The Oldest Plants In The Garden


We moved here in 1999.  The garden was professionally hardscaped and landscaped in late 1999 - early 2000.  There are few plants left from that;  I either didn't like the landscaper's choices, or the plants died.  

Among the few of the landscaper's survivors are a 'Fuerte' Avocado tree.  "Yum!" is my first comment on that.  This area was and still is growing Avocados commercially.  Avocados want sharp drainage but at the same time moist soil, a challenge in our light silty loam, but the uphill neighbors water their lawn so generously I think the Avocado is benefiting from that, though their roots are not aggressive.  The only problem is grabbing the wonderful fruit before rodents do.  We rarely buy avocados now, because the flavor of home-grown renders a store bought fruit unappealing. 
 The other surviving tree is a Valencia orange.  This area was also a commercial citrus growing region.  The oranges are beyond wonderful, and like avocados we relish our own fruit and rarely buy any.  Where's the tree?  Just barely visible, as the slope plants caught my eye...
 ...there's the tree. Citrus are beautiful as well as delicious.  The scent of orange blossoms in spring is pure heaven.
 The day the landscaping crew left in early 2000 I was so happy, because they were here working for months.  There was a lot to do because the property was bare soil.  It was great to have the property to ourselves, finally.  That happy day I went out to a big box store and bought some cheap bulbs.  There are a few survivors still in the garden.  I've been pulling out hybrid Gladiolas for years, but one or two always manage to elude me. 
 The Tritelia laxa (Broadiea laxa) 'Queen Fabiola' are also still here.  This native California bulb I will plant more of this fall.  Marvelous plant, lives on rainfall alone, survived 5 years of drought without much rain...multipled without being a pest...in a poor location...cannot say anything bad at all about it.  
 
A few of the roses--two?--remain from our previous home.  Potted up and carted here, they sat for nearly a year before the new garden was ready for them.  Beautiful 'Evelyn' is sadly not what she was.  I fear crown gall.  She has a few buds;  after they open I'll hard-prune (for the first time ever) and see what happens.  There were some new basals in April, but rabbits ate them. 
'Iceberg', on the other hand, despite still growing off the same three stems(!!!!!!!!!) it had 20 years ago(!!!!!!!!!!!) glories on.  
'Iceberg' is at the extreme upper right left.  The hedge of 'Ambridge Rose' along the front of the large shade-covered window at right dates to 2000.  
 The one remaining non-tree from the original landscaping project is this violet Bougainvillea.  There were originally several planted.  One survived.  I learned that a well-established Bougie can be cut to the ground every few years to control size.  Since they bloom only on new growth, there is no reason to keep old growth unless you want nesting habitat for rats.  Avocado-eating rats.  Grrr!
Cut to the ground back in November.  All refreshed!

I was hog-wild for a whole lot of roses in the spring of 2000, buying and planting well over one hundred varieties.  Over the years, crown gall and our long drought, plus removing under performers and trying new cultivars, has lessened their number, but I still love them and still grow many. Lately I have decided multiples of a great rose are more satisfying than one of a whole lot of different ones.  
'Rose Rhapsody' has remained excellent for 16 years.   

There is also a different kind of "old plant" in the garden--the plants of childhood memories.  Mom and Granny loved Hydrangeas and Fuchsias, and this somewhat shady, somewhat moisture-retaining area has been good for both.  These plants are from the early '00s:




The stuff of memory belongs in a garden.  This is not the same plant, but it is the first plant I ever grew, being given it by a gardening neighbor when I was five.  A good plant for a little child: Graptopetalum paraguayense.  I believe the neighbor used the common name, "Ghost Plant".  I like it as much as I did when I was five. 
New plants belong in a garden, too.  Renewal and memory, balanced.  The newest plant here is Agave ovatifolia 'Vanzie':

Garden on! 

Comments

  1. So very jealous of your avocado tree, and your citrus. At least we can grow figs here, which I couldn't do in my previous Massachusetts garden. I suppose I could get ambitious and try again with overwintering a Meyer lemon in the greenhouse. I tried that when we first moved here, but didn't have the greenhouse then and had to bring it into the house, which wasn't successful. I know a little bit more now than I did then.

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    1. The sad story of my Meyer Lemon adventures shall not be revealed. Lots of people grow citrus in greenhouses--there is some good information out there about it, and you have the skill!

