Archive for the ‘New Plants’ Category

After the Deluge

April 6, 2017

This winter we Southern Californians were told to expect a La Niña season, something that usually brings drought conditions. Given that we were in the midst of a historic drought already, we were dreading it. But no …. It rained and rained and rained. And then it rained some more. Truly, the plants thought they had died and gone to heaven!

A few scenes from the garden, to illustrate the lush growth:

My White Sage (Salvia apiana) has grown HUGE and is encroaching on the chair. I have never pruned it, but will probably do so in the fall.

This Aeonium (not sure of the species), which was one of my first plants, and which has labored long in the shadow of the Cleveland Sage and the California Fuchsia that overhung it, has responded to the rain and the absence of the sage by growing gigantic, and, from what I have been reading, this configuration means it is close to flowering, for the first time:

New Plants

When last we spoke, Argentine ants had decimated several of my plants, including my two Cleveland Sages, two Ceanothuses, and my Pitcher Sage. Here’s what the damage looked like:

I reluctantly decided that the two Cleveland Sages would probably never recover to their full glory, and I had them removed. The Pitcher Sage and one of the Ceanothuses had already been removed – when I was not yet aware that it was the ants that had done them in. Because of the gaps left with these huge plants missing, I withdrew from the California Native Plant Society garden tour, in which I had planned on participating this April. I’m hoping to join the tour next year, if the replacement plants have grown back sufficiently.

So I decided to replace the Pitcher Sage with a Lilac Verbena (Verbana lilacina), with which I have had some success. I had a hard time finding another Fragrant Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans), and anyway I felt it was too big for that spot. Now, the Verbena does also get to a large size, but it grows more slowly. And I love this plant — it flowers so beautifully.

I replaced one of the Cleveland Sages with another one:

And I replaced the other one with a Pozo Blue Sage (Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’), which is a hybrid of Cleveland Sage and Purple Sage, but does not get quite as big as the Cleveland Sage (so they say!):

This is on the west side.

Some “hardware” changes: I moved the solar fountain from the west side to the east, as it was being overtaken by the Cleveland Sage (before I knew I was going to remove it!), and also because it was in the shade of the Pacific Wax Myrtles in the afternoon.

Likewise, I moved the potted succulents to the west side, because they were beginning to be overtaken by the Allen Chickering and Winifred Gilman Sages:

If there is one cautionary tale to be taken away from my garden it’s this: be more careful to space your plants carefully! I have continually underestimated the size to which many of these plants will grow, and my garden is actually more crowded than I would like. When you plant them, they are so small, and you want to fill in that space. Have patience! If the literature says they will grow to 4-5 feet, they probably will. Leave enough space!

The potted plants above are now in danger of being overtaken by the Lilac Verbena …. so I will probably have to trim it back next fall!

I also added several plants to the area near the Adirondack chair near where the fountain is now located. The first is a Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), with small yellow flowers which appear near the end of winter, and small fruits (edible, so I hear, though I haven’t experimented yet). I am told it adds nitrogen to the soil, instead of taking it out, and that this is a good thing.

Also new is Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis), behind and to the right of the fountain in the rear:

Coyote Brush will grow huge, and I will cut it back to fit the area. I wanted a green background for the new Saffron Buckwheats (Eriogonum crocatum) that I planted in front of the fountain, aiming to create a mass of them with their beautiful yellow flowers:

Finally, I replaced my Miniature Rose – which was one of the first plants a visitor would see, near the curb, but was not very attractive – with a slightly non-native sage (it’s one of those Mexican immigrants), “Hot Lips” Sage (Salvia gregii ‘Hot Lips’):

When this comes into full bloom, it will be gorgeous!

What’s in Bloom

Coral Bells (Heuchera):

The Bladderpod and some of my Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata):

The Clarkias have been late in blooming this spring – perhaps because of the rain? I don’t have many this year for some reason – possibly because I refreshed my mulch, and perhaps buried some seeds too deep.

The Hot Lips sage has a few blossoms:

The Lupines (Lupinus succulentus) are at their peak:

My Monkeyflowers (Diplacus), planted last fall to partially replace my diseased Asters, are big show-offs:

The Apricot Mallows (Sphaeralcea ambigua) are blooming (they never seem to stop!):

My wildly proliferating Evening Primroses (Oenothera californica) are showing a few blossoms (only in the late afternoon, of course – by morning they are withering away):

My Royal Penstemons (Penstemon spectabilis) and Farewell to Spring Clarkias (Clarkia amoena) are starting to blossom:

A few blossoms have appeared on my Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana):

And, of course, the ubiquitous and delightful California poppy (Evening primroses in front):

Shortly: Changes and growth in the back yard, and some focus on succulents — which have really loved the rain!

