Tag Archives: Plectranthus neochilus

Bloom Day October 2016

This October the garden has already turned its back on summer, and all but the grasses have been cut back.
I’m curious to find out how long the summer grasses can be supporting players to the winter-blooming aloes before the grasses are cut back in late winter.
(Of course, if we get rain, the grasses might be cut back sooner, but I’m not holding my breath.
In fact, I think I’ll plan a rain vacation this fall/winter. Glasgow averages 4 inches in November, Amsterdam over 3 inches.)

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The ‘New Zealand Purple’ castor bean has a thick woody trunk and should be removed, because it’s left plenty of seedlings to take its place.
But it’s playing so nicely with ‘Moonlight’ grevillea I keep putting it off.

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And the Solanum vine, ‘Navidad Jalisco,’ has had a lot cut back off the lemon cypresses and out of the Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ but is still throwing new blooms.

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Among other low-lying succulents, the aloes like ‘Cynthia Giddy’ shine unobstructed, but the big pennisetum grasses might have to be switched out for grasses of smaller stature.
Lomandras like ‘Breeze’ really would be preferable for size, although they lack the pennisetum’s sexy blooms.
(That ‘Ghost’ aloe on the lower left was recently added, a hybrid of Aloe striata that showed up at nurseries this fall. I love its almost agave-like chunkiness.)

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Here’s a photo I took the other day of a mass planting of lomandra. The scale is perfect for interplanting aloes.
Sun and water requirements are a good fit too.

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For example, Aloe ‘Topaz’ is struggling to be seen through Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ and phormium. I need to cut back that Verbena bonariensis too.

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‘Topaz’ supposedly prefers/tolerates some summer irrigation so should work well among smaller grasses and shrubs.

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Aloe scobinifolia has bloomed in July in the past and is much later this year. One of its record number of five scapes was lost to a mishap with a cat.
That’s Plectranthus neochilus blooming in the background, as it’s done all summer.

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More and more, I find this time-share aspect to the garden so absorbing.
Every plant on its game year-round with something to contribute, or at least get out of the way.
I’m a firm believer that the emphasis on garden “style” is misplaced.
If it doesn’t make sense for your temperament, for your climate, ignore styles. (If you can even figure out what your climate is anymore.)
In zone 10 there’s no justification for the slow death and decay cycle so beloved by the New Perennial movement. (Not when there’s winter-blooming aloes!)
And it’s a safe bet here in SoCal that we’re looking at building dry gardens for the foreseeable future.
So I can stop dreaming about thalictrums and veronicastrums for summer. Sigh…that ‘Black Stockings’ thalictrum is so cool.
But Amicia zygomeris has the height and some of that purply, bruised coloration to its leaves. I should bring that back for next summer.

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Aloe ‘Kujo,’ the Huntington hybrid. I lost a small plant so jumped at this big 2-gallon size already in bloom.

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This plant caught my eye on a nursery bench recently too. With leaves and flower color so reminiscent of Lobelia tupa, I couldn’t pass it up. Justicia sericea ‘Inca Queen.’

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Said to bloom on and off all year, heaviest in early spring maybe. Drought tolerant when established. Might have a tendency for disheveled lankiness.
We’ll see. The hummingbirds are already thanking me.

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This Kelly Griffin hybrid aloe has been blooming on and off all summer too.

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Aloe ‘Rooikappie’ is another year-round bloomer, heaviest in fall. My little plants are just getting going.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens collects Bloom Day posts from gardens all over the world, an invaluable learning tool for what’s working where.

Bloomday September 2016

We’ve been babysitting a cat whose life had been previously confined to indoors. His love for his newfound garden kingdom almost matches my own.
But his ungainly enthusiam translates into tearing through the garden like a baby elephant, and stalking birds, so I’ve been cutting back a lot of the summer stuff much earlier than usual.
Depriving him of cover and maybe a bell for his neck should even the odds.

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But there remains a few blooms to report. Grevillea ‘Moonlight’ is a big, luminous presence now. almost always in bloom.
‘Robyn Gordon’ has been in reliable bloom all summer as well.

