Post Binge, Empties Tossed Around

 Post binge, empties are always tossed around

Time for plant shopping!  A relatively safe Pandemic excursion, as nursery shopping is outdoors, with lots of space.  Masks are required.  I wore two, and shopped at an off hour, when other customers would be few.  Cases are dropping here, so the visit was timed before the next spike upwards. 

--Two Lavender stoechas 'Winter Bee'

--Three Geum 'Totally Tangerine'.  I have no idea if these will bloom without winter chill.  Low price--might as well.  Commercial growers advice online read they will flower without chill, though better with it.  Apparently growers will chill their plants during production for better sales, because people mostly buy what's in bloom.  I grew 'Mrs. Bradshaw' for several years.  Each year it formed a perfect, tidy green mound, and never produced even a single flower. 

--Two Verbena lilacina 'De la Mina'  I have some of this plant already, with mixed results so far.  

Pretty good  'De la Mina' (regular light water and fertilizer):

 So-so (some water): 

Pretty bad (barely any water, no fertilizer):
Supposedly 'De la Mina' is extremely drought- and poor soil tolerant, though here, the above results do not support that.  There are few butterfly plants in the garden, so I'm adding the Verbena. 
V. lilacina is native to Cedros Island, off the coast of Baja.  The garden's other Cedros Island plant, Agave sebastiana, also struggled in hot dry conditions, malingering on the front slope for years.  My bad.  Finally to try and save it,  I moved it to lightly moist shade.  Voila!  Now, it's happy.  A Dudleya did the same thing.  Note to self:  when a plant does not perform in conditions supposedly good for it, try different conditions. 

--Hellebore 'Glenda's Gloss'.  Oh, my!  What hybridizers are doing with Hellebores these days is wonderful. 

They'll keep at it, and eventually Hellebores will have ever more incredible flowers, but be fussy, weak, stingy, and disease prone. (See Hemerocallis and Roses).  But the present seems to be their golden era. 

I did finish up cutting back huge 'Golden Celebration'.  It took about five hours stretched over one afternoon and the following morning.  The work was mostly pleasant, as it was very cool and quiet.  To spend hours grooming a single plant is a surprisingly touching experience, to become sensitive to the plant as a fellow living thing, feeling the sun it feels, the breezes that wave it, an individual experiencing a specific spot on Earth in this brief moment in time.  I spend more hours working on roses than on any other plant.  I share space and time with them.  No wonder it hurts to dig them out.

 GC last April:

 'Golden Celebration' is extremely vigorous, yet well behaved:  it does not send suckers everywhere.  The two new 4" GC's are already sprouting basal breaks.  Definitely time to prune the original:  new, swelling leaf buds were pushing off the old leaves, making them easy to pluck.  I de-tangled, de-twigged, sawed out a couple of dead canes, inspected, enjoyed, got annoyed when many clipped-off pieces hooked onto something like a cane or my arm and would not let go until the proper swear words were vehemently snarled.  You feel the aliveness of this rose, its love of growing and producing those big fat perfumed petal-stuffed cups of gold.  Unlike too many roses, this rose is never reluctant. 

Almost done.  A couple more feet came off the top after this photo.  

After that, I took another break for a quick visit to a small local independent nursery for potting mix.  There was no new stock except for annuals and bare root fruit trees (their specialty), but they did have great prices on Leucadendrons (less than half that of other places) that had been sitting a while unsold.  For many plants this is bad; for Leucadendrons, not so bad.  Their root growth seems to lag their top growth.  This nursery is fanatic about keeping their stock well watered, so the Leucadendrons did not appear to have dried out (something else to avoid when plant shopping).   

  'Safari Sunset':

And a couple more Leucadendron meridianum 'More Silver'.  I've killed one (baffled as to why) and have another waiting to go where a 'Joe Hoak' is flowering.  I'm just curious as to figure out what this plant needs to make it happy, and the price was right.  I even remembered the potting mix.

Some of the potting mix went to spots where roses and soil where removed, so I can plant the new 'Golden Celebration' roses in the same spots.  I exchanged old soil for soil that had never had roses  growing in it.  In addition, the chosen spots had host roses that appeared to be gall free, so I'm hoping the new GCs will be okay there.  Being as they are also potted own-root roses, I can plant them without injuring the roots.  Root injury allows infection to occur.  

Then there was clean up around almost-finished-blooming 'Joe Hoak', so it can be removed as soon as the bees and hummingbirds are finished with it.  All the Dymondia growing past the edging got removed.

'Joe's leaves I lopped off.  He doesn't need them anymore.  Two 'More Silver' will get 'Joe's spot.  One must go elsewhere.
 I ended up tossing a couple dozen small Aloes growing around 'Joe' that had offset like mad.  A shame to throw them out, but they have become simply overwhelming.  My giveaways out on the street were not successful.  

The Santa Ana winds kicked up fiercely Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Wednesday morning, by dumb luck, I planted the Lavenders, Geums, Verbenas, and the two new 'Golden Celebration' roses, before the wind had the opportunity to shrivel and kill them and blow them a half mile down the hill.  Hooray for dumb luck!

