Tag Archives: Mina lobata

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’

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

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

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

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

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Planted this fall, Eremophila glabra ‘Kalgoorlie.’

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

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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.


gardens without borders

This corner of my small, jam-packed garden is where it gets crazy. Okay, okay. Crazier.

This east end of the garden kind of horseshoes around this collection of containers, with the main sitting area (and more containers) off to the left.

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At first glance, I realize the takeaway is That’s a lot of containers. The polite version anyway.

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Agave x leopoldii and Agave ‘Tradewinds’ among the pots stacked on the concrete core samples.

And that’s no lie. Everyone knows that potted plants have a lot in common with rabbits, right? Same proliferation capabilities.

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But there’s even more containers here than meets the eye.
Here on the east fence, this little bricked area was once a much bigger seating area, covered by a pergola for shade.
Catastrophe struck when a eucalyptus fell on the pergola (which saved the house), and I’ve since nibbled away at the bricks to plant the cypresses for privacy.
A little creative destruction, with catastrophe viewed as opportunity. Now it’s just a small bricked postage stamp perfect for staging pots.

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Planted behind the postage stamp in the ground are the cypresses, of course, and the grasses, Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket.’
I much prefer how this grass grows here, constrained by the cypresses. The expanding clumps in the main garden will need to be split this winter.

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To get our bearings, the furcraea is in the ground in the arm of the horseshoe that separates the postage stamp from the main sitting area near the house.

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Everything else, including the Salvia ‘Waverly’ and Leycesteria formosa, are in containers hidden behind the staging for the succulents.
I can’t keep this moderately thirsty and very large salvia in the garden anymore, so I’m treating it like a summer annual for a container.
And I’ve learned that the finicky leycesteria needs perfect sun/shade, so a container makes sense for it too.
I thought they’d both look great in fall against the grasses in bloom. The staging hides their large, black plastic nursery containers.
The leycesteria (aka Pheasant Berry aka Himalayan Honeysuckle) should have blooms, but mine is still all leaves at this point, which I don’t mind at all.

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The soil in this narrow strip against the fence is filled with cypress roots now, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over.
The Spanish Flag vine, Mina lobata, is growing in a container at the base of the middle cypress.
It needed a little training at first, but being a vine it knows exactly what to do and has really gotten down to business in the last month.
This annual vine, always suggested as an easy climber for summer, is day-length sensitive and will only flower when the nights grow just long enough to suit it.
I’m not sure if I’ll see flowers this fall before the seasonal Santa Ana winds off the desert whip through the garden and shred the Spanish Flag to pieces.
Who said gardens aren’t exciting? They’re full of cliff-hangers like this.

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Another vine, Passiflora ‘Sunburst,’ is in a container at the base of the first cypress, where it’s scrambled up over 12 feet in a very short period of time.
It has set loads of buds, but it may be too late in the season. I’ve read that this passion vine doesn’t mind cooler temperatures, so we’ll see.
The Batman cape-leaves are almost entertainment enough.

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I’ve got a couple more passion vines in containers, one at the base of a pittosporum and another against the back wall of the house (getting too much southern exposure at the moment).

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Just as I always do with potted agaves, I plunged this Agave geminiflora into the garden when some post-summer room became available.

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Containers give so much flexibility, there’s no limit to the amount of crazy you can stir up.
Bring a vine to the cypress. Turn up or down the water. Moving to the Canary Islands? Give them all away to a lucky bunch of friends.
Another great thing about containers is, if you go back to the top photo and cover the pots with your hand, the collector mania is instantly drained from the photo.
Take away the containers, and once again you’re a respectable citizen in a serene garden with healthy control of your impulses.

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I look at it this way: If the vine experiments fail, I’ll have empty containers ready to use next summer.

Wednesday clippings 8/26/15

So what’s shakin’ this muggy end of August? As little as possible, you say?
There’s been all manner of weird stuff going on, including a recurring problem with street-parked neighborhood cars getting their gas siphoned.
This on the heels of the rash of catalytic converter thefts a couple months ago.
And then there’s that wobble and/or meltdown in the stock market that’s got Marty cursing like the sailor he is.
Lots of plant losses, of course. I could go on, but instead I’ll just paraphrase Annie Hall, that summer is full of misery and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly.

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For vigor so unstoppable all summer it borders on downright rudeness, you can’t beat a yucca.

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Yucca ‘Margaritaville’ has two bloom spikes, just this one showing for now, but there’s another spear gaining size.

