Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Because I Missed Them

 Above:  'Beloved'

The roses were ruined all summer by Chili Thrips.  Since mid-October they've bounced back.  I'm so happy to see them again.  I missed them.   

I also missed this ruffly Echeveria, which disappeared under a Grevillea for a few months. 
 Mostly though I missed the roses:  their saturated color, their wonderful perfume.  
'Comtesse de Provence'
 'Young Lycidas'
 This late in the year, with less daylight, a bonus:  their colors are richer then they are during the long days of summer. 
'Lady Emma Hamilton'
 'Wildfire' looked dreadful all summer.  Back to her splendid beauty now.
 And...three Leucospermum seedlings have appeared!  They came up where I planted seeds, two where seeds were planted several months ago, and one from another set of seeds planted only six weeks ago, seeds from the 'Yellow Bird' that bloomed so wonderfully this past spring.  

 The seedlings resemble no weeds I can think of, and the thickness and stiffness of the seed leaves hints at Leucospermum.  I'm not much of a grower-from-seeds.  Success with these might turn me into one.  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Scouring Pad Wearing A Kilt, Only It's A Plant

Above, our winter heatwaves are tough on these ornamental kale and Cyclamen 
Just to get out of the house on a gorgeous, sunny, 72F (22 C) December day, we decided to visit Roger's Gardens, a local garden center that also sells a lot of ornaments and decorations and Christmas trees real and plastic, during the holiday shopping season, with a Santa on hand, too.  We thought it would be busy, but not insanely busy.

We were wrong.  Really wrong.  It was insanely busy.  There were no open parking spaces, so we opted for valet parking.  Yes, valet parking for a garden center.  Only in California.  Yes, we say that here.  
Cyclamen are beautiful, but...
...Aloes are a more climate appropriate massed floral display:
 Roger's recently opened a "field to fork" style restaurant that has proven extremely popular.  The parking lot was full, the restaurant was buzzing and packed, the buildings holding Christmas decor were mobbed with shoppers, but we had the plants nearly to ourselves.  
The stuff no one was interested in. 
 Lots of pretty foliage.  Isn't this lovely?  Okay, not as popular as the glitter-covered glass baby Jesus made in China, but...lovely. 
 The usual holiday stuff, which was what most people who were buying were buying.
"Living" Christmas trees were popular for a couple of years, and some people still view them as a good option, which they are in a climate more appropriate for conifers.  Roger's still sells some.  I always wince to see Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), a gorgeous tree in, say, Western Montana, sold in Newport Beach.  It's doomed here.  Doomed!  Roger's was indeed selling potted Blue Spruce, along with this...WTF?!?!

A scouring pad wearing a kilt (hula skirt?), only it's a plant.
 Does something like this ever become beautiful?  I feel terrible for these plants, both of them.  It's horrifying.  Tell me I'm wrong.  I could be wrong.  Am I wrong?  
  Let's look at something else.  That mass planting of Aloe 'Safari Sunset'.
 Classic Chrysanthemums, but they are not overly popular here--a small caterpillar and aphids make a mess of them, winter or not, if our winter heat waves don't turn them into brown straw.  
 The slope by the restaurant, recently host to a stunning planting of yellow Leucospermum, golden Coleonema 'Sunset Gold', and a golden Monterrey Cypress of great beauty, was stripped bare during restaurant construction and replanted with Agave americana, Aloe striata, dinner place Aeoniums, and a Carex...pansa or divulsa?  

