Dusk

Dusk is my favorite time to walk around the garden. I love the way the colors of flowers pop  as the sun starts to set. We have been having some beautiful sunsets the past week and the garden gets bathed in a bright hazy light.

Didiscus caeruleus, Scabiosa stellata ‘Stern Kugel’, and Mentzelia lindleyi at dusk.

Nicotiana mutabilis and Moluccella laevis at dusk.

 

 

Garden Critters!

One of the best things about creating a garden is all the critters you attract.

I’ve already talked quite a bit about the California quail and their babies visiting the garden.

The other day I found this cool spider hanging out among the bells of Ireland.  Does anyone know what type it is?

This morning I was watering and noticed something big scurrying away out of the corner of my eye.  It appears I had soaked a poor praying mantis.  It climbed up on some Convolvulus to dry off and catch something tasty.

For a while I was lamenting the fact that no hummingbirds were visiting my garden. I’m happy to say they finally found me.  This little guy is often perched on the Cantua buxifolia where he can quickly defend the nearby Nicotiana mutabilis from bees and rival hummingbirds.  Kind of funny that I went out of my way to plant lots of orange and red flowering plants to attract the hummingbirds and their favorite is the pink and white Nicotiana.

So what are your favorite garden critters?  Anything exciting visiting your garden this summer?

 

 

 

 

July Blooms

Even though I have been really busy I try to take the time to snap a few photos in the garden.  Here are a few of the things that are blooming now.

Epilobium ‘Marin Pink’

I think this Epilobium is sort of insipid. I would have been happier with the standard bright red blooms rather than this pale salmon cultivar. But one of my neighbors loves it.  Maybe in the fall I’ll dig it up and give it to her.

Nothing insipid about Mentzelia lindleyi.  This is another California native annual I grew from seed.  They are doing well despite the fact that I left them in little two inch pots way longer than I should have.

Scabiosa stellata ‘Stern Kugel’

This plant is grown more for the ornamental seed heads than the flowers.  The blooms are typical pale blue Scabiosa flowers but they very quickly go to seed.  This was very easy to grow but I am not sure I will grow it again.

They are more a novelty plant and aren’t that ornamental in large quantities in the garden.  Maybe a few tucked in here and there would work but I planted about a dozen of them and from a distance it just looks like I have a bunch of dead plants in my garden! And lots of grass coming up.  Please ignore the grass.

Didiscus caeruleus (aka Trachymene caerulea) on the other hand is very ornamental.  It is an Australian annual and is very drought tolerant, and while it was super easy to grow from seed, it did take them about six months to bloom. They are amazing as a cut flower lasting about two weeks in a vase. Does anyone cut flowers from their garden? I almost never do.  Sometimes if something snaps off in the wind I will bring it inside. I love the idea of a cutting garden but in reality I would rather just enjoy them outdoors.  If I bring them inside I’ll just have a mess of flower petals to clean up inside.

They are also available in pink and white but one of the things that makes them so neat is that blue is not a common color in umbellifers.

The red seed heads are ornamental too.

Moluccella laevis is still going strong.

Gaillardia X grandiflora ‘Mesa Yellow’

I finally finished planting the bed in my fenced backyard. It is mostly Salvias but I have been so happy with the Gaillardia in other parts of my garden I couldn’t resist adding these yellow ones.

Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ was a chance hybrid seedling found by an Australian gardener. Maybe a mix of S. buchanii and S. vanhouttei?

Finally the baby quail in the neighborhood are growing up.  A pair of proud parents brought seven little babies around the other day.  They grow so fast! Already out of the tiny walnut stage and growing in their first feathers.

Hopefully I’ll have more time soon to post some new updates. I’ve been taking some photos so that I can post an update about what worked and what didn’t work in the path garden.  Look for it soon(ish)!

Mulch!

It’s been a while since my last post!  I’ve been so busy I haven’t even had time to read other people’s blogs never mind posting on my own.  But things are slowly getting back to normal.

I did finally apply mulch to the mediterranean garden.

Obviously mulch is something that really should be done shortly after a garden has been planted.  But time and expense has delayed me in putting down drip irrigation on the garden so I have been holding off putting down mulch too and I just water by hand.

I decided that I am not going to bother putting down drip in the mediterranean bed as my eventual goal is to create a garden that needs very little supplemental water (and when I do need to water I can just continue to hand water).  Technically this garden was doing just fine without mulch but the soil was very uneven in appearance.  The mulch helps to make it look more uniform and the plants really pop against the dark color.

