Tag Archives: Pelargonium echinatum

TBT: Shocking Pink

October seems a little early for the Cactus Geranium to start blooming after its summer dormancy, but it is, which occasions bringing up this old post from January 2011 in its honor.

Sometime during the night, the buds of Pelargonium echinatum unfolded their cerise petals. The next morning, the intensity of the color was a shock to eyes grown accustomed to the restrained colors of winter.


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Which is about the time I wondered: When did pink leave demure behind to become shocking? And when did those two words first become inseparable?

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What’s amazing to me, number one, is there is an answer to be found to such idle questions of mine, and it can be unearthed in less than 10 minutes:
Pink first became shocking when the eponymous perfume Shocking was launched in 1937, the packaging designed by Leonor Fini for fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

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Surrealist-inspired Schiaparelli — pardon the crude and class-divisive shorthand which was in use at the time — was the ugly aristocrat to Coco Chanel’s pretty commoner, Chanel’s designs as sedate as Schiaparelli’s were outrageously flamboyant, and the two were supposedly intense rivals. (Perhaps flamboyance comes easier to those with trust funds? Just wondering…) Legendary photographer Horst P. Horst, interviewed by Maureen Dowd for the New York Times in 1988, remembers: “Chanel so disliked the overpowering style of the shocking pink, Dali-sketched creations of Elsa Schiaparelli…that she always pretended to forget Schiaparelli’s name, referring to her rival as ‘that Italian designer.'” Horst royally ticked off Chanel by photographing Schiaparelli first, but Chanel apparently became mollified enough to later sit for Horst. (Is life still this exciting?)

Tiny copy of Horst’s portrait of Schiaparelli:

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Horst’s portrait of Coco Chanel:

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The women’s choice of head gear says it all.

Horst might be better known for this corset ad, re-enacted by a famous singer in her ’90s music videoVogue directed by David Fincher:

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In remembering how she came upon the name for her perfume, Schiaparelli recalls in her autobiography Shocking Life: “The colour flashed in front of my eyes. Bright, impossible, impudent, becoming, life-giving, like all the light and the birds and the fish in the world put together, a colour of China and Peru but not of the West’s shocking colour, pure and undiluted.”

Practically speaking, this little South African pelargonium is kept dry in summer, when it goes dormant, then erupts in impudent, shocking pink flowers after winter rains. Elsa would love it, a shocking color, pure and undiluted.

Wednesday clippings 1/6/16


One storm down, five more or so to go. For the first time in a long while, the air smells incredibly fresh.

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January is always the perfect time for the shocking pink blooms on Pelargonium echinatum to arrive.

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A “Sundiascia” I planted in early December, found at Sunset Boulevard Nursery. I expected it to immediately stop blooming, as most things planted out in December do.
Dating myself now, but I remember in the 1980s traveling eight hours up the coast to Western Hills to check out their new diascias, euphorbias, salvias, anything and everything.
And doing that at least twice a year. And now diascia hybrids are sold everywhere in the bedding sections of nurseries.
(Speaking of Western Hills, they are beginning garden docent training January 28th. It is a six-week training on Thursdays, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Call (707) 872-5463 or email Stacie at stacie@westernhillsgarden.com to sign up
.)

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Rainy day Agave ‘Blue Glow’

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First blooms on Acacia podalyrifolia. With the air sweetened by rain and now this fragrant acacia in bloom, the front garden is a little slice of heaven.
After it’s finished blooming, it will be cut back hard. Lots of complaints about its encroachment on the driveway.

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Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’ enjoying a good soaking.

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Linking up with Flutter & Hum’s icy Wednesday vignette.

Bloom Day February 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The flower today, a bit more filled out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A species canna from Tropico in West Hollywood

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Buds forming on Leucadendron ‘Safari Goldstrike’

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

Bloom Day September 2014

I think I’m finally getting the hang of this heat wave business. I’m taking a cue from the plants: Hunker down and just wait it out.

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When I cut the melianthus back, this Gomphostigma virgatum found some needed breathing room. With a little extra irrigation, it’s revived enough to lightly flower.
A silvery South African shrub that likes more water than most silvery things, it was performing this pretty arching trick and dangling tiny white flowers over the clam shells this morning.
I saw this growing at Digging Dog Nursery in their display garden and asked for it, but it’s not currently listed in the catalogue.

