Tag Archives: Erodium pelargoniflorum

Bloom Day hangover/Foliage followup April 2016

The distinctive measured pace of a garden this time of year, compared to the frenetic pace outside my front gate, is what I find so compelling: the syncopated intervals between birdcalls, the varying rhythms of arrival and departure of hummingbirds, butterflies, bees. Incidents on the wing gently drift in and out…but this weekend it’s all against a background roar of engines. (It’s Grand Prix time in Long Beach again.)
Bloom Day falls on the 15th, hosted by May Dreams Gardens. Foliage Followup is hosted by Digging on the 16th, so I’m straddling memes today.

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The ballota is just now enlongating with bobbles of chenille-like blooms.
The largish green-leaved plant on the right is a Teucrium betonicum I found seeded in the gravel in the front garden this winter.
Strangely enough, the mother plant was grown way back in 2012.

In the back garden, I’m loving the low scrubbiness of it all, with occasional verticals and undulating agaves piercing through the hummocks of greys and greens.
And the proportions are, at this moment, just what I’ve been trying to accomplish for the past couple years.
New stuff I’ve been planting will no doubt change the shape by next year, so it’s a fleeting effect that I’ve come to appreciate just because it is so transitory.
Stepping out the back door this morning from a quiet house into a garden humming and buzzing and flitting with life — well, just add coffee for a perfect Saturday morning.
Even the Grand Prix can’t ruin that. Thankfully, the city has restricted the number of days racecars can “practice” before the big event, so it’s squeezed into mainly a weekend now.
A fair compromise between the businesses that flourish during race time and the residents that mostly suffer through it.

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I’ll spare you repeat photos of poppies, grevilleas, salvias and whatnot. Tanacetum niveum is new to both Bloom Day and the garden this year.
I’ve always loved the simple clean blooms of plants like chamomile. This daisy is no ground-hugger like chamomile, but billows up and out, with finely cut grey leaves.
It can become shrub-like in size given enough room to develop. It’s constrained by the tight quarters here. Purported to reseed, fingers crossed.
Looks like I trialed it/killed it back in 2010.

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Marrubium supinum’s blooms are similar in structure to ballota, but with a slight wash of color.

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I wouldn’t mind several more clumps of Kniphofia thompsonii dotted throughout.

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Plectranthus neochilus still obligingly covers the stump of Cotinus ‘Grace,’ buried under there somewhere and quietly decomposing.

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Some find the strong scent/stink/skunkiness offputting. I don’t scent it on the air, just on contact, when clipping it back.

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Gerberas at the base of the plectranthus stump.

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Other daises elsewhere in bloom include orange arctotis and maroon osteospermum.

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I planted the Eriogonum crocatum a little too far from the paths for photos, so this one gives just the basic outline of the blooms which start out chartreuse and age to brown.
I can’t wait for it to bulk up some more. I really do try to stick to the never-walk-on-the-garden rule, especially with clay like mine that compacts so easily.

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The potted camellia on the front porch hasn’t gotten much play on Bloom Day though it’s been in bloom a few months.

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Erodium pelargoniflorum reseeds into the gravel amongst the agaves in the front of the house.
If kept watered, it would probably bloom into summer. I say embrace the ephemeral!

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Anisodontea ‘Strybing Beauty’ is growing into quite a graceful presence, loose and open.
Last year the mallows were represented by Sphaeralcea ‘Newleaze Coral,’ a wonderful plant for a much bigger garden than mine.

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Potted Glory of Texas, a thelocactus just opening its blooms.

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I tossed some ixia into the garden this winter, in a few colors, ordered off ebay.

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Finishing up with the odd blooms of slipper spurge, Pedilanthus bracteatus, another one I keep forgetting to include on Bloom Days.

Bloom Day February 2015

Bloom Day — you know the drill.
(And if you don’t and somehow stumbled here unwittingly, just calm down and see May Dreams Gardens for some helpful background by Carol.)