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The eremophila have grown into substantial shrubs in one summer.

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Sedums are in bloom. I don’t usually spring for the herbaceous sedums, but these new darker colors were too tempting to resist.
This one ‘Touchdown Flame,’ held the dark coloration without fading, and I so appreciate the yellow flowers versus pink.

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Salvia uliginosa and Calamintha ‘Montrose White’ both get the Most Attractive to Wildlife award this summer, in bloom for months.

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A summer-blooming aloe is what makes ‘Cynthia Giddy’ so special. I pulled this offset off the main clump just weeks ago, and it’s already throwing a bloom.

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Not a great photo but I got home late and was losing the light. This Plectranthus neochilus weaving around the Copper Spoons kalanchoe has been a friend to hummingbirds all summer.
Plectranthus zuluensis is also in bloom.

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A little potted crassula has erupted in pearly blooms.

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The grasses pretty much own the garden now. This is Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’ with some agastache and bog sage in the background.

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But leucadendrons and aloes are biding their time to shine in winter.

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Glaucium grandiflorum keeps throwing trusses of blooms, this one a little beaten down (probably the cat again)

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The beauty and vigor of the vine Solanum ‘Navidad Jalisco’ continues to be simultaneously alarming and delightful.

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The slipper foot, Euphorbia (or Pedilanthus) macrocarpus, has been much more floriferous in the ground than a container.

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And that’s about all there’s light for. Happy Bloom Day!

Bloom Day July 2015

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The planting under the Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ is all fairly new, except for the Plectranthus neochilus. Stinky or not, it’s a great addition to a dry garden.
Gomphrena ‘Balboa’ is the clover-like flowers with silver leaves, which blends in seamlessly with all the ballota here.
Tall grass in bloom is Stipa ichu, the Peruvian Feather Grass, said to be noninvasive, unlike the fearsome Mexican Feather Grass.
California chain Armstrong Nurseries as well as Home Depot have both vowed to no longer sell the MFG, Stipa tenuissima.

Continue reading Bloom Day July 2015

Bloom Day June 2015

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I documented the extent of the back garden earlier in the month. It’s pretty clear it’s a battle for inches here.
Relatively cool, overcast June means I’m still shifting plants around and planting some new stuff too.

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I’ve been playing around with the idea of a small patch of dry summer meadow the past few years, on a frustratingly small scale of course.
Threaded around all the big evergreen stuff is what’s become a rainbow sherbert meadow this year in raspberry, orange, lemon, lime.
Leucadendron ‘Ebony’ on the left, Lomandra ‘Breeze,’ euphorbias, Arctotis ‘Flame.’ Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ is perennial here, in its third year at least.

Continue reading Bloom Day June 2015

orange and blue

I love garden surprises. Sure, there is some planning involved, but because the garden supports a collecting habit, the big picture is usually uncertain and often a mixed bag.
What the collecting id of my psyche is up to all year is anyone’s guess, including mine, and uncertainty prevails. Excitement too. With spring comes the big reveal.

This year’s reveal shows a pronounced orange and blue theme.

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There’s a big, bold orange and blue statement with Eucalyuptus ‘Moon Lagoon’ now that Isoplexis isabelliana is in bloom.

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But there’s orange and blue everywhere.
Agave franzosinii with Phygelius ‘Diablo’ and Sphaeralcea ‘Newleaze Coral’

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Arctotis ‘Opera,’ one of about three clumps threaded through lomandra, anigozanthos, euphorbias, still a youngish planting.
The only real plan was for summer daisies to be orange, so orange varieties of arctotis and osteospermum were selected. The rest is all collector mania.
Gomphrena ‘Fireworks,’ magenta bobs on the right, has been perennial. This is its second (or third?) year.
It’s a pretty close substitute for alliums all summer long and matches clear orange in intensity.

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Osteospermum ‘Zion Orange’ was planted in January.
There was a really good color selection of the South African daisies at the nurseries this spring, making possible your own personally customized veldt.
Lower branches of this aeonium keep breaking off in winter storms then rooting, so it’s quite the undulating thicket now.

