Nov 13, 2017

Fall happenings at Casa Jolly.

I haven't been very inspired to update lately, as I took a bunch of pics after planting the natives and it was really harsh light...honestly, the pics looked like Hell.  

But I'll go a different way.  Here are some spiffier-looking happenings at Casa Jolly:

Front door, filling in:
This is the 'Barbara Karst' boug that Jason and I planted together—the one we thought we'd KILLED. LOLOLOLOL.  It's already a beast and will need plenty of maintenance.  But we couldn't not do it—there's nothing like a classic bougie bower in San Diego! Did you know that bougainvillea is the official flower of La Mesa?  NOW YOU DO.  Also in pic: 'Pozo blue' salvia in back of birdbath (those things in it are rocks, for timid birds to sit on).

Back-yard bougie:
I will probably regret the placement of this boug ('La Jolla') in no time, but for now, it's a medium-sized, vibrant shrub.  The next time you see it, I might be tagging it "What Was I Thinking." ;) But I love bougs! Clearly.

Raised planter box, planted out:
Jason built this for us when we first moved in 2 years ago. I plant seeds in it every spring and fall, and this time (though you can't tell yet!) it has heirloom lettuce ('baby butterhead' & 'speckled troutback'), baby chard, arugula, and parsley. I'm also going to squeeze in a broccoli seedling for Jason—probably this weekend.

A volunteer milkweed :) 
This beauty surprised me while I was ripping out our annual bed. It's tall and in front, so the placement isn't great—but we're keeping it, & seeds will hopefully sprout around below/around. As I was admiring it, a monarch landed on it—no joke! Or maybe it was the soul of my grandma, Betty, who used to live here?? Either way, she stays.

Oct 21, 2017

Summer in October...

I'm putting off planting our natives and seeds (for the vegetable bed, annual bed, and wildflowers). It's just too hot.

So in keeping with the summer-like weather, here are some summer-like vignettes....

This is one of my favorite views in the garden. The spiky-looking plant is beschomeria 'flamingo glow'—I'm hoping it'll send up a bloom spike next year. Tecoma stans in back of it, and various succulents to left.

This is a rather tropical corner—our Madagascar jasmine climbs in back on Jason's trellising. An Australian tree fern in foreground. It's slow-growing, but will eventually provide some graceful height. This corner looks much better since I pulled out the GARGANTUAN canna around it.
Here's our guava tree, going strong! Diane from Finch Frolic Farm came over yesterday to advise me on our fruit trees; this tree was a cutting from her mother tree. She said it's very healthy—which made me happy :).

Jason's grotto...the philodendrons, of course, are big and foolproof. I'm watching the other stuff more closely. I've learned that Sword ferns are the ferns to beat, in our climate. We have a tassel fern in there too, but I'm having to coddle it while it catches up to the Swords. The clivia (yellow) are still meh, but I'm hoping they'll get enough shade this winter to thrive.

This is just lowly white lantana, but I wanted to emphasize that one lantana plant (a one-gallon, I think) can fill out an unsightly area—in this case, pipes and a rock pile. Lantana is simple, but swell.


This vignette has been one of our most successful, placement-wise: agave attenuata, aeonium, and a pink yarrow. There's something about the late afternoon sun & slight protection by the pergola that have created an ideal environment...which is saying something, b/c I've FRIED nearly every other succulent in the yard, GAH.

Bring on fall! PLEEEZE.


Oct 15, 2017

New Natives for 2017.

So we got some new natives last weekend, but it's been way too HOT to plant them. 90 degrees, anyone?  In October, no less! Scary.

To distract us from the scariness of heat waves in October, here some pics the new plants we got. Not our actual 1-gallons, but what they'll (hopefully) look like when mature...

Manzanita 'Sunset':
We have one of these already, and it's doing well—so we got another.

Bush Anemone:
I've wanted one of these for a year, & now we'll have two. This plant is my answer for the small strip of front yard that had to be on a drip system (according to our irrigation guy).  It can apparently take drip—& here's hoping that's true, b/c it's a lush, dramatic plant.

Iris 'Canyon Snow':
We have the classic purple Douglas Iris—but it's 'Canyon Snow' that's often the gateway native plant for gardeners.  They're supposed to be easy, but hey—so is yarrow, & I've killed 5 of those.

Monardella Odoratissima (Mountain Pennyroyal):
This one smells heavenly--also called Mountain Mint.  I'm hoping it does well b/c I love it already.  Will go beside paths, where people can smell it.

Narrow-leaf Milkweed:
This one's for the butterflies.  I'm not a huge fan of light-pink in the garden, but I make exceptions for animal food.

Penstemon baccharfolius Diablo:
This one is Jason's pick! He loves red, and this one is supposed to be a hummingbird magnet. I'm going to plant it by the window where he sits in the morning.

Salvia Apiana:
This is the sacred sage plant that Native Americans make incense bundles out of.  I held out and didn't get one for a while, b/c I was trying to find "compacta"—the smaller version. But I haven't found it for a year, so we bit the bullet.  This plant will get Big...and will smell strongly.  I'm going to plant it alongside the street, since many know what Native American sage is but may not have seen the plant it comes from.

Here's hoping it cools off by next weekend, so we can get these guys in the ground!


Oct 6, 2017

Native garden, pre-planting...

Tomorrow, Jason and I are going to Tree of Life in San Juan Capistrano to get some more plants for our front yard. Actually, we're going b/c we're in loves, but new plants are always a bonus!

Here are some of the natives I'm not replacing, b/c they're doing well....

Douglas Iris:
These didn't really bloom this year, but look at the foliage! (read: easily.pleased.)

Penstemon 'Margarita BOP':
Still blooming! I love this plant.

Ceanothus 'Concha':
I never thought this plant would make it.  I bought an extra one, & it was sitting around with no place to put it (it's one of the bigger lilacs). Then the plant I originally put in this corner died (a bush poppy, I think), so I put the 'Concha' in. It's taken off and I'm hoping it gets to full size, which would be about 5' x 5' or bigger.

Dwarf Coyote Brush:
This is potentially the most "mundane" plant in the garden.  But boy does it do well!  It's supposed to house all kinds of beneficial insects, and is pretty much bullet proof. What's not to love?

'Burst Lemon' Monkey Flower:
I love this plant so much that I bought 4 more...they're on deck and waiting for planting day.

Chamise 'Nicolas':
Another plant that might fall into the "mundane" category for some.  You can see full-size chamise by the sides of roads, all over SD county. But 'Nicolas' is compact/low-growing, and I love its tiny, spiky growth...they have a gorgeous one at Tree of Life and I had to get my own...it will eventually spread to about 4'.

Even though I have a shopping list, I'm excited that Jason will be with me to help choose.  I'll post a photo of the front after we plant our new natives!

Oct 1, 2017

Taking stock.

In Southern CA, this is the time of year to edit and plant. Jason and I are buying more natives next weekend. In the meantime, I'm trying to take an honest look at the back yard, to see what's working and what's not.  

Meh: annual ipomoea vines.
The grasshoppers went to town on these and the beautiful leaves are full of holes.  Unsightly.  I pulled out 'tickle me pink' and the moonvine today; I'm leaving 'sunrise serenade' a little longer as it's still very colorful, if messy.

Gah: too much yellow.

You'd think that yellow was my favorite color, for all the YELLOW around here.  I think I underestimated the visual power of 4 tecoma stans, together with the gold lantana.  Yellow was the color of my childhood home, and I still love it—it's such a happy color.  And I don't want to pull out the tecomas, but I do need to balance them out. More white, maybe?  Definitely more green/foliage plants would help.

Good: the grotto.
You can have a plan for your garden, but in general, nature takes over and you get what you get. It's good to embrace what your rocky, claylike soil enjoys (philodendrons), and give up the dream of other things (charachias wulfii). Jason's grotto is coming along swimmingly, now that the East Indian ferns have been replaced with sword ferns. The Tasmanian tree fern at middle left is coming along & eventually will provide some nice height in this corner.

Despite some minor issues, I'm happy with how things are progressing. The garden will look so different in 10 years: Sally will have covered the arbor; agave attenuata will have matured to a 4' clump; our pygmy date palms will be full-sized.

We'll be enveloped in a subtropical "green room," of sorts.  That's the plan, anyway. ;)




Sep 17, 2017

Saying goodbye to summer....

This is my last post before weather officially turns to fall.  I spent the afternoon pulling out all the canna...it almost broke me. Rather than showing an absence of canna, here are some late summer highlights...

Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lily), surrounded by Cup of Gold vine:


It's a cheap florist filler, but in the garden...awesome!  I've been so happy with this Alstro that I'm going to try to get 2 more this fall. It's a fun plant--you just pop out a stalk when it's spent, and it sends out more!  Cup of Gold vine has turned out to be a beast, but in the best of ways.

Guava tree:
4 feet tall now with a lot of new growth at tips. Here's hoping winter doesn't harm it!  I think I have a somewhat sheltered microclimate there--but I guess we'll find out.  Planted 2 more Santa Barbara Daisies on the right, to surround the tree with a sort of fluffy, subtle texture.

Sunburst aeonium, being overtaken by gold lantana:

My poor sunburst. The one sunburst I didn't accidentally fry is no match for gold lantana! I might eventually take the lantana out, but it's just soooo easy: It grows like a weed around here, blooms almost constantly, & butterflies love it.

The annual bed:

It's still so lush (er, crowded, some may say) that I can't bear to pull it out & start over for winter.  In this shot: vinca, star jasmine, zinnia, tecoma, chiapas sage, and portulaca! I think I'll keep it a month more?

These last weeks have been the first time I finally saw everything coming together, like I'd envisioned. Granted, my vision is a lot busier than most, but I formulated it while at Casa Azul in Mexico City:


I was walking in Frida Kahlo's courtyard, with all the bright bougainvillea, and realized that's what I wanted--a sort of riotous, emotional, subtropical statement.  Thankfully, Jason's along for the ride.

Ain't love grand?  It is abundant.

Sep 9, 2017

Long tall Sally.

I realize that I've shown pics of Sally before. But she just keeps growing!
I went to the Huntington gardens yesterday, & one thing I like to do is go to the rose garden. Their 2 Sally Holmes growing on opposite sides of an entryway was the inspiration for our arbor.

Our arbor is a little smaller, so we just have one Sally. Here are a couple pics from this afternoon:

I love how the flowers form in clusters.  Sally forth!

Sep 1, 2017

Sunrise Serenade.

The 'Sunrise Serenade' ipomoea finally made an appearance, just in time for the tail end of summer:

It has a ruffled petal, rather than the more traditional round shape of most morning glories.  Speaking of which, 'Tickle Me Pink' has been so profuse that I thought it had taken over...I thought I might never see a 'Sunrise'... ?

But now they're blooming alongside each other, and I'm happy about the effect:

I'm less happy about the grasshoppers (?) eating the leaves, but hey— we're trying to be organic over here.  Maybe a round of neem oil would help?

Aug 24, 2017

Canna these stop growing now?


So my canna finally came up.  Boy did they come up.  Since when do the words "up to 5 feet" (on a bulb packet) actually mean "up to 9 feet"?

They are completely dwarfing my carefully planted corner:

Granted, I overplanted this space in general (rookie mistake).  But I didn't know I was overplanting with 9 FOOT CANNA...

Here is a closeup of the corner in better light:
The vine on the trellis is our Madagascar jasmine, now bloomed out for the season.  The plant in the foreground is an Australian tree fern, which will eventually (hopefully...) arch gracefully over this corner.  But look at the 2 canna bulbs I stuck in there!?

File this corner under "What Was I Thinking."

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!