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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.

Summer 2020: Few New Plants And Updates On Recent Purchases

Above, Gaillardia (plant not new at all, but flower new)
Erica speciosa is not new, but a risky summer move out of too much shade into full sun stimulated flowers!  If not new, then at least renewed, with a second chance to prosper in the sunny location it needs.
 I left one of last year's Trachelium caeruleum plants to overwinter;  it is growing and flowering well again this year.  The volunteer spring seedlings of Trachelium caeruleum not eaten by rabbits have also thrived.
One Trachelium in the gully behind the 'Cherry Mocha' Lagerstroemia, a tiny gift plant from SucculentsandMore last year.  It's done great: 
 One Trachelium near the gate into the veggie/cutting garden:

Via mail order, a Magnolia laevifolia.   
Fresh out of the shipping box: 
I love Magnolia fragrance.  When the neighbor's M. grandiflora is flowering, I'll climb up on our retaining wall to inhale the perfume.  Heavenly.  So a shrub-sized Magnolia seems like a good addition.   

M. laevifolia is slow growing, has very fragrant flowers, and is a 10' shrub, not a 60'-80' tree. All (all?!?!) that is needed is a suitable place.   A couple different spots that may work.   Too hot to plant now.  I did pot it up to reduce stress until autumn planting season arrives. 

One potential spot is in one of the terraces in the gully, a place currently occupied by an Iochroma 'Princess', purchased partly because hummingbirds visit the flowers (always a major plus) and partly because I wanted to screen out the house in the back from our patio as fast as possible.  Which it did.  
May 2019:
 If you want a fast tall narrow not-cold-hardy screen, this is it, though staking and some pruning to shape is required. 

 From the other side of the wall, it is the backlit green foliage behind the wrought iron, doing a screening job perfectly:
 A few years back, my first results with Leucadendron 'Ebony' were failures--this garden's light, quick draining soil are too dry for it without regular irrigation.  Success came last year in an irrigated location.
Oh you pretty thing! 
So a week or so ago, when a healthy one gallon crossed my path at a very good price...resistance was futile.
And a Pentas lanceolata plant purchased a few days earlier.  Native to Africa and Yemen, Pentas lanceolata is a summer annual in colder climates.  In Southern California it will winter over if the winter is not too cold, and recover if cut back and fertilized the following spring. Occasionally, it will reseed a bit. The flowers are said to be attractive to butterflies, though I haven't seen much of that here.
Very tiny Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' has grown well.  A few weeks ago it was the size of a toothpick.  Unlike Trachelium, rabbits leave this one alone.  I was generous with fertilizer to good result--it even has a few flowers already.  A new individual plant--several others are already feeding hummingbirds in the garden--why not another? 
And the new Canna, 'Phaison', also growing.  In summer's heat Cannas are super fast, if they get enough water.   
And trying a Catharanthus hybrid, a popular summer annual in some parts of the country;  here it will live over in the right spot for a year or two.  Its former name was Vinca rosea.  It is a member of the Apocynaceae family, which also includes Oleander, Plumeria, Carissa, Stapelia, Fockea, and Pachypodium.  C. roseus is listed as an invasive plant in Florida. 
Hmm...bright...should have bought the one with white flowers.  Oh, well... 
Someone selling their house in the neighborhood last spring planted a big area with these Catharanthus, and quite a few survived winter and still look good.  So, one as an experiment.  My Mom used to grow the species and would keep the same plants sort of alive, mostly defoliated and what leaves remaining chlorotic, for years, long past the time when they should have been pulled.  It made me sad for a number of reasons.  Hence I've long avoided Catharanthus:  because they made me sad.

An impulse-buy fern from Trader Joe's last year struggled as a house plant;  under the Acer 'Oshio Bene' it is reviving:
A commenter back in September of last year ID'd this as Pteris cretica ‘Albolineata’.  The Pteris in a pot, sunk into the ground:
 The Annie's Annual order back in February--
 --the 'Davids Choice' Abutilon has grown but it is in total shade from Hydrangeas that grew into giants this spring.  'David' needs to be moved this autumn.

