May Gray Work/Grevillea Flowers




We're getting a spell of what is known in Southern California as "May Gray", when a blanket of marine moisture--Raymond Chandler called it "high fog"--settles over the land, and doesn't clear until late afternoon, if then.  Temperatures are perfect for long days of gardening.  I've been hard at it.  

Sadly, I had to remove both fruiting cherries trees.   Originally there were three, planted January 2013.  One came out a few months ago, killed by some kind of borer.  Contributing factors were the drought and a not-great graft.
Gone in 60 minutes:
  The two survivors looked okay, blooming with enthusiasm and leafing out this spring, but they set no fruit, and then sap began bleeding in several places from the trunks.  The grafts looked terrible, too.  Strike one.  If not terminal they were headed for it.
Bad graft:
Digging them up exposed crown gall infection.  Oh, no.  Strike two.
Crown gall--that bump on the right:
Sap bleeding from wounds.  Strike three, they're out.  Of their misery and mine. 
We got a few handfuls of really good cherries last year.  Oh, well.  
Not so melancholy a job was shearing our side of the neighbor's Viburnum tinus hedge.  Where I placed blocks to stand on, it was quick, easy work.  Where the blocks were too low to reach all of the hedge, it was hard on both ankles and slope, but by no means as painful as failed trees.  I make no claims to a perfect job, but from a distance the hedge looks tidy.
Then on to the 'Crepuscule' rose--cutting it back and retying it to the fence I painted last autumn.  Much easier work by virtue of the stepping blocks installed for Spring Project 2016.


Next, potting up some succulents and getting others into the ground.
Happy in the ground:

Aloe 'Sparkler' miserable in the ground, is happy again in a pot:


Next, planting the Phabulous Phylica--I moved one of the Kalanchoe orygalis over about 8' and placed the Phylica in the Kalanchoe former spot, where the afternoon sun will light it up.  Whether it is a good spot or not--time may tell.  This plant had an impressive root ball, filling the 5 gallon pot, but without circled roots.  Good quality.  I added just a little peat to the planting hole soil, in hopes of acidifying the soil a bit.  Normally I don't add amendments when planting.   
She just got a shower, and looks a little tousled:

In between the work, several pauses to consider 'Robyn Gordon' and 'Peaches and Cream' Grevillea flowers.  The inflorescence begins as a bumpy finger on a branch tip, with little triangles of leaf-like tissue adding more texture:

 The structure lengthens, the little triangles dry up and fall away, and the bumps begin to partially unfurl:


The unfurled bumps grow to resemble flat snail shells.  Then beginning at the base of the inflorescence and continuing to the tip, the "snails" begin to split down the middle, like clams rather than snails, and loops of pistil emerge.

At one point, the inflorescence creates a rounded pattern of  loops.
Then the pistils fully emerge.  
Nectar begins to drip.  The flowers are fully open.
Quite an amazing process.  

I ended up with another Grevillea, G. nudiflora 'Medusa', deciding it was a great substitute, of a sort, for Acacia 'Cousin Itt', a plant I have killed two, soon to be three times.  The latest copy is on its last leafs. 
That's it for Itt.

'Medusa' may be more enthusiastic about living, and eventually cascade down the Spring Project 2016 slope.  It will grow much larger, though no taller, than 'Itt'.  The flowers are small, but bright--red with a yellow splash.  There was a Salvia discolor in the spot, before the Grevillea got it.  Perhaps the Salvia will get one of the cherry tree spots.    
'Medusa', I can do without Itt!
The local news reminded us that two years ago we were having temperatures over 100F.  This year's May Gray is a joy.

Comments

  1. With such comfortable gardening conditions no wonder you've been very busy. Great shots as always!

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    1. Thanks! It's been so fun. Somewhat makes up for being stuck in the house most of the summer because of the heat.

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  2. Taking out 3 cherries would have pained me a lot! Always sad to loose plants and trees in the garden, but if they are diseased you have no choice. I am still sad about my 86 fuchsias I had to throw away last year. I haven’t started building up a new collection yet, thought I would wait a year and start next year.
    Thanks for the introduction to Grevillea – lovely plants and my favourite online nursery has 10 different varieties to choose from. Spoilt for choices! With my mild winters it wouldn’t be a problem growing them, but I would need to choose a variety that would be happy to permanently grow in a container as I have no suitable space in the ground – and several of them should be fine for that.

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    1. All 3 problems by themselves were fatal. They made it easy for me, really. 86 Fuchsias!!! My Mom grew a whole lot of them. Where we lived was perfect for Fuchsias and they bloomed year round.

