Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday Vignette: Beautiful Bottle Bottoms

Someone in the neighborhood used glass bottle bottoms to add charming decoration to their wooden fence.  

Simple, a bit!   

More Wednesday Vignettes at Flutter and Hum.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mostly Aloe Flowers Sunday

Above, Aloe greatheadii 

Flowers for Sunday.  Echeveria 'Pollux':

 Leucadendron 'Blush', maybe.
 Still not sure if Aloe marlothii has produced one enormous candelabra, or two regular sized.
 Aloe vanbalenii greened up considerably after our one good rain the first week of January. 
 Aloe capitata
 Wins the "Most Adorable Aloe Flower" award every single year.
Bad hair day as the flowers complete and begin to dry out 
 Aloe cameronii
 Aloe striata.  To the left of the Aloe,  Oscularia deltoides is just beginning to do what I intended it to do--drape over and cover some of those gawdawful blocks.

 Back on January 26th, a 'Blue Glow' Agave started sending up its flower stem:
 Eleven days later...

As for you four...
 ...don't you dare!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

We Met The Designer

When it's done looks great!
A garden buddy and I stopped to admire a lawnless property in the neighborhood.
 Raised berms around the edge of the front garden provide privacy and noise reduction.  It is situated on a busy corner.  The soil came from a nearby pool dig. 
 Plants included succulents such as Aloes and Agaves, native Salvias, California native plants such as Ceanothus, Artostaphylos and a native Oak.  There were also rocks and boulders. 
Dry waterfall? 
 There was a lush feel to the garden, even though the space was not crammed full of plants.  The plants were mature but not overgrown.
 Agaves and Salvia apiana, which is native to this area. 
The rocks added to the natural feel;  the whole effect was beautiful.  This garden won a local "Water Wise" contest in 2009, so the plants have been in place at least six or seven years. 
 While we were admiring the work, the man who lived next door to this home stopped to chat.  It turned out he was the designer.  We complemented him on his work, and he mentioned he'd also done the house at the end of the block.  We went to have a look at that one, too. 

 Another stylish design, though this one suffered a bit from less than skilled maintenance--ornamental grasses sheared into buns rather than being cut to the ground. 
 Good plant choices, just in need of appropriately timed cut backs...

 From the side of the property:
 This is also a corner property.  An pre-existing-to-the-project tree on the corner, a curved wall faced in stone, a small UC Verde Buffalo Grass lawn, currently dormant. 
 A deck on the side of the home. 
 At the side of the home was a vegetable garden hidden behind a stylish fence.  The garage door is to the right in this photo.
 This project was done four years ago. 
 Time for a bit of editing, but lots of happy healthy good looking plants...
 This was the designer's home.  He said he's working on a Permaculture garden.  He also said the cobbler's children never have shoes.  Obviously a lot of experimentation was going on. 
 He was starting seeds in recycled raingutters.
 Besides a lot of experimenting, there was this really cool Opuntia out front.
 Cool, eh?  Like a weird creature chewing...
When I got home, another weird creature was chewing away...on her brother's ear.
  You never know what you will find if you look. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Two Days After It Was Supposed To Rain A Lot

Our local rain was disappointing:  we got perhaps two tenths of an inch, at most.  The wait continues.  The garden is a lot of bare branches these days.
In the meantime, finishing up rose pruning, a much less arduous task than in past years.  The 'Sombreuil' over the front door is coming out.  I'll replace it with the unhappy potted 'Iceberg' on the east balcony, which will surely be happier in the ground. 
I'm constantly checking the dreadful Asclepias by the front door, waiting for the large Monarch caterpillar to cocoon so I can pull out the Asclepias.  This morning there two, not one, large caterpillars, chomping away at what they could.  Not big enough yet, guys?
 It was a frigid 41F this morning on the patio, but we'll have highs near 80 by the end of the week.  I'll have to turn the irrigation system back on, but we've saved so much the past nine months, we're still well over 60% savings. 
I remind myself that properly situated Camellias need less water even than Agaves--these two in an ignored part of the garden get no irrigation at all--and here they are, blooming.  
 ...and the other.
 They are both small because I cut them to the ground in preparation for removing them several years back, and then never got around to the removal.  They grew back.  Good thing.  

The State Water Resources Board report for December is in.  Our district missed its 36% mandatory savings by 2.6%  Tsk, tsk.  That's what's going on here today, two days after it was supposed to rain a lot, but didn't.  Back to work.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Day Before Rain

Sunny Gazanias, above
I shut the irrigation off around December 6th.  December was cold as Southern California winters go, we got a couple showery December days, and the generous 3.3" of rain which fell the first week of January carried the garden all the way to today.  Enough rain water in tubs, barrels, etc., collected from that generous storm to douse new plantings and the most arid spots in the garden all of January, but the garden got quite dry again this past few days.  All rain tubs and barrels are empty again.  
The early January rain stimulated Aloe blooms.  Aloe marlothii continues to develop.  I think it might have two candelabras, not just one.  That would be a first. 

At long last, rain is confidently predicted for tomorrow.  Beloved kindly agreed to move the little Magnolia stellata, and move or remove Rosa 'Jude the Obscure', depending upon the state of Jude's root system.  The day before a rain is the best time to transplant here.
Last year I moved the giant white squill, Drimia maritima.  It didn't rain, and I thought I'd killed the bulbs.  All three survived, thank goodness!  Here's two of them:
Magnolia is now where the splendor of its starry flowers will be easily enjoyed from the dining room window, should it survive its transplant.  
 Can't see it?  It's in the red circle. 
You may have noticed by the photos that it started to drizzle as we worked.  Rain is not predicted until tomorrow, but it started early.  This is a good sign. 

Above, Agave salmiana 'Medio Picta' got the Magnolia's old place. Jude sits exposed, to the left of the Agave. 

'Jude' came out--it can sit in the rain tomorrow until I examine the roots further and consider whether or not it should be moved or discarded.  It's 15 years old.  The root system was big.  Jude had grown some of his own roots, but there were also some Dr Huey rootstock roots thick as wrists.  The new Maireana sedifolia gets 'Jude's spot.  
Gratuitous Maireana sedifolia photo:

I also planted a few Gazanias, realizing afterwards that rabbits love eating them to the ground.  I'll have to count on the local coyotes for control.
Beloved also kindly removed Rosa 'Just Joey', a beautiful rose, but never a healthy plant--it was extensively root-galled, so that was that.  Also a 'Lady Emma Hamilton'--beautiful flower, good vigorously growing rose, terrible foliage.  Horrific foliage.  Another 'Lady Emma' remains, for now--one rose with egregious foliage is enough.  

Roses removed, need something new here.  Have always wanted a fountain here...
Also the sweet peas are emerging, planted late, but better than not planted at all.  The onion seedings are also in.  
Another Monarch caterpillar.  This one looks ready to cocoon.  The Asclepias plant is a mess;  I'm waiting for the caterpillar to finish so I can remove the plant.  New seedlings are already emerging.
 The puppies were alarmed and dismayed by the drizzle.  They are anti-water dogs.  Natasha won't even venture out onto wet concrete.  
No!  My feet might get clean!  Not that!
"Let us back inside!  Please!  Now!"
You got it, pups.  Much accomplished with Beloved's kind help, we--the plants and I--earnestly hope for rain tomorrow.  The pups would gladly do without it, and Beloved is okay either way.  
Fill 'er up!