Winter Garden

Our weather here on the central coast has been quite cool and rainy since the fall. This past week we warmed up considerably but not before a stretch of night-time temps dipping dangerously low. Luckily in my year old garden I have not amassed much of a tender plant collection (yet).

My self-sown seedlings from last years annuals are doing remarkably well.  In fact I have had blooms already!

Mentzelia lindleyi was grown from seed last year and planted out rather late.  They didn’t bloom until June. Left to their own devices their seedlings have grown to flowering size remarkably quickly.

California native annuals are pretty cool, huh?

Another neat California native is Coreopsis gigantea, native to the southern California coast  down into Baja and on the Channel Islands.  I’ve posted pics of them before, from my trips to see them in bloom along the coast north of Malibu, but now I have one of my own.

 

Can you believe this three-foot tall monster was a little plant in a 4″ pot last March.

I was pretty excited to see that it is starting to form its first buds.  The bright yellow flowers should start opening by March.

Maireana sedifolia is doing  well next to the Coreopsis. It is very important that both of these plants have excellent drainage. They are planted on a raised mound of soil which helps but it makes me a bit nervous that an Artemisia frigida planted right below them completely rotted out.

Salvia africana-lutea has been bulking up and I’m finally getting to see some blooms.  Whatever nasty little caterpillar was eating the flowers last summer doesn’t seem to be active in winter.

One plant that was very unhappy with our 30 degree weather is Trichodesma scottii.  It is a borage relative from the island of Socotra. All of its buds and the ends of its leaves turned to mush. I hope it will bounce back and bloom this summer. At least now I know it isn’t cold hardy and can throw a sheet over it on freezing nights. Other plants that suffered some damage were Lotus berthelotii, Iochroma cyanea, and Pycnostachys urticifolia but they should all bounce back.

I was just looking at pictures of this garden from last spring when all the plants were brand new and it is exciting to see how much everything has filled in.

I am still not sure exactly what is going to happen with the sewers. I know the original plan was for the pipes to go right down the center of the left hand bed in the photo above.  My landlady made an appointment with someone from the town and spoke to them about it and apparently she can fill out an amendment requesting that they go through the street instead.  Unfortunately I had an appointment on the day the guy came out so I couldn’t be there and I only got to speak to her about it briefly.  So for now I am cautiously optimistic and I have decided to do a bit of work on the garden.

The garden looked OK last summer but I was not completely happy with it.  I kept adding to it bit by bit as interesting plants became available and the overall plan was a bit off.  So I dug up all the Santolinas, Scabiosa, and some of the Festuca and rearranged them. I moved my Eryngiums to the other side of the bed and replaced them with some Phlomis leucophracta that I grew from seed. I’ll be adding some inexpensive plants to empty spaces and across the front of the garden I’ve moved around some of the seedlings that are coming up.

I’m just going to move forward hoping that this garden won’t be harmed and if worse comes to worse and I have to dig everything out again at least I got some exercise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 1st Mesembs

I had this plan to take photos of my Mesemb seedlings the first of every month so I would have a record of their growth. I was doing well with my project but fell short these past few months.  I’ll try to start it up again (but no promises!).

Cheiridopsis glomerata sown 3/11/2012 and badly in need of being pricked out and given their own pots.  The problem is I have nowhere to put all those little pots! I am going to remedy that soon though.

Gibbaeum comptonii sown exactly a year ago today!

Muiria hortenseae also sown a year ago today. To tell the truth I am a little nervous to pot these guys up. They are supposed to be tricky and they are doing so well. I’m afraid if I mess with them they will all drop dead.

Oophytum oviforme are also said to be tricky.  They are very tiny and slow-growing too so that makes me even more nervous to pot them up.

Lithops optica var. rubra 

Honestly it is a miracle I have kept any Lithops alive a year and a half.  I have killed more Lithops than any other mesemb.

Mitrophyllum grande (left) and Monilaria pisiformis

These are also a year old today and have been potted up and growing outside since spring.  They went dormant over the summer and I am shocked that they Monilaria survived.  They were all just a few millimeters tall when they went dormant and nothing was left but a few wisps of papery dried up husks. But they sprang to life with the fall rains and the one pictured and a few others are already about an inch high. This one even branched already.

The story for Dactylopsis digitata is not as happy.   Another tricky one to grow they are not thriving since coming out of dormancy. Their old dead leaves are still clinging to them and they have put on little growth. This is supposedly pretty common. I expect they will just wither away.

Mitrophyllum dissitum however are doing really well. Sown 1/16/11 so almost two years old. This past summer was their first dormancy and I was surprised how huge they had become once the rains started in fall and they started growing again. For a while I was nervous about them because like the Dactylopsis their old dried skins were also clinging to them.  But the wet and humidity of a few rainy days in November seemed to do the trick and the old skins washed away.

I think I need to start up some new mesembs and other succulents from seed.  They are far more forgiving than regular herbaceous and woody plants so I can go out of town and not worry about them too much.  People are always raving about Mesa Garden so maybe I will place an order with them when their 2013 seed list comes out.