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I bought this Banksia ericifolia from a newish nursery in Hollywood several months ago with one bloom already fully open and several promising if smallish buds.
I ain’t superstitious, but taking photos of rare, newly acquired plants in bloom just seems an invitation for a jinx on their health and longevity.
So I’ve waited a few months before posting photos of these stunning bronze candles that seem made of chenille.

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I bumped into the nursery while in search of some craigslist planters and failed to record its name, but it’s fairly close to Sunset Boulevard and Gardner.
I should be able to find it again, since those are my old stomping grounds. I used to live basically on top of the intersection of Sunset and Gardner, about a half block away.
(The best way to get into Hollywood? Follow Bette Davis’ advice, “Take Fountain!” A little local, show-biz humor…)
The banksia is in a large wooden container that is in the semi-rapid process of falling apart, so it will have to be moved at some point. Gulp…beauty in peril!

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Old faithful, Pelargonium echinatum. Scalloped and felty grey-green leaves with firework bursts of flowers suspended mid-air.
Looks a lot like the cultivar ‘Miss Stapleton’ which is a suspected cross of two species. Summer dormant.

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The related Erodium pelargoniflorum, a spring annual here, isn’t reseeding as extravagantly in the drought, which is fine with me.

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The unnamed aloe along the driveway is looking more and more like Aloe ‘Moonglow’ — which I recently bought again for the back garden, label intact.
There was more peachy color to it in previous years, when it wasn’t smothered under the Acacia podalyrifolia.
I limbed up the offending acacia last week and promise to try harder for a less blurry photo next time.

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Abutilon venosum, found at Tropico in West Hollywood, crazy in bloom this February

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Veltheimia bracteata, a South African summer-dormant bulb. Really the easiest thing to grow, if a bit slow to bulk up and get going.
The emergence of the leaves in fall are a reminder to start watering again.

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The flower today, a bit more filled out.

I find some of the summer-dormant stuff easier to deal with in containers, which is where the veltheimia has been growing for over five years.
Unless I failed to record an earlier bloom, this would be its first year to flower.

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Aloe ‘Always Red.’ Seeing its first bloom, I did a photo search to double-check possible mislabeling. You call that red?
Yes, apparently they do. Supposedly a ferociously long-blooming aloe.

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Sometimes a succulent’s flowers can be an annoyance (hello, Senecio mandraliscae), but not with Sedum nussbaumerianum, which are nice complement to the overall plant.

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Only one plant was allowed to mature this spring from the hundreds of self-sown Nicotiana ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix’

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Ah, those fleeting moments when everything is in balance, before one thing outgrows its spot and stifles another. Balance usually lasts about six months in my garden.

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Still waiting for the deep red color to form on the leaves of Aloe cameronii. A continued regimen of full sun, dryish soil should do the trick.

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A species canna from Tropico in West Hollywood

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Buds forming on Leucadendron ‘Safari Goldstrike’

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The ‘Little Jean’ kangaroo paws again, with phlomis, cistus, and euphorbias, self-sown poppies filling in. Maybe there’ll be poppies for March.

giving thanks for rain

a very polite and well-timed rain arrived after the Thanksgiving holiday, sometime after midnight.
On Wednesday I brought in chairs that summered in the garden for holiday duty.

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The new rain gutters gurgled musically as they efficiently carried rain away from the 100-year-old foundations, a happy ending to the month-long gutter ordeal.
(Marty fell off the roof, ass over tea kettle, but amazingly emerged with only muscle soreness for a couple weeks. Thank you, gods of calamity!)
Listening to the orchestral rhapsody of rain in the gutters, on corrugated roofs, on pavement, kept me busy most of Friday morning.

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I was awake at 5 a.m. today, anticipating the early morning patrol after the rain.

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Prowling the garden to see what the rain brought, I found newly sprouted seedlings of Erodium pelargoniflorum. Rain makes fast work of germination.

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And then I remembered I shook the seed pods of the South African bulb Albuca maxima in this area of the front gravel garden and searched for signs of germination.
These tiny strands may just be baby albucas.


