Cool Plant of the Week!

Helianthemum X nummularium ‘Henfield Brilliant’

Gabe and I hung out at Vince and Janet Marino’s garden on Sunday to help them out with a garden tour (very successful I might add!  They must have had at least five hundred visitors).  When we first arrived I noticed several specimens of this particular cultivar of Helianthemum (aka sun rose or rock rose).  The plant pictured above is a SINGLE plant.  They are generally listed as a large cultivar growing to a maximum of about three feet across but this one must be at least five feet wide.

Helianthemums want excellent drainage and full sun but are otherwise pretty tough plants. Here on the coast it appears that some of them can grow quite large.  I may have to rethink the placement of the one in my garden.



England Trip: Eden Project

First view of the Eden Project domes as you enter.Interior of the mediterranean climate dome.Protea sp.Cute educational signageCalifornia wildflower meadowSculptures depicting Bacchus
Closeup of one of the partying Bacchus revelers.Close up of Calocephalus browniiGiant Alliums (A. gigantea or a culitvar) with the tropical domes as a backdrop.Dome ceilingEnglish robinAmorphophallus titanum
Tropical DomeView of the tropical dome from above.Lavender display.I think a Lavandula angustifolia cultivar.I've amassed quite a collection of lavenders in my new garden.  I think I have most of the species represented here.WEEE man sculpture (kind of like a big scary dinosaur).
Bog garden with domes in the background.Rosa moyesiiBog plantsA red themed borderOne of the large mixed borders.Me with my siblings.  I tricked them into smiling.

England Trip: Eden Project, a set on Flickr.

I have sort of mixed feelings about our visit to Eden Project last year. My initial memories before preparing the pictures for this post that it was rather theme park like and perhaps we would have enjoyed visiting a historic or more intimate garden. At this point I was also full blown sick, with a fever and headaches, which was worsened by the stress of having to drive all around England.

Once I looked through the photos my feelings toward Eden softened a bit. Yes it is a bit of a big theme park and if you really hate that sort of thing you might not enjoy it. But it also was a nice break seeing a garden that was only ten years old after looking at so many gardens that were over a hundred years old.

Eden Project is in a converted quarry and the main attraction is two massive biomes. One featuring tropicals and the other with plants from the mediterranean climates of the world (you can guess which one I preferred). It definitely has an educational, environmental, botanical garden bent but there are large borders outside of the domes that are actually really nicely designed and while we were there the beds around the domes were full of hundreds of huge Alliums.

If you would like to go for a tour of the insides of the domes you can type “Eden Project” into Google Maps and then use street view to navigate the interior paths. Of course then you might not feel the need to visit the real Eden Project. But if you are ever in Cornwall and have some free time I would say it is worth checking out.

Beautiful Things

My first two Helipterum roseum ‘Pierrot’ flowers opened today.  It is a pretty great feeling when something that you grew from seed blooms for the first time.

In other news a pair of quail have taken residence nearby.  I’m pretty sure they are nesting somewhere in the shrubs across the street.  The male often hangs out on my fence.

Look how pretty he is!  I think I’ll invest in a ground feeder for my backyard now that I know they are hanging out here.  There is another little covey of four that hang out in the side yard by the street but they don’t really venture into my front yard like this new pair does.

Of course this also means I will have to put some bird netting over my strawberries sooner rather than later.  Quails can be quite destructive in vegetable gardens.  They are nibbling some of my new perennials in the mediterranean garden but most of them are big enough that they should be able to handle it.

Cool Plant(s) of the Week!

This week you get two for one. Two somewhat similar Digitalis species.

Digitalis lanata

And a closer view of Digitalis lanata.

And Digitalis laevigata. Not 100% sure on the ID of this one. It could also be Digitalis trojana.

It gets a bit tricky with the gold and brownish Digitalis. Before the internet (and in the early days of the internet) it was even worse. In many reference books the Digitalis species are hopelessly muddled.  I remembering identifying them being a real pain when I worked in plant records.  But I feel like things are getting better now.  At the very least you don’t tend to get the same exact picture over and over now when you search for images of Digitalis species.

Looking at close-ups of the non pink Digitalis species and it becomes easier to see why Isoplexis was recently moved into the Digitalis clan.  They really are quite similar and some interesting crosses between them are starting to become available.

Isoplexis sp.

In fact I am currently growing some Digitalis obscura seedlings that will have strappy Isoplexis like foliage when they are taller than their current 3 millimeter height.  It occurs to me that aside from those seedlings I don’t have any Digitalis or (the genus formerly known as) Isoplexis in my garden. I need to remedy that.

