Tag Archives: Libertia peregrinans

what am I missing?

 photo P1018237.jpg

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.

 photo fri64021.jpg

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.

ghosts of gardens past

Cleaning out old photo albums releases lots of ghosts of gardens past. Do I feel guilty and as greedy as Scrooge over all the plants that have come and gone? Not a bit.
I do notice that I’ve become more of a climate realist, following the rainfall patterns, with less emphasis on masses of summer-blooming plants during what is typically our dry season.

 photo agavedestruction042.jpg

Some of the ghosts are huge and come armed with hooks. The only time I bother to find some gloves and wear them is preparing to do battle with an agave. (That’s a knife in my hand.)
I doubt I’d wrestle with a monster this size again. The only way to release the kraken was to break the pot. Actually, this agave is still alive and kicking, but in my neighbor’s garden.

 photo april32010003.jpg

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
— T.S. Eliot was absolutely right.

The garden has lots of kitty ghosts too. Jones, our tabby, as of about a month ago, is no more. Also known as Joseph, aka Professor Joe B. Tiger.
aka Beaner. We think he made it to over 20 years’ old at least. What a cantankerous beast he was.

 photo sunapril18061.jpg

More ghosts of plants past, like the beautiful but invasive feather grass, Stipa tenuissima, which has been systematically expunged from the garden.
The cats particularly loved this grass — to sleep on, to hide behind, to play in like their own personal Serengeti.

G. Bill Wallis photo IMGP9216.jpg

The yucca is one of the few plants still around today. With anthemis and the ‘Bill Wallis’ geranium.

 photo DSCN7287.jpg

Yucca, coronilla, agastache. I need to find that pig-ear cotyledon again.

 photo IMG_1112.jpg

I probably have a tenth of the containers I once kept. Holy mole…

 photo IMG_0214-1.jpg

A dwarf form of Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea,’ the golden-leaved Persicaria amplexicaulis, fuchsias, plectranthus, pelargoniums, etc., etc., all ghosts now.

 photo 95morn018.jpg

At some point things started getting shrubbier and grassier, more structural, but always planting so densely that the intention became buried. Did a love of plants spoil the design? Oh, heavens, yes, absolutely. There will always be other gardens to visit and admire for their strong design. I still need the plants. In the background are two “golfball” pittosporums that were clipped into spheres, a shape that they seemed to outgrow weekly. Clipped structure is such high maintenance. Definitely not for me. The dark-leaved shrubs in the foreground are Lophomyrtus x ralphii ‘Red Dragon.’

 photo 622morn002-1.jpg

Better view of the golfball pitts. They always stubbornly inclined more to a light bulb shape than spherical.

 photo fri64021.jpg

The yucca engulfed by Geranium ‘Dragon Heart.’

 photo july3049-1.jpg

The summer I let white valerian take over.

 photo entirephotocat2100.jpg

The tawny, strawberry-blonde tresses of Stipa arundinacea (Anemanthele lessoniana) have been a long-time favorite.
Sedum nussbaumerianum pushes these colors even harder.

 photo 731amar002-1.jpg

This grass and anything burgundy, like amaranthus or ricinus. Yum.

 photo mon614047.jpg

Same color as the stipa but now in Libertia peregrinans. What a good year 2011 was for Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain.’

 photo thurs42210001.jpg

Alstroemeria ‘The Third Harmonic,’ wonderful in vases, atrocious in the garden. Tall and unsteady, needing sturdy support (high maintenance)

 photo 98morn003.jpg

I can’t even remember the names of some of the many succulents that passed through the garden. This pom pom was rampageous.

 photo 813succ011.jpg

the many adventures in moss

Chromatella photo IMGP9224.jpg

I miss the scent of the roses almost as much as their flowers. Chromatella’s was deep and complex, with notes of tobacco.

 photo P1014259.jpg

Some things never change. The garden is as overstuffed as it ever was. 2013 will be remembered as the year the eryngiums bloomed well. Onward to 2014!

Plug & Play

I briefly escaped the desk yesterday and checked out a couple local nurseries. Fall is when some interesting plants start to appear again in Southern California nurseries, for planting in the cooler temps, to be settled in by winter rains. (Fingers crossed, oh, please, please, winter rains, do come!) Surprised the heck out of me to bump into Teucrium hyrcanicum ‘Purple Tails’ locally, a plant I’ve killed once but have been meaning to attempt to get off on a better footing with in the future. This native of Iran is spelled both hircanicum and hyrcanicum. Someone needs to pick a spelling and stick with it.

The teucrium had only been available via mail order previously. The local teucrium were in full growth, filled with bloom spikes. Instant garden gratification. (The fly on the sporobolus bloom is an unwelcome reminder of the abysmal outdoor meal we had a few weeks back, where hordes of his kin flew in past a phalanx of citronella candles. Our guests were not amused. I think it was the lobster that attracted them in such numbers.)


