catching up with the zone 10 garden

A familiar chore I don’t really mind is sweeping up the fringe tree’s leaves from the east patio and moving them to use for paths and mulch. Obviously, it’s much easier done on a daily, incremental basis instead of saving the job up for three months. But I’m actually relieved that no one had an itch to sweep and throw the leaves away.

We arrived last Friday, and other than sleeping, I don’t think a broom has left my hand since.

I missed a couple aloes in bloom like labworana, ‘David Verity’ and capitata var. quartziticola, but was just in time for ‘Moonglow’ on the left and ‘Tangerine’ on the right. A young Aloe lukeana is in the foreground left.
big surprise that my young Aloe marlothii is throwing a bloom truss too
the marigold-colored intensity of Aloe dawei ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ is always a treat in January/February, Towering in the background on the left is the mother Sonchus palmensis that’s been sowing her progeny throughout the garden, and in the far distance Grevillea ‘Moonlight’

The informal team of neighbors and friends who took turns watching over the garden since we left the second week of October did an amazing job. And all this handled by a group with little or no experience (or interest) in plants and gardens. I’m not sure how much deep watering was done, if any, but there was some good rain in January.

Leucadendron ‘Jester’ put on a nice flush of cones. Fernleaf acacia in bloom in background is both a lovely sight as well as the instigator for much of the far-flung debris in the back garden. (The grevillea is a competitor in the category for Most Debris from a Single Plant, and unfortunately under its branches is where most of the bromeliads are massed.) Pink flowers are from a first-year Anisodontea ‘Strybing Beauty,’ probably the best performance it’s had in my garden after several trials

There’s lots of sweeping and cutting back to do but no devastating plant losses. The succulent rosettes are filled with debris, as are the bromeliads, and the big-leaved plants like trevesia and tetrapanax are absolutely filthy. Miscanthus need cutting back, and the seslerias need cleaning and raking. The prolific but invaluable self-sowers need editing. The tillandsias could use a soak but are otherwise in good shape. The pitcher plants are one of the few outright losses — I left no instructions on using distilled water only. That kind of detailed instruction seemed a bridge too far to ask of volunteers. A young Brassaiopsis hispida and Metapanax delavayi were each marked with a tall stick for attentive watering, and that was about the extent of the instructions given. Both survived. I’m tempted to bring the metapanax back with me to the Tillamook zone 8b garden but am worried about not having a truly protected, wind-free site for it.

Leucadendron ‘Jester’
Anisodontea ‘Strybing Beauty’
Sonchus palmensis seedlings are lending a shaggy quality to the plantings, as is Geranium maderense just behind. The huge, post-flowering (dead) rosette of Alcantera odorata was removed, which was to the right of the Sonchus. No pups formed but I did save some seed. Agave ‘Snow Glow,’ self-sown Carex testacea and aeoniums
various species of kalanchoe mother of thousands are also flowering
Agave kerchovei is growing into quite a beauty and still has some growing to do — reputed to grow as wide as 4-5′
More agaves, helichrysum, and a striking rosette of. Berkheya purpurea
Berkheya purpurea
Sideritis syriaca is looking very handsome for January/February
Sideritis with westringias, Salvia ‘Savannah Blue’ and Billie
Looking east under the pergola. Euphorbia canariensis was moved where it will catch less debris
looking west under the pergola, bricks swept and cleaned
The trunks of the tetrapanax continue to be relied on for support by surrounding plants like Sedum ficoides and Clianthus puniceus — but especially the increasingly vigorous Passiflora vitifolia. Long arms of this vine snaked along the ground under the pergola and contributed to the decadent, overgrown, Grey Gardens ambience that greeted me upon returning Friday.
Sprawlers like the parrot’s beak Lotus berthelotii and cotula were pulled out by the armfuls so smaller succulents escape being smothered in the spring surge
After removing the parrot’s beak
Many of the potted succulents were bone dry, but winter is an easy time for them. I’m not sure they could stand this neglect in summer…

Now I’ve been absorbed in gently steering the garden from the state of one packed to the gills for maximal daily stimulation for a single audience (me) to one able to handle more casual observers and require less upkeep. A plan to sublet the house and garden for 30-day intervals is taking shape, preferably to the horticulturally inclined! Long Beach is well-situated for day trips to San Diego and Santa Barbara, with the Huntington and LA Arboretum close by as well as loads of nurseries.


And I’m also considering which plants to bring back north to the PNW, such as some of the zone 8-ish agaves. And what about moving some of the rhipsalis north and attempt to grow them indoors as houseplants? Or thin the herd with a small plant sale? Decisions, decisions. Much more soon!

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6 Responses to catching up with the zone 10 garden

  1. Gerhard Bock says:

    Your LB garden is looking splendid! I’m glad you get to enjoy at least part of the aloe bloom.

    So how does it feel to be back??

  2. Denise says:

    Gerhard, I’ve quickly grown attached to the PNW — I wouldn’t mind adding a Paris apartment into the mix either! 😉

  3. I cannot imagine returning to my garden after being away for months and having it look this amazing, even after 5 days of constant clean-up. You’ve created such a little wonderland.

    Hmm… if I were to stay in your place for a 30-day stretch I don’t know if I’d even want to leave…

  4. Kris P says:

    I think your tag-team crew of volunteers did a great job keeping your Long Beach garden afloat in your absence! But I’m also not at all surprised you immediately launched into a review and cleanup once you returned as only you are fully engaged with the garden. FYI, the Sonchus seedling and the Dombeya you passed along to me are both doing well, and 2 of the 3 ‘Moonglow’ cuttings bloomed!

  5. hb says:

    Sign of a good garden is one that still looks great after you’ve been gone for a while. And it does look great.

  6. ks says:

    You picked a prime time to return to your LB digs–all those Aloe blooms. It must have been nice to get out of the cold and pick up the broom for a nice round of sweeping. I do enjoy that task-it’s quiet and effective.The Ginko leaves are a great size for a top dress, I do the same with my Birch leaves. How long will you stick around ?

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