England Trip: Lanhydrock

LanhydrockLanhydrock HouseOld horse drawn carriage.Gate within a gate.I think this was wallpaper in the house.Pretty impressive stove
Bread OvenBilliard RoomGrass and Seed DisplayA bit over the top, yes?View of the formal garden from the upper story of the house.Eye level view of the parterre.
ParterreThey had their own church.And their own cemetery.Perennial GardenThe purple poppies are kind of cool but I love them all.Red-orange poppies.
Amazing specimen of Astilboides tabularis.Thalictrum 'Black Stockings'The perennial garden was circular  with paths around the outside and a cross through the center.IMG_1991.jpgIMG_2010.jpgIMG_2000.jpg

England Trip: Lanhydrock, a set on Flickr.

I’m glad I decided to blog about last years trip to England. I haven’t really gone through all my thousands of photos much and I had forgotten about Lanhydrock.

Not that it was particularly forgettable I just saw a lot of gardens in that 10 day trip. This was another Cornish garden but further inland so not as many tender plants.

If you ask me if I am a fan of topiary I will generally say no but really well done topiary like the yews on the entrance lawn at Lanhydrock definitely make an impression.

This is also one of the few houses where I went inside and didn’t just check out the gardens.

Once again to see all the images please click the blue link under the thumbnails to be taken directly to my Flickr page where you can view them as a slideshow or view each individual picture to see my comments.


Garden Bed Expansion Project

As I’ve mentioned before I ran out of soil from my original delivery. For some reason it didn’t occur to me right away that I didn’t really need that much and it wouldn’t be very expensive to just get enough to finish up the beds.  I’m kind of dumb sometimes.

So on Tuesday I had eight cubic yards of planting mix delivered and I’ve been spreading it around ever since.

This is all that is left.  Don’t worry I’ve been finding little spots to fill in with the extra.

The vegetable garden is all prepared.  This morning I planted most of it up.  Two rows of four different types of strawberries, three different tomatoes, borage that I grew from seed and some marigolds and I put down straw mulch.  Next I’ll work on making everything look a little less sloppy (devise a better way to hold up the bird netting over my seedlings so I can get rid of those ugly bricks, that sort of thing).

The mediterranean bed on the left had soil added to it, the little satellite mediterranean bed on the right is expanded, the bed along the fence was topped off, and a bed was created on the other side of the fence.  The outside of the fence will be mostly lavenders and Artemisia.

I could have left things as they were but frankly they looked silly and unfinished.  It was sort of driving me crazy.  Plus now I have room for more plants!

I also decided to fill in the weird little path between the annual garden and the mediterranean garden.  It was just odd-looking and I really didn’t need the access.  I’ll probably fill it in with more annuals.

I added more soil to all the existing beds to make them more uniform and to straighten the path out a bit.  I’m probably going to just use decomposed granite to finish the path.  Try to  ignore my landlady’s fifth wheel trailer in the driveway.  I really only notice it now when I take photos.  She wants to sell it but hasn’t had the time to really make a serious effort.  It will be nice when its gone.

So much planting ahead of me and some finishing touches as soon as I have the time/money to do so and then I can sit back and enjoy the flowers!  Now that I have added yet another type of soil the need for mulch is even greater because the beds look like some sort of weird multi-colored layer cake.  Soon.

Cayucos Courtyard Update

Back in November I posted about my first installation with Gardens by Gabriel.  This beach house courtyard garden in Cayucos. The design featured mostly plants from Annie’s Annuals.

This morning Gabe and I stopped by to check things out.  It is looking pretty good.

The first bed has a purple, pink, and blue theme going on.

The second bed adds some chartreuse to the mix with Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’.

And the third bed is orange at the moment.  Very, very orange.

Eschscholzia ‘Apricot Chiffon’ is doing really well.

As I’ve mentioned before California poppies are seed grown so there is always going to be some variation.  The one below is kind of neat even if it is more yellow than orange.

We moved the Musschia wollastonii to a new location in January but it looks like it didn’t miss a beat.

I’m not even sure these pictures can convey how blue Anagallis monellii is.  It is very, very, intense, deep purply-blue.

I like this violent combination of Anagallis and Ursinia anthemoides ‘Solar Fire’

Nicotiana mutabilis is just getting started. I wanted something that would be tall but not overwhelming for the space.  It is sort of a see-through plant so I thought it would work well.

Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ and Geranium ‘Bill Wallis’ have been blooming since November.

I’m very impressed with how big these November planted Trachelium ‘Hamer Pandora’ are.  Mine were only planted in February and are quite boinky and little in comparison. Nice combination with Euphorbia ‘Blue Haze’.

Altogether I am very happy with the way the garden turned out.