Gravel would be a better choice for this garden since mulch breaks down and makes the soil richer which I don’t really want. Nice gravel is quite a bit more expensive but I may switch to it in the future when the garden is more mature and the plants have filled in a bit.

Mulch here on the west coast is generally shredded fir bark.  Compared to cedar mulch back on the east coast this is miserable stuff.  I can’t touch it without getting tons of little splinters and even gloves don’t help.  It does look nice though.

There is a part of me that is really looking forward to fall so I can make some changes to the overall design of this part of the garden but there is no sense wishing your life away.  Fall will get here soon enough and when it does I’ll probably be wishing it was spring!

 

 

Good Stuff!

My last post on the state of the garden was a bit of a downer and in the comments a few folks thought I was being too hard on myself.  Never fear there is a lot of good stuff going on in the garden!  I’ve been really busy the past few weeks but I’ve been saving up cool pictures of some of the exciting things that are working really well.

This plant was labeled Aloe aristata X Haworthia but doesn’t regular Aloe aristata look more or less like this?  At any rate it is a beautiful foliage plant with nice blooms too.

I love Viscaria oculata ‘Blue Pearl’.  This make me think of a blue star fish reclining on a water color painting.

Moluccella laevis (AKA bells of Ireland) is a popular cut flower with florists. It is actually from areas of the Mediterranean middle east and has a reputation as being a bit difficult to grow as it doesn’t like hot humid weather.  Well that is something I don’t have to worry about here.  It is generally 65 degrees every day and the only humidity comes from fog.

Moluccella is in the mint family and the white flowers (surrounded by the showy green bracts) resemble Salvia flowers with large lower lips.

I first posted a picture of Lupinus pilosus in my silver post when it was just starting to open. As you can see it continues to live up to its description of “heartbreakingly beautiful”. Put it on your wish list at Annie’s folks!

Clarkia rubicunda ssp. blasdalei has been super annoying to get a good photo of. So many flowers and all on different planes and levels so getting the correct focus has been a hassle. But this one came out reasonably well. And what a great California native this turned out to be.

You can greatly prolong the bloom time of California poppies if you constantly dead head them but I have close to two dozen plants of several different cultivars and there are only so many hours in the day.  Once most of the plants were more seed pods than blooms I cut them back all the way to the ground.  All except Eschscholzia ‘Mahogany’.  This one is such a beautiful color and in such a prominent spot that I have been keeping up with the deadheading.  The plant is covered in powdery mildew now and the flowers are fewer than before but it has been worth keeping it going. As nice as it is I am not sure I can recommend this cultivar. As I mentioned earlier in the year out of the three plants I bought only one was this color.  The others were just generic California poppy orange and I pulled them out.

Next to the poppy is Gaillardia aristata ‘Gallo Red’.  A nice compact little mound covered in deep red flowers.  Deadheading these is a prickly affair. I recommend gloves as I think I had some sort of allergic reaction afterward.  But well worth the itchy hands.

It is hard to believe that Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ was just a four inch pot when I planted it in late February.  He is a monster now!  Next year when he blooms he can reach 15 feet tall (if the strong Los Osos winds don’t knock him over). In retrospect I planted the larkspurs much too close.  I didn’t realize he would grow so big so fast!

Berkheya purpurea is definitely a weirdo of the plant world. Silvery spiny foliage that looks deceptively soft but is painfully sharp followed by a tall inflorescence with a clump of purple daisy flowers at the end.

The poppies have come to an end but there are still some fruit hanging around. I’m going to save seed and sprinkle them around next winter. The fruit of the genus Papaver is a capsule and most of them are pretty fantastic looking but perhaps Papaver somniferum most of all.

I’m a little bit in love with

The Santolina moment that is happening in my garden right now.

This is Santolina neopolitana ‘Lemon Queen’ and it is just about the coolest thing ever. The slightly brighter yellow you can see in the background is Santolina virens and the silvery blobs are Santolina chamaecyparisis ‘Nana’ which will have even more intense flowers. All the species of Santolina hail from the Mediterranean and are very drought resistant.  In fact summer water will shorten their lives.  So I have let them go about three weeks between watering and they seem fine.  When they are established next year I’ll try to give them no water at all for 4 or 5 months.

I’m so happy with them that I plan on expanding the mediterranean garden this fall and including more of the plants that did work and removing the ones that didn’t and making it look more like a designed garden rather than the current hodge podge of a  plant collection.