Nice, but I miss the Leucospermums, which were spectacular.  
On the other side of the Pine, a mass of Lomandra.   When I saw this I heard Yoda's voice:  "You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes."
 Roger's is still selling a good number of Phormiums.  I've given up on them because of the Phormium mealy bug, and Phormium size (they get huge), and the reversion issue (the most interesting foliage variants often revert to a plain color).  They are fine plants, though. 
 Black Phoebe resting on a sign, waiting for the humans to leave.
 Gorgeous variegated Fatsia japonica.  Very tempting, but I already have the Spider's Web version, and they are relatively thirsty plants. 
 Beautiful Bromeliads in a basket of Muehlenbeckia axillaris, I am guessing, because those Bromeliads in a basket of Silver Falls Dichondra would have been so gorgeous people would faint right there in in front of it. 
Below the Brom basket was this interesting and unfamiliar plant, Corynocarpus laevigatus 'Varigatus'.  They wanted $149 for it.  This is a slow growing tree native to New Zealand.  Slow growing explained the price (T = $), and comments in the link above make it sound like a very choice plant for a part to mostly  shaded place.
 More appropriate for my sunny garden, Roger's largest surviving 'Mr. Ripple', which is around 7' wide. 
 A particularly beautiful Agave. 
 Not a plant did we buy--plenty at home still need in the ground.  No, really.  

Back out to valet to retrieve our car, the parking lot was even more packed than before--after waiting several minutes while the poor valet guys ran like crazy from car to car, moved cars around to retrieve ours.  We had trouble getting out of the parking lot because of the line of at least fifty cars waiting to get into the parking lot.   Cars waited all the way down the access lane and were lined up out onto San Miguel Drive.  Most people going to the restaurant, I imagine, since it was close to lunchtime.  Perhaps they need to expand the restaurant and get rid of the garden center.  Who cares about growing plants, when you can spend $17 on a hamburger?    

Help me feel the Force, Yoda.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' And Other Sightings



This is not my plant.  It's in a different location in Southern California.  It is what my copy of 'Stained Glass' wants to be when she grows up.   Note there is an also huge, insanely beautiful 'Mr. Ripple' in the background:
 It's seven or eight feet across, something like that. 
 Nice, eh?  

In a drive close to home,  spotted this new, somewhat more climate-appropriate front yard rehab.  The whole front area was formerly lawn, except for the planter of roses and iris at left, which existed before the rehab.
 A small circle of hybrid Bermuda grass is surrounded by a decomposed granite covered area planted with Parkinsonia x 'Desert Museum, a Cercis 'Forest Pansy' adjacent to the home, Bougainvillea, dwarf blue Dianella,  and assorted succulent plants, plus a few decorative boulders. 
 Though our drought is not much in the news these days, it continues.
 The narrow parking strip, (24"/61 cm) is planted with a groundcover Carissa (Carissa macrocarpa 'Green Carpet'?) of some sort.
 Fairly well done, overall. The whole front area is slightly raised--I think that was true even when it was all lawn.   Some loving maintenance will keep this looking good.
 Someone had taste--they planted several Agave 'Blue Glow'. 

A last, different sighting:  the far smaller than A. vilmoriniana A. macroacantha 'Pablo's Choice' was unintentionally omitted from the recent All Agaves post.  Added there, but here it is again if you don't care to go through that post again.  Because pretty.  The spines mature to a rich black, a pleasing contrast to the silver-blue leaves. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

All The Agaves 2016


Above, Agave attenuata variegated.  A favorite!

All the Agaves: fifty five different kinds, give or take a few.  Because there are so many, the photos are in "small" format--if you want a closer look, click on each photo to enlarge.

