I’m a little bit in love with…

Ballota pseudodictamnus. How could I not be? Look at it. Just look at it!

Ballota pseudodictamnus

This is one of the few survivors of my original mediterranean garden. It is on the edge of the garden so survived the backhoe that dug a 12 foot deep hole in my garden to install a sewer lateral. I decided to keep this plant here when I changed the garden over from mixed mediterranean to California natives (even though it is native to Greece). And I will keep it here even though I will shortly be transforming this garden yet again from California natives to South African Restios, succulents, and Proteas. More on my future garden plans soon!

But in the meantime enjoy a fuzzy closeup.

Ballota pseudodictamnus

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.

I’m a little bit in love with…

Hay bale season!  So cool!  I love living in an area surrounded by farms.

OK not the best picture.  I’ll try to actually stop the car and take pictures sometime in the next week rather than just doing a drive by shot.  But look how cool!  So geometric.  Sometimes they do the big cylindrical bales but the cubes or rectangles are more common. Love love love!

I’m a little bit in love with…

Containers!  I wish I could just do nothing but design and plant containers all day long.  The trick to a good container is over stuffing it full of really cool plants that will spill out and look fantastic together and then making sure to keep them well watered and carefully maintain them as they fight for container dominance.  You can’t worry about long term plant health in a mixed planting.  Your focus is short term drama.

My favorite container ever is one I did when I was an intern at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden. Those perfect Fort Bragg spring and summer days of 65 degrees made for slow and steady growth and a ridiculously long bloom time.

This mixed container I did was displayed and eventually sold in the garden shop for $65.

The pot wasn’t that big. I think it was maybe a 14 inch terra cotta herb pot.  The plant list was:

  • Cymbalaria muralis
  • Brachycome ‘Toucan Tango’
  • Viola ‘Rebecca’
  • Viola ‘Etain’
  • Heliotropium arborescens
  • Pelargonium crispum ‘Variegatum’

Close up of the Viola 'Etain', Brachycome and Pelargonium

If there is something special that you want to save for future use you can remove it from the mixed container at the end of the season and pot it up on its own to try to rejuvenate it but any time you over plant like this you should expect losses.  I like to think of it as a long term bouquet that you eventually discard.

I’ve tried to do some shade containers for my balcony this spring but I included a lot of Fuchsia’s and for some reason I can’t grow Fuchsia’s to save my life.  So I may replace them with some ferns or other foliage plants later.  I’ll post pictures of them later in the season if any of them are worth showing off.

I’m a little bit in love with…

Blue Fescue! They are super common here in the Los Angeles area often used in residential and public landscaping because they are low maintenance and drought tolerant. Probably overused in fact. But I don’t care.  I love them anyway!  They look like a little invading army of tribbles or hedgehogs and they make me happy.

Festuca glauca

Like a little army advancing on the house.

This was a planting on a sloped yard with several drifts interspersed with bands of rosemary. I'll have to go back and get more pictures of the entire thing when the light is better.

Supposedly its pollen is an enemy of hay fever sufferers but as bad as my allergies are I still don’t care.  It is just a plant that reads really well in the landscape creating undulating little mounds that look great even at a distance.  Love it! Love it! Love it!