The 'Old Berkley' Fuchsia is growing and flowering:
I thought Scabiosa 'Fama' was part of that order, but not according to the photo.  Huh.  Anyway, the Scabiosa 'Fama' needed to be moved to a sunnier spot in May.  The move set it back, but it is flowering again, though the flower stems are floppy.  They need support from neighboring plants.   
 Rose 'Grandmother's Hat' is growing vigorously and has produced three flowers--blowsy form, with hints of a strong fragrance to come once the plant establishes.  The flower form should improve as well.
Long canes flopping, photo-bombed by Salvia 'Amistad', an equally rampant grower. 
 The native buckwheat, Eriogonum latifolium, started to either die or go summer-dormant a few days ago" 
 New-this-winter rose 'Sweet Mademoiselle' finally produced a single flower.  Well, maybe it will improve next year. 
 Winter-purchased Leucadendron 'Harlequin' has colorful new growth and seems happy so far: 
Last year's 70% off 4" 'Polish Spirit' Clematis had a great first bloom this spring I largely couldn't see, since most of the vine fell down between two roses.  The plant shot up some new growth and more easily visible flowers have appeared.  Cool!
 Less new plants than in past years.  Not plant shopping much, and not mail order plant shopping much.  When will plant shopping resume?  Fall?  Winter?  It's looking more and more like next year, AWHGTSAEV.  (After We Have Gotten The Safe And Effective Vaccine). 
Let's take a break from Covid thoughts to enjoy a gorgeous rose:   
However, stepping back from plant shopping for a while has been a big positive.  Focusing on plants already in the garden and what they need to be more healthy and more beautiful has made the garden better.  The lack of agony over where to plant in the ground has not been missed.  (Except now that Magnolia, and the Leucadendron, need places for.)

Demand for plants has been strong.  Non-gardeners staying home and "discovering" gardening means it's okay for us longtime plant devoted types to take a break from buying.      


  1. I look forward to seeing your new Magnolia in the ground. Magnolia grandiflora is another tree that may be best in someone else's garden. This time of year, I'm picking up leaves and flower petals twice a day - those thick leaves just don't decay when blown into the shrubbery. In contrast to you, I've obliterated my usual "no summer planting" rule; however, my local garden center, the only place I've visited since March, is hit or miss so I'm ordering a lot more online. As I'm slowly pulling apart entire areas of the garden, the relative shortage of plant material is becoming more frustrating but I'm still not prepared to drive to my usual haunts in OC to shop. I'm slowly experimenting with propagating from seed , divisions and cuttings.

    1. I look forward to a flower, but it will probably be two years at least, or more. I collect the neighbor's Mag. leaves that fall in my garden and let them get really dry--then stomp--they crumble nicely and get composted. No bugs, no disease, they are good material for mulch or compost.

      This spring I moved some volunteer seedlings to empty spots, and rooted quite a few cuttings (Salvia and Cuphea). That worked out well. Got the Leucadendron and the Catharanthus at Armstrong's. They had a fair amount of stock, all fresh. Went during the week so it was very quiet--tho I only went once. Really I have plenty of plants--can do without buying for a good while!

  2. That Ebony Leucadendron is just beyond fab... sigh. I agree that it's great to stay home and work with what you have. I got a community garden plot this year, and have been moving unhappy plants from my shade into the blistering sunlight of the community garden. I swear, it took mere days for some to veritably explode into bloom. It's so exciting to see, it makes me giggle! And yes, all the non-gardeners becoming gardeners is a wonderful thing. A major silver lining to this pandemic! Hope this pattern persists.

    1. 'Ebony'--it is a thrill to see it every time. I've been out wandering the garden deciding where the new one will best thrive.

      More gardeners is good, yes, yes. :^) Think of all the fascinating plant nurseries that would appear, yes, yes! And friendships blooming, too.

      Great news that your community plot is yielding beauty and happiness. We all need healthy pursuits in this strange new place we find ourselves.

  3. I too have not bought many plants this year and surprisingly I don't miss all the impulse buys I usually do and then scramble to find places for them. Finally got two shrubs in the ground that have lived in their pots for the last four years. So much more satisfying to look around and propagate plants you already have.

    1. Sure don't miss the scramble for places in the ground--hopefully it is a lesson learned that I will not forget when plant nursery visits re-commence someday.

      Your shrubs that got into the ground may "leap"--it will be fun to watch them and see how they react after several years in pots.

  4. You have a lot going on in your garden despite not purchasing as much as you usually do. I think you will like your magnolia purchase.

    1. Very fortunate to be able to garden so much! I try to never ever forget that.

  5. Congrats on your Magnolia laevifolia, it is such a good plant, beautiful all year round and it's flowers are simply gorgeous.

    1. Thanks for the recommend--it was your posts on it that prompted my interest. It has grown a new leaf since arriving, so hoping for success!

  6. I am going to have a Lilac taken out and plan to replace it with M. laevifolia if I can find it. Polish Spirit is just so cool. I am impressed with your 'Fama' success plant I have tried at least 4 times in 4 different locations to no avail. This year I bought Scabiosa caucasia 'Perfecta Alba' and it has thrown up several flowers it's first year. A second one is on the list !

    1. Great replacement for a Lilac! Got mine at Dancing Oaks but being mail order it is small and they are quite slow growers. Would have loved a selection called 'Gails Choice' (for reasons you may understand) but that seems to be a UK-only one.

      Huh. Had no trouble at all with 'Fama', tho moving it set it back some.

      The vigor and health of the 4" Annie's 'Polish Spirit' was a big surprise. Usually the tiny Clems struggle--that one took off right away. Or maybe I just know better how to get them going now.


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