In bloom it resembles a 5-foot snowdrop.

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A couple of leaves of nearby Agave ‘Jaws’ provide support when it blooms. Rain-soaked agave leaves unfurl quickly, leaving ghostly imprint patterns.

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What the skies looked like late Friday afternoon over the back garden. Could a day be any more perfect?
Wishing you perfection this holiday weekend. And it doesn’t even have to be a whole day. Moments count.

Bloom Day April 2013

Spring is moving fast here in Southern California. I’ve already checked out some of the gardens on our host’s site for Bloom Day, Carol at May Dreams Gardens, and saw lots of traditional spring shrubs and bulbs and perennials like hellebores in amazing colors just coming into bloom. Slowly but surely spring is spreading across the land. Huzzah!

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Spring has had an unmistakably orange cast to it in my garden this year. A kniphofia in its current 50/50 bar coloration.

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Same kniphofia about a week ago.
I moved this one around and didn’t keep track of the name, but all my kniphofias come from Digging Dog, which has a great list.

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Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ is just starting to bloom, and hopefully the isoplexis will hang in there a little longer.
The grass Stipa gigantea was moved here last fall and hasn’t missed a beat, showing lots of bloom stalks.

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Tweedia caerulea/Oxypetalum caerulea may be a rare baby blue in color but it is a surprisingly tough plant.
This one survived forgotten and neglected in a container throughout the mostly rainless winter.
It’s climbing up a castor bean, Ricinus communis ‘New Zealand Purple.’

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The self-sowing annual Senecio stellata started bloom this week. Big leaves, tall, and likes it on the shady side.

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Another tall one, Albuca maxima.

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This South African bulb has been thriving in the front gravel garden, which gets very little summer water. Over 5 feet tall, it reminds me of a giant galanthus.

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More white blooms, Erodium pelargoniflorum, a prolific self-seeder in the front gravel garden.

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The fringe tree on the east side of the house, Chionanthus retusus, just about at maximum white-out.

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The fried egg on a long stalk near the Euphorbia cotinifolia tree trunk is Argemone munita. Hopefully better photos to come.
I wouldn’t mind about six more of these self-sown in the garden for next year.

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Self-sowing white valerian forming buds, with the lavender bells of the shrub prostranthera, the Australian mintbush.

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The mintbush with the succulent Senecio anteuphorbium.

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A gift pelargonium, no ID. The small details in the leaves and flowers of these simple pelargoniums get me every time.

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Closeup of the tiny flowers.

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The plant at its base is even more self-effacing, with a big name for such a quiet plant, Zaluzianskya capensis.

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Lots of self-sown nicotianas. The flowers are too small to be pure N. alata, so it probably has some langsdorfii in the mix.
Whatever its parentage, lime green flowers always work for me.

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Nicotiana ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix,’ with a potted begonia for scale. This strain of flowering tobacco has been keeping hummingbirds happy all winter.
This is the first begonia to bloom (again, no ID!), and the colocasias are just beginning to leaf out.

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The porch poppies, with lots more poppies in bloom in the garden.

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The anigozanthos might be a tad too close to the euphorbia, but I love the lime green and orange together.

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The last two photos are by MB Maher, who was in town briefly and tried to get more of the Euphorbia lambii from a higher angle.

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MB Maher’s photo of the Salvia chiapensis with a bit of purple in the center from Penstemon ‘Margarita BOP,’ planted from gallons a couple weeks ago.
I have a feeling that yucca will be in bloom for May Bloom Day. See you then!

Now that Google Reader is in the dustbin of history, I’m trying out Bloglovin for organizing blogs I want to follow.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

sunday clippings 12/16/12

I was skimming through the design archives of the Wall Street Journal online yesterday, a wonderful trove of good reading, and recognized the pressed leaves of Macleaya cordata, the plume poppy, used by the shoe designer Christian Louboutin to decorate the walls of his “shoe archive” in France. Mr. Louboutin was mischievously photographed here in his socks.

macleaya leaveshttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443855804577601320688414072.html?mod=slideshow_overlay_mod

The shelving in the archive is decorated with botanicals from his garden that have been pressed by a local artisan.”