Other activities.  The Agave attenuata 'Kara's Choice' looks like it is preparing to flower.  No problem.  I've enjoyed it for years. 

In pruning and leaf-stripping the adjacent 'Bishops Castle' rose, I discovered...

Oy. No, I don't need forty new  'Kara's Choice'.  Actually don't need any--'Ray of Light' has surpassed 'Kara' in my affections.  See why I like solitary Agaves and Aloes? 

A happier discovery, up on the west slope:  a Rhodanthemum hosmariense seedling.  This fine little species can be divided if some of the growth happens to root itself away from the base of the plant, but never before has a seedling appeared in the garden.   I carefully moved it to a good location.

This is the plain old species, not the slightly-larger-flowered selections 'Casablanca' or 'Marrakesh'.  The plain old species is just as good.  

There's the seedling!
I was up on the neglected west slope to weed.  It wasn't as bad as expected.  The plan was to mulch it heavily last February, but last January, of course, I broke my arm.  The slope was left to look bad for another year.  Besides the not-as-many-as-feared weed population, there was a clump of Tazetta Narcissus, and a native annual Lupine. 

The Narcissus date back 20 years.  I pulled them all because they were gorgeous but aggressive, pretty but rampant--in short, weedy.  A tiny bulb or two survived hidden behind an Agave and they've grown large enough to bloom the past couple of years.   Lots and lots of Lupine seedlings, but the rabbits ate them all except one.

Also up on the west slope, it's time to admit that two of the three 'Valencia' orange trees need to come out.  I cringed to realize they've been struggling and failing to establish and grow for over a decade now.  They will never thrive.  Time to say goodbye to them, and to welcome to something new.  Add that task to the list. 

Back to the empty spot where roses 'Altissimo' and 'Tuscan Sun' were removed due to crown gall.  

Short term solution:  moved Salvia 'Waverly' there from a place that was too small for it.  'Waverly' grows (and grows, and grows) and blooms year round.  It's a fine nectar source for the usual bees and hummers, if not a must-have for the gardener.  Nice plant, just not...spectacular. 

Not much in the way of eye candy in this post, so I'll end with some.

Aloe petricola starts out orange, turns yellow as it opens, exposing smoky grey filaments tipped with golden anthers.  Oh you pretty thing!

 This week the Hooded Oriole couple appeared, as they have each spring for several years.  They come for nectar.  The male scouted out the front slope.  Then he vanished, and the female appeared, to feed from Grevillea 'Moonlight' and Aloe aculeata.  

Lady Oriole in Aloe marlothii:

On Aloe aculeata:

Aloe aculeata is extremely popular.  An Orange Crowned Warbler at it, too:

The gardener and the garden are starting to feel renewed.  Changes to enjoy this spring. 


  1. I have the same problem with the Valencia orange ... it never grows, it never dies. I think your solution is best: take it out. I wonder why it is that way?

    1. The original one (2000) we have has been great--lots of very sweet fruit. For the other two, what fruit trees were there before failed (can't even remember what). Planted two more Valencias (what was I thinking?) around 2007, nice healthy plants, and they never did anything. The drought made them worse. Last 3 years they recovered a bit and I was hopeful, is just not happening. Patient enough.

      My theory is that they never got enough moisture when they needed it at planting, and they have never been able to recover. Will know more when I get a look at the root system.

      The 'Cara Cara' planted on flat ground (better moisture levels) is insanely good. Just had a glass of fresh-squeezed juice yesterday--I can't imagine a better flavor. Pure heaven. Last winter gave several hundred pounds of fruit to a food bank. Apparently they were a huge hit.

    2. Ooh, that does give me SoCal envy: I had my first taste of a Cara Cara at our holiday dinner, part of a fennel salad. OMG I could eat a dozen of them! And such a pretty color.

    3. It's a privilege to be able to grow citrus and avocados. Just had the most delicious avocado for lunch. Lucky, and we know it, and never forget it.

  2. You've been busy, although I'm not surprised. I've had similar mixed results with both Geum and Verbena'De la Mina'. I would be surprised if my Agave 'Kara's Choice' produced pups like that - I've yet to see any sign of that kind of activity. I'll be interested to know when you discover the conditions Leucadendron 'More Silver' prefers as I killed one of these plants a few yeas ago, only one of two Leucadendron I've ever lost. The wind has been relentless here and, although it's nowhere near as awful as the snow and ice conditions in the PNW or Texas, I'm ready for a nice still afternoon. Some rain would be nice too.

    1. Thanks for your experience with the Geum and V 'DlM'. Good to experiment. I'm experimenting this year. Same with 'More Silver'. I read the species is found on limestone outcrops in nature, so I'm guessing it does not need acid soil, but does need sharp drainage. Mine was thriving in a moist soil (moist for here) and died very very suddenly. Did it hit a bit of fertilizer given to the nearby rose? No clue.

      Breezy here yesterday, but windy overnight and this morning. Sigh. Rain, another sigh.

