Tag Archives: Salvia leucantha

Bloom Day May 2016

Welcome to the jungle. (Okay, so it’s a dry jungle.)

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This will be an abridged Bloom Day post, looking at the telescoped view through my office doorway and describing the big stuff that stands out in the frame.
Rudbeckia maxima on the left is nearly as tall as the pergola but not as tall as the tetrapanax behind it in this view. The kangaroo paws are starting to gain height.
Orange poppies on the far right are Glaucium grandiflorum,. Just one plant is at least a yard across this year.
It wouldn’t be summer without daisies, and this year there’s orange arctotis (right foreground near the sea kale, Crambe maritima).
And buttery yellow Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’ with ferny, silvery green leaves, not pictured but at the feet of the glaucium.
The little white dots just to the right behind the dark aeoniums come from one of my favorite summer daisies, Argyranthemum foeniculaceum, a Canary Islander.
I never find it local, so this plant comes from a cutting I nabbed at a San Francisco park. Small, simple daisies with grey-green, finely cut leaves.
Purple and blues from Salvia uliginosa and Salvia leucantha. More Verbena bonariensis seedlings are coming into bloom.
In the foreground to the left of Yucca ‘Blue Boy’ I’m just stupidly excited to have the grass Stipa barbata coming into bloom.
Another grass I haven’t seen in bloom yet, Stipu ichru, way in the back under the acacia, has started flowering. I’ll be sure to grab photos for June.


driveby gardens; more on the disappearing lawn

I got a very late start on the self-guided Lawn-to-Garden tour Saturday, thirty gardens from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., just because Friday was an unusually odd workday and I lingered and wallowed far too long in the glory of being home Saturday morning.


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There might have been some extended Saturday morning puttering with hanging tillandsias on maritime salvage.

Continue reading driveby gardens; more on the disappearing lawn

finishing up a westside garden tour

The second garden we toured with Lili Singer on 1/24/13, through the Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden’s series “Thursday Garden Talks with Lili Singer.” The first garden toured can be seen here.

The description of the second garden from the handout:

The youngest of the three gardens we’ll visit, this family- and dog-friendly landscape in Santa Monica Canyon includes colorful fragrant natives and other mediterranean-climate plants, permeable paving, drip irrigation and smart controllers. Edibles and ornamentals abound, along with birds, butterflies and other beneficial wildlife. Designer Fleur Nooyen will be our guide. She began the installation in 2011 and still works with the owner (an enthusiastic new gardener!).”

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12-year-old lab Sadie in a rare state of repose. She greeted everyone individually, graciously welcoming each of us into her domain.
Sadie runs this garden. Runs it, squashes it, tramples it, digs it.
The owner has the good sense (and warm heart) to design around the challenges posed by Sadie.

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An avid lounger on plants, the sticks are intended as Sadie deterrents.
The turquoise blue fountain stones are from Arizona.

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A young Arbutus ‘Marina.’ Stunning showboat of a tree to shade the seating area off the back of the house.

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A fascinating provenance for this madrone is given by San Marcos Growers at the link. “Marina” refers to the Marina District of San Francisco. Legendary plantsman Victor Reiter, founder of the California Horticultural Society, is involved in the account:
Mr. Reiter had acquired his plant in 1933 when he was allowed to take vegetative cuttings from a boxed specimen that was at the Strybing Arboretum. The Strybing Arboretum, under director Eric Walther, had purchased the boxed tree from the closing down sale of Western Nursery on Lombard Street in the Marina District. Charles Abrahams, the owner of Western Nursery, was thought to have taken cuttings from trees that were sent from Europe for a 1917 horticultural exposition, one of which was probably this beautiful tree.”

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Dining area with herb garden. Weber kept in handy proximity.

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Luminous bright leaves in the herb garden are, I think, Cuban oregano, Plectranthus amboinicus Plectranthus neochilus ‘Mike’s Fuzzy Wuzzy’

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A row of Salvia leucantha is planted in a narrow border alongside the table. When this salvia is strictly cut back hard each year, as is done here, it is marvelous. When not cut back, it’s a twiggy, leggy, obnoxious mess.

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The herb garden, with Salvia leucantha in the foreground. Stairs lead to…

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The hot tub

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Coming up the driveway, the fence is planted with privacy vines, ceanothus, abutilon

Ceanothus 'Frosty Blue'

Ceanothus ‘Frosty Blue’

Santa Monica Canyon - designer Fleur NooyenSadie the dog - installed 2011

Luscious flowering maple. I asked the designer Fleur Nooyen about the scale insect problem that always afflicts any abutilon I try to grow. Not a problem here so far. Fleur said that other than applying dormant oil, there’s not much remedy for bad scale infestations. Don’t I know it!

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Looking back at the house, photo taken from an unseen lawn of Carex pansa, a lawn substitute that doesn’t require mowing.
The entire back garden is built for water permeability to avoid wasteful runoff, with pathways of decomposed granite and terraces of unmortared, dry-set stone.

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Some of the carex visible in this photo. The large swath of Carex pansa surrounds another terrace topped by an arbor.
Keeping track of the blues?. Blue fence, blue stones, and now blue Adirondacks.
The blue doors are a design deception that lead nowhere. Clever trick for breaking up a long, adjoining garden wall.

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The blues in the garden tie in with the trim on the Spanish-style house

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Little orbs on the light strings woven from grapevine

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Just one of the many benefits of bringing in a designer is that every detail is planned and built in from the get-go.
How many years has it taken to get around to building your potting area? 24 years here, and still counting.

Arbutus (marina?)

One more angle of the madrone and its gorgeous bark. Another of its names is the Strawberry Tree.

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Thanks to Lili Singer, the owner, and designer Fleur Nooyen for the tour of this personal, intimate garden designed for long outdoor meals, filled with natives and aromatic herbs that are easy on the water bill. Sadie is one lucky dog.

One more to go. The designers’ briefs for the first two gardens revolved around family, pets, native plants, edibles, permeability. The designer of the last garden is pedaling like mad to keep up with the owner’s enthusiasm for garden antiques. She keeps a personal warehouse container at the ready at Big Daddy’s, which I’ve written about here. lord, have mercy! I’ll have that post up later this week hopefully.


Photos 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 by MB Maher.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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

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