Leaves of the plume poppy in my garden

Often articles like this one, “The Collector,” are as worth reading as any written specifically for a particular branch of design, landscape or otherwise, because good designers draw from a wide array of influences.

More quotes from the article:

A constant source of ideas is his garden in the French countryside.
He learned about botany during the roaming years of his youth, when he
worked as a self-taught freelance landscaper. ‘The garden allowed me
to see colors, blends of colors and materials, juxtapositions of gloss
and matte surfaces—it was highly instructive,’ he says in Christian
Louboutin, a book celebrating his 20th anniversary, published by
Rizzoli. ‘Still today, if I close my eyes I don’t see satin combined
with velvet; I see the thickness of a pansy, which is deep purple
bordered with white, set against the texture of another plant, and
this combination gives me my colors


Image found here


Louboutin spends spring and fall weekends and the month of August at
his home in the Vendée, puttering about in his garden—it’s become his
haven, a place his mind can wander for design ideas as he pulls weeds.
‘The magnolia leaf is like patent leather,’ he notes, ‘and it always
looks beautiful with a deep purple, like prunus purple. There are few
plants that are ugly. It’s how you use them that may not be pretty


Patent leather sheen of magnolia, image found here

What else merits a clipping? Oh, yes, that great chair at Terrain, in case Marty checks the blog before Christmas. I wonder if they do layaway.

from Terrainhttp://www.shopterrain.com/outdoor-furniture/steel-wire-chair/productOptionIDs/bd0459cc-8958-45c4-b120-330bd8a8856a

Out in the garden, it always makes me giddy to see a plant bloom for the first time, and when it happens mid-December it threatens to surpass any excitement for presents found under the tree. This morning I noted buds on the Brazilian garlic passion fruit, Passiflora loefgrenii, which should be unwrapping themselves sometime this week.

Passiflora loefgrenii

I get seed requests now and then, but don’t necessarily save seed every year. Currently, I don’t really have to, since the garden has built up a rich storehouse of seeds, including:

Orlaya grandiflora
Crithmum maritimum, samphire
nicotiana varietes
Erodium pelargoniflorum
Papaver species, P. setigerum being most predominant
Mirabilis jalapa, the Miracle of Peru, in the lime-green leaf variety
Geranium maderense ‘Alba’
Centranthus ruber ‘Alba’
Teucrium hiranicum
Senecio stellata
Geranium pyrenaicum ‘Bill Wallis’
Solanum pyracantha
Mina lobata

Another favorite winter/spring pursuit is to inspect the garden each day and find the ingredients for spring popping up of their own accord, like having a full pantry ready to support the next feast without having to do the grocery shopping.


It’s always a surprise who settles in and gets really happy in the garden. Teucrium hircanicum has been in the garden just two years, but is already popping up everywhere, including between the bricks in the pathways. The pottery shards are used as cat baffles, to prevent disturbance from digging while the seedlings are small. Note the little poppy seedlings close by.

The first leaves of Geranium maderense are as recognizable small as they are large

I can only use a few of each kind, so once the seedlings look strong enough to survive disturbance from cats and grub-seeking possums, it becomes a matter of thinning the multitudes. Some reseed in minute amounts, and the seedlings are found unexpectedly, while absent-mindedly admiring something or other, only to notice nearby two tiny leaves pushing up from the cold brown earth. I’ve found a total of two Solanum pyracantha this way recently, but no more, so these are carefully looked for and potted up. And then there’s the exuberant procreators, like poppies and castor bean, that would prefer to have the garden just to themselves. The only self-sowers not welcomed are morning glories; the seductively dark purple variety ‘Grandpa Otts’ was planted just one season, and I’ve regretted it ever since. The seeds reputedly stay viable for 100 years. I’m told colder zones don’t have this problem with them.

