Friday, August 28, 2015

No Use Leaving This Out To Fry

94F (34 C) predicted, 94F met by early afternoon.  Cutting a mass of roses and bringing them, in a vase, indoors, achieves two things:  first, plant stress is reduced because the plant doesn't have to support the flowers with moisture through intense heat, and second, pretty!
 Cultivars include the usual suspects:  'Yves Piaget', 'Firefighter', 'Red Intuition', 'Perdita', 'Belindas Dream'. 
 My love of bright garden color always inspires a meditation on DNA and evolution.  Our distant ancestors evolved to seek out the bright colors of fruit--bright color meant food.  The keenest seekers of color got the most and best food.  Many millions of years later, some gardeners (me) dote on color, while other gardeners prefer an array of greens. Are green-preferring gardeners passionate meat eaters, indifferent to bright color?  Did DNA make some humans hunters, others gatherers?  

While Echeveria coccinea is a fuzzy green, its flowers are bright red--must have been why I bought it, even though it wasn't in flower when I did.  The fuzzy coating enables it to take considerable sun, where it can form a large (for an Echeveria) shrubby mound.   
'Mini King' Protea flower has finally opened.  It does have fruity red bracts. 
 The first 'Pink Ice' flower never opened its bracts, remaining cylindrical.  I have to admit I'm slightly disappointed.  It doesn't ring the bell. 

I think the heat is getting to me. 
How did DNA evolve into the DNA that loves plants for their own sake?  Some of us have that DNA, surely.  The DNA that created agriculture ten or twelve thousand years ago.  We plant lovers were the cool people of ten thousand years ago, the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of ten thousand years ago, making a stable food supply possible, all so we could stay in one place, well fed, and evolve into plant nuts, while the cool factor moved on to human different traits.

Several more 'Pink Ice' flowers are on the way, for me to be disappointed about.  Perhaps I'll learn to appreciate them eventually. 
 Near 'Mini King', Yucca 'Bright Star's creamy bubbling bells have opened.  Pretty, if not fruit-colored. 
 No colorful flowers, or flowers of any color from Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls', which appeared in a space between stepping stones this spring.  Unhappy where I first planted it, cascading from a blue pot, dressing a blue Agave.  Sounds spectacular, but it constantly drooped with thirst.  I put the Dichondra out of its misery when I put the Agave into the ground, but 'Silver Falls' reappeared on its own exactly where it wanted to be, and has been happy, happy.  No frying.  Some plants pick their own spots, and get it right. 
 I had not intended to make the Dichondra miserable but did purposely place an Orchid where it would die.  It refused to.  I didn't know what would keep it happy, so I willed it to Nature to do with it as she wished.  

The orchid bet on me becoming a more competent gardener, and was willing to wait.  It survived several years, during our drought, on 4 or 5 inches of rain for the year.  Eventually it shamed me into providing a better spot--damp--where it's re-greened and grown.  No fruity-bright flowers.  Yet.  It's there, damp, snuggled among the Anemone leaves, vindicated.  
 This Hunnemannia refuses to die also.  I wonder what it is using for water.  It doesn't need me. but I need that brilliant chrome yellow in the flowers--my brain sings when I see that yellow.  
Left out to fry, the Hunnemannia blooms. It has no need of me. Late in the 94F afternoon, I splashed water into the concrete fissure.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Favorite Plant Of August 2015

No thought, no question, no consideration required.  No other plant this month comes close to the glory of Lagerstroemia 'Dynamite'.  

See Danger Garden soon for more August blogger favorites. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Watch The Birdies

 When everyone is hungry, everyone gets along.
 Then tummies fill, and arguments commence.
 Hey, beat it!

 Guys!  Chill!
Okay, good.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why Did They Do This?

 We went to the rock store to look at rocks as a possible edging for the front slope.  Across the street was an interesting commercial landscape.
 A xeriscape edged by artificial turf. 

 Why did they do this
 The Stipa (Nasella) tenuissima got a haircut, too. 
 Plants were supplied with drip tubes, so they were getting some irrigation. 
 The plant palette was small considering the amount of area, but it worked well.   

Agave americana
Aloe cameronii
Aloe vera
Bougainvillea, probably 'San Diego Red'
Dasylirion wheeleri
Lantana montevidensis
Stipa tenuissima

