Those Darned Cats!

I guess no matter where you live there are stray cats and the angry screeching sound of two angry tomcats fighting or a cat that has run across some other nocturnal beast like a raccoon or a opossum is familiar to us all.

I’ve definitely seen a number of strays in my neighborhood a black and white and black and grey cat are the most common lurking about at the end of our dead-end street, yesterday I caught a black cat stalking a California Towhee in my backyard and chased him off and there is a skittish little grey, long-haired, fluffball I have seen in my side yard a few times.

Last night those cat fighting sounds were all too close.  It sounded like a riot and it sounded like some damage was being done so I turned on the porch light and went outside.  Even with the light it was too dark to see the cats but I did scare them off. And not a moment too soon.  Their brawl was right in the middle of my path garden and they tore through parts of the surrounding beds and knocked over some succulents in containers that are waiting to go in the ground.

This was Calceolaria integrifolia ‘Kentish Hero’ last week…

and this is what it looked like this morning.

The one next to it is in even worse shape.  All that is left is one precarious stem and I’m not sure it will bounce back.

Here are the corpses of the victims.

My sole red California poppy lost a huge chunk as well and a few other nearby plants had some leaves and branches shredded. Alas Calceolaria is a beautiful plant but it is quite brittle and for some reason even though it is in a fairly sheltered spot animals love running through it.  About six weeks ago a neighbors dog raced though the garden (a large dog…foot prints were left as evidence) and snapped another one of them in half.

Still the damage could have been worse.  And luckily I had just picked up some six packs of Linaria ‘Flamenco’ to fill in some empty spots so after cleaning up the area I planted them out today.  Animal damage is always frustrating though.  Particularly when you wait months and months for something to bloom and it gets demolished right when it is at its loveliest.

Wildlife is something we can’t really control but cats belong INDOORS!  If you don’t care about the birds they hunt and kill (baby quails will be born soon!) think of the safety of the cats themselves.  There are after all Coyotes living nearby.

Cool Plant of the Week!

Oh happy day!  My very first mesemb grown from seed to flower is Titanopsis primosii and so of course it had to be my cool plant of the week!

And at least five others have buds.  T. primosii is a South African mesemb with warty little leaves that camouflage it to look like pebbles or sand hidden among the rocks.

Here is a side view to show off the foliage.

Someone had asked with a previous mesemb seedling post if we could get a photo with something else for comparative size so here it is with my hand.  I have dainty little lady hands so the plant is quite small.

These plants were sown last June so they have reached blooming size in just eleven months.  The seed was from Silverhill Seeds from South Africa and the germination was exceptionally high.  I ended up potting up many more than I normally would have because there were so many in good shape I couldn’t bear to cull them.  They are kept in my very sunny seedling nursery under netting to protect them from quail and other birds (a good move as the quail circle this area like sharks and they seem to love the taste of ice plants which are also mesembs). I water them pretty regularly because they are in such small pots in a very sunny and warm spot but I am probably over indulging them and may try to separate out the succulents from some of the herbaceous seedlings.

Anyway as I have said many times before growing plants from seed is one of the most rewarding parts of gardening for me and getting a small succulent to flower from seed is particularly exciting for me as I have not really grown them for that long.  Definitely worth trying out if you have a very sunny window sill or small hobby green house.

Central Coast Cactus & Succulent Society Plant Show and Sale

Pelargonium siddoidesAriocarpus retususHaworthiaEcheveria canteDioscoreaDioscorea
DioscoreaPachypodium brevicauleEcheveria shavianaArgyroderma pearsoniiPseudolithos cubiformisRebutia and other Cacti
Rebutia vulpinaMonstrose AriocarpusAriocarpus retususChamaecereus lobivia hybrid 'Kent Sunrise'The sales area was packedThe sales area was packed

Nick Wilkinson of Grow Nursery sent me a heads up that the Central Coast Cactus & Succulent Society was having their annual plant show and sale at the Ludwick Center in San Luis Obispo, so I stopped by this morning to check it out.

As you’ll see from the photos the society is pretty active and it was a good show. I managed to avoid buying any plants but I am tempted to go back tomorrow morning to check it out again. The show continues until tomorrow at 4 pm if you live in the SLO area and they are auctioning off some large plants at 1 pm.

You may have noticed I have been a bit negligent on blog posts the past week. I have been teaching myself AutoCAD so I’ve been a bit behind with work. I’m slowly getting the hang of it but I wish I had learned it a few years ago when my brain was younger and less forgetful.

Hopefully I’ll have time to post more updates soon.

If you haven’t already liked my Facebook Page you should definitely go ahead and check that out. I posted a video of some of my California quail running around my yard messing up my plants!

Cool Plant of the Week!

