What's Up At The End of October 2021

We got about 0.4" (1 cm) of rain on Monday--everything washed clean. 

Rainwater collected:

The rain was energizing.  I've been digging out the Dymondia near the oak tree:

 As the oak grows and this area becomes ever more shaded, the Dymondia will die out anyway.  Pulling Dymondia is easy, but tedious.  Some of the day lilies  and Iris are getting moved, along with a few stepping stones.   Agaves and another Centaurea ragusina await planting here:

The 'Improved Meyer' lemon went up on the west slope, where a 'Valencia' orange failed.  I just could not find a better place.  Irrigation tube reworked, then the little tree screened off to protect it from rabbits, who found the other, older 'Improved Meyer' foliage delicious. 

Hence when I walk out on the driveway and see this...

...I'm happy for whatever ate the rest of it. 

 Pulled a dead Verbena and the two Carex testacea. The Carex, though fine plants, were always intended to be temporary.  Replaced with 'Queen Mum' Agapanthus (seen to the right of the red bucket ), 'Pruntucky Summer' Agapanthus (to the left of the red bucket), one of the 'Twister'/'Indigo Frost' Agapanthus (to the right, not in the frame) and I'm still thinking about the rest of this.  The Hydrangeas are getting bigger and bigger, even though hard-pruned each winter. 

A touch of Autumn color on the 'Dynamite' Lagerstroemias. 

 A bit also on the 'Oshio Bene' Maple, if photographed early in the morning, backlit:

The 'Cara Cara' oranges also begin to color.  They'll be ready to start harvesting around Christmas:

A few of the Verbenas are still going: 
Picked up another 'Meerloo' lavender.  A fine performer, the foliage extremely fragrant. 

 It went out front:

The seedling lavenders moved there last winter grew well through spring, but died in summer's heat.  Hopefully 'Meerloo' has time to establish before next summer.   

This little Sanseveria that lives on the patio had a good summer, producing two offsets. 

The Banksia prionotes did okay, too.  It's over 5' tall now.  The first flower next year, maybe?  That will be an event!

The native Rhus integrifolia is dioecious (the plant produces either male flowers (producing pollen) or female (producing seeds), not both)  which explains why the flowers look different from the most common photos on the internet, because they are male flowers, even smaller and less ornamental than the female form.  At this early stage, they do have charm:  

The Rhus is down in the very lowest part of the garden, where the autumnal mix of bright sun with deep shadow is alluring. 
The Ceanothus megacarpus planted in early August held a surprise.  At purchase the leaves were matte, tough, leathery, and a dark green--very different from the Ceanothus foliage I was used to--more like the leaves of the native oak.  A few months later, with irrigation and part shade... 

...they look more typically Ceanothus-y, glossy, and a richer green.  

You fooled me!

In the edible/cutting garden, a change.  One planter bed had sat fallow for more than a year. 

Time--past time, really, to plant sweet pea seeds.  The rain was a real motivator.  I moved the tuteur to the bed, planted some "Dutch" iris bulbs in front of the tuteur, planted sweet pea seeds around the base, and arranged hardware cloth to protect emerging seedlings from birds and rabbits.  This is intended to jazz up the axial view of this area from the front gate for the spring. 

More sweet pea seeds around the umbrella trellis, with more hardware cloth protection:
More against the back of the tomato kennel.  They grew fantastically well here last year, climbing up the 1/2" hardware cloth without any help from me.  It worked great.  All seeds watered in with rain, and with additional collected rainwater the next day. 

Also planted some sweet pea seeds in pots, to give away.  Sweet peas make people happy. 
 The tomatoes were a failure this summer.  Now, now, long past time for tomatoes, the remaining plant in the tomato kennel decided it was a finally a good time to produce some:

More new Iris bulbs went in here and there.  Some planted last year are already emerging.

 An angle I don't usually see, in the back, made better with early morning light:

Kalanchoe luciae getting ready to flower. I threw out a huge number of them last year, and kept just a few.
A rivalry has been going on over possession of the top of the Agave marmorata bloom stalk, a prime lookout point for songbirds.  Oak acorn woodpecker at the top was eventually chased off by the smaller but feistier Mockingbird indicated by the arrow:

Chopped back a couple of the Leonotus.  They may come out.  There are seedlings elsewhere.  These two were taking more space than they should.

