Tag Archives: Senecio medley-woodii

Bloom Day November 2016

Daylight Saving Time and the electoral college. I think we can agree that these are two areas worthy of further study.
May Dreams Gardens collects Bloom Day reports the 15th of every month.
My excuse for posting on the 16th? The DST ate my report. I don’t know how you all manage with these shortened days.

 photo 1-P1013747.jpg

For November we’ll begin with N, for nerines, truly a miracle bulb. I get it that all bulbs are miraculous, but they are not, unlike my nerines, kill-proof.
But go ahead and forget nerines in a dry bowl all summer long (like I do a lot of other plants, come to think of it).

 photo 1-P1013739.jpg

In the case of nerines, you will be rewarded, not punished. They require that dry summer dormancy.
Think of nerines as bulbs that actually encourage bad behavior.

 photo 1-P1013814.jpg

Okay, nobody gets excited by the drab composite flowers of a senecio, but I do like how the blooms extend the leaf-stacked lines of the stems.
And November is not a bad month for a shot of yellow. (Senecio medley-woodi)

 photo 1-P1013760.jpg

More November yellow from Tagetes lemmonnii, the Copper Canyon Daisy.
What a great common name, right out of a John Ford western. Some plants get stuck with unfortunate names like “lungwort.”
Maybe I’m weird (ya think?) but I actually like the smell of the leaves.

 photo 1-P1013798.jpg

Bocconia is sending forth those frothy bloom panicles.
Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea,’ the blue wash in the background, is also budded up with bloom.
The acacia just underwent an intervention and had some Tanglefoot smeared around its trunk to stop the ants from massing cottony cushiony scale along its branches.
As difficult as it is to imagine winners where climate change is concerned, there will be those who come out victorious, and I’m certain they will be bugs.
Each one of those cottony, pillowy encrustations on my acacia holds over 600 eggs.

 photo 1-P1013802.jpg

I’m loving this tawny, oatsy look the garden has taken on in November. ‘Fairy Tails’ pennisetum in the foreground, oatsy-colored bloom trusses of tetrapanax in the background.

 photo 1-P1013818_1.jpg

One clump of melinus, the Ruby Grass, is still sending out rich-colored blooms. The other two clumps have only faded stalks. More oatsy theme.

 photo 1-P1013726.jpg

Once the grevilleas reach blooming size, look out. It’s just another ‘Moonlight’ mile, as far as continuity of blooms. It really does take on a lunar glow around sunrise.

 photo 1-P1013829.jpg

Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’ backed by the claret tones of ‘Hallelujah’ bilbergia.
And since Dustin Gimbel burst into Mr. Cohen’s immortal song when he gave me these pups, that’s the gorgeous earworm I’m stuck with in their company.
(I have to admit my earworm is sung by Jeff Buckley, though. I can’t help it — that’s where I heard the song first.)

 photo 1-P1013764.jpg

I don’t think I’ve given a shout-out to Plectranthus neochilus all summer. Ever stinky of leaf, but a sturdy friend to hummingbirds.
The stump of the smoke tree ‘Grace,’ that improbably grew branches as thick and far-flung as a sycamore, still lies underneath.
A little more decomposition of the stump, and I can dig it up and plant something more exciting. I know the hummers are going to hate me, though.

 photo 1-P1013825.jpg

And yet another entry in the category “Every Bloom Counts in November,” the little euphorbia that took containers by storm 5 or 6 years ago, now greeted mostly with yawns.
Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ is perennial here and doesn’t get into much trouble. Nothing eats it and hot, dry summers don’t faze it.

 photo 1-P1013822.jpg

Another view of it wrapping around the other side of the containers, with another survivor, a climbing kalanchoe. The euphorbia loves that root run between garden and bricks.

 photo 1-P1013782.jpg

Berkheya’s feeble attempt at a weak-necked bloom this November highlights why it’s equally appreciated for those great, serrated leaves.

 photo 1-P1013792.jpg

Aloe “Kujo’ is just about spent, but the red-tipped aloe to the left, cameronii, was discovered to have two buds still tucked in close to the leaves this morning. (Woot!)
The other aloe to the right is allegedly elgonica. I’ve searched the blog and find no reference to a bloom yet.

 photo 1-P1013787_1.jpg

And the little passiflora ‘Flying V’ is still displaying all those fine qualities, unstoppable, indomitable, etc. this November, on the day after Bloom Day.

