Proteana Update


Oh, dear, chlorosis again!
Last year I created an area for South African and Australian members of the Protea family, and other xeric plants.  A blog post on the area last September shows then.  This post shows now. 

This area of the garden north of the driveway has extremely sharp drainage and the poorest soil.  At first, seventeen years ago, it was a sloped lawn the dogs did not care for.  Then it was a mass of roses and day lilys that struggled because it was too dry.  For a couple of years it was empty, because of the drought.  Last year, as I began collecting members of the Protea family, it became "Proteana"

The big thing that happened was a rainy winter.  The plants grew.
 Since last September's blog post, I got the last rose moved out.  Surprisingly it was not infected with crown gall, survived the move and is doing well in a new location near the front door.   Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' took over the rose's spot.   'Ned' is looking chlorotic, too.  Protea 'Pink Ice' on the left is exploring the space. 
Must scatter some soil sulpher:
 
Protea 'Pink Ice' continues to fight Eucalyptus 'Moon Lagoon' for space.  Both are larger so the fight escalates. 
 I placed quite a few black Aeoniums in the area because it looked empty and because I had more black Aeoniums than I knew what to do with.  Mixed in with seeds of Mexican Tulip Poppy scattered about, their black and yellow accents unified the area at no cost.

There are two new Proteas on this side of the path,  P. neriifolia, purchased on our trip to Ruth Bancroft Garden last autumn, and P. 'Brenda', purchased at the local garden show this April.   P. neriifolia above, 'Brenda' below:

Neriifolia's first flower developing!
 The Tecoma 'Sparky', with flower colors I wasn't enamored of, turned out to be an excellent pairing with Leucospermum 'Flame Giant', the flowers of which are also a mix of yellow and orange.  They complement each other surprisingly well. 

The Salvia discolor seedling grew, the peachy Salvia greggii hybrid, its peach color at odds with both the Tecoma and 'Flame Giant' (but perfect with Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream' across the path) are very popular with the hummingbirds.  All the Salvias were much helped by winter rain.  I added a Salvia leucantha that had been languishing in a pot, to a place near 'Flame Giant'.  The purple flowers of S. leucantha, volunteer Limonium perezii, and Trichostemna lanata balance out all the yellow and orange of the Aloes, Grevilleas, Leucospermums, and the Tecoma.   I yanked the purple-blue flowered Pycnostachys urticifolia because I just plain didn't like it.   It may have been too dry for the Pycnostachys to be happy. 

 Though Craspedia globosa is an Australian, this area is proving to be too dry for it as well.  Also the rabbits find the foliage tasty, so it's in a wire circle of protection
 The Hymnolepis crithmoides would have been a good plant in this area.  If I get a volunteer seedling from the plant out front, it could replace the Craspedia.  The Aloe thraskii, with its sharp curved lines, is visually dominating, a good contrast to all the shrubbiness.  Aloe speciosa, Aloe castanea, and the carmeronii/hardyi hybrid have all grown and will be in a year or two more clean lines to offset the shrubby blobs of foliage.  I added an Aloe ferox (candelabra version) next to Salvia leucantha.  The Aloe was a gift from Succulents And More.
What the area needs now is mulch!

Aloe speciosa:
Isn't it clever how the arch in the background exactly frames the garbage bins?  I planned that carefully.  In the foreground the California native Trichostemna is starting to look a little ratty.  It's not a long-lived plant, so that's okay.  Protea neriifolia will need the space in a couple of years.
 The Aloe pseudorubroviolacea had a great bloom this spring.  
 It's about done, prematurely, because a female Oriole and two yellow crowned warblers are stripping all the flowers.  
Before the strip:
I don't begrudge the birds whatever they are getting from the flowers.  I just wish I could get a few seed pods so I could try growing more of this fabulous Aloe from seed.

 The Leucophyllum 'Thunder Cloud', still small but growing, is still a favorite for its silver-white foliage:
 I added a silvery Eremophila glabra 'Fire and Ice'.  It is the Australian equivalent to North America's Leucophyllum, a heat-loving desert plant that insists on excellent drainage.  The name "Eremophila" literally translates to "desert lover".  The flowers are reddish orange so will agree with nearby Tecoma 'Sparky' and Leucospermum 'Flame Giant', or so I hope. 
 Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream' has thrived. 

So, too, has California native Salvia clevelandii 'Winifred Gilman'.  Because there are so many orange and yellow flowering plants in this area,  purple makes a good accent.  This Salvia, plus S. leucantha, some volunteer Limonium perezii, and native Woolly Blue Curls,  Tricostemna lanatum, all add purple to the mix.  
 Leucospermum 'Flame Giant' had five or six flowers this spring.  Two bits of new growth are visible just below the flower, with their lighter color and fuzzier texture:
 Rather than fighting the dryness of the area, instead replacing what was there with plants that need a dry environment, we saved water, saved effort, and created a pleasing mix of distinctive plants.  Huh.  How 'bout that:  a project of relatively rapid success.  It only took sixteen years of failure first. 

Comments

  1. Good morning Hoover Boo,
    I think you did a great job!!! What a wonderful part of garden you created.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Marijke

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    1. The plants did the hard work. The winter rain helped a lot. I just helped a little. ;^) Thank you, Marijke.