Happy gardening!

 

Apocalypse

December 9, 2016

Is that too strong a word? It doesn’t feel like it.

In May, here’s what my Cleveland Sage and Apricot Mallow looked like:

may2016_clevelandsage

As of a couple of days ago, here’s what that part of the yard looked like:

dec2016_clevelandsage1

Now, the Apricot Mallow has been pruned back, and that’s not the problem. But I have lost half of my Cleveland Sage. Here’s another view:

dec2016_clevelandsage

And another:

nov2016_northeast

Note also that the Fragrant Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans) that was next to the birdbath is also gone — died. Here’s what it used to look like, only a few months ago (it’s the tall plant to the right of the birdbath):

Mar2016_PitcherSage

And on the west side, here’s what we had in May:

may2016_sagewest

may2016_westside

And here’s what we have now:

dec2016_westside

The Fuchsia in front has been coppiced, so that’s not the problem. But half the Cleveland Sage is gone, having died and been cut away.

And here is the culprit:

argentineant

This is an Argentine Ant, an invasive species that causes havoc with native California plants (and probably others as well). This ant cultivates scale insects and aphids, and milks them for their honeydew secretions. It also protects these pests from their natural enemies, ensuring that they continue to live on and do the maximum damage to their hosts. These sucking insects attach themselves to stems and roots and gradually kill the host plant if not eradicated.

This is exactly what happened to my Cleveland Sages, and also to my Pitcher Sage, and to a Ceanothus that died a couple of months ago, and which I removed, mistakenly believing that it had died of a fungus. It had been a fine specimen near my mound for several years. Here’s what it looked like just a few months ago (it’s in the middle foreground):

Feb2015_TowardWest

Now there is a blank spot there, which I filled in by extending the dry stream bed.

In retrospect, I realize now that it died from scale infestation. I have not seen aphids on my plants, but I have seen scale. Here is the evidence of scale infestation on my sages, and also on my Yankee Point Ceanothus, which is still alive, but which had several dead branches that I had to remove:

nov2016_sagewestscale

Sage

nov2016_scaleonsage

Sage

dec2016_ceanothusscale2

Ceanothus branches

dec2016_ceanothusscale1

More Ceanothus branches

The white spots and areas are scale insects — these  are insects which have lost their legs, even though they look like a fungus or something from the plant family. And they will kill your plants if you are not aware of them!

Here’s the hole in the Yankee Point Ceanothus where those removed branches used to be:

dec2016_ceanothus

Other changes have taken place that are probably not related to the ants (though I can’t be sure!). I had to remove my California Asters from the mound. Here they were in June:

jun2016_asters

But over the next couple of months they developed what looked like mildew on the leaves, and then the leaves gradually turned brown and died:

jun2016_asters1

Though the plants continued to survive and bloom, they looked so ugly that I cut them down to the ground in August. This is something I usually do in November or December, and by the spring they have come back with fresh shoots. The shoots did start to grow back with fresh-looking leaves, and I thought all was going to be well. But then the new leaves developed the same mildew and turned brown. So I finally made the decision to remove the asters from the mound. I am still not sure what did them in, but I would not be surprised to discover it had something to do with the ants!

I have replaced the asters with the following completely different plants:

dec2016_mound

(1) Three Monkeyflowers of varying colors (Diplacus), (2) two Coyote Mints (Monardella villosa), which will have lovely lavendar flowers in the spring (I hope!), and (3) four additional Seaside Daisies (Erigeron glaucus). Needless to say, the look of this area has changed profoundly. I trust it will fill in nicely and look perhaps even better than it did before!

Additionally, I finally gave up on growing milkweeds and raising Monarch butterflies. This I did with the heaviest of hearts, and only because I was losing almost all of the caterpillars to the dreaded Tachinid flies, which have apparently taken up refuge in my garden and persist from year to year. My garden did produce five or six butterflies that made it to adulthood, but many more, more than a dozen, perished either as caterpillars or chrysalises, showing the dreaded brown spots and white strings characteristic of an attack by these parasitoid insects. I felt I was doing the species a disservice by growing milkweeds when these dangers abounded. As such, I have replaced the milkweeds with a strip of succulents:

dec2016_succulents

(This picture also shows that my potted Woolly Blue Curls has, alas, reached the end of its days! Such a result is not surprising for this very hard-to-grow species.)