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Proof that it’s not just a pleasure garden, but a working garden. With some reading and occasional napping too on muggy days…

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Knock wood, Grevillea ‘Moonlight’ seems to have survived its first summer.
I am basically a gadget-free gardener, but this summer has sparked an interest in researching soil moisture sensors like they use in viticulture.
There’s a lot of root competition from neighboring gardens, trees, hedges, and just when I think things are well-watered for a couple weeks, there’s signs of stress.
Unlike all the stuff I’m asked to review that I’m either (a) uninterested in or (b) unqualified to comment upon, a moisture gauge would get my thoughtful appraisal.

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This bocconia in particular has been a problem child in that regard.
Supposedly drought tolerant when established, it’s a few years old now and still shouldn’t be getting the vapors if it misses a drink now and then.

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Well, here’s something cheerful. Max Parker kindly sent this photo to verify my Agave desmettiana ‘Joe Hoak’ had arrived safely at his new home.
The trade was this agave for a couple passifloras, ‘Sunburst’ and ‘Flying V.’ What a deal! Both of these passifloras are smaller vines, not house-eaters.
I’ve tentatively placed the potted ‘Sunburst’ at the base of one of the lemon cypresses, which will provide a good amount of sun but hopefully not too strong.
The theory is the vine will seek out the shade/sun exposure it prefers as it threads through the cypress. There’s nothing to photograph yet. Maybe in a couple weeks.

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I got the idea to use the cypresses because it seems to be working for Mina lobata, self-sown from last year. No blooms yet but, unlike last summer, the leaves stay in good shape all day.
I’m trying to find that sweet spot, where there’s enough sun for blooming but not too much that the vines are wilted by the end of the day.

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I’ll close with this nice planting of Agave ‘Cornelius’ I spotted recently in Downtown Los Angeles.
Gotta go put some clothes in the dryer.

potted plants on the move

The summer containers in nondrought-stricken gardens can become quite a virtuoso display.
I’ve understandably pared things down the past few years but am always amazed at how even a relatively small group of pots can exclaim “Summer!”

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All the pots scattered through the garden become candidates for a massed summer display.
I appreciate how growing a single species to a pot means it can be a focal point at one time of year and part of a big group display at another time.
A good place for summer staging is around the Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus retusus) which bisects the long, narrow patios on the east.
Now that the tree has fully leafed out and all the flowers have fallen, I’ve massed pots on either side of the tree to take advantage of its dappled light.
A chaise in dappled light isn’t a bad idea either. A Mid-Century Homecrest, it needs a touch-up of black paint but is the most comfortable lounger, like floating in zero-gravity.
(Thanks again to Shirley Watts for hauling it down from Alameda in her truck.)

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This group of pots has been gradually accumulating here the past month or so, pulled from all over the garden.
The chartreuse Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’ was moved in when it gained enough size to make an impact.
Unlike so many colocasias, this tropical reliably returns from winter dormancy year after year. I turn the whole pot on its side and leave it outdoors in winter.
I have lots of small, slow-growing agaves in pots, but I like having a couple good-sized potted agaves to mass for summer.
There’s a couple pups here of ‘Blue Flame’ and ‘Boutin’s Blue,’ both of which don’t mind some shade.
The golden Schefflera ‘Amate Soleil’ was fine in full winter sun but definitely needed dappled shade by June.

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The pots of mostly foliage are easy on the water budget, and water from the shower handles all the containers.
The latest addition is a big pot of cosmos, chamomile and silver-leaved horehound/marrubium, a gift to the bees.

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Looking from the other end, Cussonia spicata in the tall grey pot is doing so much better in the dappled light after wintering in full sun.
Variegated manihot, potted succulents, and closer to the table the huge Aeonium ‘Cyclops,’ also moved here to escape full summer sun.

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The base of the fringe tree is unplanted, covered with a mulch of its own leaves year-round.
The view after August rain last year (see post here). I’ve since broken that coffee cup, a favorite from a local tugboat company.
And Mitch took those wooden planters up to his garden in San Francisco.
Before my neighbor planted palms on his side of the fence, this little patio used to be a heat trap by mid-day and went mostly unused until evening.
As a native Angeleno, it’s taken me a lifetime to appreciate the slim footprint of the ubiquitous palms and the lovely shade they cast.

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I’ve been playing around with that tall iron stand for 20 years or so. When I saw photos of Maurizio Zucchi’s home, I felt both validated and incredibly envious.
The little Euphorbia ammak at its base has a long way to grow to make an impact. I’d so love to find some more iron scaffolding for this patio.
The twisty tuteur supports a marmalade bush, Streptosolen jamesonii, I’m hoping can be trained up through its spirals.
The empty frame is part of the floor grate to the broken heater we inherited with the house.

