Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Aloe 'Hercules' Progress And October Light

February 2014:
Aloe 'Hercules' photo alo4100_zps36156e7d.jpg
October 2014:
 photo HerculesOct18-2014_zpsb5f390b8.jpg
Here's a young 'Hercules' of about the same size at the Huntington Desert Garden:
 photo huntdg3187_zps385a3402.jpg 
We have October foliage colors in Southern California.  The colors are similar to the displays in temperate climates, but the foliage is different.  A glowing orange in Echeveria agavoides:
 photo huntdg3244_zps675c970e.jpg
A beautiful mass of small Crassula, Echeveria, Sedum, and Gasterias in the afternoon light:
 photo huntdg3250_zps00e90dcf.jpg
Rather than mellow autumnal pumpkins, the large orange fruits from Encephalartos arenarius:
 photo huntdg3205_zps5aae4bfa.jpg

 photo huntdg3202_zpsaf115bae.jpg
Squirrels were squabbling over the Encephalartos fruit, and crunching on palm seeds in a nearby Jubaea/Butia hybrid.  The squirrel looked orange, too.
 photo hunt3186_zps4a0a2418.jpg
Nice trunk on that Jubaea/Butia hybrid:
 photo hunt3180_zpse82658eb.jpg
Woodpeckers worked at the trunk of a Phoenix canariensis.  Dried Alluadia flowers to the right.
 photo huntdg3216_zps595ccb86.jpg 
Alluadia and Cussonia paniculata remain their typical green.
 photo huntdg3208_zpse63043fb.jpg
Yellow not in the foliage but in a lavish floral display from Choisia insignis:
 photo huntdg3189_zpse90a2641.jpg 
Yellow flowers soon from a young Aloe dichotoma.  A fallen brown Sycamore flower mixed in the Aloe foliage.
 photo huntdg3237_zps01e6f309.jpg
Now what is that?  Look down at the lower right... photo huntdg3249_zps114d25ef.jpg
Stapelia, complete with flies. 
 photo huntdg3248_zps85b4b03d.jpg
Autumn in Southern California can be more the quality of the light and air than anything else.  A softness to the light, a mistiness to the air, and some, not all, of the leaves are brown.
 photo huntdg3232_zpsd2143c71.jpg

 photo hunt3129_zps8d86e659.jpg

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Rest Of The Newport Beach Civic Center Garden

Ah, a native plant garden at summer's end. Good thing there are sculptures to look at. 

The sixteen acre Newport Beach Civic Center garden is divided into the following:
 photo newport0000_zps53e8016a.jpg
The Desert Garden looked mostly wonderful, although I wonder how they are going to handle Agave americana's tendency to sucker itself into massive clumps.  These orderly rows won't be orderly forever.  
 photo newport2933_zps22cb8f39.jpg
The Palm Garden functions as a screen hiding the road cars must take to get into the parking garage.  I have a serious Bismarkia crush still, after mooning over the beauties at the LA Arboretum.
 photo newport2843_zps8cb74422.jpg
There were also Dioons, Cycas... photo newport2838_zps4b39a5ab.jpg
...and what are those non-Bismarkia fan palms?  Trachycarpus wagnerianus? 
 photo newport2849_zps7b9d08b1.jpg Give them all a decade or two and they'll be more compelling.

To be honest, for six months or more, most non-irrigated California native plants look like crap.  They just do.  They're asleep for six months, waiting for rain.  They turn brown.  Some of them turn black.
What is beautiful right now is the stairway. 
 photo newport2851_zps8a6ed973.jpg
The most successful native gardens I've seen looking good even in the dry season, are woodlands--Oaks, Toyon, and Manzanitas, with a fluffy carpet of fallen oak leaves munched beneath visitor feet.  The Civic Center garden had a few of each of these plants, but the designers chose Coastal Sage Scrub, not Oak Woodland.  Technically correct, but not so enchanting or impractical--our native oaks are best planted from local acorns, and how many people today think of a long-term future for a garden?   
Young Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia):
 photo newport2871_zpsac2f84f5.jpg 
 Granted, backlighting gave a touch of magic to the dying Gaillardias in the Meadow/Grassland.
 photo newport2857_zpsd921225b.jpg
Salvia clevelandii in the foreground, not so good this time of year.  blooming Epilobium canum in the background, looks like crap, too.  The boulders are nice but bear no resemblance to the site's own yellow-gold sandstone--I know I quibble, but...
 photo newport2863_zpsfcc82875.jpg
Not dead, asleep. The wetlands are between those two sets of blue metal.  The lower structure is a bridge, the upper a seating area for observing a muddled mass of  foliage that may or may not contain a bird.
 photo newport2875_zpsc1c5ec7e.jpg

