Posts Tagged ‘Elegant Clarkia’

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!

 

Real Spring 2015

May 5, 2015

OK … by March we’ve gotten fully into the wildflower season. Forthwith, here are a plethora of images from March and early April, highlighting the annual “invasion of the wildflowers”:

I had a forest of Arroyo Luplines (Lupinus succulentus)

I had a forest of Arroyo Lupines (Lupinus succulentus)

Lupines and the first of the Elegant Clarkias

Lupines and the first of the Elegant Clarkias

I love the Lupines, but my goodness they do take over the garden! I will confine them more for next year.

I love the Lupines, but my goodness they do take over the garden! I will confine them more for next year.

A collection of  Bird's-Eye Gilia (Gilia tricolor)

A collection of Bird’s-Eye Gilia (Gilia tricolor)

Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa)

Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa)

Toward the west through a forest of Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata)

Toward the west through a forest of Elegant Clarkias (Clarkia unguiculata)

A sea of wildflowers (mostly Clarkias) along the path.

A sea of wildflowers (mostly Clarkias — the Lupines had mostly gone to seed by this time) along the path.

Clarkias galore!

Clarkias galore!

Clarkias in front of the Cleveland Sage, which has not bloomed yet.

Clarkias in front of the Cleveland Sage, which has not bloomed yet.

The start of the "Farewell to Spring" wildflower season  (Clarkia amoena)

The start of the “Farewell to Spring” wildflower season (Clarkia amoena)

All in all, I had fewer wildflowers than last season — which was by design. I felt they literally took over the yard last year, so I made a special effort to pull up many of the Clarkias before they went to seed. (I tried to do the same with the Lupines this year, lest they overwhelm the garden next spring.)

In other developments, I added a number of milkweed plants to my collection, which had been somewhat decimated by caterpillar activity last year:

Mar2015_NewMilkweeds

 

In the back yard, the plants I added had grown somewhat, which was encouraging, since I’ve had so much trouble with the back hill. Here’s the overall look of the hill in March:

Mar2015_BackYard

It still doesn’t look like much, but it’s made some progress since last year. Here are the additions from the fall, individually:

I added another Joyce Coulter Ceanothus (bottom) to match the larger one at the top. The larger one is about 3 feet across -- not as big as it's supposed to get, but at least it has survived!

I added another Joyce Coulter Ceanothus (bottom) to match the larger one at the top. The larger one is about 3 feet across — not as big as it’s supposed to get, but at least it has survived!

I also added a second Bee's Bliss sage below the existing one, since the top one has done much better than I expected.

I also added a second Bee’s Bliss sage below the existing one, since the top one has done much better than I expected.

Coast Sunflower  (Encelia californica). This is native to our Orange County area, so I thought it might do well. It has grown and even produced a couple of blossoms.

Coast Sunflower (Encelia californica). This is native to our Orange County area, so I thought it might do well. It has grown and even produced a couple of blossoms.

Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia) -- another Orange County native. It's growing quite nicely.

Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia) — another Orange County native. It’s growing quite nicely.

Saint Catherine's Lace (Eriogonum giganteum) -- a native of the Channel Islands. It should get huge, but it's not quite there yet!

Saint Catherine’s Lace (Eriogonum giganteum) — a native of the Channel Islands. It should get huge, but it’s not quite there yet!

My potted rushes (Juncus textilis), intended to hide the part of the back yard used as a litter box by my cat, are doing quite well:

Mar2015_Rushes

 

Finally, my cactus (Opuntia mocrodasys) has been delivering some pretty blossoms:

Mar2015_CactusBlooms

 

Later spring update coming soon!

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!

Official Spring Update

March 19, 2014

Yay! Spring is officially here, and the garden is abloom — though not yet completely.

First of all, we had our first poppy a couple of weeks ago:

Mar2014_FirstPoppy

Since that time, quite a few more have shown up (and we’re not nearly through):

Mar2014_Poppies1

Mar2014_Poppies2

Here’s an overall view of the east side of the yard with its riot of wildflowers. The purple ones in the foreground are lupines, while most the of the ones in the background are Elegant Clarkias:

Mar2014_SouthEast1

Last fall I created a small mound near the driveway on the west side using some leftover soil, and sowed some wildflower seeds. None of the seeds seemed to be germinating, even while the seeds from last year’s wildflowers were growing like crazy. I assumed I had done something wrong in sowing the seeds, and basically wrote them off.

