Friday, July 31, 2015

Musings on the Last Friday of July

This July, 2015, the wettest since records began, occurred when monsoonal flow from the southeast met Tropical Storm Dolores from the southwest.

What's happening around the garden?

How tall do these things grow before they put out flowers?
The agave 'Rosa Gorda' grows above the porch.

There are four species of volunteer seedlings in this photo. All hard to see. Santa Barbara daisy at the very top left; glossy abelia 'Edward Goucher', top half; crape myrtle, center lower half; and silver mint Mentha longifolia, very attractive to butterflies, bottom. I'll keep them all since they are growing without irrigation, but need to prune and/or move them. I wonder what color the crape myrtle will be?

Glossy abelia and crape myrtle have reseeded themselves or resprouted from broken roots where the new sewer line was put in. No irrigation here. I'll nurse them along.

What's happening on the blogs?

Garden Autobiography  "My garden started the day that I was born, at least that’s the way I feel about gardening. I have adored flowers since I was a little girl running around the countryside looking at and picking colorful flowers . . . It is in the garden where I dedicate(d) areas to loved people who have left this world."

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
--part of the Canticle of the Sun, the Hymn of Saint Francis

A Memory Garden. I can do that, but not just for people who have died, but also for people I want to honor and remember. Sweet corn for my father, coreopsis for my mother for her bouquets, Rosa moyesii squidlets, for my sister still living thankfully. St Francis for the wisdom and writing by Pope Francis of the encyclical on the environment, On Care for Our Common Home. Read this post, Let the Dialogue Begin, for how it relates to gardening.  You do not have to read the religious and political parts of the encyclical. I didn't.

What's happening on the calendar? 

Blue moon tonight.  An astronomical phenomenon that occurs once in a blue moon is happening early Friday morning — a blue moon.  For the second time in July, skywatchers will be able to look up to a full moon.

Lammas Day
In some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere, August 1 is Lammas Day, the festival of the wheat harvest. On this day it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop, which began to be harvested at Lammastide. Tomorrow (early) I'll make something like this wheatsheaf loaf.

Found on Google via Pinterest to which I do not subscribe

"The tradition of common riding dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries, during the continual land border wars both with England and against other clans. It was a Border Country custom to plunder and thieve cattle, known as reiving (a historical name for robbing), and commonplace amongst the major Borders families. In these lawless and battle-strewn times, it became the practice of the day for the local lord to appoint a leading townsperson, who would then ride the clan's boundaries, or "marches", to protect their common lands and prevent encroachment by neighbouring landlords and their peoples."

Tootlepetal's photo

Langholm's Common Riding is the last Friday of July. One of the best garden bloggers writes about it here:
Langholm’s Great Day (but not so great weather).

What's happening with the water restrictions?

Monterey Park was originally assigned to the ninth tier 36%,  but appealed on the basis of sending in the wrong information. The reduction has been changed to 20%.

The Monterey Park City Council declared a Stage 2 drought emergency. These additional restrictions begin August 1:
  • Bans watering public street medians and all watering between 9 am and 5 pm.
  • Limits all watering to two days per week: Mondays and Thursdays only. 
The city has no restrictions on the amount we use only on when we use it. My new rule is if a plant can't last between waterings it goes bye-bye.


Lady Gardener

Roses are keepers. The David Austins are doing really well, much to my surprise.

How differently each water company is handling the situation!

Froggy-surfer-dude,  a new garden friend. Surfboards in different lengths, body boards, skim boards, one Sabot, what a clutter in the garage for two boys. Some people like the hot summer weather. Sweet memories.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Vancouver Vignette

Not the Vancouver you were thinking of? Actually it's the name of the dahlia. It's a good year for dahlias here.

The small egg-cup-like vase is from a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, where my son visited recently. Thanks, Tom.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Double or Nothing

So far today (4:12 pm) we have doubled our average annual rainfall for the month of July, the driest month of the year, from 0.01 inch to 0.02 inch.

Attributes of rain almost forgotten

Rain shadow



Gray sky


Agave vilmoriniana collecting raindrops

Schefflera shedding raindrops

Crocs are making a comeback thanks to little Prince George. They are my favorite garden shoe. Wettable.

It hasn't stopped yet.

The all-time wettest July was recorded in 1886 when the city received .24 inches of rain. Note that Rolling Hills has already broken the record for the wettest July since records began. Some people we know who collect rain water should do well.
Silly, I know, but I'm lovin' it and the thunder and lightning as well. Thank you TS Dolores for such wonderful entertainment!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Puzzlement

Top picture is the growing tip. The rest are the enlarging seedpod or fruit if you will. They show the progress from when the petals fall off.