Dealing with the Ants

So back to the ants. How did this situation come about, after so many years of lush growth and no problems? After all, I have had ants for years in my garden — I often noticed them, and occasionally they would come into the house and cause havoc. But as long as they stayed outside, I was not the least concerned about them. There are always ants in a garden, right? The biggest problem they caused, as far as I could tell, was that they made it difficult for me to sit unmolested in my Adirondack chair. (I had to purchase a footrest to make it more difficult for the ants to crawl onto my feet.)

I have no idea why it took them this long to cause severe problems with my plants. Perhaps they have been colonizing scale for several years, and their efforts just finally reached a tipping point this summer. Or it could be that I had native ants for quite a while, and they were only recently displaced by these invasive Argentine ants.

It wasn’t until I hired a native plant specialist to prune my sages and other plants this fall that I realized what was happening. He pointed out the large amount of scale on several of my plants, and the many ants crawling on the stems and branches, including the dead Pitcher Sage.

I vaguely remembered reading warnings about invasive ants, but I had dismissed them, never believing that the ubiquitous ant could be truly dangerous. After my maintenance specialist pointed out the damage, these warnings came back to me in full force.

So what to do? I did some research and found some sources of information — the work of San Diego expert Greg Rubin was especially helpful. I immediately purchased some Advion Ant Baits from Amazon — one of the treatments recommended by Greg. As of this writing, the ants are very much under control — these baits are very good. However, I notice that there are still a few ants here and there in my front and back yards, and I think this effort will be an ongoing one for some time to come.

In the meantime, I have yet to decide what to do about the damaged Cleveland Sages and a replacement for the Pitcher Sage. I’m thinking of removing the sages entirely and planting new ones. Stay tuned.

And if you have a native California garden, please take this warning to heart: If you notice ants in your yard, check your plants very carefully!

 

 

Middle Spring 2016

March 24, 2016

Home Improvements

I have upgraded my house in several ways since I last posted. The most noticeable improvement is a new garage door:

Mar2016_Garage

(One of the side panels next to the door has already been repainted in a lighter color — the entire wood siding in the front will eventually be this color!)

Note how much the huge Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) has grown — it’s almost too big and sprawly, and next fall I will prune it nearly to the ground so it will come back more neatly. But I love the color this plant adds in the front before the sages start blooming. In fact, it continues blooming throughout the summer.

I’ve also added a new vinyl gate, low vinyl fence and block wall on the west side:

Mar2016_GateFence

Note the fuchsias growing in front of the Cleveland sage on the right — the sage having been pruned back quite a bit and looking much tidier! I love the color contrast.

Early March Wildflowers

The first wildflowers started blooming in late February/early March. First to appear were the Lupines (Lupinus succulentus):

Mar2016_FirstLupines1

Mar2016_FirstLupines

Then in short order came the Poppies:

Mar2016_FirstPoppies

Mar2016_FirstWildflowers

And on the west side as well:

Mar2016_WestSide

Note how the Lilac Verbana (Verbena lilacina) has grown. It looked a bit spent last year, with brown stems showing, and I thought I might have to take it out. But for some reason it rebounded and now looks better than it ever has!

Mar2016_LaterWildflowers

Late March:

More wildflowers, such as these Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa):

Mar2016_TidyTips

And Bird’s-Eye Galia (Gilia tricolor):

Mar2016_BirdsEyeGilia

And more Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata) along with the Lupines and Poppies:

Mar2016_Wildflowers

I’ve made a real effort to limit the number of wildflowers this year. The “forest” effect that I had last year did not sit well with me. Limiting them meant pulling many of them — especially Lupines — before they went to seed. The wildflowers are more “scattered” this year, and yet the garden is still full of color.

Here’s a shot that shows just how much my front yard is filling in:

Mar2016_Buddha

The small Buddha is surrounded by Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana) right behind it, with Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii) behind that and Fragrant Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans) to its left. On the right of the Buddha is Saffron Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum), and further right is the Apricot Mallow. On its left in front of the birdbath is Canyon Gray Artemisia (Artemisia californica ‘Canyon Gray’).

