tuesday clippings 4/23/19

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The pitcher plant Sarracenia ‘Scarlet Belle’ is sending out more flowers than leaves this spring. I have no idea if this is usual, unusual, a sign of imminent demise, or what exactly.

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But at least the pitcher plants made it to another spring. I’d find the slow-draining funnel glistening like a pond after some of the heavy rain this winter, so when the soil became thoroughly saturated the funnel occasionally waited out rainstorms tipped on its side under the pergola.

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New growth on Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’
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Echium wildpretii elongating into bloom
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Fresh growth on Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’
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Salvia purpurea ‘Lavender Lace’

Last fall I planted lots of salvias in containers. Salvia purpurea struck me as the most promising for the garden, so it has been planted in the ground at the edge of the Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ canopy. My salvia experiment involved a hunch that the so-called late-blooming salvias would probably bloom in the somewhat similar conditions of our zone 10 spring as well, and so it has been borne out for some. ‘Limelight,’ ‘Purple Majesty,’ and ‘Raspberry Truffle’ are all in bloom.

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Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’

Of course, for a nearly year-round purple salvia we now have ‘Amistad,’ and ‘Love and Wishes’ is a ringer for ‘Raspberry Truffle’ but much more floriferous. So other than ‘Limelight,’ there are arguably newer salvias in similar colors for multiple seasons of bloom. But I love a good horticultural experiment over winter.

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Last week I saw the Rice Flower in bloom in a display bed at Roger’s Gardens and was thunderstruck at its bobbly textured splendor. Ozothamnus diosmifolius used to be known as a helichrysum and is grown mainly for the cut flower trade. I gather the pink strains are most desirable (but not to me). All the references say it needs replacing after three years or so due to incorrigible lankiness. Being shortlived is not a disqualifier for me. None of the nurseries were carrying it, but surprisingly I bumped into this 3-gallon at a big box store. A potted watsonia sunk in the garden was finishing bloom and the rice flower was swapped in its place.

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I had planned to keep the newcomer Berzelia lanuginosa in a pot but ultimately decided it would be safer in the ground for summer, when missing one day of water could be fatal. Shrubby plants with bobbly flowers seem to be a recurring theme lately. I’ve planted a couple dwarf santolina to replace the whale’s tongue agave, and the bobble-headed Cotula ‘Big Yellow Moon’ spills from a pot. I’ve yet to get a decent photo of its charms, but soon.

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Graptoveria opalina doing its opalescent thing
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pots of scented geraniums and agaves thrive in the same conditions
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April’s bright light and coolish temps have been very kind to the poppies.

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Lemon Cypresses at east fence, Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ on the right
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This stock tank’s main function was to cover the legs of the lemon cypresses against the east fence. At some point, all the odds and ends thrown into the tank have become distilled and clarified through attrition. Now it’s filled to bursting with a single flourishing astelia and bromeliads. The bromeliads are thickly multiplying and doing so well here that I’ve added some more reddish-leaved pups. (The plants to the left, pseudopanax, ponytail palm, Mexican pepper leaf Piper auritum, are in separate pots.)

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In the interests of record-keeping continuity, I didn’t sow any purple orach this year and miss its bass notes. A notorious reseeder but not in this garden, it seems, unlike the castor bean. I’m missing lavenders too. ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ was good but too big. If I trial another it will be an intermedia hybrid called ‘Phenomenal.’ The hoped-for tight cushions from my three plants of Euphorbia mauritanica have yet to materialize. How is it done? More sun and leaner soil, I’d wager, and possibly a windier site. Mine are not cushions at all but lanky and still not up to blooming much. Plants in the garden April 2018 that didn’t make it through last summer include Phlomis ‘Sunningdale Gold,’ lovely and sorely missed but not a strong grower here and simply faded away. Salvia fruticosa mildewed and was pulled but I’d love to try it again with better air circulation. Fremontodendron ‘Ken Taylor’ had too much competition from the cypresses, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to give the flannel bush everything it needs to thrive. Senecio palmeri merits another chance too. And in the fun but scary department, the nightshade Solanum valerianum is no longer allowed to romp through the lemon cypresses. Turn and face the strange, spring 2019!

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

6 Responses to tuesday clippings 4/23/19

  1. ks says:

    I feel like I saw Ozothamnus for sale somewhere in the last few months-it was considered. I’ll be interested to hear of your experience. I concur with your embrace of short lived plants-a great excuse to try something new. I have not tried Astelia -but want one-all that has kept me back is the impression that it needs lots of water . Is that the case for you ?

  2. Nell says:

    Few lavenders survive long in the rich clay here, no matter how much poultry grit and other lighteners get added, and even with elevated planting mounds. But ‘Phenomenal’ only made it through one year, a near-ideal one from the drainage queen p.o.v., so won’t be returning anytime soon. Even in its summer flourishing, it was hard to see what the big attraction was; could be that in a situation where lavenders thrive, it outperforms older cultivars.

    Your startling jungle is especially lush this season. I bet the pitcher plants are just responding to the wet winter rather than fixing to die.

  3. Denise says:

    @Kathy, in my experience astelia is fine on the dryish side in shade — it certainly hasn’t been pampered in the stock tank.
    @Nell, get out of my brain! I actually muttered that phrase the “startling jungle” to myself the other day. Bad habit, muttering to one’s self! Appreciate the input on lavender. It’s in bloom everywhere and available now at nurseries, hence my temptation.

  4. Kris P says:

    Your garden looks very happy, Denise. It never ceases to amaze me how much better poppies and the South/Central American Salvias do in your garden than mine. I’ve had the same Ozothmanus, also white, growing in my garden for 3 years now. It was looking spindly last year after completing its bloom cycle but it responded well to pruning. It may last longer than you expect.

  5. Denise says:

    @Kris, then I’ve got to do a search on your blog for this ozothamnus. I’m wondering how long those blooms last and if/when they go incredibly dingy…

  6. hb says:

    I had the Ozo for a couple of years. Liked more water than expected. It was nice for a long time but got woody and bare-legged.

    The Cotula never really bloomed for me, disappointing. Envy your success with Astelia!

    A good petite Lavender has been ‘Thumbelina Leigh’. Mine is nearly 20 years old now, and still petite. No, really!

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