Fall Blooms

Fall was always my least favorite season when I lived back in the north-east. I dreaded the short days and the bitter cold and the thought that winter snow storms were just around the corner.  Luckily the change of seasons isn’t quite so bad here in California.

Late summer and fall are perhaps not the best times for a mediterranean climate garden but I have put in a few new gardens with plants that have a longer bloom season and I’ve paid more attention to watering this year so the garden is looking pretty spectacular at the moment.

Verbascum ‘Southern Charm’ started out pretty wimpy in my garden. But then I realized I wasn’t watering it enough. Even some drought tolerant plants need a little extra care when they are first getting established. A more consistent watering schedule had this plant covered in bloom spikes for months.

Calliandra californica is a native of southern California and Baja. Mine was trod upon during the sewer construction and looked pretty bleak. I potted it up and nursed it in my plant ghetto and it is slowly bouncing back. It rewarded me this fall with a single bloom that looks like an explosion of red fireworks.

Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’ is a short-lived perennial and Tithonia rotundifolia (Mexican sunflower) is a true annual. I could prolong the blooms on both if I carefully deadhead spent flowers but the birds love the seeds. Flocks of false gold finches and pine siskins are always fluttering between the bird feeders and the plants and the first of the winter visiting white crowned sparrows have started to arrive. The Tithonia has also been the number one favorite of monarch butterflies.

All the extra water to establish the new gardens gave me a second crop of annuals. These Layia platyglossa look just as nice as the ones last spring.

A few Convolvulus tricolor have popped up too.

I think this bee likes my Mentzelia lindleyi as much as I do.

I have read a few accounts that Mentzelia is  tricky to grow. In that case I am thankful that it seems happy in my sandy soil. The house across the street was refreshed with a new bed of gravel in place of the lawn (I am not sure it is much of an improvement).

A perfect Layia platyglossa bloom.

And a few fasciated ones as well.

My driveway Nicotiana mutabilis.

Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’ and Salvia ‘Rhea’.

Seedlings of my Geranium maderense are abundant. Perhaps a bit too abundant.

Even my Yucca gigantea is blooming this year.

Glaucium grandiflorum is looking a worn out after six months of blooms.

It still had a few flowers left…

But I decided to cut it back and give it a rest.

Self sown Nicotiana mutabilis and Moluccella laevis join new plantings of Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and Salvia‘ Victoria Blue’.

The old flowers of my Eriogonum parvifolium turn from white to rusty-brown.

Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ got huge when I wasn’t looking. It has white and red and white bicolor blooms. Over its shoulder you can also make out the bright red blooms of Salvia darcyi.

My deranged looking Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ continues to bloom into fall.

Up close the little flowers are beautiful but you can also see that this plant is covered in sharp hairs. They are almost as bad as cactus spines and they are the reason I will not be collecting any seeds from this plant even though it is covered in them at the moment.

Gaillardia ‘Mesa Yellow’ would benefit from deadheading the old spherical spent blooms but at some point I just get overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. When the plant starts to get tired I can just cut the whole thing back to a few inches and it should come back nicely.

Gaillardia ‘Gallo Peach’ being visited by a bee. Gaillardia is a great plant for California gardens but you have to be careful with water. Too much and they are prone to fungal infections or may rot but too little and the plants will whither away.

So now I’ve brought us up to date with three seasons of blooms. Hopefully now I will make more of an attempt to keep up with the blog.

Kitchen Window View

I always design the garden so that it will look really nice from my kitchen window so doing dishes isn’t quite so tedious. The new gardens filled in really nicely.

I especially love the juxtaposition of my abundant yard and the bleak yard across the street.

I am particularly happy with the contrast of the purple Verbena bonariensis and Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ against the bright orange Tithonia rotundifolia. As an added bonus monarch butterflies love to sip nectar from all of these plants (especially the Tithonia) and gold finches love to eat their seeds.

Zooming in the path garden is looking really full and lush now. I love the repetition of the bright yellow Gaillardia ‘Mesa Yellow’ and the native wildflower Mentzelia lindleyi.

From the street you can see how the overhead watering used to establish these new beds has caused a second explosion of wild flower blooms. The Mentzelia on the right and Layia platyglossa on the left. I did a much better job thinning them this time around but they are still threatening to engulf my new shrubs and succulents so every few days I yank out a few more so they don’t smother anything.

Mentzelia lindleyi really is a must have plant for the garden. When I move I will be taking seed with me.

And what were those plants on the kitchen windowsill?


Haworthia truncata started from seed on January 1, 2012 shortly after I first moved into this house.






Summer Blooms

So with this post I’ll once again try to play catch up so you all can see what was going on in my garden this summer.

Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’ is usually a late bloomer but I didn’t cut it back last winter so it started blooming in Spring and is still blooming now.

But it was most impressive in June.

Monardella villosa is a sweet little native plant in the mint family. It did pretty well in my sandy soil with very little water.

Pseudoselago serrata is a pretty unique little plant from South Africa. From a distance it bears a resemblance to Ageratum.

But up close it is quite different.

Blargh. A gopher came up in the middle of my Delosperma. The plant is really tough though and bounced back swiftly. The gophers have been a nightmare this year. They are really making a huge mess in the garden but haven’t really been eating anything. Most of them have been outsmarting me but I finally caught two this week. I’m going to try a new type of trap and see if that helps at all. I hate these little digging minions of Satan so much!

