end of month February 2016

Since it’s the last day of February, I suppose it’s time to admit defeat and clear out all the drafts that never made it to proper posts. There’s the draft post tying in to last night’s Oscars, where I muse about how each spring in the garden seems like a new production, with brand-new plot lines and star turns. It’s possible that’s due to my background. Like one-half of all Angelenos, I’ve taken screenwriting courses and once worked for an Academy-Award winning screenwriter (Abby Mann, Judgment at Nuremberg). So my brain might be wired to see even gardens in a dramatic framework. To me even the smallest garden expresses themes about shelter, sanctuary, earth, sky and water, friendship, risk, yearning, fecundity, what it means to live a good life and really how minimal are the resources that actually requires. Light and space are big garden themes for me. Some garden productions are hardscape heavy, mine tend to be plant intensive. For me it’s always the most exciting production in town. All on an indie budget, of course.

That draft was never developed, and now that the awards are over it’s a bit stale. (I did love Spotlight, so hooray for its best picture award. George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road was an awesome spectacle, deserving of all its technical awards. Marty saw The Revenant and loved it. I can’t take that kind of punishment from a movie but admire the effort. Loved DiCaprio’s acceptance speech on the urgency of climate change.)

I had a draft post on how the back garden is getting heavy with aloe & anigozanthos. Aloe for winter bloom, kangaroo paws for summer.

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Little Aloe conifera’s bloom continues to reveal more luscious, custardy color.

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No, my garden kangaroo paws aren’t showing bloom stalks yet. Feeling a little anigozanthos-starved, I promised myself if I saw any in bloom at a nursery, I’d bring it home. Meet ‘Bush Tango,’ medium in height, in comparison to a tall variety like ‘Big Red’ just a few feet away.

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At least I think this is ‘Big Red,’ hopefully correctly labeled. I can’t remember if I saw blooms on it last year. The dark green, strappy leaves of ‘Big Red’ are in the foreground to the left of Leucadendron ‘Ebony’

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With a little bit of cheating, I can have a view with both anigozanthos and aloes in bloom. Aloe ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ in the distance.

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I wanted to write also on how well the santolina orbs are coming along. This summer they should really be…I don’t know. Profoundly orbful maybe.

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In that same mood of If I See It, I’m Buying It, I sprang for a big container of Phormium ‘Black Adder.’
Fooling around with this phormium in small sizes was getting nowhere. Phormiums either become huge, unmanageable monsters or melt away after five leaves. No middle ground here.

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The phormium was planted into the spot held by a potted Agave ‘Ivory Curls.’

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I absent-mindedly left the hose trickling all day on this melianthus last week. First irrigation crime of the new year. Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’ slurped up every drop. This variety does appreciate more moisture than the species, in my experience.

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Then there was the post over the huge excitement of my first beschorneria coming into bloom.
I so rarely see them locally, I wasn’t sure if they liked Los Angeles enough to bloom. And then I found these one day, here

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It’s a little taller than this today. From Annie’s Annuals ‘Martin Grantham Hybrids.’

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This old table base got a new salvage top I had stashed away. Its previous top was succulents (see here and here.)

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I took this photo of the rhipsalis, but you can see more of the table in the background. If I read myself right, I planted the table summer of 2013. Amazing how the succulents held on, with the table pushed out of the way between two cypresses at the fence. I moved the table out to clear the area for…

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A stock tank I purchased last fall. It holds a couple salvias, an astelia and other things in pots as they show new growth. Like lilies, a dahlia. A catch-all this year. Maybe next year there’ll be more of a plan. Another tank waits to be drilled.

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Poppy time continues into March.

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Gerberas too.

Onward into March!

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8 Responses to end of month February 2016

  1. Kris P says:

    Your garden posts always feel a bit like a fabulous mystery story to me, with twists and turns and surprises in each successive photo. I’d love to hear if that ‘Black Adder’ phormium holds its color over time – it’s been on and off my wish list as I’m a bit skittish about the dark-colored phormiums after disappointments with other varieties, like ‘Dark Delight’.

  2. Max Parker says:

    Love the short tank! With that silvery Astelia, brilliant! My Beschorneria ‘Martin Grantham Hybrids’ are currently bulking up after a bout of mealy bugs (my own fault for overcrowding, go figure). They grew surprisingly fast. No blooms yet, but I’m excited to see what yours will look like. Please keep us posted! I love the garden as a screen play metaphor, so true.

  3. Renee says:

    How lovely! I hope you show us the beschorneria blooms when they happen.

  4. That ‘Black Adder’ Phormium is stunning. Like Pennisetum purpureum ‘Vertigo’ but with more… well, stature, I guess. Congrats on the Beschornaria bloom!

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

    Kris P expressed my thoughts exactly! Your posts always delight, regardless of the content. 🙂

    That Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’ is worth doing time for.

  6. Nell says:

    I’m straight-up copying your Santolina orbs this summer; love them *so* much. They have to be in very well-drained, airy spots here, given that precip can happen in any season, but they are among the more long-lasting silvery plants we can choose from (lambs’ ears being top). Gorgeous vignettes throughout; thanks!

  7. Nell says:

    What Agave is that in the “cheating” view-with-anigozanthos-and-aloes-in-bloom? It looks as if lit from within, and holds the eye even against the blooms.

    The same Agave is also gently, glowingly photobombing the first shot of the newly-arrived kangaroo paws. Wow.

  8. Denise says:

    @Kris, the new phormium will be getting full sun, which was too much for the ‘Ivory Curls’ agave. The phormium just might be a summer annual 😉
    @Max, my beschornerias all function as pantries for ants to keep their aphis and scale. I poured cinnamon on this one last summer. I’m so relieved it’s still able to flower!
    @Renee, I will! Pending any unforeseen disaster with the bloom stalk…
    @Jane, I love the size of this phormium right now. It was very slow to bulk up when buying it in 4 inch pots. I love those big dark pennisetum grasses but they’re enormous here.
    @Alan, it’s that meli is a great plant but likes a little coddling. I throw some old compost/manure on it a couple times a year and deep water. I was looking around for an easy division to make to grow it in a container too and decided against it. I don’t want to knock its size back this year. Maybe next.
    @Nell, great! An army of santolina orbs is what we all need! The name of that agave is buried in your perfect description, Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light.’

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