There were also several mature Liquidambar trees undoubtedly planted several decades before the recent remodel.  In addition, there was a lone Phoenix roebelenii, perhaps from another remodel.  If you ignore the artificial turf, for a commercial landscape it is really quite good.  Eventually the Lantana and Bougainvillea will build up and be sheared into cubes, but that won't happen for a few years.    
 Don't blame the designer for the artificial turf.  This city may have mandated some percentage of turf but when asked, allowed artificial. 
 Trimmed those bunches, too.  Were the workers knowledgeable enough to want to reduce reseeding, or did they think that looked better? 
 My guess is that the Agave chopping was so they could get at the drip tubing.  There were irrigation flags around, which landscapers here use to mark irrigation areas needing attention.   
 Metal "Agaves" in pots by an entry door
 Unless they are really metal...uhh..err...em...Hyacinths?!? 
 If you are going to do that to an Agave, americana is a good choice.  In our area it is a rampant offsetter than quickly forms an unattractive mass.  In other colder or drier climates it is better behaved.   
Hacked like this, it looks strangely cool.       
 Decomposed Granite vs plastic lawn. 
 The design looked better on the area fronting a side street because that area had no strip of plastic lawn.  The green of the "lawn" was unnaturally vivid and a strange contrast to the muted, bluish, bronzed, and grey-greens of the xeric plants
 On the area fronting the main street, a wide swath of stone meandered around the trees.  They must be blowing fallen leaves out of the stones for quite a while in late autumn. 
 Formerly the area was probably Bermuda grass and junipers, a standard late 1970's combination.  Across the street was this:
At the rock store, we picked up a few sample stones to consider.  The samples are smaller in size than what I was thinking of using.  (Small samples were easier to carry home).  The one on the right...
 ...seems very similar to what can be found on our property by digging.  Using stone of a color very similar to what is found in the area looks more natural than something exotic. 
Whether or not stone would make a good edging, I'm hesitant.  We would use larger stones, and not just an edging of one, but a strip of several of them wide...but it wouldn't look right, would it?  Better than artificial turf, perhaps, but not by much.  People would be thinking, maybe:  why did they do this? 

Friday, August 21, 2015

On The Edge

From late August air, the faintest smell of autumn.  
 I decided a trio of 'Joe Hoak' Agaves will go in the empty spot on the slope.  They will (roughly) mirror the three 'Bright Star' Yucca.  I will also take some rosettes of Aloe cameronii, (above the Yuccas) and place those in the same configuration above the 'Joe' triangle.
As time passes the slope I will plant in groups rather than one-of-eaches.  The slope will look less random.  
 'Joe Hoak' looks enough like 'Bright Star'. 
Another gift from Dolores:  two of the 'Bright Star' are just about to bloom.  They will not make it to the next Bloom Day--Yucca flowers are ephemeral--a week or so after they open, they fall.   

That Agave marmorata, so gorgous... Oops! distracted.
 Aloe 'Cynthia Gitty' is going strong, pairing orange with 'Bright Star's creamy yellow.   
What I'm thinking through, while waiting for autumn planting season, is an edging plant for the front slope.  I'd like a low, tough plant (or two or three) to run all along the bottom of the slope.  Low enough not to interfere with irrigation, tough enough to endure hot, dry soil.  I tried Senecio mandraliscae.  It's too fast growing and too vigorous to control easily, and it smothers the sprinkler heads.
Delosperma 'Fire Spinner'--just planted it this spring.  Maybe.  It's very flat, but is it tough enough?
I thought Dorycium hirstutum might work, but my plant is Not Happy.
 Aloe ellenbeckii...nice tight clump,  tough, slow--maybe eventually I'll have enough plants to use as an edging.  It's rather nondescript as Aloes go, but might work...eventually.  Maybe best as an accent to the main edging.  It creates a mass of soft curves.
 Another Aloe, very common here, perhaps a hybrid.   2" (5 cm) tall, forming dense clumps eventually.  Name: unsure.  It looks messy until it fills in, that takes time.  Too vigorous is bad, but too slow is--bad. 
 Cistanthe grandiflora, in dry spots, lacks vigor.  
With adequate water, it's as vigorous as Senecio mandraliscae.  
 I have Aloe greatheadii in some spots.  It would work.  Not 100% satisfying.
 Crassula pubescens ssp. radicans struggles if it is too dry, though it does turn a brilliant red.  I'd need to add a drip line.  That might be an option.  I propagated a whole flat bowl full, which is waiting for me to decide what to do with it. 
 Aloe 'Roikoppe', there in front of 'Joe Hoak', blooms frequently.  A possibility.  A clump of Aloe ellenbeckii above and to the right of 'Joe'.  'Roikoppe' would not be dense, but it would be striking. 
 This group of Aloe brevifolia has been on the edge, under a rose, for quite a few years--more than five.  It's slow, but dense.  And tough--this one gets nothing except winter rain.
 Arctotis?  That would mean considerable maintenance, though if someone steps on it, it would recover quickly.  Succulents would not.  Might be tall enough to interfere with the sprinklers. 
 I was hoping to use Echeveria 'Imbricata' as the edging plant at one time.  However, it doesn't hold up to heat without regular  irrigation.  This patch doesn't get much water, and even in partial shade it gets quite dried out by August.  
Echeveria 'Imbricata' (on the left):
 Gazania?  The rabbits would love that. 
 Senecio serpens is a petite version of Senecio mandraliscae.  I tried it out front.  It couldn't handle the summer heat. 
 So that's what's up in the garden.  The edge.