But a few weeks ago we had our first serious rain of the winter — a deluge (finally!). And a couple of weeks later, some of the seeds started poking out from the soil!

Here’s the mound — it looks barren:

Mar2014_SmallMound

But a closer look reveals the new growth:

Mar2014_Seedlings

Most of these are small at present, at most about 1/2 high.  But today I noticed the first one had bloomed! It’s a Tidy Tip (Layia platyglossa):

Mar2014_TidyTips

Tidy Tips are new for my garden; I haven’t planted them before. It looks like quite a few are forthcoming. There are some other varieties that are also new, but I’ve forgotten what they are and won’t really know until they bloom!

There’s also this plant with yellow flowers among the Clarkias that I haven’t seen before. I don’t know if it’s one of my new wildflowers or a weed:

Mar2014_Unknown

We shall see what it turns into!

And recently, the first Farewell to Spring (Clarkia amoena) wildflower appeared (though we are nowhere near the end of spring!). There’s also a Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla) plant on the left:

Mar2014_FarewellToSpring

Here’s a closer view of some of my Lupines (Lupinus succulentus). These are such awesome annuals!

Mar2014_Wildflowers2

I love this shot of the northeast corner, with its colorful Clarkias and Lupines. There’s a Pozo Blue Sage in there somewhere as well. It’s new as of last fall, so I’m not sure if it will bloom this year or wait until next year.

Mar2014_ColorfulCorner

There have been a few perennials starting to bloom as well. My Saffron Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum) has a number of blossoms:

Mar2014_SaffronBuckwheat

Alongside it, my Bee’s Bliss sage (Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’) has produced its first blossom:

Mar2014_BeesBliss1

My Coral Bells (Heuchera elegans) have started to bloom:

Mar2014_CoralBells1

Yet to come: the Cleveland Sages! They are typically somewhat “late blooming”. But when they and the Winifred Gilman sages bloom — look out!

In addition, the Foothill Penstemons (Penstemon heterophyllus) that I planted near the succulent bowl, in an attempt to get a healthier plant than what I had in a different location, have made it all worthwhile. Here they are amongst the lupines:

Mar2014_Penstemons

Close up:

Mar2014_Penstemons1

In contrast, here are the Penstemons that are currently growing in the other location, in that northeast corner where I’ve been having so much difficulty:

Mar2014_Penstemons2

Not a bloom to be found! There’s something about that location that is problematic to a number of plants.

My Scarlet Buglers (Penstemon centranthifolius), next to the Foothills, are just starting to bloom, but haven’t quite gotten there yet.

We also had our first Douglas Iris blossom about a week ago (Iris douglasiana):

Mar2014_FirstIris

And since that time there’ve been several more:

Mar2014_Irises1

And my Yankee Point Ceanothus (Ceanothus griseus var. horizaontalis ‘Yankee Point’), behind the Coral Bells, is awash with blossoms:

Mar2014_YankeePt

We also have started the butterfly season! About a week ago I found this caterpillar on one of my milkweeds:

Mar2014_Caterpillar1

I was really surprised, as I hadn’t known I had any caterpillars, and this one was large. It has since absconded for purposes of pupating, and I have no idea where it’s gone! (I think maybe it’s a Malaysian caterpillar …)

But seeing that caterpillar made me realize that I’d better get some more milkweeds, just in case we get the same influx of egg-laying butterflies we had last year. So I bought four new plants (all the Mexican variety, Asclepias curassavica). These pictures show (1) the new Asceplias curassavica milkweeds, and (2) the native milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis, which, upon the advice of my fellow native gardener Debbie, I cut low to encourage denser growth:

Mar2014_Milkweeds3

Mar2014_Milkweeds2

Mar2014_Milkweeds1

I hope that’s enough for the butterflies!

Speaking of butterflies … I got a couple of shots of this visitor (who also laid a few eggs while she was here):

Mar2014_Butterfly1

Mar2014_Butterfly2

Finally, here are a few more views of the yard in its current state.

