Posts Tagged ‘succulents’

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!

 

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!

Introduction of Succulent Area

August 27, 2012

In addition to removing the milkweeds, I have also made some big changes in the area around the Canyon Prince Wild Rye and the Deer Grass on the east side.

Number one: the Lilac Verbena. I decided I didn’t like the Lilac Verbena in front of the Wild Rye. It seemed to “compete” too much with it for size. Though the Wild Rye will undoubtedly grow larger, my aim is to copice it every year to control the size, so it probably won’t get enough bigger than the Verbena to make me happy. (Nor do I want it to get that large anyway.)  So I removed the Verbena, along with some anemic-looking Coyote Mints that were just not working out. (I don’t know why the Coyote Mints look so great on the west side, and so crappy on the east.)

Number two: the Silver Select Fuchsias, next to the Deer Grass, looked anemic. They were less upright than they should be, with less than robust leaves and brown stems showing here and there. They just had not thrived the way I expected, and did not appear to be developing buds, so I took them out. I think perhaps they just didn’t like that part of the yard, which receives unrelenting full sun from dawn to dusk. When I took them out, I realized that dead leaves from my neighbor’s guana tree had accumulated under them, so that could be one factor in their less than healthy appearance. Also, there were tons of milkweed beetles breeding in the soil around the roots. It was just not a good situation.

Ultimately I decided to replace that area with a group of succulents, which will (I hope) be able to handle the full sun a little better. You do have to pick the succulents carefully — some do not do well in full sun in spite of being so well adapted to drought conditions.

Here’s what we have now:

Pink: Aloe brevifolia; Green: Agave victoriae-reginae; Yellow: Aloe barbadensis

The Brevifolia is supposed to be a ground cover; we shall see. It is supposed to produce many pups and spread out — that’s what I am hoping will happen. Here’s a closeup:

Aloe brevifolia

The Agave is a gorgeous species and is supposed to get maybe twice the size it currently is. I am hoping it gets big enough to form a third focal point in this group, along with the Canyon Prince Wild Rye and the Deer Grass. We shall see.

Agave victoriae-reginae

The third new succulent is an Aloe barbadensis given to me by my neighbor. It’s rather ordinary-looking and I didn’t take a closeup photo, but it’s in there as part of the mix.

Later, I hope to add some Dudleyas (California native succulents) and perhaps some Purple Three-Awn grasses to complement the succulents. I am hopeful that this part of the yard will be a fascinating new addition as time goes on!