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Last summer the vine Mina lobata grew up the iron stand’s girders, wilting in the afternoon sun.
I found a seedling of this vine that’s been potted up to try in morning sun/afternoon shade.

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Potted’s City Planter was planted up last summer and has been bullet-proof ever since.

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Hopefully this will be the last time I move this monster pot for a few months.
Showing is one of two lamps salvaged from Warehouse No. 1, the oldest warehouse in Los Angeles Harbor.
Marty kept a little workroom in the basement of the cavernous warehouse when he worked for the Port of LA, so we have a strong affection for the old relic.

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The remaining rosette of the huge clump of dyckia I just removed this week from the front garden.
Dyckias and year-round tree litter are just not a good combination. I was so sick of the mess.

I know a lot of pots of tender plants are on the move out of basements and greenhouses, where they vacationed like winter snowbirds.
Sometimes I wonder if the pots in this frost-free garden don’t have just as many miles under their rims.

It happened one night; August rain

I bought my first water plant Saturday, and it rained all that night. Not a downpour, but a steady drizzle. I’m not saying there’s any causal link between the two, just that they’re both rare events that happened to coincide one day in August when I finally made good on an old, wilted promise to start a water garden. Nobody is immune to a little magical thinking, especially gardeners and other anxious weather watchers. And I don’t mind at all buying more water plants in the offchance it pleases the drought gods that I do so. After the overnight rain, it was so nice waking up Sunday morning to the clean world.

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My first water plant. Ruby-stemmed Sagittaria lancifolia ‘Ruminoides’
The fiberglass/concrete container was not intended to hold water and may be a temporary arrangement. Marty sealed it with waterproofing, so we’ll see.

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I don’t think that whitish mottling is a good sign, however.
It clouded up like that before the waterproofing, too, when it held just a few glass fishing floats.

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What’s submerged and rendered invisible by dark waterproofing is the desperate need for repotting, with the gallon container split open by bulging roots.
For repotting, it will need muck, won’t it? I asked the kind nurseryman, trying out the one word I know that has something to do with bogs and ponds.
Have you got muck? he queried me with a strange expression.
No, have you? I’m muckless, I rejoined, matching his strange expression with one of my own at the bizarreness of it all.
It’s not often that “muckless” gets incorporated into daily conversation, but given the chance, I’m going for it.

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Tiny romneya-like flowers bloomed Sunday morning.

The nice nurseryman said a cheap solution for a suitable potting soil is a 50/50 mix of decomposed granite and pure compost.
Compost I’ve got. I just need to beg some d.g. off of Holly across the street.

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Inspired by the garden rejuvenation wrought by a single pot of the common arrowhead, a container of Salvia guaranitica was plunged into the garden near the tank.
This salvia has been hanging around for years in the garden, deprived of the care it needs as I’ve moved on to other salvias, but still it lingers.
I noticed it growing near the fence under the cypress and potted up some straggly shoots a month or so ago.
No sense in taking a survivor like that for granted.

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Welcome to the clean world.
Not glistening from the hose but from that holy of holies, August rainfall. That cussonia has already been moved elsewhere.
I’m on fire with pot shuffling lately, motivated by this shiny, new world.

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The cussonia will get more sun here. Naturally, table and chairs had to be moved nearby to admire the cussonia.
The rain’s shiny polish doesn’t last long, does it?

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The tall burgundy line in the background is drawn by a gawky Pseuderanthemum atropurpureum ‘Black Varnish,’ a plant that never loses its polish.
A tender tropical, there’s no problem overwintering it here, just that crazy legginess it gets the second season.

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Pinching it back doesn’t seem to help.

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More news on dark plants. Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline’ is faithfully performing her job of hiding the compost pile behind her massive girth.

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Since it’s clean, let’s take a walk on the east side.
Pots reshuffled against the fence that separates the front and back gardens on the east side, which has always been problematic for me.
Too many fences, gates, awkward angles, the canyon effect. Seen through the window behind the leggy pittosporum is the blurred shape of the east boundary hedge of dwarf olives.