Mar2014_Grasses

Mar2014_PurpleThreeAwn

Mar2014_NorthEast1

Mar2014_Wildflowers1

Happy gardening until next time!

Early Early Spring Update

February 11, 2014

Well, it may not feel much like spring — high temps here have been in the low 60s — but the plants can sense the lengthening days and the more intense sunlight.  The wildflowers have been sprouting since December, and some are starting to bloom!

Let me make note of the fact that we are in the midst of a historic drought here in California — in the West in general. We’ve probably had all of four days of rain since November, most of it just drizzle. As a result, I’ve continued with my summertime watering regimen throughout the winter — usually, it’s not necessary as soon as the rains “take over”. Not this year. The experts are saying that a drought of this intensity has not been seen in 500 years (using tree ring data)! Needless to say, our agriculture is suffering greatly, and that means the rest of the country will start to feel it pretty soon — so much produce comes from here. Of course, most of our agriculture requires irrigation. There has been a lot of controversy over whether that’s a good idea — should the country be so dependent on farms in a drought-prone area? Nevertheless, agriculture is a huge industry here, and it’s taking a huge hit. Take a moment to spare a thought for our suffering farmers!

But back to more local matters — my garden! Here’s what we’re seeing in the front yard:

Feb2014_East1

As you can see, my Cleveland Sage (on the right) has grown magnificently since being pruned last fall. The plethora of plants at its foot are mostly Elegant Clarkias and other annual wildflowers. One of the Clarkias has produced its first blossoms:

Feb2014_ClarkiaCloseup

The two perrenials I planted in that area in the fall, the low-growing Bee’s Bliss Sage and the Saffron Buckwheat, seem to be doing well and have grown noticeably:

(1) Bee's Bliss Sage (2) Saffron Buckwheat

(1) Bee’s Bliss Sage (2) Saffron Buckwheat

The northeastern area of the yard is showing some growth:

Feb2014_East2

Notable here are:

(1) the mass of vegetation that includes Elegant Clarkias, annual Lupines, and the perrenial Scarlet Bugler and Margarita Bop Penstemons I planted last fall.

(2) the Allen Chickering Sage that I planted in the spring. I’m a little worried about its anemic growth. Plants grow very little in the summer, but I would expect to see a little more winter growth. I’m concerned it may not have become established — time will tell.

(3) the resurgent Canyon Prince Wild Rye in the background. This is a plant that looked ratty and disheveled in the summer, with many brown stems. In the fall, I coppiced it almost to the ground — and look at it now! It looks gorgeous!

Here’s a closer look at that part of the yard:

(1) Canyon Prince Wild Rye (2) Purple Three-Awn Grass

(1) Canyon Prince Wild Rye (2) Purple Three-Awn Grass

Here’s a view of the area near the birdbath:

Feb2014_East3

I trimmed back the Artemisia (in the foreground) last fall, and it looks wonderful! Behind it are the relatively new Buckwheat (the small upright stalks) and the Fragrant Pitcher Sage behind the birdbath, which has grown out magnificently since being pruned in the fall. It’s even got a blossom:

Feb2014_PitcherSage1

Here’s a clearer picture of the Pitcher Sage and the copious Cleveland Sage. Can’t wait until they come to life with blossoms!

Feb2014_CleveSage1

Then there’s the mound, which is filling in gradually (not as quickly as I’d like … but patience, patience!):

Feb2014_Mound1

Note here (1) the California Aster, which I pruned in the fall, and is continuing to spread, just the way I was hoping; (2) the Seaside Daisies, which are growing nicely to fill in their respective niches; and (3) the Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) that I planted in the fall, and which is growing nicely. It’s even got a few blossoms!

Feb2014_BlueEyedGrass

Then there’s the area near the house, consisting of mostly Coral Bells, Evergreen Currant (Ribes viburnifolium), the prostrate Yerba Buena (Satureja douglassii), and a Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa). A new addition is an Aloe that I transplanted from the area near the Purple Three-Awn grasses — it was being engulfed by them! It’s taking the place of the potted Red Monkeyflower that, alas, did not make it.