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The source for all that blue (and silver) is the plentiful number of dry garden plants with leaves in those shades.
New planting of Stachyls ‘Bella Grigio’ replaced biennial Echium simplex after it finished blooming.
From reading other blogs, it’s uncertain whether this stachys will be a durable member of the garden or just a fleeting phenom.

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I’d love to see Digitalis ferruginea bloom here, but so far they haven’t take a shine to the garden. But isoplexis is more than enough compensation.
Like the bigeneric hybrid digiplexis, the isoplexis attract scale, but overall I think I prefer the shrubbier isoplexis.
And with the warmer winters, a big ants and scale problem is the new norm.

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Purchased from Jo O’Connell’s Australian Plants Nursery last year, the eucalyptus was planted from a gallon in July 2014. As you can see, it’s fast on its feet.
I’ve already trimmed it back a bit but will ultimately give it free rein in this corner, which means shifting and moving everything in its path.
Initially I had plans to keep it in a container, a silly idea in a drought. Now I’m hoping to grow it as a large shrub, not a tree.
I noted on a recent visit that the Huntington’s new Education and Visitor Center plaza area has planted quite a few of this eucalyptus too.

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Blue Agave ‘Dragon Toes,’ with Aloe cameronii on the left and Aloe elgonica on the right, both aloes flushed orange from the recent heat waves rolling through every few weeks or so.
And then the little variegated agapanthus will bring more blue in a week or so.
I’m still apprehensive about agapanthus in my garden, the first time ever. It’s now in bloom all over town.
My gamble is that it will seem less quotidian surrounded by succulents and grasses. It’s such a good plant for dry summer gardens.
But there’s a strong chance I won’t be able to overcome lifelong prejudices and shopping center associations.

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And then silvery-blue Glaucium grandiflorum started building up some imposing bloom architecture. Photo taken May 9, 2015

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I gasped when I saw these open this morning.

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Audibly gasped. Between gasping at flowers and talking to bees, who knows what the neighbors must be thinking by now.

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This glaucium might behave as a short-lived perennial or biennial and may or may not set seed. There were no blooms last year, just those magnificent leaves.
There’s two clumps, and both plants were covered by the band of shade that lies over this part of the garden in winter, which had me worried a bit.
Maybe in a wet winter the shade might have proved fatal. Both clumps are in full sun now.
This glaucium is from Annie’s Annuals & Perennials but not listed as available now.

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Another big wash of blue (under Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ no less!) from Plectranthus neochilus.

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Mostly blues and silver here now, but a lot of aloes have found their way here under the acacia, out of frame (and Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant.’ More orange!)
I hope I don’t get orange and blue fatigue any time soon…


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.


aftermath of a spring heat wave



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Unseasonal, sudden onset heat, like cold, is similarly not in a plant’s best interests. The pristine good looks of Agave ‘Blue Flame’ took a hit last week.
Poor thing didn’t have time to develop a base coat and suffered a bad sunburn on a few leaves.

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But only a couple feet away, in full sun, delicately pale Agave celsii var. albicans ‘UCB’ absorbed it all in stride.

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This New Zealand grass, Harpochloa falx, was planted before the heatocalypse began, possibly the worst conditions imaginable in which to introduce a plant to its new home, yet it seems to have weathered the sunstorm. And if it hasn’t, I’m definitely going back for more. Oddly enough, I’d been chasing down another New Zealand grass, Chionochloa flavicans, which is why I’ve been combing the grass aisles at local nurseries, where this beauty unexpectedly popped up. I finally ordered seed of chionochloa that, knock wood, is germinating nicely. But what a nerve-wracking enterprise seed-sowing can be during a heat wave.

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It’s very similar to the Eyebrow Grass, Bouteloua gracilis, which didn’t like my garden one bit and exited roots first fairly quickly.
So excited about this NZ grass, which is evergreen, with a name I might actually remember, reminding me as it does of both Harpo Marx and his brother’s famous eyebrows.

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The castor bean plant shot up like Jack’s bean stalk, exulting in a punishing amount of sun.