Agave albopilosa and a dwarf, rapidly offsetting form of Agave victoriae-reginae:
Agave americana 'Medio Picta Aurea'.  I've been expecting it to bloom for two or three years, but it pups on. 
Left to right,  Agave appalanta 'Cream Spike', A. isthmensis 'Rum Runner', and A. gracilipes (Thanks, GB!)
Agave asperrima (aka A. scabra), tiny rootless offsets picked up in Phoenix. Now rooted, where to put them?
Agave attenuata 'Karas Stripes'--not particularly stripe-y--you can just make out a few here and there
Agave 'Blue Flame', looking green, is still settling in after a move. 
This 'Blue Flame' needs to be moved.  I went looking for it to move it, and couldn't find it.  There it is!
This is the striated form of 'Blue Flame'.  Unfortunately it has been a weak grower.  
  'Blue Glow', a favorite.  These are close to blooming, unfortunately.  If this plant never bloomed, it would be absolutely totally perfect.  But no plant is, so it must bloom and die. 
The white-edged variant, 'Snow Glow'.  The photo shows how planting on a slope affects the shape. 
The yellow-edged variant, 'Sun Glow', also affected by being grown on a slope.  In nature many species of Agaves are found on slopes, or growing from fissures in cliffs.  Slopes are natural habitat for them. 
This is 'Blue Ember' from Rancho Soledad, damaged by this summer's intense heat. I expected to see it for retail sale, never did, so I'm glad I bought one when I saw it. 
A. bracteosa marginated, 'Ivory Frost', in full shade. It needs a better spot.  Must move.  I placed it here when it was very small, at the start of a long dry summer, so it would survive.
Some of the many A. desmetianas.  When the inflorescences start producing plantlets, there will be thousands.  This species was the first one we got for the garden. These plants were plantlets from the blooms of the first.
These next three were super-variegated plantlets from the same bloom as the above big plants.  This illustrates how variegation will dramatically slow a plant's growth.

 There were about a dozen fully variegated plantlets, but only these three retained that trait. 


 The beautiful desmetiana variant, 'Joe Hoak', still a favorite for its elegant shape and striking pale coloration.  'Joe Hoak' was also one of the first Agaves we purchased. 

 A. ellemetiana, growing in full shade. Similar to attenuata, with fewer but larger leaves.
A. gentryi 'Jaws' (Thanks, DM or was it KP?):
A. guiengola.  The version with pale-yellow margins, 'Creme Brulee' is more common for some reason.  For other some reason, I like the plain species more. The beauty is ruined by offsets, so I religiously pull them off.  This is true of many Agave species--the offsets clutter the shape of the original plant.  I prefer taxa of solitary habit.  In cultivation, many though not all solitaries will produce an offset or two--just enough for replacement or gifts. 
A. gypsophila 'Ivory Curls'.  Another favorite.
The plain version of gypsophila.  It's nice, too--'Ivory Curls' is just better.
A. havardiana.  Extremely slow-growing, it's a beautiful species when it reaches mature size.  Still small after several years in the ground, it is recovering from having been engulfed by a clump of fast spreading Cistanthe. 
A. horrida ssp. perotensis.  Sweet!
'Kissho Kan', a variant of potatorum (Thanks, AZ!):
A. lophantha 'Fatal Attraction', in exile on the balcony because lophantha offsets like crazy.  If you don't believe me...

...consider A. lophantha 'Quadricolor'.  Yes, it offsets like crazy, but this has proven to be a perfect small Agave for the near-vertical section of the east side slope--it holds the slope firmly, and the rosettes grow and looks beautiful on rainfall alone--rainfall which this past year was a measly 6".  Pup on!
Update:  I knew I'd miss at least one.  Unintentionally omitted was Agave macroacantha 'Pablo's Choice', which can perform the same slope-filling service as A. lophantha.  The terminal spines age to rich black, a delicious contrast to the blue foliage. 
 
The from-a-farm-in-Vera-Cruz version of A. marmorata.  Another favorite.  Maybe the favorite.
On of its two offsets is thriving.  The other needs to get out of the shade already!
Here's the other offset, out of the shade.  It was a tiny thing when I pulled it off the original, the size of my little fingernail, so I planted it in full shade so it would survive summer.  Now it has a tiny offset of its own.  Because the plant was growing in shade, it is super blue.
 Here's the Proven Winners version of marmorata.  It's preparing to bloom at 6' tall and about 7' wide.  It has one offset, hidden on the back side, ready to replace it. 

Agave 'Mateo', possibly a cross of bracteosa and lophantha.  This one has been growing roots in full shade, hence an odd look. 
Another 'Mateo' (Thanks, GB!), this one also waiting in shade for a place in the sun in the ground where there is moisture, and nutrients.  Things plants like. 

A well-travelled Agave mitis var albidior, which started off in Davis, spent some time in Portland, returned, wet and chilled, to Davis, and is now recovering here.  I think it's still wondering what happened. 