Feb2014_Aloe

Here are the three native narrow-leaf milkweeds, Asclepias fascicularis, that I planted in the fall to replace the scarlet milkweeds that the caterpillars had eaten almost to oblivion:

Feb2014_Milkweeds1

I have to say, I am worried about these milkweeds: they seem very fragile! Their stems are weak, and much of each plant is virtually lying on the ground. Will they be able to support a large population of caterpillars? They seem much less robust than the scarlet milkweeds — maybe that’s why most native gardeners have that kind, even though they are not native! I may have to purchase some scarlet milkweeds to “supplement” these native ones. It just seems like a fully mature Monarch caterpillar — even one — would cause one of these narrow-leaf milkweeds to fall over!

It’s worth mentioning that a possible reason we are seeing so many Monarch butterflies in these parts is that the eastern strain of the species, the one that overwinters in Mexico,  is rapidly disappearing! The conjecture is that the increased use of GMO corn and soy crops that are resistant to the Roundup herbicide — and the consequent increase in the use of that herbicide — is wiping out the milkweed plants in the east and midwest. I don’t know if that is the reason we are getting so many Monarchs here, but I’m suspecting that it might be a factor.

Down closer to the street, I’ve added a potted Firesticks plant (Euphorbia tirucalli) to the grouping in front of the Wildlife Habitat sign:

Feb2014_Sign

Alas, it looks like my potted Ribes Malveceum (Chaparral Currant) has expired. I am not having good luck with this species! The one on my rear hill also did not make it.

Feb2014_Ribes

Finally, a quick look at the reliable West Side, which continues to click along with few problems. The Lilac Verbena (Verbena lilacina) has increased its blooming (it never completely stopped), and I have to say it is one of my favorite plants. It started to flop over a bit last summer, so I have propped it up here and there with stakes, and it still looks marvelous. It doesn’t present quite as tidy an appearance as it once did, but to me this only adds to its charm. It gives a somewhat riparian look to the area, along with the Coyote Mint (Monardella villosa) and the native grasses next to it.

Feb2014_West1

The Cleveland sage to the left of the fountain is growing marvelously. I coppiced the California Fuchsia between the fountain and the Cleveland Sage, and it is starting to grow back. This is not normally a prostrate fuchsia, but I find it has become one over the years — every time I prune it back, it grows back lower. For a gardener concerned with design, this is not a bad thing!

That’s it for now — on to spring!

Late(ish) Spring Transition

April 25, 2013

The garden is in the process of transitioning from early spring madness to later spring quietness.

The Farewell-To-Spring wildflowers (Clarkia amoena) have finally started to bloom:

A mix of wildflowers; Farewell to Spring in lower middle

A mix of wildflowers; Farewell to Spring in lower middle

Close-up

Close-up

 

I’m in the process of thinning out the Elegant Clarkias — I am trying to pull out most of them before their seeds are distributed, because I really don’t want quite so many next year. And they’re beginning to look a bit shopworn. I’ve almost completely removed them from the mound:

(1) Asters (2) Coffeeberry

(1) Asters (2) Coffeeberry

What remains are the two asters, which are starting to grow and spread the way I was hoping they would, and the coffeeberry, which is growing very nicely. Here’s a view from the other direction:

Apr2013_Mound1

 

I’m hoping the asters will eventually “take over” the mound to some degree, and the coffeeberry should get fairly big — it’s making a nice start, having just about doubled in size since I planted it in the fall.

A sweet surprise: my “bunny ears” cactus (Opuntia microdasys) has gone into a riot of flowering:

Apr2013_Cactus

Apr2013_Cactus1

The Penstemons are still blooming, and there are more to come from the smaller plants, I believe:

Apr2013_Penstemons

 

My White Sage (Salvia apiana) is, at long last, growing some tall stalks on which, it is to be hoped, flowers will appear at some point:

Apr2013_WhiteSage

 

I originally planted it in fall of 2010, and it has performed admirably, growing slowly but without any difficulties such as bug infestations, and with lovely gray-green foliage. But I knew that these plants had spectacular inflorescences in which they became particularly irresistible to bees. So I am anticipating the arrival of this event sometime this year!

My Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor) is finally showing some signs of wanting to grow:

Apr2013_OceanSpray

 

This plant, near the mound and mostly in the shade, is supposed to reach 15 feet in height in certain situations. It was planted in fall of 2010, and I often thought it was on the verge of death. But this year it finally started growing and producing new shoots, and has reached a couple of feet in height. I’m hoping it will continue its slow growth, as it can be quite beautiful (so I see from pictures) with lovely white flowers.

The area near the house is starting to fill in nicely:

Apr2013_CoralBells

 

Apr2013_NearHouseI anticipate that the Yankee Point Ceanothus (on the left) will, with judicious pruning, snake its way around the potted Monkeyflower and start to cover some of the bare mulch. The tree in the background is an orange tree that produces tasty oranges. Eventually the path will extend onto the side of the house, and I hope to have plants back there as well.

The Douglas Irises are nearing the end of their blooming period, but a couple of weeks ago they were at their peak:

Apr2013_Irises1

 

Apr2013_Irises2

 

Yesterday I noticed a beautiful caterpillar on one of my fuchsias:

Apr2013_Caterpillar

 

A bit of research revealed this to be the larva of the White-Lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles lineata), a large moth that is sometimes mistaken for a hummingbird, as it has the ability to hover and feed from flowers. It pupates underground, and is considered a pest by commercial vegetable farmers. I found at least two of them on my fuchsia — the first time I have found parasites of any kind on this plant. We’ll see if it becomes a “pest”, but so far it’s not damaging the plant in any obvious way. I also found a snail this morning:

Apr2013_Snail

 

I have added some new plants:

(1) Manzanita 'Sunset' (2) Salvia 'Allen Chickering'

(1) Manzanita ‘Sunset’ (2) Salvia ‘Allen Chickering’

Close ups:

Manzanita

Manzanita

Allen Chickering Sage

Allen Chickering Sage

The Sage should get 5 feet across. It started out poorly, with many yellowing leaves that fell off, but has heartened me by growing some new leaves and even blooming. So I have crossed fingers on this one.

The Manzanita is supposed to get 5 – 8 feet high and wide, but we’ll see. It’s in the shade of the tree during the morning, so it may not grow that big. I will prune it down if it does get that high. It’s supposed to be a very hardy and reliable plant that I’m hoping will fill in that gap beside the driveway.

Then there are these new plants in the space previously occupied by the Red Pitcher Sage:

(1) Salvia 'Bee's Bliss' (2) Salvia 'Terra Seca'

(1) Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’ (2) Salvia ‘Terra Seca’

These are both low-growing sages that are supposed to spread out quickly. The Bee’s Bliss sage, again, worried me by dropping a number of leaves as soon as it was planted. But, like the Allen Chickering, it’s grown quite a few new ones and I have high hopes for it.

Then, in the back yard on my problematic hill, I decided to replaced a stunted Hummingbird sage with a Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum). Of the four Hummingbird sages planted a year and half ago, only two show any real signs of life. I’m hoping the Sword Fern will find this shady spot more congenial than the sage did.

(1) Sword fern (2) Hummingbird sages

(1) Sword fern (2) Hummingbird sages

Apr2013_SwordFern

The hill itself is proving to be a huge headache. My Ceanothus ‘Julia Phelps’ — which I planted last fall and which was a replacement for one of the same kind that had died — suddenly lost about half its leaves last week. This is exactly what the last one did, so — unable to witness this slow decline once again — I pulled it out.

Apr2013_JuliaPhelps

 

I’ll have to find something else to go there!

The other plants on the hill are surviving, but not growing very well. There’s the Howard McMinn Manzanita, which is supposed to get 7 to 10 feet tall, but which has barely grown and still stands at under a foot:

Apr2013_HowardMcMinnAnd there’s the Joyce Coulter Ceanothus, which is doing much better than the Julia Phelps at two feet across, but still not growing much:

Apr2013_JoyceCoulterThe Joyce Coulter and the Julia Phelps were intended, by Rob’s design, to be the “anchors” of the hill, spreading to 8 feet and 6 feet, respectively. Their failure to thrive leaves huge gaps on the hill. Obviously there is something going on there that these plants are objecting to … but who knows what? This is a continuing dilemma that I’m not sure how to address.