I originally planted Thymus X citrodorus ‘Lime’ for its beautiful light green foliage but the clouds of pink flowers are nice too.

The honeybees love them too. I have had an insane amount of pollinators in the garden lately. The garden is teaming with so many bees, butterflies, and birds lately that every time I walk outside I feel like a Disney Princess.

The bees loved native Eriogonum parvifolium too.

Oh look. The Glaucium grandiflorum was still going strong in July!

I removed most of my Salvia sclarea ‘Piemont’ because they are really big and coarse and seed around like crazy but this one has such nice flowers I decided to spare it.

Eriogonum grande var. rubescens is another beautiful native buckwheat.

Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’

Erica baueri in my potted plant ghetto blooms year round.

Erica verticillata is a late summer bloomer.

Iris foetidissima is grown for its ornamental bright orange seeds.

I replanted the back portions of this garden because I wasn’t happy with them. The front left bed was recently replanted with some Proteaceae and the front right with succulents. I set up a sprinkler on a timer to establish the new gardens and all my wildflower seeds germinated. You can see them just starting to poke up on the right and already carpeting the bed on the left.

I grew Echinops banaticus ‘Blue Glow’ from seed last year and finally planted them out. They should be huge and covered in flowers next year.

And finally to finish things off one of my Aloe polyphylla in my potted plant ghetto has started to spiral.

Now that we are all caught up look for some fall updates soon(ish)!

Good Morning Hummingbird

I woke up early Saturday morning (well early for me at any rate) and this little fella was just chilling on some Verbena bonariensis outside my kitchen window.

I think it is a male Anna’s hummingbird but if someone has a better ID for me please feel free to share.

Spring Blooms

I know what you are thinking. Spring Blooms? It is fall! What the hell is wrong with this guy? Well I  have been pretty busy this year but basically there is no excuse. I’m just a lazy blogger. I promise I’ll try to be better in the future and to start I figured I would give you all a little update on how the garden worked out this year. I’ll start with Spring and Summer and eventually (unless I get lazy again) I’ll post some current fall stuff.

Back in April Echium gentianoides ‘Tajinaste’ was looking pretty impressive.

Sadly the entire plant pretty much collapsed after blooming. It looked so wretched that I pulled it out. I did see some seedlings during the summer but now the entire area is so overrun with other seedlings that I am not sure if any of them made it. I’ll have to start thinning out seedlings a bit more. The garden is getting a bit wild and unruly.

Speaking of self-sown plants this Moluccella laevis is a seedling from the plants I grew last year. There is nothing better than free plants. Especially free plants that look like this.

Lavandula stoechas ‘Blue Star’

Dorycnium hirsutum needs very little water. If you put it on drip and water it weekly it will probably get all leggy and split apart. Hand water once every few weeks at most and you will have happy compact plants. This will self sow a bit too.

Clianthus puniceus

Thymus X citriodorus ‘Green Lemon’

Thymus juniperifolius and Thymus serpyllum ‘Coccineus’ with Dianthus ‘Shooting Star’ and Euphorbia ‘Blue Haze’.

Dianthus ‘Shooting Star’ is day glo pank. No not pink. This color is called pank.

Lavatera trimestris, Helipterum roseum, and Consolida regalis are all self-sown seedlings from last years plants.

You can’t really tell from this picture but I think these Consolida regalis wanted a bit more water than I was giving them. The foliage was pretty ratty. But once they started blooming they were stunning. They were kind of difficult to get in focus for a good photo but you get the idea.

Sweet peas blooming on my ugly chain link fence. I should probably be starting seeds for sweet peas now. In mild climates like mine they are best started in fall for late winter and early spring blooms.

I really grow Helichrysum thianschanicum for the bright white foliage but the sulfur yellow blooms are pretty too.

Natives like this Eriogonum latifolium were an excellent choice for the sandy soil that got turned up when my old garden got demolished by the sewer construction. I’m not going to lie though. They look pretty awful in late summer and fall. California natives require the right type of garden or smart placement. The garden will look beautiful again next winter and spring. The great thing was they all survived in my pure sand and didn’t need much water to get established.

This Halimium lasianthum ‘Farrall’ is sort of an odd plant. It sort of halfheartedly blooms on and off all year but finally got this nice flush of blooms all at once in June.

Tanacetum niveum

I posted this backyard garden earlier in the year but figured it was worth showing off some more. That Glaucium grandiflorum got 8 feet across, started blooming in May, and is still throwing out some blooms now in October (although it isn’t looking nearly this nice now).

Schizanthus grahamii is an annual from Chile that I bought from Annie’s. Sorry for the poor quality of this photo. It was another one that was tricky to get into focus. I’m hoping that I’ll get a lot of seedlings from this plant in the spring.

Clarkia rubicunda ssp. blasdalei is another one that came up by the hundreds from just three plants last year.

Last year I had about a dozen Santolina. This year I lost most of them to a big excavator during sewer construction. Luckily this one beautiful Santolina pinata was out of its path of destruction.

So that is a nice little recap of my garden in spring. I promise I’ll post a summer update shortly so we can get all caught up and I can start posting more regularly.