Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gardener's Weather

Today's weather report. Los Angeles and Ventura County: Coastal and nearby valley areas are socked in under a pretty solid marine layer stratus cloud cover this morning.

Comfortably overcast today. Took this opportunity to do some garden cleanup after being "incarcerated" inside the house for the past several weeks because of the protracted heat spells that always occur this time of year.

The purple fountain grass has had a haircut and awaits the rain for rejuvenation as does the guara which already has a few new sprouts.

The 'Taboo' rose thrives amazingly on neglect. It is hidden behind the large Euphorbia cotinifolia and doesn't get watered.

Another beauty thriving on total neglect, maybe 'Buff Beauty' or 'Just Joey'. Can't remember.   I like apricot-colored roses.

Speaking of watering I have changed my irrigation pattern. Instead of soaking the bases of the plants I have begun to do light overhead sprinkling as advocated by the late Bert Wilson at, Myths about California Native Plants . Even though these are not California native plants, they are not wet, moist climate plants either and his advice still applies. Garden is looking much better.

Surprising late summer bloom of rosemary.

Leaves coloring up and falling off too early on crape myrtle. These trees are clearly not happy.

 The Zephrantes, rain lilies are happy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pretty Plant Pairings

Cosmos 'Sonata' series and Pelargonium sidoides: Purple color and velvety texture

Smokebush and white Indian hawthorne: Similar color and 'bloom' on leaves and berries

Gloriosa daisy 'Prairie Sun' and  'Safari' Red Marigold: Golden centers

New England aster and Thai basil: Similar petal color

Pink guara and purple fountain grass: Similar stem color and form

Pentas and caladium: Similar color of leaves and flowers

Agave and rue: Similar gray-green color of leaves but vastly different texture, tough vs delicate

Sand cherry and salvia 'Love and Wishes': Similar color and stems

Agave and Snow-on-the-Mountain euphorbia: Similar gray-green median stripe with white margins, but again vastly different form

Two purple-leaved euphorbias and purple fountain grass: Similar color with different form

Salvia 'Ember's Wish' with maple-leaved hibiscus

This maple-leaved hibiscus cultivar is called 'Haight-Asbury'. Haight-Asbury was the center of the hippie subculture in San Francisco in the 1960s. The leaf looks just like a red marijuana leaf. Big California joke.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Snow-on-the-Mountain, cool looking plant for a hot summer's day

Euphorbia marginata, snow-on-the-mountain, smoke-on-the-prairie, variegated spurge, whitemargined spurge, is a small shrub in the Euphorbiaceae or spurge family native to parts of temperate North America. It is found from Eastern Canada to California.

Euphorbia marginata plant has grey-green leaves along branches and smaller leaves in terminal whorls with edges trimmed with wide white bands, creating, together with the white flowers, the appearance that gives the plant its common names. --from Wikipedia

It's an appropriate plant for the garden for this time of year. I bought mine at San Gabriel Nursery. Snow-on the mountain is in the same genus as Euphorbia cotinifolia, E. tirucalli and E. pulcherrima (poinsettia). With the exception of poinsettia which I am not growing, all are looking good.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Finding Fall

I love this time of year.

I once wrote a blog entitled "Finding Fall". The upshot of it was that fall is found in bird migration and weather patterns, not native plants in my part of the world.

Brilliant yellow warblers have been seen very occasionally in the eucalyptus; black-headed grosbeaks are at the feeder when it is stocked with black oil sunflower seed. Hermit warbler pictured above from Wikipedia.

I can sit on the north-facing patio all day now without getting any hot sun on my legs.

When I went outside to take the trash out just now, it felt distinctly cool, a chill in the air ... so nice!

Does anyone still read poetry?

I love the rhythms found in Ted Hughes' There Came a Day from his Season Songs

There came a day that caught the summer
Wrung its neck
Plucked it
And ate it.

Now what shall I do with the trees?
The day said, the day said.
Strip them bare, strip them bare.
Let´s see what is really there.

And what shall I do with the sun?
The day said, the day said.
Roll him away till he´s cold and small.
He´ll come back rested if he comes back at all.

And what shall I do with the birds?
The day said, the day said.
The birds I´ve frightened, let them flit,
I´ll hang out pork for the brave tomtit.

And what shall I do with the seed?
The day said, the day said.
Bury it deep, see what it´s worth.
See if it can stand the earth.

What shall I do with the people?
The day said, the day said.
Stuff them with apple and blackberry pie –
They´ll love me then till the day they die.

