Posts Tagged ‘landscape design’

Wildflower Update

March 3, 2013

The wildflowers continue to stutter to life, blooming here and there.

There are some new ones this year that I planted from seeds I bought in the fall at Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden:

Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus

Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus

Zoomed out

Zoomed out

Baby Blue Eyes, Nemophila menziesii

Baby Blue Eyes, Nemophila menziesii

Zoomed out

Zoomed out

There may even be some Gilia tricolor — Bird’s Eye Gilia — in this area, which hasn’t bloomed yet. There are some few plants with feathery leaves that could be this wildflower or could be weeds — time will tell!

These wildflowers are beautiful, but the yield is sparse this year. I am going to let them go to seed and maybe we will have some more next year!

Then, there is a virtual forest of Elegant Clarkias, Clarkia unguiculata, which are just starting to bloom:

Mar2013_Clarkias

Close-up .. you gorgeous thing you!

Close-up .. you gorgeous thing you!

My old reliable Lilac Verbena, Verbena lilacina, is almost in full bloom:

Mar2013_LilacVerbena1

Close-up

Close-up

The bees are very happy!

My Baja Littleleaf Rose, Rosa minutifolia, has a few blossoms:

Mar2013_MiniRose

I have also been working on edging my path with small stones, and have made considerable progress:

Mar2013_Path1

The edging will extend into the bench area, and the path itself will continue (eventually) behind the bench and into the yard on the east side of the house.

Mar2013_Path2

Mar2013_Path3

I like how the edging adds a slightly more formal, structured look to the path, while still preserving its natural, hand-hewn feel.

Finally, a look at the “mound” and how it has been taken over by the Elegant Clarkias!

It's a forest! None blooming yet.

It’s a forest! None blooming yet.

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General Garden Updates, 2013 Edition

January 13, 2013

Finally I think we are through with the caterpillar dramas — no new caterpillars have appeared, and it’s too cold now. (It’s frigid here in Southern California — lows in the 20s recently.)

So … back to the garden! I have made many changes since the summer. First, let’s look at the overall picture — herewith photos from right after Christmas:

The front of the house with wreath.

The front of the house with wreath.

Wreaths on the front door.

Wreaths on the front door.

Jan2013_EastSide

East side near house. I extended the path into the "bench" area.

East side near house. I extended the path into the “bench” area.

My potted Mimulus near the bench ... just for added interest.

My potted Mimulus near the bench … just for added interest.

Northernmost east side. I am in the process of edging the path with stones ... a long term project.

Northernmost east side. I am in the process of edging the path with stones … a long term project.

Big changes here.

Big changes here.

In the above area, I removed the Lilac Verbena that was in front of the Canyon Prince Wild Rye. It just did not seem to fit with it. I also removed the Fuchsia that was to the right of the Deer Grass. It was not working out — its growth was stunted, its blossoms were few, and leaves from my neighbor’s Guava tree accumulated under it, providing an excellent breeding ground for hundreds of milkweed beetles. I felt this particular area, subject to unrelenting sun from dawn to dusk, needed to be populated with more sun-loving plants. So, I decided to create a small rock garden with succulents, which I will add to as time goes on.

Let’s zoom in on that area:

1. Variegated fuchsia 2. Aloe brevifolia 3. Dudleya brittonii 4. Agave victoria-reginae 5. Opuntia mocrodasys

1. Variegated fuchsia 2. Aloe brevifolia 3. Dudleya brittonii 4. Agave victoria-reginae 5. Opuntia mocrodasys

1. Aloe vera 2. Dudleya brittonii, green form 3. Aristida purpurea

1. Aloe vera 2. Dudleya brittonii, green form 3. Aristida purpurea

Highlighting the explosive growth of wildflowers since the rains started in December. I have been thinning them out and intend to do more.

Highlighting the explosive growth of wildflowers since the rains started in December. I have been thinning them out and intend to do more.

Southernmost east side.

Southernmost east side.

The mound.

The mound.

