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; why.not.us.? [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 & FAILS....to 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 pretties...how 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 blooms...in 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....

Jun 21, 2017

A Summer Obsession.

Lately, in addition to Jason, I'm obsessed with our Cup of Gold vine (Solandra Maxima). Its flowers will eventually look like this:

But it was NOT looking like this. It was looking very SICKLY after planting in March, with limp yellowy leaves, and no vigor at all.

I went to Walter Andersen's last month to ask them about it.
I was referred to their "Vine Lady."  I described our vine, and she claimed that I was over-watering.  I asked her if it was a goner—if I should just replace it & start over.

She said, "Honestly, you'll just end up making the same mistake—so replacing it would be a waste of money."

Um, okay Vine Lady Oddly-Hostile Lady.

So I went home & decided to treat the vine as if it had an insect problem, and sprayed its leaves with neem oil.  Then I fertilized it with my favorite:

It smells like hell. But it works swell.

Because just a few weeks later, it looks like this! :
Tons of new growth!  Deep green glossy leaves! No signs of stress!  & Jason built out the trellising behind it--so we're weaving its branches into it!

Someday soon, maybe it'll look like this:

How's that for atmosphere?  I'm in love!

Jun 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, June 2017

This is my first-ever Bloom Day post!  In fact, I'd forgotten it was today and then turned on my laptop & saw Nan Ondra's (typically) amazeballs post--so I just now ran outside to capture a few pics...

The soil here (San Diego, zone 10a/23) is still holding a LOT of water from the crazy amount of winter rain we had.  But it's starting to warm up this week (mid-80s) and I'm hoping our newly planted heat-lovers will take off--so I can show you those next time :).

First up, the California natives in the front yard, planted this past winter...

Here's a Verbena Lilacina 'de la mina'.  The reddish soil is litter from our bottlebrush tree (decidedly not a native--but the birds love it so I couldn't cut it down).

Penstemon 'Margarita BOP'... these have been super-performers in our yard, which is nice b/c I LOVE PURPLE...CAN.YOU.TELL.?

And lastly, from the front...not a CA native, but looks good hanging in front of our purple door ;), Scaevola Aemula:

Now for the back yard, more of a subtropical, sorta Mexican/Latin-American theme, planted in March...


South African Jasmine, coming along w/ lots of buds :)

Rosa Sally Holmes--our first bloom cluster ever! She arrived from Oregon and we planted her under Jason's arbor in March:

A beautiful yarrow (I forgot which variety, sorry). I love the humble yarrow!

Last but never least, Tecoma Stans 'Lydia'... we have 4 of these--& they're probably the happiest plants in our backyard. They take extreme heat & ask for more!

I can't wait to contribute to the next Blogger Day.. Happy June, everyone!

Jun 12, 2017

The Arbor Abloom.

It's been a while since I've written--I went to Bisbee, AZ for a weekend, & had some other stuff going on.  In the meantime, look what happened!

Sally Holmes made her debut appearance!

Before I went to Arizona, she looked like this:

Now, she looks like this (blooms at right):
Hard to believe she looked like this when she arrived from Oregon, back in March:
She's got a ways to go before she smothers the arbor, but she's making good progress. :)

May 10, 2017

Restless natives.

A gardener is excited about her latest plant.  To that end, I've left the front yard alone lately, as it's all planted and I can't do much but weed.  And wait.

My new favorite native plant nursery is Tree of Life in San Juan Capistrano:

When fall comes and we add a few more native plants to the front yard, this is where Jason and I will go.  It's a beautiful, relaxing place.  And good Mexican food nearby :).

Here are some of the natives that are doing well...

Penstemon 'margarita bop':

We have more of these than any other plant. They're super hardy by all accounts, and very lush in this spot by the street (good drainage there?).

Despite the horrific name, I love this plant!  It's the yellow one to the left... the orange one on the right was a mislabeled monkey flower that I planted right beside the fledgling bladderpod as a visual cue NOT TO STEP ON MY BLADDERPOD, NEIGHBOR KIDS.  GET OFF MY LAWN, ETC.  I don't need the visual cue any more, as you can see.  A very wild, mountain-y plant.

Verbena lilacina 'de la mina':
These are finally filling out.  They're supposed to attract butterflies, but I haven't seen much of that yet.

Monkey flower 'burst lemon':
These are winding down, but they've produced a ton of happy blooms for us.

Golden yarrow:
Who'd have thought I'd be so happy about a common yarrow?  But I had 2 others that died from too much rain, and this one took forever to recover & bloom.  

Next on the wish list: a bench!  Where we can sit and watch the show... that's Jason's domain.  Another wish: bird bath!

I am going to try and get us certified as a Wildlife Habitat (yes, you can do that), but it will be a while yet...