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It’s such a great “breathing” space despite all the harsh angles, so I’m working on making it more inviting somehow. (On the cheap, of course.)
I’d love a long table and chairs and some great hanging lamps, so will keep it mostly empty until that fine day miraculously arrives. Until then, nothing terrifyingly big and spiky will be allowed here.
This entire east side was covered in overgrown oleanders when we bought the house, which made the house’s interior dark and gloomy.
The dark woodwork indoors gives the interior more than enough gravitas already. (Marty and I have the typical seesawing argument that takes place in old houses such as this:
Paint the interior woodwork white to brighten things up or leave it original? I always argue for keeping it original, but then I’m an impractical softie.)

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Speaking of terrifyingly big and spiky, Agave ‘Mr Ripple’ greets you through the Dutch door, usually left open during the day.

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Mr. Ripple’s lower spines near the walkway have been clipped back, but he still has his uppers.
Marty cannot wait for the day Mr. Ripple blooms (and dies).

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The copper pot is filled with rhipsalis and other hanging cactus. A Mina lobata is climbing up the iron scaffolding.
Apart from the pittosporum, now tree height, there’s currently not much planted in the narrow strip against the blue fence other than some succulents.
I’m enjoying the starkness of it all, but old habits die hard.

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I can’t stop adding stuff, like the giant tree aloe ‘Hercules’ to the right of the potted agave. But that’s it, I swear.

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The newly planted City Planter just moved in, the first attempt at planting anyway. It may need revision. (Too stark against the blue fence?)

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Currently planted with rhipsalis, Echeveria multicaulis, and the trailing blue echeveria, whose name I’ve forgotten. A couple sprigs of Sticks on Fire may or may not root.

At the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling, Lisa Calle, the raven-haired bloggess from Spain, was the rightful winner but graciously threw it back into the raffle since it didn’t fit inside her suitcase.
(Thank you so much, Lisa ! Thank you, Potted !)

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And that concludes the mini-tour of the rain-fresh east side. Mind Mr. Ripple on your way out!


November garden dispatches


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We all have our favorite months in the garden. Our sentiments aside, the November garden continues sending out dispatches, oblivious to any seasonal bias.

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dispatches from plectranthus

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tillandsias

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and cryptbergias

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urgent communications from Echeveria gigantea

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Candy-corn-colored Morse code from Mina lobata, Spanish flag

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Smoky signals from Verbena bonariensis

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Subtle messages from pelargoniums and aeoniums

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And then there’s evergreens like Corokia virgata ‘Sunplash’ that couldn’t care less what time of year it is

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And November is always a good month to talk up agaves. Ever-gorgeous Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’

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Agave geminiflora

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Favorite season? Agave ‘Mr. Ripple’ shrugs those enormous shoulders with exquisite indifference.

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It’s when things quiet down in November that I notice how the patio off the kitchen is book-ended with Agave ‘Blue Flame,’ and marvel at how I managed to pull off a bit of symmetry

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Agave desmettiana ‘Joe Hoak,’ still pristine in November before mollusk season starts in earnest. I’m hoping the five pups I potted up will be of good size in time for the December flea market.

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.”

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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
.'”


http://www.oasishorticulture.com.au/pansy-purple-lace/prd575

Image found here


And:

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
.'”


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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.

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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’
Nasturtiums
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.


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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.

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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.


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Mina lobata

Some seeds currently on sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Wordless Wednesday

After spending all day Tuesday Monday blowing work deadlines, riveted to Frankenstorm coverage, the safe haven of Wordless Wednesday beckons.
After a storm like that, what is there to say?


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Oh, maybe two more words: stay safe.


(This post will make more sense when it eventually is Wednesday, that is, tomorrow. All of which comes from living in a disaster news fog. Whoa.)

Mina lobata, the sequel

The WordPress blogging platform that hosts AGO suffered a catastrophic system failure over the past few days. I understand very little about what caused the problem, but only know that a very nice person named Matt at Apis Networks acted as my intermediary with the angry computer gods. After the gods stopped hurling lightning bolts at WordPress and the smoke cleared, the irrevocable damage appears to be just one blog post gone forever, the one on the annual vine Mina lobata.

So one more time. The annual vine Mina lobata, aka Exotic Love Vine, Firecracker Vine, Spanish Flag.
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Sunday the 85-ton space shuttle Endeavour arrived at its final resting place at the California Science Center, after crawling through Los Angeles’ streets at a speed of 2 mph all day Friday and Saturday, while a lone sky diver hurtled 24 miles back to Earth at speeds over 800 mph.
A weekend to ponder our technological journeys perhaps? I know I did.

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The gist of the post on Mina lobata was that it wilted in its afternoon western exposure all summer, which is what it is doing again, as temps crawl back up into the 90s. And that I like this candy corn-colored vine a lot.