Try to guess as you go through the photos. The flower and the answer to what this is is revealed at the bottom of the page.

The older leaves are badly infested with red spider mite which seems to prefer this family this year.

I bought it because it was supposed to smell at night. It doesn't. Still it's been an interesting plant; it doesn't wilt in the heat.

Datura metel 'Ballerina purple'

I can't believe I didn't take a picture of it blooming. Last week there were five open at one time. This one is taken from the Internet.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Grewia occidentalis, 2015 Year of the Shrub #5

Here in the nurseries it is know as lavender star flower, a perfectly descriptive name. Other common names include Cross-berry, Four-corner (E), Kruisbessie (A), Mokukutu (Setsw.), Mogwane (N.Sotho), iLalanyathi (Zulu), umSipane (Siswati), umNqabaza (Xhosa), Mulembu (Venda), Nsihana (Tsonga). As you might guess, these names come from South Africa, its home.


Two 45 degree angled branches frame the fennel
This is one very tough plant. It comes back after hard pruning every year. Can't get rid of it. So I decided to pamper it since it wants to grow so badly. The color is right, the placement is right. It grows nicely as a back drop to society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea. It just seemed too big and too rangy, it branches at very odd angles. Both problems can be fixed with good pruning.

A small, scrambling, deciduous (nah, not here, evergreen) tree reaching a height of about 3m, (nah, not here, only 2 to 3 feet).

Its purple (nah, light lavender), star-shaped (five petals, five sepals, differently colored), flowers appear in summer (yeah, July).

Cross berries from Wikimedia Commons
The flowers are followed by distinctive four-lobed berries from where it gets its common names "crossberry" and "four-corner". These shiny reddish-brown fruits turn brown to light purple when ripe and remain on the tree for long periods. They are favored by fruit-eating birds. In certain areas where the sugar content of the fruits is high, they are collected and dried for later use. The dried fruits are sometimes boiled in milk - a bush milkshake! Beer is also brewed from the ripe fruit in certain areas.

The leaves are alternate and simple with three distinct veins from the base. They are shiny, deep green and may be slightly hairy on both surfaces. They are usually held in a horizontal plane towards the light. 

Got the gut of a monkey? Growing Grewia occidentalis
Grewia occidentalis makes a decorative garden plant that tolerates both light frost and drought. It also grows in both full sun or shade. It has average water needs; water regularly, but do not overwater. (I don't water it at all.) The root system is not aggressive and can therefore be planted near buildings and paving. It is very good at attracting bees, butterflies and birds to the garden.

Interesting, but impractical. This species is best propagated from seed. Studies have shown that seed which has passed through the gut of monkeys and baboons germinates better than those collected from a tree. This is due to the fact that the seeds chemical inhibitors have been broken down by the animal's stomach acids. (I bought it in a 1-gallon pot, not having a pet monkey or baboon to feed.)

All information (except personal experience in parentheses or separate paragraphs in the beginning) is taken from PlantZAfrica website

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

'Allo? Aloe!

Aloe 'Buena Creek', two forms, and an unknown Aloe 'Blue something' in the frog

This morning's stroll is all about aloes, common aloes that are holding their own.

Why do some aloes like A. arborescens bloom around Christmas time and why are some blooming now in June?

I couldn't find an answer on the Internet. Most references are for how to make Aloe vera bloom indoors.

Blooming now (June bloomers)


Aloe 'Buena Creek'
I like 'Buena Creek'. I'm using it as a sort of ground cover, it is healthy; but what I like most is there is always some rosy color on the leaves. What you see pictured are siblings, one type planted a year later than the other.  One has red teeth and upright green leaves. The other older type is broader with light teeth and more reddish leaves. It is blooming today for the first time.

Aloe nobilis, gold tooth aloe
Dependable and showy when the sun hits the teeth; grows very tall inflorescences; it has recovered very well from a mite infestation of a few years ago

Aloe brevifolia, short-leaved aloe
Another first time bloomer this June, this is the last flower for this season

Winter (in the northern hemisphere) bloomers

Aloe arborescens
Above as it looks today, midsummer, and below in midwinter

Aloe 'Blue Elf'
I think it is, many nice flower stalks in January

I-can't-remember or don't-know-when  bloomers

Aloe 'Blue something'
Same as in the frog

Aloe vera
Just recently repotted, no flowers this year; they are yellow when they bloom; showing one stripey leaf like the plant below

Pretty stripey aloe, a favorite
Maybe 'Snowflake' or something close to it?  Came back from nubbins and is now doing well with more TLC; not a blurry picture, it really does look vertiginous