Tag Archives: Papaver rupifragum

status update Rudbeckia maxima 5/2/16

Another example of the odd juxtapositions that occur in my garden from year to year, due to an unremitting curiosity about plants I just don’t get to see locally:

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Lights, laundry shed, giant coneflower!

The cabbage coneflower, Rudbeckia maxima, known for growing in moist ditches from Arkansas to Texas, bizarrely enough, is settling into my dryish garden in Los Angeles without much fuss.
It’s too early to tell still, but it unwiltingly sailed through unseasonal high temperatures into the 90s in April. Those are some tough, leathery, cabbagey leaves.
And I do appreciate such enthusiastic blooming in its first year. I’m still waiting for 3-year-old clumps of ‘Totally Tangerine’ geum and ‘Terracotta’ yarrow to bloom.
The conventional wisdom is to let the rudbeckia’s flowers turn into seedheads, sit back, and then watch the birds feast. Up above the shed, I’ve got the cushions ready.
If like me you crave height and movement from a summer garden, this rudbeckia is for you. And if you have a moist ditch, even better.

Elsewhere in the garden…

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Papaver rupifragum. No uncertainties about this poppy. It’s been reseeding here for ages and loves a dry garden.

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Glaucium grandiflorum, planted spring 2014. Another very tough customer that never gets a minute’s worry from me.
Except I do worry a bit that there’s been no seedlings, and it’s not known for longevity. There’s always something to worry about…

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Salvia uliginosa, aka the bog sage. Quite the misnomer. Another plant that wouldn’t mind moister conditions but manages fine without.
This salvia, planted fall 2015, like similarly easy ‘Waverly’ and S. chiapensis, cycles in and out of the garden. The bog sage adds wonderful swaying movement. (And hummingbirds.)
My heavy soil incites intense emotions. I hate it and I love it. I love it when its stiffness and heaviness keeps plants like the bog sage and tetrapanax from running rampant.
I love it for allowing me to grow unlikely candidates like Rudbeckia maxima and Persicaria amplexicaulis without toting buckets and buckets of water.
(I hate it for harboring pathogens that it unleashes on warm summer days to kill prized dry garden shrubs.)

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The reseeding ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix’ nicotianas are still incredibly lovely, so needed their portrait included as well.

And so on with May!

Monday clippings 3/23/15

March is certainly a fast-moving month, isn’t it? Some incidents from the garden:

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Protected under the pergola, the ‘Stained Glass’ octopus agave came through an early March hailstorm without a mark.
Agaves tucked against the house, under the eaves, like Agave gypsophila ‘Ivory Curls,’ also escaped the dreaded hail pockmarks.
The furcraea in the background was defenseless.

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Its big stripes are now stippled and pitted. Hail Monday, we’ve dubbed the event.

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In the front garden, Mr. Ripple is unscathed, though the dwarf olives are crowding him a bit. Well, it’s hard to say who’s crowding who, really.
Wonderful spring color on the Gastrolobium praemorsum, the ruddy shrub between the two Agave ‘Blue Glows.’ Not much hail damage on those agaves either.
The attenuatas took the worst of it.

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Always a thrilling juxtaposition when a cactus blooms. Rat-tail cactus.

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Poppies! Papaver rupifragum

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Papaver setigerum

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I probably pulled 90 percent of these poppies that seeded around.
I don’t mind a little editing, especially if the plants pull up as easily as these do.

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The spring shuffling of pots is well underway as sun/shade patterns change

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Salvia ‘Amistad’ is so far living up to its reputation for blooming early and long

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Echium simplex is up to all kinds of crazy fasciation with its bloom spikes.

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After three days in the 90s, Banksia ericifolia started dropping its leaves. I moved it out of the container and into less than full sun, but it doesn’t look good…

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Of all the abutilon I’ve grown, I think Abutilon venosum really nails its nickname ‘Chinese Lanterns’

Keep an eye on the Dates to Remember link at the top of the page for garden events for the end of March.
Looking forward to news of the recent San Francisco Garden Show and maybe some reports of the Theodore Payne tour too.


Bloom Day March 2014



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Typical for March, the reseeding poppies are the biggest showboats in my garden at the moment.

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Anticipating where and against what backdrop another loopy-necked bloom will open each morning is a huge part of their appeal.

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Summer-dormant Pelargonium echinatum has been so easy to rouse from its dormancy. Always in a pot, I keep it dry from late spring/early summer until around Novemberish.

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No blooms here, but to me it’s just as exciting to see the manihot leaf out again in March.

