Aug 11, 2017

Bird Jacuzzi.

I decided that the one thing missing from our front yard was a fountain.  So we bought one, & it sucked.  So we returned it.  Then we put our birdbath out front.  And then I got a "birdbath bubbler," the white thing in the center, below:

Here's a closeup. Birds are supposed to like the rippling water, and it keeps mosquitoes from laying eggs in it (grody).
the birdbath hasn't seen much action yet—not while I've been watching, anyway.  One small bird sat on the edge for a few seconds, & I found a feather floating in the water.  Evidence!

But that's it.  So far...

Aug 2, 2017

August Abundance.

Stuff is growing like gangbusters during these long days.
Sometimes, that's good:
Sally Holmes...her canes are officially taller than my head—I think one is as tall as Jason?  I tied a few of them upright this morning.  I need to cut off the 2 flower "balls" to get her ready for the fall flush of bloom.

Just for reference, this is what she looked like when planted in March:
Crazy, right?

Ok, so sometimes summer growth is alarming—here represented by our Cup of Gold vine:

I'm not sure what to do with the branches that are exceeding the fence; tie them laterally?  Cut them off?  Something tells me there's no stopping this plant.

Also, re exceeding, see sunflowers:

They are way too top-heavy at this point & are leaning over. Side-view:

I need to lop them down, but they attract masses of little finch-like birds that like to sit on them and eat the leaves, so I'm having a hard time taking them out.  I will soon though, b/c they're getting powdery mildew (usual for late-season sunflowers).

Let's close with something less unruly, our backyard Yarrow:

Hardy as hell :).

Jul 26, 2017

Tickle Us Pink

I tried something new this summer: 'Tickle Me Pink' Ipomoea:
I love the color! It reminds me of the Distictus 'Rivers' vines I planted when we first moved in. But I soon ripped them out, b/c we needed to replace the fence and b/c I had other ideas at that point.

Btw, it really disturbs my mother when I plant something and then RIP IT OUT.  It disturbs her.  Me no can explain.

But this is what gardeners do.  We revise.  Here it is again, filling out the fence on Jason's awesome trellising:

There are 2 other ipomoeas on either side of it, also from Annie's.  One is a moonflower (one of my all-time favorites—my friend Joseph just got me more seeds for it!) and the other is called 'Sunrise Serenade.'

'Sunrise Serenade' hasn't bloomed yet, but here is what it might look like:
I'm a little worried about planting ipomoeas, as some say they're PERMANENT, but I'm thinking these varieties are mellower annuals and will shrivel once the weather gets cold.

One last thing: Our pink guava cutting, putting out new growth at the tips.  This will someday be a tree & produce pink fruit.  Go guava, go!

Jul 19, 2017

Future ideas for the back-back.

[This is not our back 40, above...this is a pic I got from Sunset but I like it for the back-back vibe...]

I am too exhausted this year from planting the front yard (CA natives, in winter) and the backyard (subtropicals, in spring) to get too excited about the back-back yard just yet.

Another year maybe? 2 years?

We're planning "drought-tolerant Mediterranean (mostly)" for that space. We've already planted fruit trees (which aren't necessarily drought-tolerant, but hey—we like fruit): 'Wonderful' pomegranate, 'Improved Meyer' lemon, 'Satsuma' mandarin, 'Panamint' nectarine, 'Santa Rosa' plum, and 'Flavor King' pluot. They've had varying degrees of success. Pomegranate = perfection.  Lemon = loser.  But I digress.

Some additional ideas for the back-back...

Strawberry Tree:
We have room for a couple more trees, and this one's a beaut! Look at THAT BARK...

Brazilian Flame Vine:
We saw one in full glory at the San Diego Safari Park, and I've thought about it ever since.

Lion's Tail:
Bright height for the back of a border.

Jerusalem Sage:

Soft, hardy phlomis.

Pride of Madeira:
One of Jason's and my favorites. Gets big and a self-seeder, but super cool. DRAMA.

Tequila Sage:
A find from the Lake Merritt Sensory Garden in Oakland.


I know, I know—setting myself up for heartbreak. But I just want to try.

Euphorbia Characias:
These didn't work out in the subtropical garden, but maybe in the back-back?

Other people can; [see protea heartbreak...]

So as you can see: hotter/dryer plants, with an orange/yellow/red/purple palette.  And then we'll be done with the yard... HAR.

Jul 12, 2017

Meet the Queen...

These are our 'Lemon Queen' sunflowers! They're just starting to bloom--right in the sweet spot before they start to look bedraggled & ruin the border, har.

I've never grown this type before; it was a whim, when I was at the nursery. Jason likes sunflowers so I got a package of 'Lemon Queen' seeds and also 'Vanilla Ice'—which hasn't bloomed yet.

The 'Lemon Queen' seed package says they reach 7' tall.  But I'm thinking 8'-9'? It also says this:

"Lemon Queen is the sunflower variety being grown for a multi-year bee count project to gather information about native bee populations. More than 100,000 citizen-scientists across the US and Canada participate in the research by counting the number of bees that visit their Lemon Queen plants."