As always, some reshuffling was in order first. A mossed basket of succulents had been moved into the proposed spot for the teucrium just a few days ago. Senecio anteuphorbium was breaking summer dormancy, so I helped it along by soaking the thoroughly dried-out basket in a basin for a day. Then instead of hanging it up again, to be neglected and forgotten as it had been all summer, I plopped the entire basket in the garden outside my office. Wonderful effect. Instant garden gratification. Compound, silvery leaves in the foreground are from the umbellifer Seseli gummiferum. The seedheads to the right are from Patersonia drummondii, which can be seen in bloom last April here.


But now I needed this sunny spot for the teucrium, so the basket was moved again, this time among some Libertia peregrinans, a surprisingly nice match for the yolk-colored Sedum nussbaumerianum.


The tall, naked stems are the summer-dormant Senecio anteuphorbium, showing fresh growth at the tips. I first became acquainted with this senecio as the center bulge growing in a local “living wall,” blogged about in this post. Garden designer Dustin Gimbel made the ID, bless his nomenclature-filled brain. Rosettes are silvery Echeveria elegans, red-edged Echeveria pulidonis, golden Sedum nussbaumeranium, some graptopetalum and creeping sedum.

The moss blends in unobtrusively with the surrounding plants. The basket is a half basket with a flat back to hang against a wall, the sides curving to a point at the bottom, so after excavating a slight depression, it sits upright beautifully. The elevated height will keep the succulents drier than the surrounding plants and really makes their shapes pop. The perfect solution, since I’m sick to death of trying to keep these mossed baskets moist.


More instant garden gratification, the best kind, considering it’s a Tuesday in mid-September.

On the West Coast, Digging Dog Nursery carries Teucrium hyrcanicum.

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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Today was a day of mathematical simplicity, nothing too complex. Like an abacus, disparate elements slid in and out of place, adding in then subtracting out throughout the day. Work lined up for the day cancelled. Subtraction. But being home, I was able to catch the late afternoon sun backlighting Aeonium rubrinoleatum. Addition.


A windfall of free time usually finds me in the garden, and today was no exception. So far, I haven’t found a single plant not improved by association with libertia. So inevitable was their pairing, Agave parryi var. truncata and the gingery blades of Libertia peregrinans, that they clicked into place like the beads of an abacus. Addition.



(I’m describing the slow accretion of the colors selected to surround me, practiced by me, a nonprofessional. An inattentive process of anti-design, if you will.)

It starts out with silver.


Just silver.


Silver came home first, in the form of all the Mediterranean shrubs and subshrubs that evolved this unique adaptation for drought tolerance.


Stir in some gold because…well, it’s gold.



Yep, silver and gold. Drawn to silver, equally drawn to gold, but initially separate impulses. Quietly, almost stealthily, the garden increases its shimmer quotient as I consistently bring in more silver and gold every time something becomes worn out or overgrown, in need of replacing. Unconsciously, I’ve built up a treasury of it, and now it’s silver&gold, the two together, inseparable, that’s got me hooked.

Add a dash of red in the stems of a kangaroo’s paw, and I’m done. Simply done.


From The Guardian 4/14/10: “In a letter to his brother Theo in 1882, Van Gogh wrote: ‘There are but three fundamental colours – red, yellow, and blue; ‘composites’ are orange, green, and purple. By adding black and some white one gets the endless varieties of greys – red grey, yellow-grey, blue-grey, green-grey, orange-grey, violet-grey. It is impossible to say, for instance, how many green-greys there are; there is an endless variety. But the whole chemistry of colours is not more complicated than those few simple rules. And having a clear notion of this is worth more than 70 different colours of paint — because with those three principal colours and black and white, one can make more than 70 tones and varieties. The colourist is the person who knows at once how to analyze a colour, when it sees it in nature, and can say, for instance: that green-grey is yellow with black and blue, etc. In other words, someone who knows how to find the greys of nature on their palette.'”

The green-greys of nature exquisitely painted by Solanum marginata.


And apparently this silver and gold fetish wasn’t just happening in the garden. I’ve had this bolt of fabric in a cedar chest for decades, stowed away for some forgotten rainy day purpose. Again, silver and gold. The mustardy Frankoma jug bought 20 years ago is also the color of the room I’m sitting in. And within a very few shades of difference, also the new color on the house. And the color of the new ceramic pots I bought after staring at the range of colors offered for a good 20 minutes. (Like I could actually come home with any other color.) Do I plan any of this? Absolutely not. Did I notice Colonel Mustard sneaking in to all the rooms, indoors and out? Not at all. It’s design by sleepwalking.


Not everyone’s favorite colors. My husband calls the new house paint color “meconium.” If you’ve had kids, no further description is necessary. It kind of bugs him.

Am I buggin’ you? I don’t mean to bug ya…just a shout out for silver and gold.


June 2010 Bloom Day

A 2-year-old mossed basket with sedums, agave, and oregano ‘Kent Beauty.’ I was surprised to see the oregano return this year. Life in a mossed basket can be rough.