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Long, pale green, fading to buttery yellow stems send out these shocking pink flowers. Silky petals against furry stems, the rat-tailed cactus really nails it for me.

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Two of the three clumps of the digitalis/isoplexis union, Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame,’ are throwing rainbow sherbert-colored spikes.
This summer will be the first garden trials for those of us plant geeks enthusiasts who chased down this literally brand-new perennial.

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A self-sown Solanum pyracanthum wintered over and is early to bloom.

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One of the three Phlomis lanata I planted in fall.

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After seeing a photo by Andrew Lawson of Tom Stuart-Smith’s use of phlomis at Broughton Grange, I knew I wanted phlomis back in the garden. I’ve tried lots of kinds of phlomis over the years, and if this P. lanata lives up to its reputation for compactness, it just might be the one. Bigger gardens than mine can tackle the oversize, leafy ones like russeliana and fruticosa.

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But Phlomis lanata doesn’t grow up, it grows out, bulging sideways as much as 4-6 feet across while topping out at about 2 feet in height.
(Maybe I’ll eventually need just one of the three I’ve planted…)

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I think it’s no secret that we’re all attracted to Pelargonium ‘Crocodile’ because of those gold-fretted leaves and not its flowers.

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But I suppose the flowers are tolerable when there’s not much else blooming. And blue oat grass in the background makes anything look good.

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A lot of the self-sowers like Orlaya grandiflora are just getting revved up.

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Nasturtiums are mostly pulled out and composted to give some of the other volunteers runnning room.

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Not for lack of trying, but this is the best photo I could get of a very promising salvia, what Annie’s Annuals & Perennials sold as Salvia flava. The photo on her website is much better.
I really, reeeally hope it likes my garden.

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The front garden has very little but dyckias in bloom, which is actually reassuring since if any of the agaves bloom, it means their demise isn’t far behind.

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For the butterflies, Verbena lilacina

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Euphorbia rigida, claiming quite a bit of the roadway just outside the kitchen door, also claims all the bees’ attention. Always lots of good bee watching here.

May Dreams Gardens to thank for inducing us to keep these monthly records of our gardens. I can now easily check back to March 2013 and see what plants I’ve since killed or evicted, not to mention potentially discover some sort of pattern to the erratic blooming habits of Scilla peruviana, which seems to have taken this year off after blooming in 2013.

soon now

Some visual encouragement from my garden today and gardens I’ve visited in the past. Just in case spring still seems impossibly far away.


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private garden, Los Angeles

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private garden, Los Angeles

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private garden, Los Angeles

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private garden, Los Angeles

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Bloom Day February 2014

I wonder if I’d get tired of a garden with nothing but chartreuse flowers for months on end. I suppose it’s possible.


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Helleborus argutifolius. Tough and beautiful, doesn’t complain, doesn’t expect any special treatment. All stellar attributes. Incredibly promiscuous in the seeding-around department, but nobody’s perfect.

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Euphorbia rigida is also full of similarly positive attributes but only lightly reseeds.

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This euphorbia is an absolute terror as far as reseeding, but again it’s hard to say no to chartreuse. (Hard to say no to euphorbias in general.) It’s either E. niciciana (Euphorbia seguieriana ssp.niciciana) or E. nicaeensis. I remember buying it years ago as E. niciciana, but I could be mistaken. I know I’ll regret not weeding out these few plants, but they make even February seem lush.

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Echeveria agavoides is possibly even more charming in bloom, if that’s possible

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Poppy time. The first blooms of Papaver rupifragum

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A gazania just starting to close up shop as the sun was setting.

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Gaillardia ‘Oranges & Lemons’ in need of a cutback for spring.

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In the front garden, new blooms on the enormous patch of dyckia. The lack of rain has impacted the snail population to the garden’s advantage this winter.
Snails love dyckia spears like I love asparagus spears.

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I’m including the Brachysema praemorsum ‘Bronze Butterfly’ because technically it is blooming, but the red claw-like blooms are both virtually invisible as well as insignificant.

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This salvia looks very promising, a cross of Salvia pulchella with Salvia involucrata. My source, Annie’s Annuals, thanks Strybing Arboretum for this purportedly compact salvia.

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The Phlomis lanata I planted in fall are beginning to bloom. Very excited to see how this fairly compact phlomis with the common name of Pygmy Jerusalem Sage fits into the scheme of things.

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Lavandula multifida has been in steady, nonstop bloom since its fall planting.

Snow, mud, or otherwise, we all want to know how February is treating you. As always, Carol at May Dreams Gardens collects our stories.

Ethan Hawke fondles switchgrass at the High Line

There’s an attention grabber. No, that’s not a recent tabloid headline and, yes, I am being facetious, but I find it amazing that the High Line (and switchgrass!) is casually slipped into a bit of puffery about the current goings-on of Ethan Hawke.

From the May 13, 2013, issue of The New Yorker: “Ethan Hawke traipsed the High Line with his hands in his pockets, his blue-gray eyes wide in the strong morning light…Knifing through a bed of switchgrass, he observed…”

No further explanation of what the High Line is, or what switchgrass is for that matter (panicum). It’s just assumed we’ll know — or should know.

In the land of public opinion, the High Line has been an idea in transit, moving relatively swiftly from an impossible feat to a controversial instigator of gentrification, now coasting and settling into a beloved space mentioned in articles about film stars. I’ve been a fan every step of the way. Will the High Line be the impetus for plants and landscapes to begin to share a little space in the collective cultural mind, alongside film stars and cat videos? Wouldn’t that be something? Can headlines like “Autumn crocus now in bloom at the High Line!” be far off?

I’ll always read any piece on Ethan Hawke, because of all the Chekhov plays he’s been doing, because of the Before Sunrise/Sunset movies and Gattaca, and because of the film version he made of Jack London’s White Fang, in which at 21 he costarred with the incomparable Klaus Maria Brandauer and that equally incomparable actor Jed, the wolf mix that played White Fang. The scene where Jed rescues Ethan from a mine collapse is especially riveting, as is the scene when Jed dispatches the bad guys.

But I had no idea Ethan Hawke had narrated a history of the High Line. I suppose his movie Chelsea Walls was a tipoff to his involvement in the neighborhood.

There is something so emotionally satisfying about moving through a landscape — which is why I think there’s something uniquely American about the High Line and its contribution to landscape design. Footfall after footfall expectation builds, scent and sound are stirred, memories too. Memories like walking to and from school on paths through empty fields, an interlude of intense freedom bracketed by responsibility at both departure and arrival. Even in a tiny garden like mine, moving through a landscape is embarking on a journey of discovery. Cutting a little path through the main border and scaling the plants down to knee-high at the path’s edge has been an interesting and rewarding experiment this year.

Where the bricks end is where the new path begins, maybe 8 feet in curved length. It’s really just a dog track in width now that summer growth is spilling onto it, fit for corgi-sized adventures.


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Summer gardens and parks, coming soon to a neighborhood near you.


beauty’s best bargain

for me will always be plants.
401ks and SEPs may crash and burn, but I’ll always be able to live on the cheap surrounded by some of the most gorgeous patterns and shapes on earth.

Some of the results from a leisurely rummage through old photos, trying to jump-start a slow, President’s Day morning.


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Agave bovicornuta, Los Angeles County Arboretum

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Venice Garden & Home Tour 2011

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Melianthus major, Linda Cochrane’s Bainbridge Island garden

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California Cactus Center

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My dearly departed Agave guadalajarana

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Spanish poppies (Papaver rupifragum), furcraea and succulents, my garden April 2012


Bloom Day July 2012

I’m taking the last few weeks of July off work, which means sitting at a computer is the last thing I want to do. But miss a Bloom Day? Never! Since I’m heading out on more adventures this week, I’m going to rush through a few photos of my garden and then add in a few from last week’s trip to the Bay Area.

Papaver rupifragum and the Broom Fern, Asparagus virgatus (zone 7-10).

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No vase required for this arrangement.

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Helenium puberulum — of all the knockout heleniums to grow, right? I do like knobby stuff, though.
I thought perhaps less petals meant less water requirements than fully petaled heleniums. Silly logic and not at all the case.
A one-summer experiment.

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Dahlia ‘Chat Noir’ — trialing a couple peachy dahlias this summer, too, and am not at all enthused. Done with dahlias. Except for this dark beauty.
Saliva canariensis and Persicaria amplexicaulis in background

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‘Monch’ asters are making a reappearance this year. Amazing long period of bloom, consorts well with grasses.

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Disclaimer: Bloom Day post effectively ends here. All photos after this point are not of my garden.

Continue reading Bloom Day July 2012

Occasional Daily Photo 4/21/12

Some mornings the poppies do an especially fine job of arranging their blooms throughout the gravel garden.

Orange notes from Papaver rupifragum and dyckia
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(I know I keep referring to this bit of garden as the “gravel garden,” which it mostly was at one time, though now the ratio of plants to gravel has increased in favor of plants. Still, it’s an easy point of reference.)