Monday, May 25, 2015

Aloe suzannae And May Blooming Aloes At The Huntington

On our Huntington visit yesterday, we saw three different Aloe suzannae in the Desert Garden.  The above is the largest.  It fell over some years ago.  The trunk re-rooted itself and the plant has branched.  From the other side:
 This other specimen looks recently planted.
Here's the third, the smallest:
A few weeks ago, we saw several recently planted specimens of Aloe suzannae at the nearby LA arboretum.  Here's one:
And here is one photographed at the San Diego Botanic Garden last November:
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Aloe suzannae is endemic to the island of Madagascar, and is near extinction in its native habitat.  It is a solitary, non-offsetting, slow growing Aloe.  In addition, it doesn't bloom every year, limiting availability.  Thus, when I saw one for sale on Ebay, I jumped.
Unfortunately, as you can see, something is wrong.  This top-down yellowing began to appear just a couple of days after it arrived.  I contacted the seller, who was baffled and immediately issued a full refund without my even asking (Thanks!).  A local expert thought it looked like light frost damage--could that have happened in transit?  It's been very mild here, neither hot nor cold.  If it survives--I'll have a relative rarity.  If not, I have...a blog post.  Such is gardening.    

So, what Aloes were blooming at the Huntington at the end of May?  A few.  This one--no label.  Possibly sinkatana.

 Aloe brevifolia:
Although this is a flower stalk, these are not flowers. This is an oddity--an Aloe that produces bulbils--appropriately named Aloe bulbillifera, from Madagascar.  I include it,'s cool. 

 Aloe 'Caesia'--one I am unfamiliar with.  A quick search mentions a 'Caesia' as a "variety of striatula - found only around Molteno in the Eastern Cape of South Africa". 
 Aloe davyana
 Aloe hildebrandtii
 Aloe porphryostachys.  This is a solitary Aloe from Yemen.  It is closely related to one I have, Aloe pseudorubroviolacea, and the flowers are somewhat similar.  The plant, however, is an upright grower and is not as beautiful as pseudorubroviolacea, which drapes gracefully from sheer cliffs along the Red Sea. 

Aloe tomentosa boasts flowers unusual for Aloes--they are fuzzy.

 The fuzzy coating gives them a frosted effect. 
 Could not see the label on this one. 
 Aloe 'Goldilocks'
That was yesterday in Aloes. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Agastache 'Blue Fortune' And Other Small, Unthirsty New Acquisitions

 I bought a 4" Agastache 'Blue Fortune' maybe a month ago.  I've read several blog posts on favorite blogs raving about how good a plant it is.  Well, it is good.  Small, unthirsty plants have been the theme of recent acquisitions. 
 A few years ago I tried an Agastache 'Acapulco-something'--it bloomed for a month or two then suddenly died.  That put me off Agastaches for a while.  I liked 'Blue Fortune' so much I impulse-bought A. pallida x rugosa 'Globe Trotter'.  We'll see how that one goes. 
Indulged also in a little Pentas for the butterflies, for a small spot with poor drainage, and thus sufficient moisture. 
 And pink Salvia microphylla x greggii 'Dancing Dolls' for an empty spot next to pink 'Belinda's Dream'.  I'm not sure I love S. microphylla, because 'Hot Lips' grows way too large, but 'Dancing Dolls' ended up in the garden anyway.  How does that happen?  The hummingbirds are already at it, small though it is.  The garden has been mobbed with hummingbirds--they are not just at the feeders.
Salvia 'Red Dragon' is preparing a new round of flowers.
 Besides Salvias and the Agastache, the hummers are at the Iochroma...
 ...and the Fuchsias...
The Dasylirion flowers are finally opening and appear to be a kind of dark red--it's difficult to tell because they are about twelve feet (3.6 meters) above the ground.  For a closer view, a ladder will be required.  Most certainly not thirsty, and not a new acquisition, and by no measure "small".     
 That's some of what is going on in the garden this cool, grey, overcast week.  Thank heavens for the heat relief.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I Attempt A Flower Arrangment

 Inspired by an expert demonstration of garden flower arranging, I decided to attempt one of my own.  Start with a bucket of water for collecting material.  Umm...not sure where the bucket is.  How about a pot?  Okay. 
 First, gather foliage.  Okay.  The Abelia 'Kaleidescope' needed cutting back, so that was the first stop.  Stick with a color scheme rather than random colors.  Check.  The Leucadendron reds matched the red stems of the Abelia. 
 Lovely red on the new foliage of Lagerstroemia 'Dynamite'.
 Oh hey.  Red stems and tips on the Leucadendron linearfolia.
 There you go.  Done!  Okay, not yet. 
 A spent flower stem of Aloe 'Fire Ranch', and red-tipped, red-flowered Calothamnus villosus. 
 No red, but the variegated Ceanothus needs cutting back.  Might as well use it.  The yellow in the Ceanothus foliage looks right with the yellow in the mature Abelia foliage. 
 Not going to use either of these, but suddenly I realize there's a lot of beautiful foliage in the garden. 
 A big leaf would be nice, but not a lot of big leaves in the garden.  Large leaves tend to be on plants with high water requirements, and large leaves get shredded by our powerful Santa Ana wind storms.  The pumkin leaves are cool, though. 
 Time to add some flowers.  Oh! Is this new Dahlia, 'Catching Fire' gorgeous...
 A voice in my head says:  "Yellow!"  Right-o.  Rosa 'Molineux'.
 My neighbor walks by with her puppy, Emmie.  Isn't Emmie adorable?  Natasha, in the house, starts shrieking. 
 Back to the project.  Dark day lily.  Oooh!
 Wild Alstroemeria 'Rock n Roll'?  Uh, maybe?
 A stem with apples or a pomegranate on it?  Not in this garden.  How about...  An Aeonium would be cool, and since the garden has a gazillion of them, a good idea.  Okay, material assembled. 
 Oooh...maybe the gathering isn't quite complete...I'll think about that.  It was mentioned that doing your arranging right out in the garden makes it easy to go run for more stuff.  Very true. 
 Okay.  I remember from the demo that the foliage goes in first.  Strip off all the leaves that will end up underwater.  The arrangement will last longer that way. 
 Huh.  How about that:  the Calothamnus has a wonderful herbal fragrance when the leaves are stripped--a cross between pine and rosemary.  I never knew that.  Mmmmm!
 There's the start.  Abelia, Lagerstroemia, Calothamnus.
 Ceanothus, and those Philodendron 'Golden Xanadu' will work, too. 
 While I'm at the arrangement, the hummers are at the feeder.
 Hey, not bad...
 Now, flowers.  Eric from the demonstration said when the flowers are large, they are best tucked down low, into the foliage.  I try the Aeonium, which is foliage, and the day lillies.  The one on the left got damaged in the picking. Removed.
 Roses and the Alstroemeria.  Not bad!
 And a duo of the wonderful Dahlias...
 Finishing touches.  Wispy bits above--the Aloe stems with their pods, and a few bits of Saliva 'Red Dragon.  Another Philodendron leaf adds structure to what was a muddled area.  Hey, not bad!  I surprised myself.  Excellent inspiration plus beginner's luck. 
 I'll sneak those onions in there somehow, if only for a moment. 
 Better clean up now.  Hey, there's the bucket.