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 The road to optimism is paved with gratitude.  Today is a holiday dedicated to gratitude. Gratitude for the garden, For simple pleasures, like just baking a loaf of bread,  For loved ones most of all! Happy Thanksgiving, with optimistic hope 2021 is much better than 2020.

Oddity/More Work On The Front Slope


Above:  after extensive chopping, an oddity

The gauge there on the wall in the bottom of the photograph is quite unattractive for so visible a spot.  A few years ago I put a Euphorbia tirucalli in a pot just in front of the gauge as temporary camouflage.  That worked well for several years, until the Euphorbia sent a root out of the pot and into the ground.  

 Swift growth ensued.  The Euphorbia got tall and wide and shattered the pot.  Yes, the roots did that, (and yes, what a ridiculously small pot for an 8' tall plant):


Should I leave it like that, a chopped oddity?  There's a Ligustrum in the neighborhood trimmed in a similar fashion:, no.   The top three feet could be chopped off and stuck it in a different pot for a while.  Maybe.  I'll see. 

More work on the front slope.  It looks so much more more shrubby than it used to--the oak tree, the 'Dynamite' Crape Myrtles have grown, the Leucophyllum, the Leucospermums, the Leucadendrons...but there is still plenty of space for Aloes and Agaves. 

  The improved irrigation is going to do good things for the Agaves and Aloes.  There's one more area that needs irrigation coverage.  I can add more plants after adding a sprinkler.  

Those two Agave ovatifolias really need some water:

 A morning was spent digging for the pipe that runs through the area in preparation for adding a sprinkler head.  There is a sprinkler somewhere there--capped off some years ago.  Best just to add a new one exactly where needed.  Found the pipe;  need various irrigation parts to finish. 

Because there is better coverage, small succulents can now survive on the front slope (I think).  Some added as a trial to see how they will do, and to fill spaces while the new Agaves and Aloes grow.  

  Yep, still need to mulch:

I could never use smaller plants before because the slope was just too hot and dry.  I tried a few and they didn't work.  The better irrigation will change that.  A smaller Agave, 'Dragon Toes' suffering in deep shade under the rapidly growing oak tree got moved back into the sunlight:

Out with the chaotic mass of Aloe 'Rooikappie'.  Great flowers, but didn't like the plant.  There were Aloe burhii in three different places on the slope. I moved them together as a group some months ago  (circled in purple).  The five yellow arrows point to 'Moonglow' Aloes--the original rosette someone snapped off, and 4 offsets, freshly planted, that emerged from the decapitated stump that remained.  The scale of the slope is such that Aloes larger than 'Rooikappie' will look more in proportion to the space.  The plan is that the 'Moonglow's are temporary, until I can obtain and grow up some more large, solitary Aloes like rubroviolacea, aculeata, tomentosa, reitzii, and similar. 

The red arrow points to an Aloe tauri moved out of a too-small place.  A. tauri gets bigger than I thought it would.  (Yep, need to mulch.) 

Amidst all this, I came out one morning to find someone had kicked over Aloe wickensii and broken off some leaves.  Gee, thanks!  I'm thinking to move it to a safer spot up the slope.  There are plenty of Agave parryi truncata that could take its place--there's one to the left of the wickensii.  Try kicking one of those over, unknown assailant.   Ha ha!
While doing these various things, on the driveways edge I pulled out an Orlaya grandiflora that was declining.

I realized Sedum 'Coppertone' would look good with the orange/yellow flowers of the Lantana, and the yellow of the Calylophus.  Here's the Sedum making a good accent to Abelia 'Kalaidescope':
There was a pot of freshly rooted Sedum cuttings waiting in a shady spot for a place in the ground.  Some of them went on the front slope as an experiment, and some here.  They will color up in a few days 
 I'm excited that the slope will be better with these changes.  And yep, must mulch.  After I get that last sprinkler in place. 


  1. Your changes will be good. I really like that coppery sedum. I know that feeling of 'I need to mulch.'

    1. That Sedum has proven to be a great plant. Such an eye-catching orange in full sun.

      I've been chopping up plant material and spreading it as mulch in out-of-the-way areas--I wish it was good looking enough to put everywhere.

