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)!

Building My Garden: Part 6 – Finishing Up the Mediterranean Beds

Since the garden bed expansion project I have been slowly planting and finishing off the various beds.  I’ve been taking my time because I am busy and also kind of wiped out.  I’ve done a lot of work on this garden and think it looks pretty good considering it was only started in February.

The mediterranean garden is now made up of two long beds.  The large one near the street and the narrower one along the chain link fence.  I am hoping I will get the drip irrigation and mulch down and finish the path with decomposed granite some time this month.  We’ll see how much energy and money I have.

The entire planted part of the yard is approximately 70 x 40 feet. It’s a pretty good size.  In the fall I hope to expand the garden further with the side yard which is also 70 x 40 feet.

Over the course of the next year these plants should fill in enough so that barely any soil is visible.

The only things that remain unplanted are the backyard bed of shrubs and odds and ends.  Frankly I’ve just been too tired to tackle this and needed to give my back a break.  But I’m getting sick of looking at it and may try to get it started tomorrow.  Some Salvia, and Grevillea, and a Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’ will be the stars of this bed along with a few different Ozothamnus that I am trying out (since I know nothing about them).

I’ve planted many lavenders in the expanded medit beds including several different cultivars of Lavandula stoechas like ‘Willow Vale’ and ‘Boysenberry Ruffles’.

Lavandula stoechas Coco™ Dark Pink is a very unfortunate trademark name. Sadly it seems the cultivar name is L. stoechas ‘Cocdap’ which is just a horrible morph of the trademarked name and not much better.   It is a pretty, compact, dark pink L. stoechas so I guess I’ll put up with the generic name that is meant to appeal to the broader public.

Berkheya purpurea

I first saw this plant in Beth Chatto’s gravel garden but it wasn’t quite blooming yet so I wasn’t sure what it was.  The mystery was solved when Andrew Keys over at Garden Smackdown blogged about it and I recognized it from his photos.  I ordered mine online at Dancing Oaks Nursery and they sent me two for the price of one!  I love free plants!

Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Valerie Finnis’

Early on in my gardening career, my experience with Artemisia on the east coast was that they melted in the heat and humidity of summer.  So I don’t know much about them.  They seem much better suited to my new coastal climate so I am trying out four different types to see how I feel about them.

Artemisia pycnocephala ‘David’s Choice’

This artemisia is a selection of one that is native to coastal California.  It should form a nice low mound but as you can see it has these weird ropey inflorescences so I am not sure how I feel about it.  Maybe it will not be as weird looking once the plant grows a little and they can be pruned out, but pretty much every picture I found online the plant had these weird alien looking blooms flailing about.

Frankenia thymifolia

This is an unusual little groundcover that is sort of like a cross between a thyme and a dwarf conifer.  It has these teeny little pink flowers.  The poor things have been sitting in the ghetto for the past two months and were looking a little raggedy. But they burst into bloom a week or two ago. I finally got them planted today so hopefully they will settle in despite the abuse.

Gaillardia ‘Oranges & Lemons’

I’ve been seeing this Gaillardia on wholesale lists for a while now so decided to grab a few to finish off the edge of the medit bed.  I’m a sucker for anything daisy shaped and the colors are pretty great.  I have a more compact one called ‘Gallo Red’ too.

Another project I finished today was fixing up my seedling nursery.  I wanted to make it a bit more professional looking.  I need to cover the young seedlings with bird netting, but I was using stacks of bricks to hold them up over the plants, which looked awful. I figured I could create some sort of frame with PVC pipe but had no idea how to go about making it.  Just in time, Clare over at Curbstone Valley Farm, saved the day. She posted pictures of a structure that she made with PVC, to create a humidity tent for her grafted heirloom tomatoes. I’m not very handy with tools and building things so the pictures made me feel a bit less insecure.

I started out making a rectangular frame base big enough to contain a dozen nursery flats. I cleared my old nursery bed near the vegetable garden and pulled up all the weeds and then put down weed cloth.

I added four T’s to the frame to create supports to hold up the netting.  Overall a pretty easy experience and much more professional looking.  It also holds the netting higher over the plants to give them a bit of room to grow.  Now I just need to get some PVC snap clamps to hold the netting more securely.

So the garden is coming along.  Hopefully soon I’ll have a post about irrigation and mulch!