This weeks cool plant is another native annual. Gilia tricolor is endemic to California and found in the foothills and valley as well as on the coast.  It is so easy to grow from seed that I think it is well worth giving a try even if you don’t live in California.

With its bright blue anthers and petals of lavender, maroon, and yellow perhaps “Gilia quadricolor” would have been a better name.

It is a great filler or companion, I have some growing with Orlaya and Scabiosa.  Each plant is covered with hundreds of little blooms on ferny foliage that waves and bounces in the breeze.  Kind of like a pale purple Gypsophila or Heliophila. I consider this a must for the spring garden now. My only regret is that I didn’t grow more of them.  Something I plan on remedying next year.

Dust Bath

The California quail have discovered my bird feeders and today a group of about ten of them were happily running around the yard.  They seem to have grown fairly used to me as they no longer flee the scene when I go out and quietly walk around the front yard.

As much as they love the seed from the feeder they really love taking dust baths in my new beds.  Particularly under my new Cotinus ‘Golden Spirit’.

The female looks like she is trying to hide behind the trunk.  They are super adorable while taking their baths.  They often snuggle up together and just sit there for a while once they have dug themselves a little indentation in the soil.

Ignore the sorry unfinished state of this part of the garden and click on the picture and see if you can find all seven of the quail that are scampering about.

Right after I started planting the shrubs the kikuyu grass started growing back so I’ve sprayed it and am going to wait for it to die back a bit before I finish planting.  In the meantime the quail are pretty happy back here.  I just discovered that I have electricity outside so I would eventually like to get some sort of bubbling fountain so I have running water for the birds.

If only quail ate kikuyu grass.

England Trip: Chelsea Flower Show (2011)

IMG_0012.jpgIt was packed!IMG_0021.jpgIMG_0028.jpgIMG_0033.jpgIMG_0037.jpg
IMG_0048.jpgPenhow NurseryMillais NurseriesHampshire Carnivorous PlantsIMG_0068.jpgIMG_0076.jpg
IMG_0077.jpgLavendersIMG_0087.jpgKevock Garden PlantsKevock Garden PlantsKevock Garden Plants
IMG_0094.jpgVerbascum 'Blue Lagoon'W.S. WarmenhovenIMG_0104.jpgIMG_0115.jpgsweet peas

This years Chelsea Flower Show starts next Tuesday so I thought it would be a good time to do a photo post of my visit to the show last year.

I did post about my favorite garden at the show while I was in England but never took the time to share the rest of my photos.

If you are a fanatical gardener like me it is well worth a trip to Chelsea at least once in your life (this was my second trip). It really is the most amazing garden show in the world.

Pictures are OK but they don’t really do it justice. This is something that should be seen in person.

Cambria Nursery

Cambria Nursery and Florist is one of the better all purpose nurseries in our part of the central coast. A destination type nursery with display gardens, a great selection of plants, a florist, gift shop, and events.  A few weeks ago Gabe was offered the opportunity to advertise our services by designing one of their display gardens.

The garden area he chose was a large circular amphitheater where events are held.

It was in dire need of help.  It had lots of empty space and a mix of old overgrown plants. But the hardscaping was nice and it is an interestingly shaped space so it was fun to design.

Since it is sort of a half circle shape I suggested that it be planted in a rainbow pattern.  Gabe’s response was that I had better not design it that way and I had to agree that it was sort of a corny idea.  But then I accidentally, sort of designed it that way anyway.  Not exactly.  It isn’t a perfect prism or anything.  But there is a color theme thing going on.  Blue and Gold to the left leads into orange and red and then fuchsia and purple. Oops.

Gabe and the crew removing the old plants.  The only thing I kept were some shrubs and small trees and a big clump of what I thought was Lysimachia ciliata but now looking that plant up the leaves aren’t right.  Well…it will be a surprise then. This is why as a designer I like just pulling everything out and working with a clean slate.  It is easy to misidentify plants when they are not in bloom.

Everything is in place and Victor is hard at work getting them all in the ground. I’m pretty happy with the blue and gold mediterranean theme going on in the left hand side of this garden. That is Stachys byzantina ‘Primrose Heron’ in front of Victor and the large gold shrubs to the left are Caryopteris X clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold’.

One of the great things about designing in a garden center is if a plant you ordered was not available you can just go pillage from the nursery stocks!

The area around the fountain became a succulent garden.  Normally we wouldn’t plant so close together but we wanted instant results for this garden. The main specimens in this garden are Agave ‘Blue Glow, Yucca ‘Bright Star’, and Agave ‘Shark Skin’ surrounded by a bed of Echeverias and Aloes.

I’ll go back to take more photos once the garden has grown in a bit.  Or if you are visiting the central coast go check out Cambria Nursery and you can do some shopping and see one of my gardens in person!