This one blocked a path in the gully:

This one overwhelmed the new little 'Sunbelt Savannah' rose:

Lovely to be out there again, encouraged by the rain.

The plants also seemed refreshed.

That's what's up around here at the end of October. 


  1. I know the rain is much needed and I'm glad to hear you got some. You are right, it can be motivating. It looks like you've been busy. I love the view of the new angle. So beautiful.

    1. Thank you Phillip!

      Taking photos is one way to get a fresh look at a familiar place. I find it refreshing, almost like rain.

  2. I agree. There is something about the first real rain that is refreshing. It's heralds a change in seasons perhaps? The washing clean of all plants and rocks from months of accumulated dust is hard to beat. Soil that isn't parched feels better. Up here in our part of the Bay Area we ended up with 2 or 3 inches in 24hrs of continuous down pour - other places got much more of course. I think Mt Tamalpais got 13+ inches - no thanks!

    1. Two or three inches is awesome. Your plants will be really happy. Did your "dry creek" on your hillside function as intended?

      13+ wowza! That's like a hurricane in Louisiana.

      The plants breathe better with the dust washed off--maybe that is part of why they look so perky after the first rain.

  3. So much to be done when summer finally gives way to more manageable weather. Excellent photos to start and end this post. I got a little crazy with dutch iris bulbs this fall; I online shopped for about 60 of those well managed cuties... most are planted already. I'm amazed (if not a little jealous) that you can seed sweet pea now... I LOVE them.

    1. Going crazy with dutch iris is a great way to go crazy--they are super duper!. My oldest colony is 20 years old now and still looks fabulous every March/April (it started as 2 bulbs). The Triteleia laxa 'Queen Fabiola' has been excellent here as well, blooming later, in June/July.

      Sweet peas here, the method is to plant them in early fall when the soil is still warm, so they germinate and grow to a few inches tall. Then the soil cools down, and they sit most of the winter, maybe growing some root system, but when the soil starts to warm again to their liking in late winter, they shoot up like rockets and start to flower, so that we can have flowers before it gets too hot for them and they die.

  4. I love those first views showing your resplendent Yuccas. Rabbits are active here too, although they seem to be working mostly under the cover of darkness. It was uncomfortably warm here yesterday but I soldiered ahead on projects myself, including planting sweet pea seeds. I have more sad-looking dahlias to remove and more pruning to do but I also still need plants to fill the empty spots I already have. Shopping is required but I feel oddly unmotivated to get out there to do it.

    1. Your Dahlias produced such beautiful flowers, if they look sad now they are just tired and ready to rest.

      I have too many plants waiting in pots to even think of retail therapy right now, though shopping would be fun. Just came inside out of the heat--it's not as hot today, but its still too hot to be out there mid-day. Have a great weekend!

  5. I thought our rabbit invasion had ended this summer, perhaps in the same way you shared (we have a lot of coyotes) but there have been a few sightings in the past couple of weeks, darn it.

    Seeing that new little 'Meerloo' lavender I'm reminded of how compact mine used to be. Do you prune them at all, or just let them be?

    1. Rabbits. They multiply like, you know... Do you have feral domesticated there or are they the wild ones?

      I started pruning all my lavenders. They live longer and look much better that way. 'Meerloo' is a low grower but light shearing and tipping still make a big difference in preventing the split-open-exposing-dead-stems appearance.

    2. Our bunnies are the wild ones... and thanks for the pruning tip.

  6. Yes, I understand your rabbit situation, and use similar techniques. Oh, to able to plant citrus trees outdoors, though. Jealous. ;-)

    1. Something dug up and ate a couple of iris bulbs in another less protected spot--grrrr! Raccoon? Possum? Grrrrr!

      We are very lucky to be able to grow citrus, and I never forget that. Home-grown citrus are like home-grown tomatoes--so much better!

  7. You have been BUSY. Lots of changes that will beat fruit well into next year.

    I'm crazy about your first photo!

    1. Hopefully!

      I'm practicing framing that area for when the 'Pink Sugar' Arctotis (lower left) are in flower. The icing on the cake.


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