Young, recently planted Arctostaphylos stressed by a hot summer.  Eventually, they can be beautiful. 
 photo newport2890_zps3092dcfe.jpg
The designers placed most of the sculptures in the Coastal Sage Scrub section of the garden, which gives the area interest when the plants are summer-dormant.
A giant Kachina made from old cars.  Not my favorite sculpture.
 photo newport2892_zpse94bf4a0.jpg 
With the "salon" sign in the background, these were like shampoo bottles, but also evoke 1960's era space capsules.  Oh that view is tremendous.
 photo newport2897_zpsf543c781.jpg
A large native plant garden is difficult.  

Some idiotic nit-picker comes along and says the boulders are not right.  Oaks are more compelling than Coastal Sage Scrub, but the Oaks belong a few miles inland.  A designer might just give up and mass plant the Rhaphiolepis.   

Arranging groups of native plants as if they were conventional landscape plants looks unnatural.  Sweeps and lines look odd, when you've seen natives in, well, nature.  Yucca whipplei can be seen in the Cleveland National Forest as regularly spaced as these Agaves, but only on slopes facing a particular direction.  As the slope changes orientation, the Yucca thin and then vanish.

 photo newport2933_zps22cb8f39.jpg

 photo newport2918_zps9179c56e.jpg
Just a big mass of the same plant seems better, with a sculpture to distract.  Love the ADA-compliant walkway more.
 photo newport2927_zps7351dbc0.jpg
But this is a native demonstration garden of sorts, not habitat restoration.  Let's move on.
Yes, I know bermuda grass in the vacant lot down the street looks like that.  
 photo newport2956_zpsea4b1735.jpg
This is the wetlands.  Can you tell?
 photo newport2887_zps380a5e16.jpg 
Across the cool foot bridge...
 photo newport2907_zps62fc6eee.jpg
There's a bouncy cantilevered lookout to the sea.
 photo newport2944_zpsa1c71ee2.jpg
Carefully sited and measured so the homeowners across MacArthur don't sue the city for blocking their ocean view. 
 photo newport2941_zpscf69db2a.jpg
Please don't sue the green steel origami bear cub.
 photo newport2882_zpsbe53e0e7.jpg
From the lookout:
 photo newport2925_zpsd289133d.jpg
The bridge over the wetlands gully:
 photo newport2910_zpsc25c52ea.jpg
This was my favorite sculpture, by the Torrey Pine Grove, on the way to the dog park.
 photo newport2958_zps35b34168.jpg
It was beautiful close up as well as from a distance.
 photo newport2046_zps8c6c6bdb.jpg
The fancy non-view-inhibiting bridge leads to the fanciest dog park in Orange County.  The grass is plastic, the dogs are well-behaved, and all the owners are on their iPhones. 
Not the usual chain-link draped with forgotten leashes.
 photo newport2957_zpsfe6e8729.jpg
Clever that the low concrete base for the steel poles is high enough so that dogs will pee on the concrete instead of on the steel.
 photo newport2955_zpscbb35f86.jpg
Hey, you random human you, wanna throw ball?  My owner is on the damn phone again.
 photo newport2951_zpsb621f25a.jpg

 photo newport2950_zps299cc941.jpg
The netting--did the lawyers demand that?
 photo newport2949_zps6416fdc0.jpg
Beautiful place, all in all.  The native plants will develop better in time.  Perhaps the specimen Oaks will shed enough acorns to create a woodland after all.  Plus, the millions show.  
 photo newport2934_zps0aad52b4.jpg