A few days ago the Douglas Iris bloomed briefly:

Mar2016_BuddhaIrises

Mar2016_DouglasIris

Usually we have sequential blooms for several weeks, but I don’t know if we will have any more this year — I don’t see any more buds.

A new plant in front of the Buddha, Beach Evening Primrose (Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia) is already blooming, even though I only planted it a few weeks ago:

Mar2016_Primrose

My Fragrant Pitcher Sage has grown enormous as I cut back the Cleveland Sage to its right — some of the sage’s branches had lost their leaves. It’s a gorgeous specimen, already in bloom:

Mar2016_PitcherSage

My Royal Penstemons (Penstemon spectabilis) — on the right — are starting to bloom; much more to come though. Behind them is a mature White Sage (Salvia apiana), and in front some Elegant Clarkias:

Mar2016_Penstemons1

My Coral Bells (Heuchera) are starting to bloom:

Mar2016_ByHouse

Note how the Evergreen Currant (Ribes viburnifolium) on the right has nicely filled in that area!

Mar2016_CoralBells

On the side of the house, my Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea) has become a dense patch the way I was hoping:

Mar2016_SideYard

(Behind it is my orange tree, the source of many juicy snacks during the summer!)

A final spring view:

Mar2016_LateMarchSouth

There are also some big changes in the back yard. Next time!

Happy gardening!

 

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!

New Plants

November 21, 2013

Fall is when the rubber hits the road for California native gardeners, especially November. Fall is the time for pruning and planting. We like to plant in the fall because California plants lay down their roots in the winter — our rainy season.

Early in November the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, the closest source for me for native plants, had their annual fall sale. I attended and bought 32 new plants!

I had several goals for the new plants:

  • I wanted to replace the Royal Penstemons and Yarrows in the northeast corner of the yard, near the White Sage. One of the penstemons had died; the oldest one looked terrible, with a long length of bare stem, and also looked near death. They just don’t seem to do well in that location, which gets a lot of sun and seems to bake. The yarrows, as well, were doing poorly — a ghostly gray instead of lively green, and only about 3-4 inches high (the normal is up to a foot).
  • I didn’t want to give up on penstemons altogether (they are so pretty!), but I did want to get away from the difficult Royal Penstemons, and I wanted to try the penstemons in a different location.
  • I wanted to get some more plants for my mound, as I want to completely cover the mound with vegetation, with no bare spots.
  • I wanted to replace the Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) that I realized was just never going to look very good. This is a gorgeous plant if it gets sufficient sun — but it was in a partially shady spot, and was never going to get a full growth of foliage. If this plant does not get sufficient foliage, the white stems stand out and it looks terrible, like a planting of chopsticks!
  • I wanted some perennials to plant in front of the Cleveland Sage so that when the wildflowers die out, there is something there besides just bare mulch.
  • I wanted to try native California milkweeds to replace the Mexican variety I have been using. (I wasn’t sure the milkweeds I had were going to be able to recover sufficiently from the onslaught of the caterpillars.)
  • I wanted to plant something under the Privet tree in my front yard.
  • I wanted to start addressing some of the issues on my back hill, especially the need for ground cover under the fig tree.

Without further ado, then, let’s look at some of my new plants!

I decided to get some new asters for the mound, as well as some Yerba Buena (Satureja douglassii) for ground cover:

1. Aster chilensis 'Purple Haze' 2. Satureja douglassii

1. Aster chilensis ‘Purple Haze’ 2. Satureja douglassii

I also added a Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and an extra Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus ‘Cape Sebastian’).

1. Sisyrinchium bellum 2. Erigeron glaucus 3. Satureja douglasii

My new Narrow-leafed Milkweeds:

1. Asclepias fascicularis

1. Asclepias fascicularis

I replaced the Mexican Sage with a California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), a hardy plant that keeps its blooms into the summer — which is one of the reasons I got the Mexican Sage in the first place, as it blooms in the summer. I wanted to keep a bit of summer color here. Also, note that I’ve pruned back the Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) and the Pitcher Sage (Lepichinia fragrans) so that they are not overrunning the birdbath any more!