Supposedly this next one is a cross of A. mitis (fast, wimpy) with A. montana (slow, hardy).  It's a rich blue, bluer than the photo.  Known as A. mitis 'Nova', it's a beautiful plant but very short-lived (3-4 years), though it produces a few offsets.  (Note that Agave attenuata 'Nova' is a completely different plant.) 

Minimal water slows down growth and extends its life span. 
A. mitis (or celsii) 'Multicolor' is also short-lived.  I have a whole shopping bag full of plantlets, (Thanks, KD!) if anyone is interested.  From what I have read, this plant is not a variegated version of the true Agave mitis--it is different in leaf shape and flower.  Apparently a plant of mysterious origins.  
'Mr. Ripple' (Thanks, DM!), thought to be a cross between A. salmiana and A. americana ssp protoamericana.  This one gets BIG.  It's been given considerable space to become glorious. 
A. nizandensis.  Like A. bracteosa, the leaves are brittle and will snap off easily, so best left as undisturbed as possible.  It is reported sensitive to over watering--not a problem in this garden. 
Agave ovatifolia is one of several Agaves being overwhelmed by Leucospermum 'Yellow Bird', but it is the Agave possibly able to withstand the onslaught:  big and getting bigger.
One of several A. parrasanas.  Another slow growing beauty. 
As the plant grows the leaves become more vertical
This is the variegated variant known as 'Fire Ball'.  This particular plant doesn't have much variegation, but it's a beauty anyway. 
Just a bit of yellow edging here and there, but ah, those impressions!
Always flawless A. parryi truncata.  Never seems to get marked, spotted, or even dirty. 
Here's the variegated version, which started out really green, purchased at the 2016 Inter-City Show. It has blued up as it has grown. 
Agave x pumila needs out of that pot.  A plant of mysterious origins.  It may be A. lechuguilla × A. victoriae-reginae.  There are a couple in the ground at the Huntington, looking really good (and surprisingly large). 
Here's a big x pumila at the Huntington April 2015:
I'm tempted to plant mine in the ground, to see if it can develop that kind of size.  It may need protection from winter rains (if we ever get any) as it is said to be sensitive to water from above.

Agave pygmae 'Dragon Toes'.  Another very pretty plant.  Its sole offset can be seen at upper-ish right.
'Royal Spine'  (Thanks, GB!)
 Sold as Agave salmiana 'Medio Picta', this one has been slow slow slow, but it's a looker, and has produced a few offsets. 
Offset!
Agave sebastiana 'Silver Lining' is said to be extremely xeric, but it has struggled in a dry spot.  I tweaked the irrigation so sebastiana would get some water--hopefully it will help. 
Agave 'Shadow Dancer' is said to be a variant of a cross between A. filifera and A. mitis var albidior. 
I had bought a trio of Agave stricta var nana.  One bloomed, then I pulled out all three--this was the sole offset of one.  It's healthier than it looks--it was overwhelmed by Leucadendron linearifolia all summer--I've been trimming back the Leucadendron to give the Agave some sun. 
Aloe titanota from Bach's in AZ.  To its upper left is a more blue selection, another plant being engulfed by Leucospermum 'Yellow Bird'.  The Leucospermum is growing like mad and forming flower buds like mad and will present a stunning show come late March.  




Agave titanota 'White Ice'

Agave titanota 'Wanky Lanky', a green dwarf version
 Agave toumeyana 'Bella' (Thanks, GB!), planted in shade until it can do some growing.  This has worked out well--tiny plants can't handle full sun even here near the coast. 
Agave victoriae-reginae.  Another slow grower, this one like A. havardiana is at its most beautiful when it reaches mature size.
Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass',  another favorite, with those elegant curving leaves.  A neighbor has an enormous and far more gorgeous specimen, which I am entirely justified in envying.   Must get a good photo of that one, for your viewing pleasure.  
I have a lot of favorites in this genus.  A couple that would be nice to have are bovicornuta and colorata--have not yet found the plants at the right size (small) and price (small) to buy.  Sometime.  
 With this much beauty to admire, I'm good for a while.