Above is the mound I created last summer, which I have started to populate with plants. First, I extended the “culvert” defined by differently-sized stones that suggest a stream bed. I am hoping that this will partially direct runoff from the roof to the two plants I have planted there that enjoy heavier soils and moisture: (4) and (5), Cape Sebastian Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus. The other numbered plants are (1) Coffeeberry, Rhamnus californica, (2) and (3) Coast Aster, Aster chilensis, and Purple Haze Aster, Aster chilensis ‘Purple Haze’ (I forget which is which). The other plants are wildflowers that have unexpectedly popped up, in spite of the fact that the mound is new, and a Ceanothus in the lower left that’s been there for ages.

The west side.

The west side.

I removed the last remaining Canyon Prince Wild Rye from the west side. In spite of having cut it back severely last winter, it grew back in an ungainly manner and just got too big and floppy.

The southernmost west side.

The southernmost west side.

The northernmost west side. I cut back the Red Pitcher Sage (on the right), and I am going to remove it. It's a lovely plant, but is just too big for that location.

The northernmost west side. I cut back the Red Pitcher Sage (on the right), and I am going to remove it. It’s a lovely plant, but is just too big for that location.

The area where the Canyon Prince Wild Rye used to be. Now we have (1) a succulent that Pat gave me, the name of which I have forgotten, which used to be hidden under the Wild Rye, (2) the existing Fuchsia, which I drastically coppiced, and which is already growing back, and (3) my replacement for the Wild Rye, another Cleveland Sage -- tiny, as yet.

The area where the Canyon Prince Wild Rye used to be. Now we have (1) a succulent that Pat gave me, the name of which I have forgotten, which used to be hidden under the Wild Rye, (2) the existing Fuchsia, which I drastically coppiced, and which is already growing back, and (3) my replacement for the Wild Rye, another Cleveland Sage — tiny, as yet.

Now for some closeups on the succulents:

"Bunny Ears" cactus, Opuntia microdasys

“Bunny Ears” cactus, Opuntia microdasys

Aloe brevifolia

Aloe brevifolia

Chalk Dudleya, Dudleya brittonii

Chalk Dudleya, Dudleya brittonii

Queen Victoria Agave, Agave victoriae-reginae. A lovely plant.

Queen Victoria Agave, Agave victoriae-reginae. A lovely plant.

Dudleya brittonii, green form

Dudleya brittonii, green form

Aloe vera. It looks much better since the rains started -- this one is perhaps too much in the sun  during the summer.

Aloe vera. It looks much better since the rains started — this one is perhaps too much in the sun during the summer.

Purple Three Awn, aristida purpurea, a lovely grass that I thought would work well with the succulents.

Purple Three Awn, aristida purpurea, a lovely grass that I thought would work well with the succulents.

The environs of the bowl. Additions are: (1) Salvia compacta, a smallish (3') sage that I hope will complement the Winifred Gilman sage behind it (2) "Blue Chalk" Senecio vitalis, (3) some variety of Yucca, and (4) Paddle Plant, Kalanchoe luciae.

The environs of the bowl. Additions are: (1) Salvia compacta, a smallish (3′) sage that I hope will complement the Winifred Gilman sage behind it (2) “Blue Chalk” Senecio vitalis, (3) some variety of Yucca, and (4) Paddle Plant, Kalanchoe luciae.

I should mention, if I have not before, that few of my succulents are native. Counter-intuitive as it seems (given the dry climate here), California native succulents are relatively few and not all that interesting. There are so many lovely succulents in the world, I have decided to branch out!

The butterfly emerges: the good, the bad, and the worrisome

September 29, 2012

The good: I came outside at about 9:40 this morning, and discovered that my chrysalis had changed markedly — it was now semi-transparent, and you could see the beautiful monarch butterfly inside. I knew that this meant the adult was soon to emerge!

The bad: Unfortunately, I had to attend a meeting of a group I belong to, and I had to leave. I hoped that the emergence would hold off until I got back.

Alas, it did not! By the time I got back, about 12:30, the chrysalis was a mere shell and the butterfly was nowhere to be seen.

The worrisome: I finally solved the wasp mystery: I found the European Paper Wasp nest. It was very near the chrysalis, actually inside one of my wind chimes:

So there we are — the actual nest with at least three live wasps in it.

The worrisome part is — could they have eaten the Monarch butterfly as he emerged from the chrysalis?