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Lavandula multifida, the fern-leaf lavender, when it doesn’t mysteriously collapse, stays in constant bloom. Two out of the original four planted last year remain.
They bulk up very fast and keep the garden and hummingbirds constantly flush with indigo flowers, but it does lack the eponymous scent.
I love having lavender back in the garden, even the unscented kind, and have another touchy one, Lavandula lanata, waiting to be planted when it cools down later in the month.

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Included just because it looks so very icy cool, Aloe scobinifolia. And also because once it’s in the blog, I’ll have always have a record of its name.
It did have a bloom truss on it when I bought it a few weeks back.

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Gaura is blooming in containers. So many new cultivar names for gaura these days, but they’re all short-lived so I don’t keep track. I only ask that gaura be white, not red or pink.

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White also gives a very different character to Persicaria amplexicaulis

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This is a total Bloom Day cheat, since I bought this Euphorbia milii ‘Amarillo’ yesterday.
But these fancy cultivars of the Crown of Thorns are in bloom all over my neighborhood, especially in the Cambodian-owned gardens.
One house down the street has dozens of these growing wall to wall in containers in the front garden, where they can be admired from the gate.
I got the impression last time I lingered at the gate the owners didn’t appreciate me seemingly stalking their prize plants, so it was time to get one of my own.

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This sticky-leaved Cuphea viscosissima is very heat sensitive. I’m hoping it undergoes an astounding transformation when the weather cools.
It’s a volunteer seedling from plants I grew in the past, which surprised me since they looked so miserable in their short time in the garden.

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A photo from August to show how tall it is for a cuphea, the blurry plant in the foreground. I’ve found a bee and a couple wasps snared by the sticky leaves, so that’s a mark against it too.
I didn’t take a new photo of the marigold Tagetes ‘Cinnabar,’ but there’s no worry or hand-wringing over these Day of the Dead flowers from Mexico during a heat wave.

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I’ve been seeing photos of Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’ on blogs and reports of it hitting 6 feet, but I think this ‘Princess Caroline’ at 8 feet in one season is even bigger, if that’s an appealing feature.

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Seeing this Solanum pyracanthum in a Portland garden made me realize the impact of different climates on this plant. Here it’s wispy and flowers early and at a small size, no matter how frequently I pinch it back. In Portland in July it was much more dense, with the leaves and orange thorns an arresting feature before it blooms. I’ve noticed that the castor bean plant similarly flowers early, while the plants are still young and rangy. Both the solanum and castor bean will act like perennials here too.

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Lotus jacobaeus, famous for it’s wine-colored flowers, has a gold cast this year.

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A short-lived perennial here, this new plant was brought in last year.

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Winter-dormant Pelargonium echinatum has been in bloom all summer.

Since August’s Bloom Day, I’ve cut down the long-blooming Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ to the ground and stopped the near-constant irrigating of Rudbeckia triloba, at which point it collapsed.
I didn’t take photos of Russelia equisetiformis, the yellow form of the firecracker plant, which has been in constant bloom all summer, or the kangaroo paws, but otherwise that’s the September 2014 Bloom Day report I’ll be adding to Carol’s blog May Blooms Gardens, where she collects our flowering reports from all over the world every month.

Bloom Day June 2014

Bloom Day on Father’s Day? Really? I figured this out about 7 o’clock last night, but by then I was too sun-blasted to muster a post. Marty wanted his day spent at a local Irish fair. Guinness and “trad” music for him, Irish wolfhounds and sheep herding displays for me. Running late, on to my experiments with herbaceous stuff for a dryish zone 10 Southern California garden. A counter-intuitive direction in the land of palms, agapanthus, and bougainvillea but for now my idea of summer.

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June brought the agastaches. Dark blue in the background is Lavandula multifida.

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Agastache ‘Blue Blazes’ planted last fall 2013

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So now the blue spikes of Plectranthus neochilus have been joined by agastache to make quite an unplanned wash of blue in the corner under the Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea.’

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No complaint from me. A corner of blue isn’t a bad thing on a warm day.
The lavender and catmint ‘Walker’s Low’ is here too.

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Self-sown nicotiana with the plectranthus, leaves of Echium simplex in the foreground.

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Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ is a pale, milky blue. Maybe a little insipid compared to some of the darker blues like Agastache ‘Purple Haze,’ which I neglected to photograph.
But BF has an admirable chunky structure and wonderful leaves. Umbels of Baltic parsley in the lower right.

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Cenolophium denudatum, the Baltic parsley, was started from seed a couple years ago. I think it would be happier in a wetter garden. Stays green and lush but not many flowers.
Maybe I should try it in soups.