  3. What a job I did on Golden celebration this winter-but unfortunately Dr Huey has reared it's ugly head. I'm seriously thinking of digging it up and finding an own-root version. And it's planted too close to Reine des Violettes so this would be an opportunity to give it a better spot.
    If I can grow L. 'More Silver' here in Napa , surely you can too !

    1. GC has been spectacular here on its own roots. The 4 inchers from Annies are shooting out multiple new basals! Based on this I highly recommend own-root. You may be able to root a cutting from yours--1992 = out of patent.

      Would be very interested as to the conditions your 'More Silver' is growing in. Is your soil clay? Is your plant in a dry spot? On a slope? Part shade? Obviously it endures your ferocious summer heat...Thanks.

  4. Oh fun, new plants! Last spring, during the beginning of the pandemic, my local plant source had an offer for us to order ahead and then drive up for our plant orders. That was nice; I wonder if they'll do that again this season. Your selections are beautiful! I'm with you on times spent on roses, and 'Golden Celebration' sure is lovely.

    1. I've been working hard on what plants are already here. It was good to take a break, but new plants really are fun. I felt pretty safe at the nurseries it being outdoors, everyone masked, not many people. Indoor stores, different story.

  5. Lots to admire in your post. I agree that the Hellebore is a beautiful creation, and Golden Celebration is simply fabulous.
    Best of all is the Aloe petricola....simply stunning! I have a large pot waiting for an inhabitant after many failures, and your aloe would be perfect, but I fear it wouldn’t like frost. Those red and yellow flower spikes are indeed something to behold.

    1. I'm not a big yellow-flower fan, but GC makes me so. And the fragrance!

      A. petricola listed as hardy to 25F, do you get colder than that? There are a few Aloes that do the two-toned thing. It's a beautiful effect.

  6. It is so exciting to see what all you are doing in the garden while I sit here and wait for the snow to melt. I am sure the bees and hummingbirds appreciate your attenetion to their needs. Obviously the OC Warbler does too. I have never thought of them being nectar birds. Sweet.
    The built in ladder on your house looks like a fine place for a big vine to climb. ;)

    1. Well, I sulk all summer when it is so hot. We all have our off times, except where it is very mild all the time, like coastal San Diego county or the Central Coast.

      I never knew the warblers are nectar feeders either. Very surprised to see them yesterday at the Iochroma flowers, too.

      'Altissimo' was on the ladder. Unfortunately time has revealed that the reflected heat from that stucco wall is much too much for roses and clematis. If I stand next to the wall on a sunny day even in winter(!) it is like a broiler. No wonder the 'Altissimo' canes were badly scorched. Oh, well...

  7. I hope Geum 'Totally Tangerine' works for you, it's an incredible colour.
    Enjoy spring. Finally, everything crossed, our forecast looks quite good for the coming week. I am straining at the leash.

    1. Is it? Have never seen a TT flower in person. Hopefully at least one emerges.

      Have fun out there!

  8. I love your description of how you become so Zen with your rose. It's the best part of gardening. Good for the soul and mental health. Have been looking everywhere for G.Totally Tangerine. Geums are native in my part of the world and make a great groundcover. However. TT is elusive.

    1. Very good for all facets of health. (Hopefully for the rose as well.)

      I was going to mail-order TT, and there it was at the local nursery. I've never seen it for sale locally anywhere before.

  9. Your line 'when a plant does not perform in conditions supposedly good for it, try different conditions' made me giggle here! You have been busy and have some nice new plants there, and the rest of the garden is looking good as always. Wish our Agave attenuata, albeit in pots would be a bit more prolific, we rarely get any pups from them.

    1. And here, we get many too many pups. Why can't plants just cooperate? You'd think they were human or something. ;^)

  10. I wonder why my 'Golden Celebration' isn't as vigorous? I moved it last year (or was it 2 years ago?) and decided to try it as a climber over a gate archway. Do you think it would work well for that? I have 'Altissimo' in a pot waiting to be planted. I recall it has stiff braches and is hard to train horizontally? How did you grow yours? You are motivating me to get out today and get to work. We are supposed to have a rain-free today and tomorrow.

    1. Is your GC grafted? Maybe GC likes warmer soil. (It does not like hot, of course. It's an Austin.) I've gotten 12' lax canes with 12' laterals coming off of them, so at least here it certainly would be climber sized. Just thinking this morning that maybe I should get one more and try doing that, too.

      I read that 'Altissimo' at least back then was considered more of a "pillar" rose, something for growing supported, but straight up. Canes are extremely stiff. Mine went straight up that ladder-like trellis with short laterals that went out a bit.

      Rain free for two whole days? Sob. Nothing here, dry, dry, dry, and the garden will suffer for it this summer if we don't get a "March Miracle". Enjoy being out there! Spring is coming.

  11. It sounds like you're making the best of some excellent weather and it sounds like you're really enjoying it. I'm again impressed by how much you get done!
    I can't wait to see the roses in flower. I think those fully double, rich yellows like GC are my favorites!

    1. Yes, it's been fun--because its not hot! Great to work for hours without feeling overheated/scorched/baked. In summer heat I last 10 minutes--maybe.

      GC Is a graceful plant, too. Most roses are not.


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