Then came this day and he was autumn.
His mouth was wide
And red as a sunset.
His tail was an icicle.

Not quite icicles here, far from it, but at least a fall in nighttime temperature.

But I'm still looking for fall ...
and have decided to make it happen myself.

I've done two things.

First,  I have left the seedheads on the Salvia clevelandii and on the Tulbaghia violacea. This is such a reliable friendly plant; does anyone besides me and Floridata love it? It is so generous with its blooms and low maintenance besides. It looks kind of messy, but it tells me the season.

Although society garlic's flowers resemble delicate spring blossoms, they are actually rough and ready to tough it out all summer long. Enduring bouts of extreme heat, humidity and cloudbursting thunderstorms they effortlessly retain their beauty throughout.
 Hard for me to photograph well. Is it the mass of tiny flowers? This is from the Floridata website:

Next, I went looking for fall flowering plants, the kind I love with big floppy flowers like old-fashioned asters (China asters, New England aster, Aster ericoides),and chrysanthemums (Korean chrysanthemums, garden chrysanthemums) with tall stems and soft lovely colors, not those ugly squished plants with trite, garish colors found in four-inch pots and six-paks. Whatever happened to soft lovely graceful flowers?

Aster ericoides was called September weed by San Gabriel Nursery. I like that name. They haven't carried it for years. It was one of my favorites. The above photo is from Wikipedia..

Found some nice mid-sized rust-colored chrysanthemum pots outside of Ralph's of all  places. They had a yellow one, but it was too bright for my taste. But the gloriosa daisy looked just right and I bought one. It's a plant that makes one happy when looking at it.The photo at the top of the page is from Longwood Gardens.

Tall, fragile-looking sage is good now, too. Got 'Ember's Wish' Salvia at Home Depot. Read the story behind this plant here. I used their photo. My plant is too small yet.

None of these are my pictures; I'll take some tomorrow, needed to get the feeling down in print.

Let us know what tells you that fall is coming.

Snuggles to you.

Monday, June 23, 2014

When It's Too Hot to Garden

In summer, sometimes it gets too warm, too unpleasant, to be outside gardening after 9 or 10 in the morning. Here are some books to enjoy inside or on shady porch in the coolth.

This one I bought immediately after reading Rock Roses's How The Manor House at Upton Grey Made Me Think Differently About My Garden.

 Gertrude Jekyll's Lost Garden by Rosamund Wallinger 

If you are discouraged about what's happening in your garden, this is the book to read. It's amazing how much she had to overcome and how much work she put in to it. What energy! What optimism! How beautiful the results. Each time I read an entry in this book,  I'm itching to get out in the garden again to renew, to redo, to respect ....

It is a very easy book to read with lots of lovely pictures ... before and after ones, best time of year ones. It's written in a diary style, so you can pick up and read anywhere anytime. You can pick the same day or a certain type of location like the Wild Garden.

Just Vegetating: A Memoir by Joy Larkcom

The next book is a collection of articles and expanded introductions to them by Joy Larkcom who has contributed so much to our knowledge of how to grow vegetables in the home garden: intercropping,  cut-and-come-again and patch, rather than row, gardening. I only had one of her books and was unaware of all of her writings in UK publications. The parts of this book I like best are the descriptions of her adventures to find new vegetables and learn new ways to use them on the European continent and in the Far East.

Portraits of Himalayan Flowers by Toshio Yoshida

This last book is for dreamers and those who love exotic plants. I like to read books about cold places when it's hot outside. I can almost transport myself there. This one is all pictures of flowering plants with high mountain backgrounds and brief, but informative and well written, captions. Just turning the pages makes my mouth water. Such gorgeous, unknown-to-me flowers. Drool.

All the books mentioned here were purchased used from Amazon.

What gardening books are you reading this summer?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Welcoming Summer with Roses and Rosettes

First day of summer in the early morning mist

  My 'Sweetheart', the forever-in-bloom Cecile Brunner rose

 The fabulous, fragrant 'Tamora' on the third round of bloom this season

The very tall 'Taboo', an almost black rose, at least in bud, hiding in the Euphorbia cotinifolia

 Aeonium 'Kiwi' rosettes like flowers

Echeveria flower-like rosettes


 More succulent "flowers"

 Kalanchoe beharensis (Velvet elephant ear) has great texture

The birds know summer has come and it's tme to start pecking on the fruit. Sigh.