the week in plants 3/16/18

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I’m seeing Euphorbia rigida in bloom on all the garden blogs now, in my own garden, and here at the Entrance Garden at the Huntington Botanical Garden. The euphorbia is seen here with Sea Squill, Urginea maritima, a bulb that in late fall/summer throws elegant white spires of bloom as tall as a foxtail lily (eremurus). Tricky to place in a small garden due to dryness requirements/dormancy. Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ in the background.

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Can we say Euphorbia rigida is having its moment now, that it’s [gasp] possibly even “trendy”? I’ve been turning over the idea of trendiness extending to garden plants after reading Grace Bonney discuss design trends (“In Defense of Trends.“) I think it’s safe to say that hardscape and garden design definitely follow trends, but plants? Designing and maintaining a mixed planting is difficult enough without injecting trends into the bargain. New ways of thinking about resources allocation might date once-popular plants, or pests might make once-ubiquitous plants rare (fuchsia mite!). Propagation issues can also cause some plants to disappear from the scene. Taste in plants is of course idiosyncratic and personal, but I’m not convinced a seriously good plant like Euphorbia rigida could trend one year and become declasse the next. Unless of course one is a native plant purist, in which case this euphorbia would be banished entirely outside of its Mediterranean home. In my little urban garden I don’t pretend to practice landscape restoration, so any sturdy plant appropriate to a summer dry garden gets a tryout. But this is a vast subject for so superficial a treatment, since culture and gardens are inseparable. Another day, another post.

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For someone who used to race straight to the Desert Garden, the Entrance Garden has added immeasurable enjoyment to visiting the Huntington.

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The silver is the curry bush, Helichrysum italicum. (I crushed a leaf and sniffed it, thinking it might be one of the new silvery lavenders,)

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That’s not acacia but senna in bloom in a very large pot. Timeless myrtle is the hedging here.

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Of course we went to the Desert Garden too.

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Did William Hertrich himself design this classic Huntington tableaux of barrel cactus and Agave parryi?

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Taking the photo of the quiver tree (Aloidendron dichotomum), I didn’t notice the gentleman, but I’m glad he’s there for scale.

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We wandered the Desert Garden for hours, and I took way too many photos.

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Overcast skies, but the rain was mostly finished by the time of our visit late morning.

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Aloe camperi was in prodigious bloom. Makes me laugh to think of my one plant building up size.

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And some of the puya are just beginning to bud, so I’ll be back in a few weeks.

Have a great weekend.

This entry was posted in agaves, woody lilies, clippings, garden travel, garden visit, pots and containers, succulents and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to the week in plants 3/16/18

  1. Wow! I love the scale of these plants! They are fantastic beasts! Yes, I have seen lots of euphorbia rigida recently. I am crazy about euphorbia, but this is one I don’t have, and I am again tempted!

  2. Kris P says:

    I ran across a sea squill at the South Coast Botanic Garden recently and have been coveting the plant ever since but all the mail order sources I checked seem to be sold out so my timing is bad. You got great photos at the Huntington under those overcast skies. Enjoy the fresh post-rain air this weekend, Denise!

  3. Gerhard says:

    I couldn’t believe the coincidence when you commented on Euphorbia rigida. Like you, I’ve noticed it more this year than any other year. I hadn’t considered that it could be one of the “it” plants this year. Maybe so.

    As always, I’m behind the trend curve. While I have some variegated E. characias cultivars, I don’t have E. rigida.

  4. Nell says:

    What is the plant with the towering white-flowering bloom stalks, do you know?I

    These are some really wonderful photos — thanks for taking all those shots, and for the selection process.

  5. Nell says:

    On trends in plants: Few people are replanting to accommodate fashions, but there’s definitely such a thing as plants that are hottt at a given moment, within a given region and/or garden style. I look forward to a future post.

  6. Denise says:

    @Ali, it’s a good one!
    @Kris, I finally got ahold of a bulb but never found a spot in the garden for it, moved it countless times, then to a pot, and then…lost it entirely. Tricky to place!
    @Gerhard, it’s a great plant that will reseed. Not a pest for me.
    @Nell, those are the foxtail agaves in bloom, Agave attenuata!

  7. hb says:

    Plant trends certainly control what can be easily purchased locally. Roger’s had a (relatively) massive area of Leucospermums for purchase, so there’s a Big Trend for you.

    I read somewhere it is better to achieve good taste than great style.

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