Bloom Day July 2016

 photo 1-P1010053.jpg

I’m going to try a systematic approach, so bear with me.
Right outside the office, the planting is getting some height from the bog sage, kangaroo paws, and Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket’ showing a few blooms way in the back.

 photo 1-P1010011.jpg

Using the bocconia as a reference point, swinging east, away from the office, the Crithmum maritimum, an almost succulent-like umbellifer, is in bloom at the base of the bocconia.
The grass in front of the crithmum, Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails,’ is just getting started.

 photo 1-P1012674.jpg

Silvery plant to the right of P. ‘Fairy Tails’ is the Island Bristleweed, Hazardia detonsa, endemic to the Channel Islands off Ventura, Calif.
The tiny golden paint brush blooms are only interesting insofar as they elongate and further develop the plant’s architecture. I love the overall effect.

 photo 1-P1012679.jpg

Closeup of the crithmum

 photo 1-P1012715.jpg

Before leaving the office planting, I want to give a shout out to Calamintha ‘Montrose White.’ Frustratingly difficult to get a decent photo of the clouds of tiny white flowers.
But so cool and Grace Kelly elegant. The bees and I are wholly smitten. It is by far the best bee plant in the garden.

 photo 1-P1010018.jpg

A second clump of Glaucium grandiflorum has just started blooming behind the calamint.

 photo 1-P1012555.jpg

In the foreground of the first photo is this amazing, silver-leaved mat-grower whose name I never committed to memory. It may have once been known as a helichrysum. Hasn’t every silver plant?
Sold as a summer annual, it would be perennial here in zone 10. Even though planted spring/early summer during some easy-going temperatures, this one gave me the same trouble as Stachys ‘Bella Grigio.’
Both collapsed after a couple days in the ground. I pulled them out, set them in the shade, where they surprised me by fully recovering.
In both cases, the soil mix was incredibly fast draining. The heavier garden soil was wicking away all the moisture.
After recovery, the mat grower was moved back into the garden. Some careful hand watering has helped to reveal its true and sturdy dry garden temperament.
(edited to add mat grower’s identity: Chrysocephalum aplicata. thanks, Hoov!)

 photo 1-P1012573.jpg

The stachys will reside in a container for summer, and if it makes it to fall I’ll reappraise options for a spot in the garden.
I asked the nurseryman if this stachys was the real deal, as in is it trustworthy enough for use in landscaping projects? He assured me that it was. I remain unconvinced.

 photo 1-P1010037_1.jpg

Still near the office, Agave ‘Mateo’ with the Crambe maritima (that never blooms), orange arctotis, Ricinus ‘New Zealand Purple,’ succulents, sideritis.

 photo 1-P1010041.jpg

Verbena bonariensis finds support among aloes and agaves — as do I!
(Okay, I’m officially ditching that impossible systematic approach now.)

 photo 1-P1010032.jpg

Penstemon ‘Enor’ had the usual problems with budworms blasting the flower buds before opening, but the wasps seem to have sorted it all out now.
My theory is whatever insecticide suppressant is in use at nurseries wears off soon after planting. As ever, I’m always thankful for parasitizing wasps and hungry birds.

 photo 1-P1010015_1.jpg

Origanum ‘Rosenkuppel’ in the center, with yarrow and agastache.

 photo 1-P1010030.jpg

Yesterday I took out the largest planting of this oregano to try out Sedum ‘Blue Pearl.’
The oregano is a demure evergreen mat all winter but leaps into alarmingly expansive growth in summer. It suffocated a grevillea and threatened to do the same to other neighbors.
Like first world problems, similarly, these issues get filed under small garden problems.

 photo 1-P1010029.jpg

Calamagrostis brachytricha has about five bloom stalks. Prefers moist soil, but okay on the drier side.

 photo 1-P1010016_1.jpg

Ruby grass, Melinus nerviglumis, was recently added to fill gaps where I took out a couple clumps of Elymus ‘Canyon Prince.’
I love the elymus, but it also needs a bigger garden to develop and play out its rhythms. And possibly a more wind-exposed site.
One clump of elymus tentatively remains.

