clippings, 4th of July

My neighbors have been diligently practicing for 4th of July celebrations since May, the little darlings. Fireworks are illegal here, a fact which obviously adds zest to surreptitious, after-dark escapades ending in window-rattling booms and blasts. Seeing as it’s the 4th of July, it’s about time I empty out the odds and ends that have been accumulating in June.

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Top of the to-do list: My front porch is a disgrace, drab and basically a dog zone not fit for humans, so I’ve been taking notes around town. I’d much prefer it resemble something like this porch.

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Not something I’d want for the porch (all plants are kept well away from this old wooden house), but I had no idea there was a variegated Solandra maxima. In any case, my porch faces north, not the proper aspect for this sun-loving, house-eating vine.

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Hanging containers, lots of them, will be added to the porch. This is Vicki’s creation I bought at Reuben’s recent sale. I added the silver ponyfoot yesterday, when Loree’s post reminded me again how much I admired JJ De Sousa’s use of it in her garden last year.

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An example of JJ De Sousa’s masterful use of silver ponyfoot, Dichondra argentea, in her 2014 garden, blogged about here. The silver ponyfoot and the the shrub, Ozothamnus ‘Sussex Silver,’ despite their lush, sparkling appearance, are both very tolerant of dry conditions. Really inspired planting.

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This year’s santolina orb project is coming along nicely. Two can be seen in the photo, but I think there’s about four of them. Hard to tell now that it’s summer. I’ve done clipped orbs in the past, the last attempt with ‘Golfball’ pittosporums, but I always end up feeling straitjacketed by having to keep the sight lines clear around them. We’ll see how long this experiment lasts. I love the effect but haven’t been able to live with it for very long. Looks fantastic in winter. I’ve recently seen this done with the ‘Sunset Gold’ coleonema and may have to try that next. Possibly in pots for the front porch?

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What else is new? Oh, yes, the ‘Zigzag’ euphorbia from the CSSA sale at the Huntington last week, waiting for a permanent home.

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I’ve been wanting this Euphorbia pseudocactus for some time, and variegated is even better. It’s actually a hybrid of E. pseudocactus and grandicornis.

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The big box stores are stocking tons of succulents, many in large sizes, so it’s a good idea to check in regularly. I’m seeing these plants deployed all over town, usually quick and dirty, planted too deep, etc. I couldn’t resist this Devil’s Tongue ferocactus.

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The Pseudobombax ellipticum has been slow to get going this summer but is finally leafing out.

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Another slow-starter has been the Agave americana var. striata. It seemed to take forever before getting those pronounced striations. I recently plunged the agave, pot and all, into the spot vacated by a verbascum, which was beginning to smother a young leucadendron. Shrubs always get priority.

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Yesterday I dug up the huge clump of Eryngium pandanifolium and planted instead some golden Pleioblastus viridistriatus ‘Chrysophyllus,’ a dwarf bamboo, and some bog sage, Salvia uliginosa. Seedlings from this eryngo are throwing up a bloom stalk elsewhere in the garden, so it will live on. It was planted much too close to the bricks and spilled over our feet under the table, and those leaves are ankle biters, armed with hooks and barbs. (The table has been moved to join up with its twin for extra summer seating.) I’m betting the salvia and bamboo will survive summer planting just fine. It’s the dry garden stuff that’s much touchier, often succumbing to water molds. It’s always essential to wait for fall planting for dry garden plants.
(Having said that, I did take a chance and just planted a Lavandula stoechas ‘Silver Anouk’ because it was so drop-dead gorgeous.)

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Eryngium pandanifolium in July 2013.

In other news of poor plant placement, I took out Agave ‘Mr. Ripple’ today. Several pups have been saved for containers. The beautiful monster agave guarding the east gate has been retired. There will be no photos. I prefer to remember Mr. Ripple in his prime.

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Agave ‘Mr. Ripple’ August 2014.

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A photo from November 2013 shows the agave and the ‘Little Ollie’ hedge at cross purposes. At least now I can clip and maintain the olive hedge.

Lastly, July 4th is the final day of American Flowers Week, a celebration of local and homegrown blooms.

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And what could be more American than these treasures of the New World, dahlias and corn?

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Unfortunately, these dahlias weren’t grown by me. The dahlias at my community garden plot didn’t appreciate my lackadaisical watering schedule.

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Next year, I swear there will be dahlias even if I have to forfeit zucchini.

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Latest toy at the community garden, a wood-fired oven. I missed the work party on this one.

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I may bicycle to see some fireworks or just hang out up here atop the laundry shed until Marty gets off work around 10 p.m. Ein loves getting hoisted up the ladder too. There’s always a breeze to catch up here, and there’s even been a little clip-on reading lamp added. I’m hoping the neighborhood gets explosions out of its system tonight. Happy 4th!

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9 Responses to clippings, 4th of July

  1. RIP ‘Mr. Ripple’…you were amazing. (and removal must have been quite the job, I hope you didn’t sustain any injuries.

  2. Anna K says:

    I swear – you just have the most wonderful hanging planters. So imaginative! I’m intrigued by your Santolina balls. I have a couple of Santolinas, but they are outgrowing their spaces. Seeing your balls made me think I should take them out and start over. I admire your resolve in taking out so many fantastic plants – even if they live on in smaller versions.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Such a shame to see Mr Ripple go.. he was an amazing specimen! But sometimes plants get too big, and in the case of agaves, you can’t really cut them back like you could a rose bush. But now you have plenty of pups to place elsewhere!

    That striated americana is very lovely, as well. Good to see it’s stripes growing in!

  4. Kris P says:

    I’m sorry to hear that Mr. Ripple is gone but I expect his progeny will see you through the loss. The view of your garden in the santolina orb photo is terrific. I hope you’ve heard the last of the firecracker blasts but, here, it usually takes another week before they finally come to an end. We have a good view of dozens of displays from San Pedro and well beyond, which is wonderful provided you can put out of your mind that 3/4ths of those come from backyards rather than public park supervised displays.

  5. hoov says:

    Great clippings! Mr. Ripple is kind of a wimp here–he got sunburnt and sent back to shade. Those good looking boys are rarely as tough as they appear. Globes are cool, worth the effort.

    Here we sit in terror of those firecrackers, evacuation list in hand, wondering if they are going to torch the neighborhood. Not this year, thank goodness.

  6. Alan @ It's Not Work, It's Gardening! says:

    Pleioblastus viridistriatus is quite vigorous — not sure about the ‘Chrysophyllus’ form. I’d recommend starting your twice-yearly rhizome pruning this fall — don’t wait.

  7. Denise says:

    @Loree, you know first-hand how he took up half the path! It’s so weird how for years a situation seems fine and then in one day it’s suddenly not OK.
    @Anna, thank you, but not nearly enough of them! I usually hate taking care of hedges, all the clipping maintenance, but the balls/orbs I find fascinating. Go figure!
    @Rebecca, yes, so true about agaves. In the ground, it’s either the right species or it isn’t. No fudging with agaves!
    @Kris, that’s right, you must have had an incredible view of all the fireworks, and at a relatively safe distance too. We heard more big blasts the night of the 5th too.
    @Hoov, sorry Mr. Ripple wimped out on you. Isn’t there a big one at Roger’s in full sun? Weird how the big 4th celebration has turned into such an anxiety-producing one.
    @Alan, thank you for the reminder. I’m intending to pot them up in fall, containers forever!

  8. Pam/Digging says:

    So long, Mr. Ripple! You will be missed. I love your santolina ball — may have to try that sometime. And your hanging decor — pots, mermaid bottle opener, twisted metal strips (?) — are so charming. I always enjoy a virtual stroll through your garden.

  9. Les says:

    You are wise to keep vines from that beautiful wooden house. We are paying the price for allowing a Lady Banks rose to climb at will. She popped off some of the siding and wrecked havoc with our soffits.

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