still plant shopping

With demoralizing chaos at the federal level continuing unabated, it’s incredibly reassuring to experience the pragmatic approaches deployed locally. Let’s just take for an example, oh, I dunno — shopping for plants, for instance.

Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ — the plummy, dusky leaves really are a game changer in Peruvian lilies

I’ve been shopping every couple weeks at International Garden & Floral Design Center near LAX and finding some nice things there — more verbascums, the real-deal, non-impostor Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes,’ Leucospermum ‘Brandi.’ Yesterday I checked out H&H on Lakewood Blvd. near the 91, and found the Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ that I was this close to mail-ordering. Like with the penstemons, I bought two one-gallons already in bloom. A couple of indirect influences the coronavirus has had on the garden: more than the usual impatience for results coupled with the knowledge that I’ll be home this summer to water in spring plantings. As a general rule, fall is always touted as the best time to plant for Southern California, but then there will always be exceptions, and this is most definitely such a time.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ —
a cultivar that goes way back to the UK garden of Margery Fish at East Lambrook Manor

International Nursery is enormous, so social distancing is easy. They’ve rerouted access to the cash register, but that’s about the only change I could see, other than the decals on the ground to indicate safe distance when waiting in line. H&H is another large, power line-easement operation, and they had an employee at the gate who lets a certain number of cars in; beyond that number, it’s a no-go and the gate is shut. I parked up the street and walked in. When ready to leave, I asked if I could take the cart filled with plants down the street, load the car, and then return it; if I left my driver’s license, not a problem. Safe, efficient, sensible solutions, and very much appreciated.

Agave xylonacantha ‘Frostbite’ —
I’ve not seen this offered local before in an affordable size, so I was almost glad to be wearing a mask when my eyes lit on it because my face was probably making all kinds of happy goofy expressions.

Walking over acres while looking at plants is a huge stress reliever. I’ve shopped at the enormous grounds at Village Nursery in Huntington Beach too. And now that Annie’s Annuals has temporarily shut down mail order due to an overwhelming response, International is a nice local option for her plant offerings, especially summer annuals.

As spring stuff fills in, some rescues have to be undertaken so treasures don’t get swamped, like Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’ dug out of the ground and repotted. And it definitely could use more sun to darken the tips.

The challenge in planting and shuffling things in late April is avoiding damage to the rest of the burgeoning garden. I’ve knocked a few buds off, but no real catastrophes. This morning I pulled out a rangy Euphorbia mauritanica that never grew into the tight bun I’d been hoping for. An Aloe ‘Moonglow’ in too much shade got that full sun spot. I chose this euphorbia for a stock tank in Mitch’s parkway, where in much harsher circumstances it’s achieved impressively tight cushions that are now beginning to throw acid-yellow flowers, so at least I can admire it at its best there. (A stock tank on gravel for the parkway turned out to be the right idea now that a neighbor with very poor dog etiquette lets his Great Dane wander over for bathroom breaks. Plants in the ground would never survive the onslaught.)

spring means oxalis is into everything

The creeping fig, Ficus pumila, on the back wall has been cut back, the bocconia thinned of old, woody growth, the Mexican root beer plant, Piper auritum, moved out of afternoon sun — all big projects I doubt I’d undertake unless housebound. I’ve wall-papered a wooden screen with this and started inquiries to have the east gate fabricated — not bad for a notorious procrastinator.

elongating bloom spike on biennial Verbascum olympicum. I’ve just planted a few V. bombyciferum ‘Arctic Summer’ from International
always a surprise when bromeliads do this —
Bilbergia ‘Violetta’
Sonchus palmensis building up flowering architecture
So far the plan to train the Passiflora vitifolia ‘Scarlet Flame’ up the pergola support behind the sonchus and then across horizontally is working out nicely. (I no longer plant sonchus in the ground because they grow fast and big and then increasingly shabby over the summer. I think this one has rooted through the drainhole though.)
And over!
Fishing line is my new best friend for training vines. There’s a Mexican Flame Vine, Senecio confusus, similarly trained across the eaves of the garage/office, just starting to bud. The passiflora is in the ground, the flame vine in a large container.
Nicotiana mutabilis loves the dappled shade at the edge of the canopy of the purple fernleaf acacia. It quickly achieved over 5 feet in height, and now side branches are growing to bulk up its girth. I picked up these nicotiana local under Annie’s Annuals label at International Nursery
Aloe camperi’s bloom timing coincides nicely with other spring flowers
growth of summer annuals like this coreopsis I mail-ordered from Annie’s Annuals has leapt forward now that days are warmer. This heat wave is driving everyone crazy because the beaches are closed — well, some beaches, anyway; specifically, Los Angeles and San Diego beaches are closed, Orange County and Ventura County beaches are open.
Dianthus ‘Single Black’ opened this week, along with Orlaya grandiflora and Centranthus lecoquii
Baja Spurge, Euphorbia xanti, is another one I keep potted because it can turn into an unmanageable thicket in the ground. This one survived in a pot on rain alone and still managed to bloom, so it was brought off the potting bench and plunked into the garden

I hope you’re likewise finding some room to maneuver in the margins of your local guidelines, catching up on projects, and supporting businesses as they find a way forward. Who knows, maybe we’ll really live large and order some takeout this week….stay safe!

This entry was posted in agaves, woody lilies, plant nurseries, pots and containers. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to still plant shopping

  1. Elaine says:

    Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ yummy. Laughed at your caption re: the agave. I tend to talk to myself while walking around a nursery exclaiming over some new treasure resulting in some odd looks by other shoppers.

  2. Denise says:

    @ Elaine, so I’m not the only one! I planted the penstemons in “cool sun,” kind of full morning sun and then dappled the rest of the day, so it’ll be interesting to see how it responds. They’re short-lived plants anyway so fun to experiment with.

  3. Yay for plant shopping! I was worried about my nursery friends when this thing started, I am thrilled to see that they’re all very busy.

  4. Denise says:

    @Loree, I feel the same way. Both these nurseries have substantial vegetable/edible offerings — I guess that’s why they’re deemed essential? It’s a nice option to walking the ‘hood occasionally 😉

  5. Kris P says:

    Thanks for the heads-up on the status of International and Village. I nearly had a meltdown last week when I saw Annie’s had put a hold on orders. Luckily, it’s been lifted today and I just placed another order for 12 plants. They won’t ship until May 21st but I’m going to consider that an early birthday present to myself (and pray that another heatwave doesn’t swoop in and threaten my new purchases like last week’s weather did). I grew ‘Sour Grapes’ in my old garden years ago but was dissatisfied when I tried it here; however, based on your comment, I’m guessing maybe I got an “imposter.” I continue to marvel at your success with Nicotiana and passionflowers.

  6. hb says:

    I do long to go plant shopping but am still refraining. You did well in your shopping adventure. Many delights in your garden, and clever to think of fishing line for vines.

    ‘Indian Summer’ is at the top of my list, but I have to find a spot for it. Even more difficult than shopping, these days.

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