 photo 1-P1010037.jpg

And yes, Margaret, there is a fast-blooming puya. Not the sexiest, but the quickest to bloom.
And Puya laxa’s very prickly leaves are like silvery tillandsias for full sun. It’s a notorious spreader, so it remains in a pot.
Since this photo, a navy-blue flower has opened, barely discernible in the overall scheme of things.
Even though it’s not one of the flamboyant turquoise beauties, I do appreciate the quickness to bloom, tall, stemmy structure, and the gorgeous leaves.

 photo 1-P1010035.jpg

Bulbine ‘Athena Compact Orange’ blooming through a carpet of horehound, Marrubium supinum.

 photo 1-P1010034.jpg

A second clump of bog sage mid garden with Verbena bonariensis. The black bumblebees and hummingbirds go for the bog sage, the butterflies favor the verbena.
The bog sage, Salvia uliginosa, has elbowed out Crocosmia ‘Solfatarre’ this summer, so there will be some shifting around this fall.

 photo 1-P1010024.jpg

Just giddy about summer-blooming Aloe ‘Cynthia Giddy’

 photo 1-P1010020.jpg

Possibly Aloe ‘Christmas Cheer’ giving off some July cheer too.

 photo 1-P1010016.jpg

Mid garden crescendo with Agastache ‘Blue Blazes,’ Achillea ‘Terra Cotta,’ eryngium, glaucium, oregano, verbena, anthemis, bog sage, melianthus.

 photo 1-P1010001.jpg

Indefatigable Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ bulwarked by Senecio medley-woodii. Anthemis ‘Susannah Mitchell, kangaroo paws.
Berkheya purpurea obligingly keeps sending up one bloom truss after another.

And that, give or take, is a wrap on July’s Bloom Day.
Check out our host’s site May Dreams Gardens for more blog contributions to July Bloom Day.

Greenlee Meadow Grass Fall Festival 2015

Fall has been stupidly busy, but I’m so glad I made it out to Pomona last Saturday for John Greenlee’s Meadow Grass Fall Festival, the second year it’s been held.
Let’s cross our grubby, fall-planting fingers and hope for another festival in 2016. The food was plentiful and tasty, as were the libations. Alas, I couldn’t stay for the evening jazz concert.
Now based in the Bay Area, Greenlee still maintains the Pomona property where his grassy ambitions first took root.
The festival was attended mainly by designers, and it was an impressively energized bunch.
The prevailing mood seems to be that in drought, there is opportunity — especially for garden designers.
All were eager to hear what’s new in grasses, what’s working, and what isn’t.
John Schoustra of Greenwood Gardens covered daylilies, irises, and pelargoniums, and made an impressive case for the bioremediation qualities of daylilies in the landscape.
I loved the tallest daylilies with the smallest, simplest flowers, like ‘Salmon Sheen,’ which is heresy to true aficionados.
Schoustra’s preference is also for daylilies that read well in a landscape and not for all the ruffles and sparkles that require close-up inspection on bended knee.

 photo 1-_MG_3763.jpg

Although I don’t know him personally, our paths have been crossing ever since our kids attended the same private school in Long Beach.

 photo 1-P1019138.jpg

I well remember the Greenwood van parked at the curb of the old, two-story wooden house where Mitch and Duncan attended elementary school.
Resourceful old houses can double as schools, plant nurseries, like Greenlee’s house on its enormous lot in Pomona.
I arrived late (after getting a bit lost) so missed the opportunity to wander and take some photos of his bamboo-covered garden.

 photo 1-_MG_3767.jpg

Part of the sales tables near the house


It can’t come as any surprise by now that I’m an incredibly easy mark when it comes to plants.
And for the first time in a while I actually had some empty ground due to the departure of Yucca’ Margarita.’
I brought home, in gallons:

Three Yucca pallida, Mountain States Wholesale Nursery
Two Melampodium leucanthum, Blackfoot Daisy, from MSWN (if you follow Rockrose’s Texas blog, you already know this remarkable little daisy)
Poa cita, a New Zealander that Greenlee feels might be the replacement for Mexican Feather Grass
Euphorbia antisyphilitica, from MSWN (Total non sequitur, but if you’re watching Soderbergh’s The Knick, you’ll be up to date on the gruesome ravages of syphilis.)