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I lifted and split the enormous clump of the grass Chloris virgata and started with smaller divisions last fall. It thickens up fast and does self-sow so no danger in losing it.

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In a small garden, a large pot of cosmos makes for a summer full of daisies. This one has a faint halo of yellow. Cosmos ‘Yellow Garden’

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Pot of cosmos in the background. Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ and digiplexis. There’s some white cleome in here too I didn’t photograph.
For animating a dry summer garden with just two kinds of plants, it’d be hard to beat this gomphrena with grasses.

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Purple orach on the left.

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Seedheads of purple orach, Atriplex hortensis. Wish it did more than very lightly self-sow. The edible orach would no doubt be happier in the rich, moist soil of a vegetable garden.
I once grew a fantastic chartreuse form too but couldn’t get it to reseed. The lower leaves are fed to the parakeets.

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The best umbellifer I’ve found for dry zone 10 is Crithmum maritimum.

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I love the crithmum growing among Eryngium planum

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Dalea purpurea’s first year has been very impressive.

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Tiny blooms on the grass-like Anthericum saundersiae ‘Variegata’ which thrives in the morning sun/afternoon shade in very dry soil under the tetrapanax with bromeliads and aeoniums.

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The kangaroo paws don’t seem as tall this year. Not long-lived anyway, the lack of winter rain may have contributed to smaller size. (‘Yellow Gem’)
More fern-leaf lavender, with Gaillardia ‘Oranges & Lemons’ in the background.

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My garden is really too small for big clumps of rudbeckias, too dry for heleniums. Gaillardias are just right. This one is sunshine on stems.

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Out of three pots of lilies, only the white returned in spring, supported here by the trunk of Euphorbia lambii.

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Pelargonium echinatum has started a new flush of bloom in the mild June weather.

Catch up with other June gardens at May Dreams Gardens.


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.

Occasional Daily Photo 2/12/13

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I just potted the Pelargonium echinatum into this chipped Bauer pot inherited from my grandmother. A chipped Bauer pot ceases to be a sacred cow and can definitely mix it up with the other garden pots. Just took me a while to realize that. I’m certain my grandmother would agree. The pink-limbed, trailing cactus in the clay pot is Lepismium cruciforme.


Bloom Day December 2012

The last Bloom Day in 2012 — I’m keeping this one short, but if interested you can use the search function on the blog for more information/photos on any of these.


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Helleborus argutifolius

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Perlargonium echinatum

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Gerbera ‘Drakensberg Carmine’

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Senecio medley-woodii, shrubby, grey-leaved succulent, its yellow daisies beginning to bloom this month

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Oenothera macrocarpa ssp. incana’s blindingly yellow blooms an unexpected December surprise


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.)

Bloom Day September 2012

A stupefyingly hot Bloom Day here in Los Angeles. June and July were lovely, August and September the devil’s smithy. This heat wave is having the same effect on the streets as martial law, rendering them eerily quiet and empty. The garden is pretty quiet too.


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Amazingly, some things have the backbone to bloom in this heat. Not me. But the summer-dormant, winter-blooming Pelargonium echinatum opened its first blooms yesterday.

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And Russellia equisetiformis has leapt into bloom, even with having to face down day after day of searing afternoon sun.

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Plant Delights described this salvia as making a nondescript, almost grass-like contribution all summer before blooming in fall, which sounded ideal, and this first year that assessment has been borne out. Doesn’t bulk up huge during summer but maintains a slim, barely noticeable presence until it becomes studded in blue flowers in fall. Ultimate size 3-4′ x 15-18.” Salvia reptans West Texas Form.

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Passion vine Passiflora sanguinolenta is sailing through the high temps, reliably unfurling its little pink parasols.

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Definitely cactus weather. Aporocactus, unfazed by the heat.

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Palo verde trees, agaves and grasses scoffing at the heat at a Starbucks in downtown Los Angeles yesterday.
These last two photos taken with my iPhone.

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Cor-Ten steel fountain, agaves and hesperaloe. Walking around downtown yesterday, I convinced myself that until I devise a fountain or water garden, it might be helpful in the interim to just print verbs for the movement of water on my east fence, which was just restained an even darker indigo blue. Words like brim, pour, spill, trickle, flow, rush, cascade, plunge, drip, splash, pool, eddy

Thank you, Carol, (May Dreams Gardens) for this count-your-blessings monthly ritual, along with all the Bloom Day contributors.