    2. We have a chipper, and that way I can spread the prunings as mulch.

    3. I thought extensively about a chipper, but decided the issue of storage for the beast was going to be a problem. So, often sit out on the patio with secateurs and a pile of plantstuff, chopping it at my leisure into small easily compostable or spreadable bits.

  2. I 've tried calylophus a few times and never got very far with them, but look at yours in August! And now I'm wondering if I shouldn't do a second sowing of orlaya if you're pulling out one declining just now, maybe sow some more orlaya in May...And I love it when a blogger writes things like "solitary aloes like..." so I can add to my lists! I remember it better coming from you than books.

    1. The Calylophus wants full full sun. Just as an experiment when mine started looking tired I trimmed it back, gave it a deep soaking, and a hit of fertilizer, and it looked good again pretty quickly.

      I threw Orlaya seeds here and there all at once--some took their sweet time coming up, hence plants that have have staggered bloom times. It paid to be lazy, ha ha!

      Suprafoliata, gariepensis, capitata, cryptopoda, peglarae...

  3. I viewed the first photo with a mix of amusement and horror. The Euphorbia looks a little like a deliberate art installation. But that trunk is scary! I suspect that my 'Sticks on Fire' in a strawberry pot has also sent roots into the ground, although it hasn't broken its pot (yet). I set out the 50 or so cuttings I took when I trimmed mine back last week for the neighbors last week - and they were entirely gone within 2 hours. I wonder if this is the start of a neighborhood nightmare...

    You're making great use of plants on hand to fill areas that need filling. I'm very impressed by all your work on the irrigation system too. Our system here could use work as it was installed for the garden we inherited when we moved in, which had huge lawn areas. We (the "royal we" in this case) have moved a few sprinklers and installed more drip and soaker hoses but we've never undertaken the wholesale revaluation that's probably needed.

    1. It was just too weird looking so it came out this morning. I don't have the talent to make weird-looking work. The root system was surprisingly pitiful because the pot had been strangling it--pulled it out with one hand. I did not put out any cuttings because of the sap, and yeah, neighborhood nightmare fear. There is that common name "pencil tree", but it really does become a tree. There's one at the Huntington that is, literally, a tree.

      It really is empowering to do the irrigation yourself. It is a miserable job but it's gotten much easier with practice and now I can fix problems and make adjustments without having to hire and wait wait for them to fix it.

  4. My you have been busy. I'm always amazed ant how you can put cuttings in there and within a few weeks you've created a showpiece!
    I just found a bunch of a similar sedum and will be putting in a patch similar to yours this week. Even with our weaker sun I hope they don't sunburn. The cuttings have been in a bucket since June so you can't blame them if they do, but they need to get planted or tossed since we do have a deadline to our growing season!

    1. Every climate has virtues--no winter rest here! I haven't had much problem with sunburn on that sedum. It's surprisingly tough. I'm surprised at how fast some succulents can root. Days, sometimes.

  5. Good for you - that's a lot of work. And it will look great - it already does! Love the orange, and - on that note - I had no idea that Kaleidoscope Abelia does so well in SoCal. It must be a lot tougher than I thought. I also didn't know that those Euphorbias got so darn big!! Wow... so much to learn. Lastly, I'm very impressed that you do your own irrigation work.

    1. Well after I mulch. ;^)

      Abelias do great here. Incredibly tough shrub--one of mine near death from the drought has recovered and is thriving again. Hummingbirds love the flowers, too.

      I just went out for a curbside pickup at the store for irrigation parts, and saw that Euphorbia as a tall, dense hedge--it looked remarkably good--but I wouldn't want to have to maintain it. Sure must keep people out of the homeowner's yard.

      There are some pretty good "how to" irrigation videos on YouTube. My sister remarked a few years ago that when my nephew wanted to learn anything he looked for how-to's on YouTube. Now I do, too.

      Though a good tip for working on irrigation came from the mow-blow guy who does the neighbor's lawn. He always puts down a tarp or uses a wheelbarrow for the pile of soil dug up--I started doing that. Keeps everything so much cleaner and tidier and gets the soil out of the way...


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