Oddly--I haven't seen any bees on them yet.  Most of the bees I see are on our Bladderpods (also known as "California Cleome" or "Burrofat."  Ew.).

Jul 4, 2017

4th of July Fabulous...and not so much.

Happy 4th of July!  You know what I love about America?  Gardening!  Other discourse is beyond our scope here ;).

I usually like to show stuff that's doing well--but I realize it's sometimes more interesting to see my MISTAKES & that end, I'll start with some of those....

First off, what is this??
Our golden currant has a weird, mustard-yellow powder on the underside of its leaves, oy... I've no idea what it is, or if I should pull out the plant.  Research needed.

Next up: PURPLE agapanthus:
I will Never Again buy a blooming plant that is not yet blooming. I made this mistake at 2 different nurseries this spring--thinking I was buying the white variety.  While I LOVE PURPLE (see front yard), it is not part of the backyard color scheme.  Now Jason has to take a shovel and help me dig them out.  In the heat.  Oh, Jason.

Third: Summer sun in Jason's grotto:
I completely misjudged how much sun the front of the fern grotto would receive once the angle of the sun changed, so that the clivia are FRIED and the ferns in front are not much better.  The sword fern (center/slightly up) is powering through, as is our Acacia 'Cousin Itt' (center), and the indestructible philodendrons.  But the clivia, OY.  Rookie.mistake.  I'm not sure how to fix this; maybe moving clivias back and adding more sword ferns and cousin itts?  Thinking.  Until the philodendrons and guava tree get big and make shade, we might have to deal with some crispiness.

To cleanse the palate, let's offer some about some 'Barbara Karst' bougainvillea? :
Jason and I planted this one together when we moved in. It's finally thriving--instead of sulking--& starting to bud out.

California Lilac/Ceanothus 'Skylark':
After sitting and doing nothing for months, it's suddenly busting out with blue summer?!

Salvia Clevelandii, 'Pozo Blue':
This plant has become one of my favorites.  I wish my dad were here to enjoy it, too...being near it is like living in the mountains.

Pomegranate 'Wonderful':
First fruit of the year--should turn red by fall.

Jason's 'Violette de Bordeaux' Fig:
Putting out a lot of figs!  But I'm watching this one closely, as many figs get something called 'Fig Mosaic Disease'...I'm hoping it skips our tree.

Beschorneria 'Flamingo Glow':
This was one of my better decisions (thus far...).  It's from the agave family, but has soft tips (like an attenuata).  It will eventually form a pink flower spike.  I'm a little worried the drip system is giving it too much water, but it's holding steady and is proving to be a nice accent plant--fitting in with our (vaguely) Mexican/Latin American theme.

Canna 'Futurity,' first bloom!
What's to say?  Canna grow like weeds here, but I think it's a perfect plant: a bold tropical accent for very little effort :).

Pink Guava tree:
This tree was a cutting from Diane Kennedy's Finch Frolic Farm in Fallbrook. She is an incredible gardener and her guava tree was amazing; I'm hoping ours looks like hers one day! 

Tasmanian Tree Fern:
While getting a bit too much sun in the grotto, I like this plant so much I'm thinking of getting another one! It's bold and happy in this corner.  Note the even-happier sword fern in the shade behind it, upper right ;).

2 creamy-yellow varieties--but who'd know?  THEY ARE SO TALL NOW WE WON'T BE ABLE TO SEE THE BLOOMS. But they make a nice back-of-border plant in summer, yes?

Summer.  Yes.

Jun 27, 2017

Look who's here (already)...

I planted this guy just ~10 days ago! Ipomoea 'Tickle Me Pink' :

Pleeeezegod don't tell me I'll be sorry for planting an ipomoea (morning glory)...I'm hoping for the best, as it's not the standard blue (read: rampant) variety.  What a happy bloom to wake up to!

Some other pics from this morning...

Sally Holmes:

I can't believe how big she's gotten over the past few weeks, and how round the bloom clusters are.  I'd heard they were kinda like hydrangea blooms--& it's true!

A bird's eye view of our annual bed:

You can just see the new zinnia ('Benary's Giant Lime,' from Annie's) I planted, in the center/right of photo.  Something is eating the hell out of it; I suspect a baby grasshopper--of which we have MANY.  Also, can you tell I like Paludosum daisies?  I DO.  Also--a sprawling white lantana to the left that I didn't need but had to have, & a hot (manly) pink vinca--b/c they thrive in our HEAT.

The end of the annual bed, with 2 succulents mixed in:

This was more or less my only proper placement of succulents this past spring. :(  I made a rookie mistake and baked most of them in too much sun, but fortunately these 2 are getting some nice shade from the Pentas.

Lastly, our Madagascar jasmine:

Will be blooming (please!) in 3...2....