.
A potted Asparagus retrofractus to billow between the two lomandras, all kind of hitting the same shade of bright green so the mix of plants isn’t too patchwork.
A few bromeliads for big crazy colorful rosettes, tree litter be damned. As shallow growers, it’s easy to change your mind with bromeliads.
I’ll probably remove them before they get buried in leaves over winter.

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Still too bare for my taste, but if the acacias like it here they can get over 4 feet across.

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This no ID rhipsalis seems to be growing in an upright clump, so it gets to be the fifth “acacia.” Very root-infested soil in this spot.

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A ringer for the acacia, right?

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Lost the name of the foreground bromeliad I’ve had for years.

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Neoregelia ‘Dr. Oesser Big Spots’ was brought home this weekend from the sale/show at Rainforest Flora in Torrance.

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Neoregelia ‘Martin’

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One of the many gorgeous bromeliads at the weekend show that didn’t come home with me, Aechmea ‘Samurai.’
If only I’d had this planting scheme before the sale. Overplanning has never been my strong suit. It’s always been spontaneity or bust.

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I tucked a potted variegated monstera, also from Rainforest Flora, behind the asparagus against the fence, but there may be too much slanting afternoon sun for it.
If the sun isn’t too strong, I’m going to check into espaliering it against the fence.

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Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’ marks the new planting for wayward paws that have been used to digging here and kicking up leaves.
I’ll keep you posted on the fate of this little acacia experiment.

Asparagus virgatus

There’s not a lot of fern action in my dry, sunny garden, much to my regret, but in the front garden on the north side of the house, planted in the parched gloom at the foundation line, a fern is improbably thriving behind the agaves and astelias. This frothy, arching, clumping-not-running, perfectly harmless member of the asparagus family is Asparagus virgatus.

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What do all these plants have in common besides the letter A? Cast-iron natures as far as tolerating dry soil and shifting sun/shade patterns throughout the year. They probably spend more time overall in shade, which suits even the agave, A. attenuata, famous among agaves for tolerating some shade. (An Aloe marlothii recently perished, unable to handle the winter in part shade.)

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And I can assure you that, although related, it is not the scary monster that most of us have learned to fear in the form of the climbing asparagus, A. scandens.

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With Agave attenuata ‘Kara’s Stripes’ and Astelia nervosa in the background.

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An interesting graphic quality to its stems too. I’ve never seen it look this lush before, and the clue to the improvement in its former straggly growth is that white drainspout. The small amount of rainfall we’ve had so far this winter was funneled via the new gutters and directed into downspouts, and one of the downspouts empties here. San Marcos Growers says “This plant comes from South Eastern Africa, where it typically grows along shaded waterways, so it is surprising how drought tolerant this plant is.” I can now vouch for its love of moisture as well as its drought tolerance. I would love to bulk up a big specimen in a container and see what it can do when not in sheer survival mode, as I’ve been growing it.

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Typical small red berries of the asparagus family follow tiny, almost imperceptible flowers.

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Unlike the ineradicable climbing asparagus, Asparagaus scandens, A. virgatus is your friend.

Plant Delights Nursery lists it in their catalogue to zone 7 and credits it for tolerating a lot more sun than I give it.

(Asparagus virgatus is my entry in Loree’s favorite plant pick for the week and Pam’s Foliage Followup.)