Most of these were selected after hearing the very persuasive Wendy Proud of Mountain States Wholesale Nursery list her go-to plants during her talk “Got Some Ground to Cover?”
Every plant in her roster carried impeccable dry/tough/gorgeous credentials, so look them up for fall planting and ask for them if you don’t see them at your local nursery:

Acacia redolens ‘Desert Carpet’
Dalea capitata ‘Sierra Gold’
Eremophila glabra ‘Mingenew Gold’
Euphorbia antisyphilitica, which at about a foot tall reminds me of a smaller Baja spurge, Euphorbia xanti
Gossypium harknessii
Melampodium leucanthum
Portulacaria afra minima
Scutellaria sp. ‘Starfire’
Yucca pallida
Yucca rupicola


Cupressus guadalupensis photo 1-_MG_3768.jpg

In constant motion and as animated as any meadow grass, Greenlee packed in a dense amount of information during his talk.
That’s his selection of true blue Cupressus guadalupensis in the distant background.
We were tucked into the narrow, shady former driveway at the entrance to the garden. Temps are still seesawing between upper 80s/low 90s this fall.

 photo 1-_MG_3765.jpg


As far as the ongoing search for lawn replacements, Greenlee reminded us that no grass will stay green without some summer water, but the trick is to find a grass that requires the least amount necessary. The more foot traffic is intended, the more water will be needed. For the moment, he’s wild about Leymus triticoides ‘Lagunita,’ which he feels is the closest thing to the perfect California native lawn. In creating a meadow, along with the chosen base grass, architectural accent grasses like Pennisetum spathiolatum add height and movement, and Greenlee has been experimenting with including flowering plants like gazania, tulbaghia, yarrow, gaura, evening primrose. Challenging designers to come up with their own meadow formulations, Greenlee increased the level of complexity by adding that it must all be mowable at some point to rejuvenate the grasses. A lot of people I’ve been talking with share his enthusiasm and feel that this is an exciting tipping point for creating dry gardens without the obligatory, frequently irrigated, and closely mown lawn. The Blue Grama grass selection, Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition,’ got a strong endorsement from him as well, which he sometimes mixes as an accent in plantings of the species Blue Grama. For Greenlee’s definitive advice, consult The American Meadow Garden.

 photo 1-P1019155.jpg

Planted at home, Euphorbia antisyphilitica to the right of Agave gypsophila ‘Ivory Curls’ recently moved here, with a few blooms from Melampodium leucanthum peeking in.
I’d like about five more of this euphorbia, which surprisingly can winter through a zone 7. Lomandra ‘Lime Tuff’ in the background has been phenomenal this very hot summer.
Grey succulent is Senecio medley-woodii which I cut back a lot to encourage bushiness.

 photo 1-P1019156.jpg

One of the three Yucca pallida, pending mulch.
I was determined to find spots where the slanted afternoon light picks up the leaves’ yellow margins

 photo 1-P1019149.jpg

Poa cita, Greenlee’s choice over Mexican Feather Grass

 photo 1-P1019166.jpg

My own personal “meadow,” of course, must include agaves.
Just as the taco truck was arriving, and before hearing Grant Lee Stevenson’s talk on palms, I had to leave.
Did anybody else attend the palm talk?

bug report & EOMV

None of the ants previously seen by man were more than an inch in length – most considerably under that size.
But even the most minute of them have an instinct and talent for industry, social organization, and savagery that makes man look feeble by comparison
.” — Them! (1954 movie on gigantic, killer, atomic-radiated ants)

 photo 1-P1018493.jpg

End of month view down the pergola looking east.
Possibly the best thing about my summer garden 2015 is Eucalyptus ‘Moon Lagoon’

 photo 1-P1018502.jpg

In late summer it’s putting out this chartreuse, willowy new growth, which is mesmerizing against the backdrop of its own tangled-up-in-blue leaves.
(Speaking of color, where’s your famous fiery red response to strong sun, Aloe cameronii? Not hot enough for you? It’s been plenty hot for me, thanks.)

 photo 1-P1018498.jpg

A very telescoped view from the west gate to show the wash of blue that’s taken over the garden.
‘Moon Lagoon’ in the foreground, Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ in the background (and blue apartment building in the distance).
Just looking at the froth of blue cools me down.

 photo 1-P1018496.jpg

The three that I was possibly most anxious to see make it through summer are just outside the office.
Columnar Cussonia gamtoosensis is almost fence height now. The Coast Woolybush to the right, Adenanthos sericeus, has been a peach all summer.*

 photo 1-P1018501_1.jpg

And Grevillea ‘Moonlight’ seems safely established here too.

 photo 1-P1018412.jpg

Impromptu birdbath, which looks an awful lot like a headstone monument to a fallen aloe.

