Planting Out Aloes

I’ve been revamping much of my garden recently. If you have been following along the past three years you will remember the initial installation and the updates over the years. Because I didn’t really have the time to care for it I had pretty much left it to its own devices. This worked out pretty well and I ended up with a lovely garden of native and mediterranean climate annuals. This style of garden is great because it is basically free (after the initial purchase of plants the first year) and looks great while it is in bloom. The downside is that when it is not in bloom it looks pretty wretched and it is actually pretty high maintenance to care for it over the long term if you want it to look nice.

I wanted a bit of a change so I decided to create a Proteaceae and succulent garden. This type of garden is ideal for my warm, dry, coastal climate. It looks good year round, needs very little water once established (once a month should do the trick), and for the most part is low maintenance (though the succulents will need to be lifted and divided over time and the Proteaceae will probably need replacing now and then. They like to die).

We had almost a week of rainy weather and before the storms started I quickly planted out most of the Proteas. We had a break in the rain today and I planted out some of the larger Aloes.

I’ve been collecting Aloes and other large succulents the past few years but they grow surprisingly fast in containers and need pretty regular potting up. It was time to put them in the ground so they can look their best.

Aloe speciosa (tilt-head Aloe) arrived from Annie’s Annuals in March of 2013 in a tiny four inch pot. (top row, second from the left)

Aloe speciosa in a 4" pot in March 2013

It has grown pretty dramatically the past year and a half and as of this morning resided in a ten inch terra cotta pot. Incidentally, I don’t recommend terra cotta for big Aloes. Very difficult to get them out without damaging them!

Aloe speciosa now ready to be planted in the garden

I bought Aloe marlothii from San Marcos Growers about two years ago in a one gallon pot. Now it is ready to be a dramatic specimen plant in the center of the border.

Aloe marlothii

They both look pretty great planted out. They don’t really need the big watering wells. But since the shrubs, perennials, and grasses do I think it looks better if everything is uniform. It also helps me a bit in not planting things too close together since I have been designing this garden on the fly.

Aloe marlothii and Aloe speciosa planted out in the garden

Aloe wickensii I have had for at least four years. Originally purchased in a four inch pot back when I lived in West Hollywood or maybe even Santa Monica.

Aloe wickensii

The new gardens are starting to take shape but they are still a work in progress.

View of the garden from the front.




Anholm House Restoration: Part Two

As I mentioned in Part One I visited Anholm House the other day and rather than just do a post on the plants I wanted to give you a little background.  Now that we’ve learned a little about the design process and the house itself you’ll get to see how the plants have grown and filled in the space.  Be warned, if you are a succulent lover not living on the California coast you may suffer a bit of zonal envy after seeing some of these photos!

As mentioned in the first post the plants were chosen by Gabriel Frank of Gardens by Gabriel and Nick Wilkinson of Grow Nursery.

First the lovely little hell strip.  It is fairly simple with some Dudleya, Carex, and the charming Silene uniflora ‘Druett’s Variegated’.

Silene uniflora ‘Druett’s Varigated’ – Pure white flowers on a low matt of cream variegated foliage.

A little colony of Banksia blechnifolia lives in the mulch under the shade of a large tree.

Banksia blechnifolia – Of all the unusual plants of the family Proteaceae I think Banksia are perhaps the strangest.

As Gabe mentioned they decided to create a large berm in the front yard rather than wall in the space.

This pergola archway just went in recently.  Even though the main restoration was completed over a year ago new garden projects are ongoing.

Euphorbia myrsinites coming into bloom in the front yard.

Anemanthele lessoniana (syn. Stipa arundinancea) is a beautiful grass from New Zealand that glows in the right light.  Unfortunately it can be a bit tricky.  It is short lived and sometimes plants just drop dead for no reason even though another one is thriving just a few feet away. Luckily this one is looking particularly amazing right now.

The driveway leads to a detached garage in the backyard and features a strip of Carex and a circular parking space in front of the garage. (I cheated a little.  This picture was taken last September.  The Carex was recently cut back so I didn’t take a picture of it the other day). The hill in the background is Cerro San Luis Obispo (aka Madonna Peak).

As you reach the backyard you are greeted by this pair of Agave celsii var. albicans ‘UCB’.

I posted some pictures of the houses backyard in part one but now you can see how things are filling in.  The summer blooming Gaillardia and Calylophus are resting and the succulents take over the show. Silver leaved Dymondia margaretae creeps along between the edge of the mulch and the flagstone path.

I’m amazed at how much these Agave ‘Blue Flame’ have grown since the first time I saw them a little over a year ago.

Cordyline ‘Renagade’ – If you want to be snooty you can pronounce Cordyline the correct way.  Kor – DILL – in – ee.  Remember in botanical Latin the accent goes on the antepenultimate syllable and the “e” at the end of words is its own syllable and is usually pronounced as a long E.

One of the features of the backyard is this cute little school-house red guest room.

Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Blue’

Otatea accuminata var. aztecorum and Puya berteroniana.  The Puya is one that I bought as a present for Gabe on a trip to Annie’s Annuals about three years ago. So even though I wasn’t involved in the design of this garden a little piece of me made it in anyway!

The large central island bed in the middle of the backyard with the fire pit and seating over on the left hand side and the detached garage in the background.

The back porch of the house decorated with a palm, Agave paryii, and a few Echeveria ‘Zorro’.

Echeveria subrigida in a bed of blue Senecio.

An impressive Agave speciosa in the center bed.

You have to love its inflorescence.  Maroon buds fade to cream flowers with green stripes as they open and reveal stamens made up of long deep red filaments topped with bright yellow-orange anthers. Craziness!

The Agaves in this garden are planted in pairs like these stunning Agave vilmoriana ‘Stained Glass’.

Another view of the central island bed.

Yucca ‘Bright Star’

Even if a garden isn’t on acres and acres of land Gabe likes to squeeze in a mini orchard in his designs.

Aloe striata

Next to the fire pit is this nice specimen of Agave ‘Mr. Ripple’ with variegated Cordyline ‘Torbay Dazzler’ behind it.

I think that is more than enough plants for one post. I don’t want anyone to overdose!

I hope you enjoyed this two-part tour of one of Gabe’s great gardens.  Hopefully in the next year some of my own designs will have filled in as impressively and I can share them with you.