The urns of arctoctis. Hopefully, the next time I replant the urns will be the day after Thanksgiving, to fill them with tulips. July is not too early to get a tulip order in for the best bulbs!


Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’ and Libertia peregrinans. This libertia actually is in bloom, tiny and white, but it’s the tawny leaves I’m after.


Crocosmia just budding up, different kinds of forgotten names. Running in ribbons throughout, not in big clumps. I’m always amazed they find their way up and through at all in June.


Continue reading June 2010 Bloom Day

Foliage Followup (and other digressions)

The answer to Bloom Day, the 15th of every month, is the Foliage Follow-up, the brainchild of Pam Pennick of the excellent blog Digging, whose garden has endured both record high temps in summer and now record low temps this winter — kinda why “climate change” is more apt a term than “global warming,” since every cold spell is pounced upon as proof, aha! that carbon dioxide emissions are not causing warming (because then we’d be warm and sweaty all the time, right?) and that it’s all the socialist payback plot of evil scientists. But as reader Paul Schickler of Brooklyn so ably stated in a letter to the New York Times on January 1, 2010, “Yes, we may possibly err in thinking that we need to spend uncounted billions on green technologies, new industries and fostering worldwide unanimity of purpose. But if climate fears do turn out to be less than apocalyptic, we can ease our embarrassment with a full-employment economy, fiscal surplus, clean air, a more peaceful world and a more optimistic future for our children. I’m ready to be thus embarrassed.”

Whoops, where’d that digression come from? Back to the garden…

This whole enterprise of naming what’s in bloom and leaf seems so unfair on my part because here in zone 10 we usually don’t get temps lower than the 40s to contend with — this winter at least, so far, knock wood — so consequently there’s always lots in bloom and leaf, no matter the skill level of the gardener, and if you’ve got garden space for exotic evergreen shrubs, the sky’s the limit. (A couple years ago, a rare freeze did occur, and it was the talk of the town. I lost a sole plectranthus and the cats’ water bowl iced over, nothing to cry over. The Huntington Botanical Garden had just bedded out masses of Zwartkop aeoniums, all of which were lost, amongst other tender stuff. It also, strangely enough, snowed in South Central L.A., but only there.)

But soon enough, probably around June, as I check the Bloom Day blogs (a day shy of that other famous Bloomsday of James Joyce’s Ulysses, June 16, commemorating June 16, 1904), I’ll bewail the deficit of strong perennial bloom in my garden, the sore lack of breezy, Piet Oudolfesque, diaphanous beauties like veronicastrum, astrantia, the zaftig prairie stalwarts like baptisia and eupatorium that refuse to check in at the Hotel Southern California of the endless summers and suburbs, of the 4-Oh-5 and 1-Oh-1 freeways, of the lack of proper winter chill. We’ve all got our zonal (and urban planning) crosses to bear.

So with that disclaimer, and barring further digressions, I offer the leafy charms of Coprosma ‘County Park Red’

Sedum nussbaumerianum, Coppertone Stonecrop:


Oxalis spiralis sprawls in the cool winter months then retreats during summer. The dark burgundy form is out of frame, planted in the ground. The variegated plant is a sterile basil ‘Pesto Perpetuo.’ So pretty, I haven’t as yet snagged a leaf for the kitchen. And with tomatoes out of season, what’s the point anyway?


Fatshedera, bigeneric cross of, you guessed it, fatsia and hedera, picked up at the Cistus Nursery of Portland, Oregon, this past July. Lost the tag to this cultivar:


The round-leaved mint bush, Prostanthera. I assumed this is P. rotundifolia but find reference to the variegated mint bush as P. ovalifolia. Whatever it is, it’s a lovely, minty, shimmering shrub from Australia that I’ve grown off and on for over a decade. Tiny lavender bells appear in spring. It can get big fast:


The little Moroccan toadflax likes the cool winter temps too. Linaria reticulata ‘Flamenco’:


Another fine-leaved shrub, the New Zealander Lophomyrtus x ralphii ‘Red Dragon’ that I keep in pots to bring to the fore when the succulence of summer’s bounty can no longer upstage their delicate beauty. (That and the fact that there’s simply no ground left in which to to plant them.)


Hebe ‘Quicksilver’ bringing a cross-stitch counterpoint to the solidity of a potted agave:


Hellebore argutifolius is in bloom, as are still the Waverly salvias and Teucrium azureum, thank goodness, for the hummers that stop by several times a day. Salvia chiapensis is awakening. The bronzy fennel backs rusty spears of Libertia peregrinans, and the white umbellifer Orlaya grandiflora has started to bloom.


There’s lots to look at in January. Temps are mostly in the 60s, sometimes 70s. The light is wonderful, not the “toaster oven” light of summer, as cinematographer Gordon Willis described Los Angeles light to Terry Gross in a Fresh Air interview. But I digress…