Archive for February, 2015

Pre-Spring 2015

February 18, 2015

And here we go full bore into spring! Everything starts to come to life in California gardens around February. The wildflowers germinate and pop up after the first rains, the perennials start their spring growth, and the early bloomers start blooming.

On the wildflower scene, it looks as if I am going to have many more Lupines (Lupinus succulentus) this year than Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata), which is exactly how I wanted it. Last year I pulled up many of the clarkias before they went to seed, as I felt their growth was too dense. Here we have the wildflower landscape:

Feb2015_NorthEast

Mostly Lupines here.

More clarkias in this direction.

More clarkias in this direction.

There are some new plants here. First, an Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) in front of the Cleveland sage:

Feb2015_Mallow

 

Then, a new cactus in the succulent bowl, San Pedro cactus (Trichocereus pachanoi):

Feb2015_Bowl

(The Narrow-leaf Chalksticks (Senecio vitalis) to the left of the cacti has put forth a major growth spurt, and even sports some blossoms now!)

I had to remove the large Winifred Gilman sage (Salvia ‘Winifred Gilman’) near the bowl, as it was starting to die (Rob Moore tells me this is not uncommon). I replaced it with another one in the fall, and it has increased its size significantly just since then:

Feb2015_WinGilNew

Some more notable updates:

The plant in front, a Pozo Blue sage (Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’), has more than doubled in size since I planted it in the fall of 2013. The most amazing thing is the mass of Royal Penstemon stalks in the back (Penstemon spectabilis). There are actually just two plants (one on the left and one on the right), but this year each one sprouted more than a dozen new stalks! The reason I planted the sage so close to them is that I thought the Penstemons would die — I’ve had Royal Penstemons in that location for several years, and they usually die out after a year or two. I assumed these would do the same, but they have taken on new life! They will be gorgeous when they bloom, as will the sage!

Feb2015_SagePenst

 

I added an informal path to the Adirondack chair:

 

Feb2015_ChairPath

 

The Fragrant Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans) has come back admirably from the loss of a large branch in the wind last spring. It’s gorgeous (that’s it to the left of the birdbath):

Feb2015_TowardWest

 

It’s even produced some blossoms, which it had a hard time with last year:

Feb2015_PitcherSage

 

The new Apricot Mallow has also put forth some blossoms:

Feb2015_ApricotMallowCloseup

The Cleveland sage has grown enormously, even though I keep thinking it’s reached its limit (that’s it in the center, to the right of the birdbath):

Feb2015_CleveSage

For comparison, here it is just about a year ago:

Feb2014_CleveSage1

(The birdbath in the top photo has been moved about a foot to the left because it was being overrun by the Cleveland sage and Pitcher sage.)

Let’s take a closer look at some of the wildflowers that have started to bloom. First to show up were the Lupines about a week ago. That’s unusual; usually it’s the Clarkias that start everything off.

Feb2015_LupineCloseup

 

This year I’m seeing some Desert Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia) for the first time. This is interesting because I have not sown any wildflower seeds by hand since fall of 2013, and the Desert Bluebells were among them — however, they never appeared last year, that I could see. Here is one:

Feb2015_DesertBluebell

A few Bird’s-Eye Gilia (Gilia tricolor) are appearing:

Feb2015_Gilia

 

On the west side, we have the reliable Lilac verbena (Verbena lilacina) coming into full bloom:

Feb2015_Fountain

That’s all that’s going on for now. By the time of my next update, I suspect the garden will be in full spring bloom, and we’ll also take a look at the back yard, which has had some additions as well. Happy gardening!

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Summer 2014 Quick Update

February 18, 2015

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted — very busy, and not much going on in the garden. So here’s a synopsis of what happened since I last updated last May:

In May, my Red Columbine near the entrance bloomed more than it ever has:

May2014_Columbine

 

Alas, it has since died — I’m not sure why! But at least we have this beautiful image.

In June there were dozens of caterpillars on the milkweeds. A number of them pupated where I could find them. Here’s a compendium of the butterflies that emerged — the ones I know about:

This one was near the house on the eave.

This one was near the house on the eave.

On the Evergreen Currant.

On the Evergreen Currant.

This one pupated on the cactus down low, and made a perilous journey up to the top. Its wings are slightly damaged, but it flew off with no difficulty.

This one pupated on the cactus down low, and made a perilous journey up to the top. Its wings are slightly damaged, but it flew off with no difficulty.

This butterfly fell from the wall and injured its wing, as you can see. I put it on this towel and tried to save it, but it was too damaged to fly, and I had to euthanize it.

This butterfly fell from the wall and injured its wing, as you can see. I put it on this towel and tried to save it, but it was too damaged to fly, and I had to euthanize it.

This butterfly flew off successfully.

This butterfly flew off successfully.

On the water pipe.

On the water pipe.

On the crossbar that leads into the entryway.

On the crossbar that leads into the entryway.

Finally, on one of the trellises set up for the purpose of providing a pupating surface for the caterpillars.

Finally, on one of the trellises set up for the purpose of providing a pupating surface for the caterpillars.

There were so many caterpillars last year that they totally decimated the milkweeds. I was afraid they would not survive if any more eggs were laid on them, so I devised a chicken-wire-and-screening set of barriers to keep butterflies out and allow them to grow back:

July2014_MilkweedBarriers

 

Then in July a great racket rose up near my house. I recognized the sounds as cries of juvenile Cooper’s Hawks. Some investigation showed that there was a nest in a eucalyptus tree near the end of my street. The young hawks were fledging, taking their maiden flights and emitting cries to keep touch with their mother. One of them landed in the pine tree outside my door:

July2014_CoopersHawk

That was an exciting few days! Soon they all flew off to parts unknown to pursue their lives.