That’s an abbreviated EOMV so we can get to the bug report. Possibly the worst thing about my summer garden 2015 has been the ants.
Apparently, if Southern California had a resident population of feisty fire ants, we wouldn’t be experiencing a scourge of Argentine ants, but we don’t, so we are.
Linepithema humile stowed away on ships bound for our ports sometime in the 1980s, and life just hasn’t been the same since. Native ants were pushovers, no contest at all.
I don’t like to dwell on this fact for long or I’d probably run away from home, but scientists tell us that the Argentine ants all belong to one giant SUPER COLONY.
Which in practical terms means, because they’re all bros, they don’t fight. They amiably cooperate in a tireless, jack-booted bid for world domination.
They are the Uruk-hai of ants. They seek out the same conditions we do, not too hot or cold, not too wet or dry, just nicely warmish and humid.
So when it’s too dry they line up around the shower with their tiny towels, circle the sinks with itty-bitty tooth brushes.
They’re everywhere. Them!

 photo 1-P1018423.jpg

I put together this little birdbath to take the place of an Aloe capitata that fell victim to the ants.
All summer our insect overlords have relegated us to squatter status on our own property.
This summer it seems like they’ve really stepped up their association (“mutualism”) with their nasty symbiotic playmates, scale insects and mealybugs.
Ants offer safe transit and escort the pests into the crevices and crowns of some plants. Not all, just mostly my favorites it seems.
The stemless aloes have been hit hard this summer. A perky Aloe capitata var. quartzicola went flaccid seemingly overnight.
Upon investigation, the lower crown was stuffed with scale. Them!
For weeks I enraged the ants by scraping off scale from the aloe’s leaves, pouring cinnamon onto the crown, digging in coffee around the base.
The ants supposedly hate strong smells. The aloe seemed to partially recover but lost so many leaves that I dug it up to nurse along in a pot.
Aloe cryptoflora has also succumbed, and a large fan aloe was weakened and killed by ants, though it wasn’t in great shape when I bought it.

 photo 1-P1018433.jpg

Aloe ‘Rooikappie’ is now taking its chances after A. capitata var. quartzicola was dragged off the battlefield.

 photo P1016242.jpg

Aloe capitata var. quartzicola in better days. If I find one again it will live in a container.

 photo 1-P1018456.jpg

The ants favorite victims are stemless aloes planted close to hardscape, but they also favor beschornerias.
The hardscape of bricks laid dry, without mortar, on a layer of sand has provided perfect Ant Farm conditions.
Agave ‘Cornelius’ seems impervious so far, but ants are herding scale on some agaves like the desmettianas.

 photo 1-P1018462.jpg

Beschorneria ‘Flamingo Glow’ has had its lower leaves stripped away frequently due to infestations. B. albiflora is under attack too.

 photo 1-P1018458.jpg

This former wine stopper holding the birdbath together sums it up: we’re barely treading water against the ants.
A vinegar spray solution stops attacks indoors, and cinnamon spread on window sills has been an effective barrier.
(The glass shade was in the house when we bought it, and the concrete base was part of the chimney flue.)

 photo 1-P1018452.jpg

I can’t remember ever having mealybug problems with agaves. I’ve been frequently knocking them off ‘Dragon Toes.’

 photo 1-P1018475.jpg

Agave vilmoriniana ‘Stained Glass’ still seems clean.

 photo 1-P1018474.jpg

Since the yucca has bloomed and become multi-headed, it seems to be attracting ants and scale too.

 photo 1-P1018507.jpg

The furcraea is clean and has mostly outgrown damage from hail earlier in the year.

 photo 1-P1018449.jpg

Aloe elgonica still looks clean from scale.

 photo 1-P1018479.jpg

Potted plants have to be watched too. This boophane is clean, but pots of cyrtanthus are targets for scale.