Now, I have no evidence that this is what took place. But I worry. The nest is quite near the chrysalis:

And a Google search found evidence that wasps do, on occasion, eat chrysalises or, presumably, emerging butterflies. I found this image on the web:

(http://bugguide.net/node/view/137284/bgimage)

As I say, I have no evidence. But I worry. I expected that even if the butterfly had emerged by the time I got home I would see it sitting around somewhere, as I know they don’t fly off immediately. But the three hours I was away was probably sufficient time for it to expand to full size and fly away. I certainly hope so! Yet, as stated on http://www.monarch-butterfly.info/Life-Cycle.html, at the point of emergence from the chrysalis:

… this monarch is extremely vulnerable to predators because it is not yet able to fly.

Do I trust the wasps? Not really! I can only hope this intrepid traveler made his or her way out into the sky unmolested!

I am upset that I did not discover the wasp nest earlier. I would have tried some way of getting rid of it or at least moving it to another area, given its proximity to the chrysalis.

In other worrisome news, my milkweed plants, once again, are looking horrible. This is the relatively new Silky Gold milkweed, which was very healthy when purchased, now with a strange white dust and a sticky resin on many of the leaves:

Both sets of plants are not a pretty sight:

If anyone knows how to treat sick milkweeds, please let me know!

Behold the Chrysalis!

September 26, 2012

In my last post, on Tuesday, September 18, I detailed how my caterpillar found a suitable location and attached himself to a beam on my front porch in preparation for pupating.

Well, the very next day, just about 24 hours later, he actually formed a chrysalis!

On that morning, at 11:00 a.m., I had a consultation with my garden designer, Rob Moore. We discussed the plants I would need for the upcoming fall planting season (more on that in a later post). I pointed out the caterpillar on my front porch, still in a “J” shape. After about an hour outside talking about my garden, we went inside so I could render payment for his services. As we walked in, I glanced up at the caterpillar, and it seemed to be about the same. I thought, I should do a Google search and learn how long a caterpillar remains in that position before pupating.

We probably spent 10 or 15 minutes inside the house. Then we moved outside so Rob could be on his way. We looked up at the caterpillar — lo and behold, it had formed a chrysalis in just the few minutes we were inside the house! There had been a total transformation to a completely green shape, not yet quite fully formed.

Though I did not see it in time to film it, here is a video from YouTube of the process:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR-3y0zcu6o&feature=fvsr

I found the discarded skin on the sidewalk below the chrysalis:

About an hour later here’s what it looked like:

Here it is a couple of days later — a little more well formed:

It hasn’t changed much since then. I am hoping I can catch it when it hatches — a much slower process that I believe I’ll be able to film. Stay tuned!

The Caterpillars Leave

September 18, 2012

Well, both caterpillars have gotten big and fat and have left the milkweed in search of a place to turn into a butterfly.

The first one left yesterday, and I can’t find him. The other one, however, started his journey today, and I was actually able to FIND him about 20 feet from the plant, on one of the posts holding up the overhang of my roof near the entrance! This is great news. I’ve been photographing him all day — here we go:

And so begins the most amazing transformation of his life.

I don’t know how long it will take for him to form a chrysalis. I am hoping I will be able to photograph it!

Caterpillars Redux!

September 16, 2012

Finally I have some caterpillars that look like they will make it to maturity!

Within about a week of putting the net over the Silky Gold milkweed, I found two good-sized caterpillars munching their way through the leaves — each over an inch long. I don’t know if these were the tiny hatchlings I saw when I put the netting on, or they were larger ones that I just missed, but either way I was thrilled to see them!

Both molted within a couple of days, and since that time they have really taken off and look to be almost full size now! They spend almost all their time munching the poor plant’s leaves (not that it appears to be any worse for the wear).Because they are getting so big, I took the netting off — I definitely want them to feel free to roam if they are ready to pupate.

Fortunately, the wasps seem to have disappeared. I had read that they use juvenile monarchs to feed their larvae, so maybe the babies grew up, or perhaps the wasps just got bored and took off for more congenial environs — who knows! I think these wasps were European Paper Wasps, and I have seen a couple of structures under my eaves and my neighbor’s eaves that could possibly be abandoned wasp nests. In any case, they appear to be gone, thank goodness.

Here are the gorgeous creatures: