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 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!

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.