 photo 1-P1018444.jpg

I admit to indulging in some self-pity shopping. I’ve been wanting to try Artemisia ‘David’s Choice.’ The ants helped clear the perfect spot to try three.

 photo 1-P1018442.jpg

Euphorbia ‘Lime Wall.’ I’ve yet to have scale on euphorbias, but you never know.

 photo 1-P1018547.jpg

No more talk of bugs. Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’ loves August, so I love xanthosoma.

 photo 1-P1018519.jpg

I was this close to composting these begonias but gave them a reprieve, daring them to grow in a very shallow container.
I thought I wanted some hot color in August, but turns out, nope, not really.
I had a bunch of rooted cuttings of Senecio medley-woodii which grow lanky in very little soil, so stuck them in with some rhipsalis to chill this begonia the hell out.

 photo 1-P1018520.jpg

Happy plants grouped under the light shade of the fringe tree on the east side of the house.

 photo 1-P1018551.jpg

This succulent is very confusing. With alba in the name, I’m thinking white flowers.
No, Crassula alba var. parvisepala reportedly has stunning trusses of deep red flowers
This is mine in bloom. I guess we’re both confused.

I have to say that there’s been a splendid show of butterflies all summer. The June bugs fizzled out, which is fine by me.
(So weird that image searches of the June bug bring up what I know as the fig beetle. My June bug is, I think, Phyllophaga crinita.)
It’s also been a banner year for the flying fig beetles, Cotinis mutabilis. The grasshoppers surprisingly haven’t been too bad.

End of month views are collected by The Patient Gardener, with or without bug reports.


*But was dead when I returned after a week’s absence, the soil bone-dry. Another has already been installed elsewhere in the garden.

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.


Photobucket
Helleborus argutifolius

Photobucket
Perlargonium echinatum

Photobucket
Gerbera ‘Drakensberg Carmine’

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

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


Warming Up

Edging into the high 80’s the next couple days here at the coast, about a mile from the Pacific, in the 90’s for the inland cities like Pasadena.
The castor bean plant and Salvia canariensis are reveling in the heat, leaving little ground uncovered.

Photobucket

Salvia canariensis should be in bloom in a couple weeks.

Photobucket

The annual quaking grass, Briza maxima, self-sown, ripening in the heat.

Photobucket

Grapevine already past the top of the pergola. Beans, squash, and kale in the silver circular containers (air vents).

Photobucket

Solanum marginatum, about 4X4 feet of undulating leaf.

Photobucket

Unlike me, dyckia welcomes the heat, sending up a half dozen bloom stalks, this photo a couple weeks’ old.
This garden has been thinned a bit since this photo was taken. Stipa gigantea leaning in on the left.

Photobucket

The leeks undulating even more wildly in the heat.

Photobucket

This spring I’ve craved pots of wispy, diaphanous annuals like linaria, anagallis.
This is Linaria ‘Licilia Peach’ with potted agaves and Senecio medley-woodii.

Photobucket

Photobucket

As a kid, I loathed summers in Los Angeles. It’s taken decades for me to warm up to the prospect each year.
Having a garden of my own is probably solely responsible for changing my mind. Plants like these make it…bearable.

Another Seattle Export?

The usual state of affairs, I’m told, is Southern Californian hordes invading the Pacific Northwest, or at least such was the case before the great real estate unraveling after 2008. This past week proves that Los Angeles can stay home and still embrace the misty charms of the PNW. Having become accustomed to the ubiquity of their home-grown coffee chain, we’re now getting a taste of Seattle-style weather.

Rain, rain, and more rain. Record rain. Rain interrupted by drizzle and topped with a soupçon of fog. Epic 10-year-tropical-storm rain. A-quarter-of-our-annual-rainfall rain. Rain that brings down the canyon mud that closes Pacific Coast Highway at Malibu. Rain that overflows storm drains and brings the accumulated city filth to the Pacific Ocean (and mystery rashes to surfers who venture out in winter storms). Rains that transform freeways into asphalt Slip ‘n Slides. Last night I had the relatively rare experience of watching a movie (I Am Love) in which the delicious sounds of rain were drumming on screen while those same delicious sounds echoed against our window panes.

All of which means there’ll be more wet plant photos this week taken during lulls between the storms.

Furcraea foetida ‘Mediopicta.’ This agave relative can handle the increased moisture.