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The bulk of the back garden is made up of tough, rough-and-ready plants that should stand up to whatever the weather has in mind (theoretically). Probably favoring leaves over flowers, it still brings in lots of aerial drama from pollinators. Seen in bloom here is lavender, adored by hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, night moths, all manner of winged creatures, with gaillardia, kangaroo paws, Senecio leucostachys, whose pale yellow flowers naturally age to brown.

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Amazing how much hot, dry wind a delicate thing like the annual Orlaya grandiflora can withstand.
Its bloom will probably be over by June. Never one to chase the idea of a nonstop, summer-long flowerfest, I’m completely okay with flowers going in and out of bloom.
Like savoring seasonal fruit and vegetables, for me it’s the changing rhythms that make a garden that much more exciting.

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Some plants had me worried, like burnt ember-colored Isoplexis isabelliana and the digiplexis, all of which did fine. Nothing phases a russelia, yellow flowers on the right.
I hand-watered the foxglove relatives all directly at their base, because they definitely showed some heat stress, which I also did for anything newly planted.
Everything had already been deeply mulched, which keeps the soil cool.

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I wasn’t too sure about spring-planted clary sage either, another plant I hand-watered directly at its base, and so far it seems fine.
I’ve been trying for years to add this sage to my repertoire of self-seeders and feared I’d lost another chance.

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This Coprosma ‘Plum Hussy’ was planted last year and didn’t blink in the heat, even though I forgot to give it an extra drink.

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Sunday morning brought relatively cooler temps, and having been idled and literally made dizzy by the extreme heat, I was itching to get busy. Half of Eryngium pandanifolium was sprawling onto the terrace off the kitchen, snaking around our feet under the table. I can’t speak for everybody here, but I was prepared to live with these conditions, since I’m thrilled that this fantastic eryngo from South America likes my garden. But now that I’ve got a few seedlings for insurance, I’ll probably remove the main plant and plant something a little less intimidating. Yesterday I cleaned up old leaves and removed three big offsets, which were planted elsewhere, though I doubt they’ll survive. Like all eryngos, they hate root disturbance and are famously touchy about being moved. Worth a try anyway, rather than tossing them in the compost pile. That’s one of the divisions in the photo above with the coprosma.

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March 2013, with the eryngo on the left, that surprised me by a) really, really liking my garden, and b) thereby swiftly increasing in size. Agave ‘Blue Flame’ can be seen, too, in better days. The mortared brick path on the right was in place when we bought the house. Instead of bricks and pavers on a bed of sand, I should just gravel in what’s left of the terrace, which is sinking below grade. I keep pulling the bricks out anyway to make room for more plants.

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Which is what I did for the eryngo, removing some bricks in secret, of course. Seen here in May 2013, still very puya-esque in character.

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Detail of the eryngo’s 6-foot bloom stalk last August.
I’ve just started another promising eryngium from seed, another South American from Argentina, E. bracteatum, which has deep red, bottle brush-type flowers.

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Plectranthus neochilus has been stunning this spring, happy with dry soil, overcast skies or extreme heat and strong sunshine
For hazy blue, I should just forego nepeta entirely and go with this plectranthus. The tight, uniform bloom is the stunning result of very harsh treatment.
It’s a spreader, so I cut it back hard in winter.

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This Echium simplex, growing deep in a border, weathered the heat fine, but another one closer to the bricks suffered leaf burn

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The poppies run to seed fast in extreme heat

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At the front of the house, the jacarandas’ normally sticky blooms had the texture of potato chips underfoot after a few minutes on hot pavement.

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Another delicate one that withstood the worst of the heat wave. I will say this about monocarpic plants that die after blooming. They really, really give it their all. It was a pleasure, Melanoselinum decipiens.