1. Eriogonum fasciculatum 2. Lepichinia fragrans 3. Salvia clevelandii

1. Eriogonum fasciculatum 2. Lepichinia fragrans 3. Salvia clevelandii

The Bee’s Bliss sage (Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’) and Saffron Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum) were planted in front of the Cleveland Sage and Douglas Irises in order to provide some foliage when the wildflowers were not present:

1. Eriogonum crocatum 2. Salvia 'Bee's Bliss'

1. Eriogonum crocatum 2. Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’

The Saffron Buckwheat is listed as rare, threatened, or endangered by the State of California, and so is a great “find” for the garden. It’s a lovely plant with bright yellow flowers. The Bee’s Bliss sage is a low-growing, spreading kind of sage that I hope will fill in that area nicely.

In the northeast corner, I removed the Royal Penstemons and Yarrows, and planted a Pozo Blue sage (Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’) and a Silver Carpet Beach Aster (Lessingia filaginifolia ‘Silver Carpet’). The Pozo Blue is a gorgeous sage with lovely blue flowers. It grows to around 5 – 6 feet in width, and should fill in that area pretty well. The Silver Carpet is a low-growing plant that can spread to as much as 8 feet, with gorgeous lavender daisy-like blossoms in the summer. The two plants near the wall are Royal Penstemons that seem to be doing OK, though I suspect they will deteriorate like the others over time.

1. Salvia 'Pozo Blue' 2. Lessingia filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet'

1. Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’ 2. Lessingia filaginifolia ‘Silver Carpet’

I added a Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri) to my succulent area, as well as a Red Buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens) to fill in the gaps between my grasses. It has lovely pink-red flowers that bloom throughout the summer. I also coppiced my Canyon Prince Wild Rye (Leymus condensatus) and Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) so they will grow back more lushly — both had a large number of dead leaves that detracted from their appearance. We’ll see if they grow back in a more comely fashion.

1. Dasylirion wheeleri 2. Eriogonum grande rubescens 3. Leymus condensatus 4. Muhlenbergia rigens

1. Dasylirion wheeleri 2. Eriogonum grande rubescens 3. Leymus condensatus 4. Muhlenbergia rigens

I added a third Purple Three-Awn grass (Aristida purpurea) because I think these grasses look gorgeous when bunched:

1. Aristida purpurea

1. Aristida purpurea

I added some Penstemons around the succulent bowl, in hopes that I have better luck with them in that location. It’s just an experiment at this point. They are Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius) and Margarita Bop Penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita Bop’):

1. Penstemon centranthifolius 2. Penstemen heterophyllus 'Margarita Bop'

1. Penstemon centranthifolius 2. Penstemen heterophyllus ‘Margarita Bop’

You will also notice that I’ve removed the flagstones from the path. They were turning out to be a maintenance headache — various flagstones were always coming loose and needing to be “reseated” — a major pain in the neck. One thing I’m learning is that you have to try to keep maintenance chores within reasonable bounds.

Finally (for the front yard), I decided to try to get something to grow under the Privet tree: I’m trying Douglas Irises (Iris douglasiana), which I think may do better in the partial shade of the tree than they do in the middle of the yard, where I have them now.

1. Iris douglasiana

1. Iris douglasiana

In the back, I’m planting Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) under the fig tree to replace some of the grasses that were not doing well there. I’m also trying out a ground cover, Emerald Carpet Manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’), to try to cover the bare area under the fig tree, where even mulch won’t stick because it’s so steep. The soil there is very compacted and hard, though, so at this point I am despairing of anything growing there. We’ll see.

1. Polystichum munitum 2. Arctostaphylos 'Emerald Carpet'

1. Polystichum munitum 2. Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’

Note, also, that I have completed putting in some edging that I hope will prevent the mulch from falling onto the wall and then onto the gravel. Also, upon the advice of my original muse, Pat Overby, I am in the process of removing quite a bit of the mulch. She thinks that may be one reason the plants are not growing too well. The mulch is as much as 8 inches deep in some places. (I got too much!)

Nov2013_NewPlants12

Finally, I bought two Blue Dart Rushes (Juncus tenuis ‘Blue Dart’) that I intend to plant in the long planter behind. Eventually, I hope to have three of these long planters, to form a kind of “fence” to block from view the part of the yard behind them, which my cat tends to use as a litter box! They will all have these native rushes in them.

1. Juncus tenuis 'Blue Dart'

1. Juncus tenuis ‘Blue Dart’

That’s it for now. I have finished the planting and pruning — now we just have to wait for things to grow. Today we had our first major rain, and already the wildflowers are starting to sprout. I will track the growth of these plants throughout the winter. Stay tuned!