I do have some fresh Mina lobata seeds right now. Annie’s Annuals & Perennials is a source for some of the self-sowers mentioned above.

Mina lobata

Some seeds currently on sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Second Look (Erodium pelargoniflorum)

Little plants like this erodium, that wouldn’t rate a second look in summer, for a brief time have the field to themselves in early spring.
So many modest spring bloomers like this erodium are described as “charming,” which sounds like a tepid compliment from the politely underwhelmed, but after a mostly flowerless winter perhaps it’s wise to be charmed by degrees, not flabbergasted all at once. Spring is when I’m more than willing to crawl up close to the little charmers, insect-like, to investigate details of bloom. By summer, I wouldn’t enter the gravel garden except on well-shod feet, possibly with machete in hand.


This erodium is generally described as a perennial for zones 7-9, but its character in the gravel garden is that of a spring annual, blooming and flourishing as long as the soil retains vestiges of moisture from the winter rains, then disappearing entirely in summer. If kept watered, it would bloom and be presentable much longer. Sheets of seedlings re-emerge with a vengeance with the next winter storm, and new plants bloom again in spring. A fierce reseeder, this Storksbill, Heron’s Bill, member of the geraniaceae. Nerines are thickening into clumps nearby for fall, so I’ve kept this erodium’s spread to a minimum this spring.

The palmate leaves are hirsute and sticky debris-catchers.


I wonder if I will ever outgrow the astonishment stage of gardening, perpetually astonished and glad for the bounty reseeding plants liberally fling about the garden, when they settle in and get happy, when the garden story writes itself and you play more the role of the attentive editor, a kind and patient Maxwell Perkins to the fecund chaos of Thomas Wolfe. (Look Homeward, Erodium!) Gardens with much more moisture might have something to fear, but a couple sweeps with the hoe after winter rains keeps this exuberant fellow in line, the fibrous roots pulling up easily out of the gravel before the larger tap root matures.

A view of the sepals as this little erodium fills in around the base of a large restio.


Would I bother to buy seeds and sow this erodium every year? Honestly, possibly not every year. Honestly, possibly not at all. There are so many good spring annuals to choose from, countless kinds I’ve tried and then forgotten because they don’t share this erodium’s generous nature. Good leaves, interesting flowers, clumps to about a foot in height, blooming in the earliest days of spring, and managing all this by itself, with minimal intervention from me, all these traits together make up this erodium’s charm. And it’s the perfect complement for wet winter/dry summer Mediterranean bulbs, more of which I’ll be adding to the gravel garden.

I wrote about this erodium last February, but besides the above reasons, another reason to take a second look at this erodium is because it seems to be generally mislabeled in seed catalogues. What I call E. pelargoniflorum may in fact be E. trifolium, which seems to quickly lose vigor and is not reliably perennial, all of which describes my erodium. I’m told Erodium trifolium does not have hairs in the foveole, and if I knew what a foveole was I’d explain further. The salient point I’m making doesn’t change, however, that whatever its identity, this erodium can be grown as an annual, with expectations for it to bloom well the first year after sowing. If anyone wants to try seeds of the erodium I’m growing, send me an email.

Erodium pelargoniflorum

This little self-sowing erodium owns the front gravel garden in spring. Just yesterday I pulled handfuls of it up to give some nerines a bit of breathing room.
Weedy, yes, but cheerful and controllable. A quick Internet search tells me that it is considered by many charming, which it is, and that it blooms all
summer, which it does not here in zone 10, at least in the austere environs of the gravel garden, with very little supplemental irrigation.

But where’s it from? Nice to know that my trusty Hortus III still has an answer faster than prowling the Internet, which necessarily includes being
waylaid by enticing images and descriptions and forgetting what you were looking for to begin with. Asia Minor is the swift, dry answer from Hortus.
Add Asia Minor to the search string, and we’re getting somewhere. Somewhere probably in Turkey.


A few feet away a young smoke tree stirs into leaf again: