Tag Archives: Papaver setigerum

Bloom Day March 2016

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No flowers open yet, but the long-awaited beschorneria bloom stalk itself is stare-worthy. Parrot colors of vivid red with buds tipped in green.
Improbably taller every day, with new subtle twists and angles to admire

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It passed by the Euphorbia ammak a few days ago.

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The bricks in the photo above lead to the Chinese fringe tree that bisects the narrow east side of the house.
Does Chionanthus retusus leaf out and burst into bloom simultaneously everywhere or just zone 10?

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Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ is finished flowering, leaving some pretty cool seedpods

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In the past, I’ve often wondered about the bocconia’s will to live. This winter’s rains have brought out its latent, robust side. I’ve even found a seedling.

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Different kinds of echeverias continue to flower in their charming crookneck style. With Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’

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Surprising color match on the blooms of Echeveria pulvinata and Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’

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a gift aloe, no ID

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Anisodontea ‘Strybing Beauty’ is still looking very promising. Healthy, clean leaves with an airy, open habit of growth.
This will be its first summer, a true test. High on my to-do list is to start a glossary of all the plants I trial in the garden, with a thumb’s up or down.

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No blooms, just enjoying the view of wet pavement. We are becoming such rain fetishists here.

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Wet Agave ‘Dragon Toes’ with a flash of orange deep in the background from Aloe ‘Johnson’s Hybrid’

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I’ve pulled a lot of the poppies, but there’s still a few in bloom every day.

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I’d love it if Salvia leucantha ‘Santa Barbara’ stopped growing now. And bloomed like this, at this size, until November.
We don’t ask much from plants, do we?

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Lastly, Agave vilmoriniana, lord of all he surveys. He’s made good size over the winter too. Blooms from poppies, salvia, kangaroo paws.
Oh, and believe it or don’t, but that euphorbia is in bloom too. Subtle bordering on pointless. Euphorbia characias ‘Black Pearl.’
Now, imagine if the blooms were chartreuse up against that salvia. Taking note for next year.
Carol at May Dreams Gardens collects our Bloom Day stories the 15th of every month.

Bloom Day February 2016

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This warm weather (90 again today!) is pushing an early spring. The first bloom of the many reseeded Papaver setigerum obligingly opened this morning for Bloom Day.

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Meanwhile, the winter-blooming aloes aren’t ready to yield the spotlight yet. Aloe ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ is building up into its ladder-rung bloom formation.

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Aloe cameronii just this week started opening lower buds on its bloom truss, immediately setting off territorial hummingbird disputes.
You can make out the rosettes of reseeding poppies threading their way around a leucadendron.
I’ve been thinning poppies like mad. Editing the spring garden, leaving in poppies for punctuation, pulling out excess for clarity, is becoming a welcome recurring spring ritual.
The umbellifer Orlaya grandiflora resows, too, and is always at least a month later than this poppy. Tragically, I haven’t seen any orlaya seedlings at all this year.

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This year’s salvia will be Salvia leucantha ‘Santa Barbara,’ a dwarfish variety with all-purple flowers and bracts.
It’s a widely grown salvia here. Left to its own devices, it quickly becomes overgrown and bare-legged. Pruning it down to the base late winter keeps it manageable.
It blooms so well here that it’s worth growing as an annual and restarting woody, overgrown plants frequently from cuttings.
An experiment this year with grass Leymus ‘Canyon Prince,’ to see how they match in size and vigor.
More poppies visible to the left, with white flowers of Melampodium leucanthum.

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Lots of yellow this February, from acacias, from the pyramidal-shaped blooms of aeoniums.

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More yellow from the Feathery Cassia, Senna artemisioides

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from Sedum dendroideum and other succulents

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Little golden trumpets from Eremophila glabra ‘Kalgoorlie,’ its first year in the garden.
I really, really admire this little shrub so far and can’t wait to see it bulk up into an even bigger, silvery, gold-flecked presence.

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Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’

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There’s been pink, too, from this anisodontea from Annie’s Annuals, ‘Strybing Beauty.’
It’s been blooming lightly all winter, despite being planted a couple feet from the back wall, in the band of shade that is now rapidly disappearing from the garden.
Each day sunlight spreads over more and more of the garden like an incoming tide.

That disappearing band of shade is my cue to get the Dates to Remember back up and running. (The Venice Home & Garden Tour is back this year!)

poppy days

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The Dwarf Breadseed Poppy is carrying the banner for spring here. Quite silky banners too.

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No stranger to the blog, posts on this poppy go back to 2010. The above photo is from 2011.

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And no disrespect intended for California’s state flower, the poppy Eschscholzia californica, but Papaver setigerum’s long neck and slim profile make it the perfect poppy for my garden.

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Both poppies have evolved in mediterranean winter wet/summer dry climates and will naturalize in your Southern California garden.
If I had a bigger garden, there’d be lots more California native wildflowers joining in, but as it is, a few of these non-native poppies will have to signify spring.

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I wish this native thistle was half as exuberant, the very touchy, hard-to-establish Cirsium occidentale.
I found this as a tiny seedling on the compost pile, just as a plant I bought in fall was keeling over in winter.
Proof that at one point it flowered in the garden, even though I remember only the failures.

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The Poppy of Troy, another of its monikers, needs no coddling, self-sowing its slim tap root into the tightest quarters.

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It is the perfect spring guest, striking up sparkling conversations every year wherever it sows itself, departing quietly before the heat of summer.
But not before knocking over that salt shaker of a seed pod, sowing the way for the spring party next year.

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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 April 2014

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A day late for the Bloom Day report, with the above photo of the back garden taken this overcast morning and most of the closeups taken the past couple days. It’s all shockingly rumpled and disheveled already, but I still love waking up to it every morning. I’ll use this photo as a point of reference. Verbena bonariensis is already pushing 6 feet, almost as tall as the tetrapanax. The poppies were the first to bloom, followed this month by the self-sowing umbellifer Orlaya grandiflora, the little pops of white. All this blowsy madness will be over too soon, by May probably, and then we’ll be tidy and respectable again, refreshed and ready to dig in for a long, hot and very dry summer. Deep blue on the left is the fernleaf lavender Lavandula multifida, which will be a mainstay throughout summer. There’s about six clumps of this lavender throughout the back garden. (A couple days ago I bumped into an old 2012 article in The Telegraph in which designer Tom Stuart-Smith uses the words “exotic meadow” to describe some planting ideas he’s playing with, and those two words pretty much sum up the back garden this spring.)

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To the left of the tall verbena, the monocarpic umbellifer Melanoselinum decipiens is in bloom.
Since it’s supposed to make great size first, I’m guessing this is a hurried, premature bloom, hastened possibly by conditions not expressly to its liking.
Maybe it’s been too warm already.

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Scrolling back up to the first photo for reference, the orange spears in the background on the right are Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’

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And furthest right, nearest the arundo, the Kniphofia thompsonii I moved from the front gravel garden last fall. An aloe that actually prefers nicer, cushier digs than the gravel garden.
I finally noticed all those suckering green shoots on the potted Albizia ‘Summer Chocolate’ and removed them yesterday.

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Also in this area, near Stipa gigantea, Salvia curviflora has started to bloom, with more photobombing poppies.

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The salvia is surrounded by the leaves of summer-blooming Agastache ‘Blue Blazes’

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The little 4-inch pot of Olearia virgata v. lineata ‘Dartonii’ I brought back from Far Reaches Farm is turning into a graceful shrub.
(Under the wire basket I’m protecting some newly planted corms of the Gladiolus papilio hybrid ‘Ruby,’ tall and graceful as a dierama.
There’s no current U.S. source, but Sue Mann of Priory Plants very kindly and graciously sent me a few corms.)
Towering Euphorbia lambii is in bloom in the background.

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This plectranthus is doing a great job as a stump-smotherer.
The stump of the smoke tree ‘Grace’ was still sending out shoots last year, not so much anymore.

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Second (or third?) year in the garden for the Baltic parsley, Cenolophium denudatum, so it’s quite tough as well as graceful. I think the seed came from Derry Watkins.
Who knew umbels could have such variation in color: the orlaya is the whitest umbel, the melanoselinum a pale pink, the Baltic parsley more green than white.

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Last year the pergola had draped canvas for shade, and this year Marty rigged up something more permanent.
It’s shady all day, except for late afternoon, when the sun slants in from the west, and is my favorite spot for viewing all the aerial pollinator activity on the garden.
I’ve been pulling most of the poppies from this area that was reworked last fall, which is now mostly grasses, calamint, phlomis, the Cistus ‘Snow Fire,’ isoplexis.
A big clump of kangaroo paws is just coming into bloom out of frame to the left.

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I doubt if the isoplexis lasts long in this strong western exposure. Everything else will be fine.

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Salvia pulchella x involucrata blooming into Senecio viravira

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The irises again, with the big leaves of the clary sage just behind.

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The little annual Linaria reticulata just happened to self-sow near the dark iris and the Coprosma ‘Plum Hussy.’ You just can’t make this stuff up.

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Closer to the house, looking down through the pergola, with the shrubby Prostanthera ovalifolia ‘Variegata’ in the foreground.
The mint bushes are notoriously short-lived, and I’ve already got a replacement in mind, the smallish mallee Eucalyptus ‘Moon Lagoon’ I brought back from Jo O’Connell’s Australian Native Plants Nursery.

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Flash of pink at the far end of the pergola comes from a stand of pelargoniums, including this P. caffrum X ‘Diana’ from Robin Parer’s nursery Geraniaceae.

And that’s what April looks like in my tiny corner of Long Beach, California. More Bloom Day reports are collected by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


I’ve frontloaded my tumblr (under “Follow“) with lots of old photos and have been adding new ones too.

tuesday clippings 4/1/14



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I sat down Sunday to write about the flu, earthquakes, and plant shows, but the blog server was down, so Sunday’s clippings has become Tuesday’s. And with the building I worked at today undergoing a bomb threat, I can’t remember any of what I intended to write on Sunday evening. That’s got to be the worst kind of April Fool’s tomfoolery, requiring me and an emptied-out building to stand outside sniffling in the cold wind for an hour while firefighters search for explosives.

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Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’ from 2013

But I see I took a photo of the ponytail palm I bought at the Orange County Cactus & Succulent Society show on Saturday, so we’ll start there. The big news is that Echeveria ‘Ebony’ is finally making the rounds at plant shows this spring. Small and expensive, about $40 in a 2-inch pot, but at least there’s been tissue culture in sufficient numbers to finally outstrip the insatiable demand of Korean collectors. I get lots of inquiries about this echeveria, so that’s your best bet for now. Get thee to a succulent show this spring. I’m going to update the Dates to Remember this week with details of upcoming shows, but for now there’s a general CSSA calendar that has upcoming dates.

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We are slightly less ramshackle now that the creeping fig-covered wall has been given its annual clipping, one of those hate-filled chores that brings so much pleasure when done. There’s certainly no pleasure in the doing, which is a dusty, spidery business in which someone always nips their fingers with the clippers instead of a branch. This year it was Marty, not me, and thankfully not very deep. At least I think the photo above is post-clip. Slightly less shaggy than normal anyway. What to do with all the wall clippings means the compost pile has to be sorted out, so three bins were filled with the lovely stuff from the bottom of the heap, and plants that love a rich life are gorging on it. The wall clippings went through the chipper first, an old steam punk Sears model that fired up on the first pull after sitting for a year. Things like that make Marty unspeakably happy. A tidy compost pile, one I’m no longer afraid to approach, does the same for me.

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The orb has been updated with another tillandsia from the show, T. fasciculata on the left

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The garden is still deep in its poppy phase, with every morning bringing more and more. So many more that I’ve had to start pulling them so summer plants like eryngiums aren’t crowded out.
There are some wild and untamed blooms not meant for vases, and that would be poppies. Sure, you can take a match to the stems of Iceland and Oriental poppies for a short vase life, but there’s nothing like a little meadow of them in spring. Papaver setigerum is still my favorite for its compact and uniform size.

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With all the bee activity on the poppies, and the butterflies and hummingbirds on the fern-leaf lavender, the newly engineered digiplexis is conspicuously of no interest to pollinators.
Instead of ‘Illumination Flame,’ a more suitable name might be ‘Rachel,’ the beautiful, memory-implanted android in Blade Runner that thinks it’s human. I will say that I’ve never seen a plant proceed from rare to available at your local big box store with such speed as digiplexis. Whether it melts away in summer’s heat remains to be seen.

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Graptopetalum superbum

One of the most stunning succulent displays I’ve seen recently was surprisingly not at the show but at my mom’s mobile home park. Succulents are a favorite in the small, tidy lots available only to the over-55 crowd, and the plants are left alone to mature into nice specimens, like the graptopetalum above, with its remarkable inflorescence, an airy branching superstructure surrounding the rosettes. If I was a plant broker, a fantasy I occasionally indulge in on annoying days like today, I’d knock on some of these doors.

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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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private garden, Los Angeles

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5512venicetour 108

private garden, Los Angeles

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flea market prep

I had so much fun yesterday organizing for the flea market this Sunday. Tapping poppy seeds into packets, gathering up all the lab beakers into a partitioned wooden box for a safe journey, making bunches of dried poppy seedpods to work their dessicated charms in old pharmacy jars.

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But then there was the crazy part too. The “You can’t sell that! It’s a first edition! What’s gotten into you? Not the antlers! You’re selling our history!

Okay, okay, calm down. See? It’s going back on the shelf. Better now? Just breathe deep.

It also occurred to me yesterday to add the stacks of garden books into the outgoing flea market pile. Thomas Hobbs, Sarah Raven, Christopher Lloyd, out they go.
The old Gardens Illustrated too. At the very least, Reuben, Dustin, and I will have something to read at the flea.

I had no idea flea market prep would be so…so very cleansing. I’ve been adding more photos under the Dates to Remember link at the top.


more poppy drama

Ferocious winds all day Monday left the poppies leaning, some struck down entirely by Tuesday morning.
I was clipping off broken branches and thinning, trying to trim their sail should the winds return, when Marty walked through noting, “Hey, that poppy opened.”
I looked up at a couple still standing upright, saw some new blooms and thought how sweet that he’s trying to console me. Walking past the porch is when I realized he meant this particular poppy, the one we’d been waiting for:

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Months before I’d found a few small plants in the garden and tucked them in the one-inch-wide channel that runs for a couple feet between the brick walkway and back porch that’s been filled in with gravel. Poppies have self-sown here in the past and grow surprisingly well in the confined quarters, but no seeds found their way to the porch this year. And it’s such a nice way to wake up, opening the back door and walking down the steps fluttering with poppies, that I took matters into my own hands and planted about six seedlings I found in the garden. Marty later observed how evenly spaced the poppies had seeded themselves here this year. I didn’t say anything.

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I assumed the poppies would be Papaver setigerum, like all the zillion others in the garden. But in the narrow channel against the porch, they grew taller than garden poppies, and the leaves began to mildew, which I attributed to having been transplanted. Poppies hate root disturbance and always grow healthier when seeded directly. Even though the buds were noticeably bigger, I was ready to pull them out, but Marty stayed my hand, which is unusual since he’s consistently anti plants popping up anywhere but in the garden proper. “Let’s wait and see what they are.” I did pull three anyway but left the few that weren’t too mildewed.

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The petals are in the same color range as all the other poppies this year, Papaver setigerum, but deeper, more saturated. And these porch poppies are bigger and frillier, the stamens much larger. It looks a lot like Annie’s Annuals & Perennials Lavender Breadseed, which I don’t recall ever growing.

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Within minutes of the mystery porch poppy’s opening, you’d think someone announced a blue-light special on pollen.

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It was a bee brawl, with as many as ten at one time wrestling in the petals, their knickers covered in poppy pollen.

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The petals had fallen by nightfall, and there were no new blooms open this morning.
The bees were back to making their rounds on the poppies in the garden this morning, which are slightly wind-blown but still blooming.