Tag Archives: Salvia guaranitica

It happened one night; August rain

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

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

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

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

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Tiny romneya-like flowers bloomed Sunday morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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Pinching it back doesn’t seem to help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Salvias at Longwood Gardens

Longwood was full of “firsts” for me: My first Dutch Elm, the last lone sentinel remaining of a row of elm destroyed by Dutch Elm disease. My first Cornus kousa.

My first Copper Beech, Fagus sylvatica.


But amongst all these firsts were some familiar faces. For instance, the tender salvias that bloom in fall. Tender for Longwood, perennial for me in zone 10.
And here again Longwood surprised: I have never seen these salvias grown so well before.

Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious,’ a long double border of them. I wonder what summer offering they replaced and how large they were when planted out for this fall show. Lots of wondering going on at Longwood.



Salvia van houttei or one of its cultivars, never an easy salvia to grow. For me, at least.



It’s not just the blemish-free leaves, where no insect has ever clamped teeth. It was the uniformity in the size of the plants, the abundance of bloom, the clearly visible knowledge of when and how to prune, what time to plant out to achieve optimal results. This little courtyard with central fountain was planted entirely in deep reds, using the Salvia van houttei, claret and ruby-colored bedding chrysanthemums, burgundy-leaved coleus, and chased with silvery liriope. Some of my companions found it over the top and garish, but this is the kind of seasonal, bedding-out display that a garden with such horticultural skill and resources simply must do because they alone can do it. Personally, I’d ditch the mums and plant grasses with this spectacular salvia, but I have to admit this almost old-fashioned show of plantsmanship and rich concentration of color was thrilling. By daylight the courtyard did seem flat, but at twilight the deep reds smoldered. I had to be torn away from this little courtyard at closing time.


Salvia involucrata, the rosebud sage. Never an easy salvia to grow. For me, at least.
There were yards and yards of these rosebud sages.
I always get massive amounts of leaf, sprawling growth, and little bloom that’s not molested by some budworm.


Salvia ‘Mulberry Jam,’ an involucrata hybrid. Never an easy….etc.


The familiar Salvia leucantha, familiar yet entirely new when backed by rusty-golden fall foliage.
This salvia is mostly poorly grown in Southern California, because rarely is it pruned back hard in spring but left to grow gangly and bare at the base.
Possibly a case of horticultural familiarity breeding contempt. Here at Longwood it is recognized for the treasure it is.


Salvia leucantha again, with possibly Salvia guaranitica in the foreground and the plush leaves of tibouchina to the sides.
(The leaf seems too stiff for guaranitica, so I’m not sure at all about this ID. Seemed too short to be S. patens.)


With tibouchina, agastache, and possibly veronicastrum in the background. Or maybe it’s vitex. I wonder if the tibouchina’s purple flowers failed to show.


Flowers or not, the tibouchina’s big, felty leaves are safe harbor for the eye adrift in an endless sea of blue.