      Picked a fig this morning! Yum!!

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  2. I can only imagine how much better avocados and oranges picked fresh and at their peak are compared to store bought. Very rarely I've had an avocado from the store that had more flavor than usual. I'm sure they're still poor substitutes for home-grown. I love that Tritelia. Something I wish I had planted here. Yes, I still could, but I'm trying to separate myself from my parents' garden now.

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    1. Every region has its wonderful fruit, right? Apples, berries, cherries...I envy your climate for those.

      Since you know more than a few things about plants, I think you can grow whatever you want! A memory is sometimes enough--it need not always be out there in the garden.

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  3. That Avocado tree is magnificent! I remembered that you'd extolled its virtues during my visit to your garden and I looked for it locally in spring, to no avail. Perhaps I'll try to order one in the fall, although it looks as though its mature size could present an issue here. I also followed your advice and hard-pruned the Bougainvillea that came with the house this year - I didn't cut it all the way to the ground but it looks a LOT better, even given its less-than-optimal placement. Your success with the fuchsias amazes me. I grew them in my former garden but they hated this garden - as in your case, they're a sentimental favorite.

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    1. Avocados can be topped without an issue; actually kept short they produce fine, need less water, and the fruit is easier to pick. So do not hesitate to plant based on height--wack at the desired height, not a problem. 'Reed' for summer fruit, another for winter fruit...you are all set. One caveat--rodents love them, which I think raccoons do also, so keep that in mind, also the water. They love water but sharp drainage. Not a drought tolerant tree.

      Happy your Bougie looks good! Once they are really established in So Cal you can't kill them even if you want to.

      I'm also amazed the Fuchsias are doing as well as they are, but the ones I have are the less gorgeous, tougher ones (as Fuchsias go).

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  4. Your garden looks so beautiful to me Hoover Boo.
    Have a wonderful day.

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    1. Thank you kind Marijke. I hope you are having a beautiful June!

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  5. What is the white rose on the left side of the photo (growing vertically)? They are all magnificent!

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    1. That is 'Iceberg'. I erred in the typing, corrected it. Sorry!

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  6. I like that - a mixture of plants with memories, and some fresh ones to make memories with. Gentian blue bulbs are gorgeous.

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    1. Thanks Diana! The Tritelia makes a sweet splash of blue in late spring.

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  7. Oh yes, this is a wonderful post, thank you for sharing your garden history with us. I was just thinking abut how fabulous it is to have been gardening here since 2005, the little things (and some big ones) that have planted themselves in ways I never could have imagined.

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    1. There's more to gardening than muddy shoes!

      Have a blast at the Fling.

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  8. Ah, yes roses. I have been freed of them for many years now. Just something about them... I do enjoy them in other people's gardens.

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    1. Roses are the innocent gateway drug. Palms are crack cocaine! ;^)

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  9. I just planted a Climbing Iceberg and hope to grow it on an obelisk in the manner yours is growing. Do you have to trim it often?

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    1. 'Iceberg' has an interesting growth habit. It has a zig-zag type of growth habit--it will sprout a stem maybe 6-8", and at the tip will be a cluster of flowers. When the cluster finishes, it will sprout a new stem maybe 6-8" long from just below the flower cluster at about a 45 degree angle to the old stem. That new stem will then have a tip that is a cluster of flowers. Repeat, repeat, repeat. You end up with long zig-zaggy canes, not too thick and with very few prickles. I would not trim much until you build it up to the desired height, just take off the hips and remove any dead wood and over the years remove the oldest wood only when necessary. As I said, this roses is not much of a new basal producer. You may want to push it hard when it is young to see if you get some basals, but as I said all of what you see in the photo is coming off three very old grey wood canes that were there 20 years ago. Of course, with your more generous rainfall, you may get new basals, but I think you will get a lot of blackspot--this is not a blackspot resistant plant--which is why it is so popular in So Cal, where blackspot is rare.

      I would say it needs light but frequent pruning--just constant tipping off of the old flowers, really. Not even Felcos, just a pair of sharp scissors. Here in So Cal the shrub form is often just sheared into a ball after bloom with gasoline powered hedge trimmers, and the plant responds by bursting forth with another round of flowers.

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    2. Thank you, this is really helpful and I will know what to expect. I assume the canes are fairly pliable and easy to wrap around a structure?

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