Photobucket

Senecio anteuphorbium turgid with rain.

Photobucket

Winter-red stems of Senecio medley-woodii.

Photobucket

Mystery cotyledon from flea market that resembles “Cotyledon orbiculata cylindrical lime green leaf” (found at Lifestyle Seeds website)

Photobucket

Big storm predicted for tonight. Perfect night for baking cookies and re-viewing Blade Runner, which does great movie rain.

Silver&Gold


(I’m describing the slow accretion of the colors selected to surround me, practiced by me, a nonprofessional. An inattentive process of anti-design, if you will.)

It starts out with silver.

Photobucket

Just silver.

Photobucket

Silver came home first, in the form of all the Mediterranean shrubs and subshrubs that evolved this unique adaptation for drought tolerance.

Photobucket

Stir in some gold because…well, it’s gold.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Yep, silver and gold. Drawn to silver, equally drawn to gold, but initially separate impulses. Quietly, almost stealthily, the garden increases its shimmer quotient as I consistently bring in more silver and gold every time something becomes worn out or overgrown, in need of replacing. Unconsciously, I’ve built up a treasury of it, and now it’s silver&gold, the two together, inseparable, that’s got me hooked.

Add a dash of red in the stems of a kangaroo’s paw, and I’m done. Simply done.

Photobucket

From The Guardian 4/14/10: “In a letter to his brother Theo in 1882, Van Gogh wrote: ‘There are but three fundamental colours – red, yellow, and blue; ‘composites’ are orange, green, and purple. By adding black and some white one gets the endless varieties of greys – red grey, yellow-grey, blue-grey, green-grey, orange-grey, violet-grey. It is impossible to say, for instance, how many green-greys there are; there is an endless variety. But the whole chemistry of colours is not more complicated than those few simple rules. And having a clear notion of this is worth more than 70 different colours of paint — because with those three principal colours and black and white, one can make more than 70 tones and varieties. The colourist is the person who knows at once how to analyze a colour, when it sees it in nature, and can say, for instance: that green-grey is yellow with black and blue, etc. In other words, someone who knows how to find the greys of nature on their palette.'”

The green-greys of nature exquisitely painted by Solanum marginata.

Photobucket

And apparently this silver and gold fetish wasn’t just happening in the garden. I’ve had this bolt of fabric in a cedar chest for decades, stowed away for some forgotten rainy day purpose. Again, silver and gold. The mustardy Frankoma jug bought 20 years ago is also the color of the room I’m sitting in. And within a very few shades of difference, also the new color on the house. And the color of the new ceramic pots I bought after staring at the range of colors offered for a good 20 minutes. (Like I could actually come home with any other color.) Do I plan any of this? Absolutely not. Did I notice Colonel Mustard sneaking in to all the rooms, indoors and out? Not at all. It’s design by sleepwalking.

Photobucket

Not everyone’s favorite colors. My husband calls the new house paint color “meconium.” If you’ve had kids, no further description is necessary. It kind of bugs him.

Am I buggin’ you? I don’t mean to bug ya…just a shout out for silver and gold.

(

Succulents on Ice

Glass mulch can be a pricy indulgence, one I don’t often make. But I was recently given a pound of some icy mulch from Building REsources in San Francisco. Why can’t I always get presents like this? What luxury to plunge one’s hands into a whole sack of this stuff and dress up whatever pot needs a little icing. Rich as Croesus is how I feel.

Photobucket

Icy chips for Senecio medley-woodii and Sedum dasyphyllum var. major.

Photobucket

This Aeonium balsamiferum used to be upright, a tower of leafy rosettes, but then maturity and gravity caused its branches to tumble down (happens to plants too), which exposed bare soil on the surface of the pot.

Photobucket

Today when I passed by the collapsed aeonium pot, I remembered that, for the moment at least, I was flush with glass mulch. This hand-thrown pot, brought back in a suitcase from an English pottery, made the trip back intact, only to get chipped here at home, but the aeonium now happily exploits the flaw and spills through the breach. I ultimately decided to tuck in a couple echeverias I had handy into the soil around its collapsed branches. And then I topped it off with a little glass mulch for good measure.

Photobucket

Just like everything else horticultural, fine glass and stone mulches can be addicting. There’s a new store in town, Exotic Pebbles & Aggregates that I can’t wait to check out.