history of my garden, part VIII

I decided last year that I needed to break up the big border that covers most of the back garden and carve a narrow, oblique path through part of it. Nothing formal and really just an access path, curving probably not more than 10 feet in length. As I’ve mentioned frequently before, this is after all a small urban garden, really just a small patch to experiment and play with plants. And the plants I wanted to grow now and walk among in summer were tough things like nepetas, yarrows and eucomis, of just the right stature for lining a little path, with bigger plants like melianthus further back. There once was a relatively broad, bricked path that arched through the whole back garden like a terracotta crescent moon, that the boys used to pull wagons and race scooters on, but I began pulling it up, small stretches at a time, when the scooters were put away for good and I had an itch to claim more ground to grow big plants that grew head-high by late summer, so the garden would undergo dramatic, seasonal transformations, just like the rest of my life seemed to constantly undergo. Lately I’ve wanted to scale most of the back garden to knee-high or no more than thigh-high by mid-summer, punctuated by tall grasses and mediumish shrubs. It’s all very vague, isn’t it, these intimations about how we want to feel in a garden/landscape? At least for me it is. But I love to see the changes in spatial character and how the different plants relate to each other with these constantly shifting strategies.

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This new little path’s progress interests me very much. Half of it was planted with foot-tolerant dymondia as an experiment, which has performed so well that now the other half has been completed with plugs of dymondia pulled from the established plantings. A couple salvaged street grates/manhole covers serve as stepping stones.
Seedlings are coming up everywhere, including the ribs/interstices of one of the grates.

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Salvia canariensis var. candissima seeded into the dymondia, where it most certainly cannot remain, as it will eventually tower over 7 feet in height and width.

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Closeup of this salvia’s bloom from May 2011

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Geranium maderense ‘Alba’ seedlings are coming up in profusion. I potted a few up for the flea market.

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And what this geranium will look like in bloom in its second year, after which it dies off but flings its progeny in all directions.
Maturing to a rotund 5 by 5 feet, only a couple seedlings of the multitudes it sends forth can be kept.

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Just barely glimpsed in the top left of the photo with the grate is one of several Echeveria agavoides I planted along the path mid summer, now almost completely overgrown. The bright red edge brought on by the cold nights betrayed their hiding place this morning, alerting me to the need to move them soon before they’re completely engulfed and forgotten.

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Also along this little path is a crassula (is it Crassula perforata?) that has taught me something interesting. In a pot, it was constantly neglected and forgotten, and I became increasingly exasperated with it, to the point that I removed it from its pot and sat the rootball on a shallow depression in an old concrete footing. I liked the way it looked at the path’s edge and at that point didn’t care that it would soon die from such treatment, or so I assumed. The succulent surprised me by actually rooting into the concrete, and now the two are one. It survived the past summer with next-to-no water. And now I’m much more interested in this heroic performance than I ever was growing it in a pot.

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Not far from the crassula, under this blanket of Plectranthus neochilus the stump of the smoke tree ‘Grace’ quietly decomposes. The stump sent out shoots all last spring, but the plectranthus eventually smothered it entirely. ‘Grace’ turned out to be way too much tree for this tiny back garden, and I think my neighbors on either side would emphatically agree.

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A couple feet more down the path, recently planted Coprosma ‘Plum Hussy’ gets even plummier as the nights grow chillier

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All those bricks that have enabled my whims concerning changing the size and scale of hardscape over the years were recently put to use at the front of the house, on the west side, dry laid on a bed of sand to fill a wide border between the house and driveway, where I used to grow, among other things, a Magnolia liliflora ‘Nigra.’ It hated the strong western exposure and dryish soil, and protested by always looking like a white-fly-infested abomination, except for February when the those exquisite eggplant-colored goblets covered the shrub. And recently banishing plants from close proximity to the crumbling foundations has become an urgent priority, so the entire border between the driveway and house has now been bricked over. Bricks aren’t my preferred color or style for paths and patios, but they’re cheap and versatile when dry laid on sand, make a permeable surface, and are about as close to hardscape Legos as one can get. I can always do these small projects myself quickly and with minimal assistance.

I was being facetious of course with the title of this post, but after proofing it, it turns out not by much. I meant to write about just the crassula but got a bit carried away with that little path’s back story…

Bloom Day July 2013

An extravagant display of blooms isn’t the overwhelming impression the garden is making this July, which is pretty typical.

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Though the Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket’ grasses are technically blooming.
In the dimming twilight, the ferny leaves of Selinum wallichianum can just be made out leaning onto Furcraea foetida ‘Mediopicta’ in the foreground.

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And the sideritis is also technically in bloom.