      Looking forward to seeing which Grevillea(s) you decide to try. I think many do fine in pots, and you seem to be able to grow anything very well.

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    2. Ehhh, except fuchsias….damn Fuchsia Gall Mite! Obliterated my whole collection, I have only got my miniatures left, they were not affected. But I will try again, FGM is not as common here as with you, I don’t even know where I got the infection from. I hope for better luck next time…..! London is perfect climate for fuchsias too and many of mine usually bloomed all year round too.
      I am trying not to buy any more plants before I have planted and sorted all I already got – my long suffering plants from my previous garden are still longing for a space in the ground. But when all is sorted I will look into what else I can squeeze in!

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    3. Oh, don't even mention FGM! I don't know if it's just dumb luck or not, but I haven't had it in my garden for a long time. I wonder if the drought has something to do with that.

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    4. I think it’s more down to luck, they don’t fly, infection happens by direct contact. On the other hand it is enough to brush your coat against an infected bush and then go home and do the same against your own bush…..
      I don’t leave my home, I rarely have visitors to my garden and all my fuchsias came from only 3 nurseries. I reported my infection to the government (DEFRA) as here it is still very unusual and they like to keep a record – the 3 nurseries were inspected as a result of my report and were found FGM free – at least at that point. So…..I don’t know….. I will have another go.
      I don’t think drought or weather has anything to do with it as far as I know. Birds, squirrels and other animals can also spread FGM. I guess you have just not been infected :-)

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    5. Direct contact. Ah, I thought it was the wind. Not many people around here grow Fuchsias anymore. Interesting, thanks.

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  3. A couple of these images are just perfect -- so nice! Do you ever feel like you'll finish moving things?

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    1. No, a garden is never done, is it? I'm having some fun taking pictures again now that the eye thing is better.

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  4. Condolences on the cherries. Lightning took out our declining but still productive tree a few years ago; thinking I'd like to start again, but we'd have to net at ripening time against the crows.

    But I'd cheerfully swap any number of cherries for that big, healthy 'Crepuscule' rose. One of my top five just-out-of-reach-hardiness-zone plants.

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    1. 'Crepuscule' is really an excellent rose--zero disease, zero prickles, rebloom, fragrance, tough, easy... The cherries were on dwarf rootstock, I was prepared to cage them in netted chain link to get fruit--but that was not to be.

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  5. Such perfect weather for establishing plants! Lucky Phylica; lucky you!

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    1. It's our other "best window of opportunity" for planting. Early winter is one and May-Gray the other. The brown leaves of stressed Aloes green up after just a few days of this. Makes the gardener happy, too. Lucky, yes!

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  6. Hi there, I recently started reading your blog. I'm in CA and have killed Cousin Itt too. Mine never looked like the oft pictured shaggy green head of hair, more a yellowish balding character. Shortly after going into the ground, it was verklempt. It seemed to want more water than I was expecting, and then it resented the extra water I gave it. Maybe clay soil is the culprit? Not sure, but I also ripped out and replaced with something less fussy.

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    1. A local horticulturalist thought it might be how the growers are producing it--they use a too-moisture-retentive mix and start rot in the roots and when the customer gets it, it is already rotting. Some of mine went bald too.

      I've kept them moist, dry, excellent drainage moist, I have light, fluffy soil...and they still died.

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  7. After hearing an earlier report that El Nino was likely to cost SoCal its May gray and June gloom, I celebrate every gray morning that keeps the heat at bay, although I haven't made as productive use of the cooler conditions as you have. However, I caved and bought 2 more Phylica on Monday and hope to get them in the ground this week. (The other is in a pot.) Grevillea 'Medusa' is new to me so I'll have to look around for it. Although I have 4 'Cousin Itts' that are doing very well, I have an equal number on life support and I'm just about to give up on both them and 2 Ceanothus 'Diamond Heights' so I'm looking for replacement options.

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    1. It's now or not--what a motivator that is! I can't bear being in the heat very long. Congrats and best of luck with the Phylica. Mine was glowing in the late afternoon light yesterday--should it grow and thrive, it will be a daily thrill.

      'Diamond Heights', yes the plant that makes 'Itt' look as vigorous as a weed. I've only seen a single DH that was thriving, in Cambria, home of the 65F summers.

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  8. Great shots of the grevillea, what an intricate bloom it is. I saw one for sale last weekend and was very tempted but it's not as mild here as for Helene in London.

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    1. Some seem to do very well in the Portland, Oregon area, but I do not know how that climate compares to yours.

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  9. Beautiful flowers on the grevilleas. I like how they change at each stage.

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