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  2. I've been curious about how this has fared over the past (nine?!) months. The grounding influence, color- and texture-wise, of the glossy, thick, black aeonium, lime-leaved protea, and yellow Hunnemmania, amongst pops and jolts of purple, orange, and silver, is stunning. And clever, too, to use a reliable self-sower and something budget-friendly and easy to obtain and propagate as "filler" for more finicky, slower specimens. I'm very interested to see how this will change over the next few years as it grows into itself.

    Congratulations! On a scale of your choosing, do you consider this a success and, if so, how does it rank?

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    1. A great success! Nothing expensive died! (Yet.) The rain made a huge difference. I think it might get crowded in there eventually, but the proteas are short lived plants so it won't be an overwhelming problem. Just need to get a handle on that chlorosis as it seems to set the Grevilleas back. That the area looks lush yet is low water is a great thing.

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    2. The key to keeping grevillea looking sharp long-term in inland southern California continues to elude me. My one and only spot of good luck has been achieved on a partially sunny, quite acute bank, at the base of a fluffy, quite large Adenanthos sericeus (some cuphea cultivars and a callistemon are also nearby). The soil is rocky, thin, shallow, and partially hydrophobic by regular leaf litter from a stand of Cupressus sempervirens. It's like the place plants go to die, but several species of grevillea seem to find it fine. I have no idea how to replicate those conditions because they are otherwise maddening.

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    3. Sounds like you have quite a challenging garden! Are Grevilleas more coastal plants? I'll have to look into that. My neighbor gardens on what is basically a large rock, and Grevilleas struggled for her as well.

      I've killed Adenanthos sericeus twice--love that plant. Be nice if I could grow it.

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  3. My 'Moonlight' grevillea could probably also do with a shot of sulphur. It's blooming well but the leaves are a little too luminous and should be more green. I love the new continent of Proteana emerging in your world. My E. glabra is just now recovering its silvery good looks. I'm assuming its spring sulk was due to the relatively unusual amount of winter rainfall.

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    1. Moonlight seems to be the most resistant to chlorosis here. I must have seen E. glabra in your garden, but I'm drawing a blank. Will look back at the photos.

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  4. So many of my "wish I could grow" favorites, all together! Nice work Hoov.

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    1. I can't believe how well they are doing so far. Lucked out with the light soil and the instant drainage. Bad for roses, good for Proteas.

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  5. Good to see them doing so all, your collection is just superb!

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    1. Thanks! Perhaps I'll be able to find some of the dramatic Hawaiian hybrids someday. Not a huge selection for sale so far.

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  6. only 16 years ;~))

    Stripping the aloe flowers with our birds is - sunbirds can get into the flowers for the nectar, but the seed eating birds have to smash the flowers to get at the nectar.

    Strange for me to think of proteas as xeric, I think of them as needing winter rain (and I battle to keep mine alive at all!)

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    1. Yep, I am a quick learner! ;^)

      Maybe that is what the birds are doing. They come and pick a few off and then fly away with one. Over and over, all day long.

      Here if a plant can manage with winter rain, we think of them as xeric.

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  7. I continue to have problems with chlorosis on Grevilleas in one section of the back garden too, despite 2 applications of elemental sulfur. All the affected plants are still on the small side (originally purchased in 1-gallon pots) so I'm giving them more time, hoping they'll eventually adjust - or that I'll discover a perfect replacement. I love your combination of orange and purple-blue and have been contemplating whether possible replacements may be in that color range. My Protea 'Pink Ice' is still in a large pot - given my track record with Leucospermums, I'm almost afraid to try planting the Protea in the border.

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    1. Takes a while. Took months and months and months and several sprinkles of sulfur for the 'Superb' out front to finally green up. The proteas are supposed to be fine in pots, though they like a cooler soil so maybe shade the pots?

      Orange, yellow, and purple seem so much more California than pink and lavender...but I like pink and lavender, too.

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  8. The Craspedia globes against that big agave (Joe Hoak?): So. Cool.

    So cool that I didn't even see the anti-rabbit caging, had to look for it after reading the post.

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    1. Aloe thraskii behind Craspedia. It makes a fun contrast, the little globes bouncing on the breeze and the massive curves of the Aloe. The Craspedia is a fun plant!

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  9. Have now read last fall's post, and realize the succulent the globes are seen against is probably not an agave, but Aloe thraskii. Even. Cooler.

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  10. Good job of playing to the strengths of a site rather than fighting it: a lesson we would all do well to learn. I enjoy the commentary, explaining decisions and the thinking behind them.

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    1. Thank you Ricki. The local birds are really enjoying the plants, plenty of nectar, so it's good for more than pretty pictures.

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  11. If I visited your garden, I'd pull up a chair and stare at these plants for hours. Proteas are among my very favorite plant groups, and you've created an outstanding collection.

    One plant I think would be a great addition: Leucophtya brownii. I call it "silver tumbleweed."

    Craspedia globosa: Gotta look for one. Right up my alley!

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    1. I've had Leucophyta brownii formerly Calocephalis brownii off and on for a long time. I adore that plant! My latest are on the other side of the driveway with 'Joe Hoak' and Kalanchoe orgyalis, a dwarf selection called Silver Stone, or Silver Nugget, something like that. The regular size gets 4'x4' here.

      Remember, Craspedia wants regular water!

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  12. Your garden always looks fabulous to me! May your chlorotic plants soon be as green with envy as we are at the wonders you can grow in the ground in your climate. The arch framing the garbage bins is sheer genius. You're a master of the borrowed view.

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    1. That kind of borrowing I do not hesitate to return.

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