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Solanum marginatum’s white blooms are for all floral intents and purposes invisible.

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And there are blooms you have to move leaves aside to see, like with this little Aristolochia fimbriata. Since it reminds me of a tick, I don’t mind if the flowers stay hidden behind those very cool leaves.

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In the foreground lean in the bleached-out plumes of Chloris virgata. Eryngium pandanifolium tops the pergola in the background

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‘Monch’ asters are responsible for some of that blue.

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And ‘Hidalgo’ penstemon is the tower of lilac blue. So far this is a beautifully erect penstemon that I’d absolutely include in next-year’s garden if it decides to return or maybe seeds around. From Mexico, zoned 9-10, reputedly long-lived and not touchy about drainage issues. On that count, one of the first casualties this summer is the lovely shrub Phylica pubescens, pulled out yesterday. I pruned it lightly when I returned from being away a couple weeks. Immediate decline followed. Never, never prune touchy shrubs mid-summer. Will I ever learn?

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Peachy yarrows like ‘Terracotta’ line the path cutting through the border behind the pergola, now not more than a dog track.

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Salvia chiapensis flowering at the base of the eryngium.

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More closeups of Eryngium pandanifolium, the undisputed rock star of the garden this summer.

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Persicaria amplexicaulis will pretty much own the garden in August.

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In July I’m glad for every Verbena bonariensis I pulled out of the paving and planted into the garden in spring

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One of the “suitcase plants,” Pennisetum ‘Jade Princess.’

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Crithmum maritimum weaving into Senecio viravira. The senecio is starting to throw some more of its creamy blooms after being thoroughly deadheaded about a month ago.

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So far the crithmum has been the most reliable umbellifer to flower through summer. (Selinum wallichianum is struggling. to put it mildly.)
Crithmum with yarrow and Eryngium planum.

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Crithmum, yarrow, leaves of persicaria, calamint, anthemis, agastaches, anigozanthos in the background

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Some peachy Salvia greggii are building size for a late summer show with the grasses.

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I carved off some bits of the ‘Skyrocket’ pennisetum in spring to replace Diascia personata which I found disappointing, and the grass bulked up fast. Its slim tapers move quickly from burgundy to beige.

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Tall, sticky-leaved Cuphea viscosissima seems to love the heat.

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Plectranthus neochilus is starting to bloom heavily, just as nearby Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ slows down after being cut back

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Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ lightly reblooming

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In a border closest to the garage/office, early spring-blooming annuals and flopping penstemons were replaced with Gomphrena ‘Strawberry Fields’
and Gaillardia ‘Oranges & Lemons.’

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Russelia reminds me of a blooming restio, great for texture tumbling around nearby containers. It’s planted in the garden and does well with minimal irrigation.


There’s odds and ends I left out, such as eucomis and the passion flower vine which has been wonderful all summer, but that’s the sketch for July. Sending out solidarity to those suffering in excessive heat, or too little heat if that’s possible, unseasonal drought, too much rain. It’s always something in July! Thanks as always to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day on the 15th of every month (and not minding those straggling in a day late).

This Plant Stinks

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Plectranthus neochilus, a very nice plant, similar to the Cuban oregano, Plectranthus amboinicus. but this plectranthus really stinks.
I’m hoping it can fill nepeta’s shoes, a plant impossible to grow with cats roaming the garden. Something tough and textural, not too big.
So far, so good; everyone is avoiding this plant like the plague. Some sleepy mornings I shuffle a little too close, that scent hits the air, and then I’m wide awake.

Stink doesn’t usually bother me in a plant. For example, when I read of gardeners complaining of the stink of clary sage, Salvia sclarea, I think “If only!”
If only the snails would leave it alone, that is, I’d put up with whatever stink it has to offer. Melianthus major, the honeybush, has its own peculiar odor.
Whether it strikes you as peanut butter or old socks, it’s not a scent to delight in.

But this plectranthus is pushing even my tolerance for stink. Distinctly skunk-like.
I like its water-thrifty ways and pagoda-like structure of the flowers though, so for now it stays, but I’m dreading when it’s time to trim it back.

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