Axial View Lesson Learned


I've been working now and then to better plant-dress the above blue obelisk, to draw and lure the eye.  Last autumn, a first attempt: planting sweet pea seeds around the obelisk and blue Dutch Iris in front of the sweet peas.  An existing lavender in front of the Iris would come into flower after the sweet peas and Iris were spent.  

An axial view of sorts at the front of the house.  Viewed from up by the Fuerte avocado tree:  

Spring arrived.   The Dutch Iris flowered.  Their deep blue purple color was hard to make out from a distance.  The sweet pea seeds planted around the obelisk sprouted and were eating by--something.  I had spare plants growing in pots, and planted those.  Most were also eaten.  More spare plants planted, that were slow to flower.  They grew but bad weather (heat waves) set them back.  They are just now blooming:

The dark red color of the sweet peas don't show up at a distance, either.  I'll try again this fall for the following  spring:   move the Iris, and plant white garden Hippeastrums (big! bright!) and perhaps a white rose that oozes out from inside the obelisk. There's the 'Ducher' rose, new last year, that may be able to do that, and there's also always 'Iceberg', the no-brainer winner of white roses for Southern California.  

White I know will work, because the 'Sombrueil' rose growing several feet beyond the obelisk...

...catches the eye even from far away:
So, that's a plan for next year.  

Not a great year for sweet peas because of the short but intense heat waves we had just as they started to flower.  This group managed to improve the past several days--there's hope yet for some sweet pea sweetness before it's too late.  

Sweet pea 'April in Paris' has rather overwhelmed Clematis 'Perle d'Azur', thought the Clematis has managed to peak through here and there:  

I tried and failed several years to grow sweet peas in this area.  Either they barely grew, or the rabbits ate them.  This year, more attention and protection brought lavish growth, so lavish as to out-compete the Clematis. 
Careful planning doesn't always work.  Ironic that no planning at all besides a desire to keep a plant alive can have interesting results:  Silver Dichondra argentea with chartreuse Hakonechloa and Sedum 'Angelina'.  I never would have done this, save for a desire to give the Hakone grass a shadier, moister location.
Another accidental success was Trachelium sprouting from spaces between the concrete wall blocks.  Cool!

The Trachelium's idea, not mine: 

Speaking of Clematis...'Etoile Violette' is looking good:

A different 'Perle d'Azur' , without sweet pea surround, is more visible:

Other floral and foliage highlights of the moment are...

The newish 'Superb's are finally getting around to flowering.  A hummingbird can be seen fueling up on the lower right:

The quartet of unknown (possibly hybrid) Dudleyas nearly killed themselves blooming last spring, with huge flower stems that dwarfed the plants.  Two  recovered over the winter and are set to flower again.  The other two I moved to a recovery location.  They are looking pretty good again and can try killing themselves flowering next year. 
Flowers now open on Aloe pseudorubroviolacea:
Surprise:  Billbegia 'Darth Vader' bloomed.  
Grapes are developing on the 'Suffolk Red' vine.  A way to protect the fruit from birds and rodents must be found before they start to ripen:
The grape's companion on the arch, Trachelospermum jasminoides, is now in flower. 
TB Iris 'Thorn Bird':
The fabulous foliage of Echeveria harmsii 'Ruby Slippers':
Rose 'Queen of Elegance':

A few more purchases, and plants that need planting. 

A big box store Leucospermum hybrid:  

'Easy Spirit' rose is still waiting, though I have a place picked out.  'Indian Summer' Alstroemeria, too.  In the meantime, the rose is well protected from rabbits:
Teucrium 'Ackermanii'.  'Ackermanii' sounds like a species name, but I read this is not a recognized species.  Artemisia 'David's Choice', a California native.  Teucrium on the right, Artemisia on the left:
A red Pentas purchased at a club sale.  I hope it's not one of the dwarf-sized ones.  Time will tell:
That's what's up in the garden here this week. 


  1. I adore that Clematis. Your plan for the obelisk sounds like a good one. Blue flowers are always so difficult to show off well. I've had issues with my sweet peas this year too - a dark blue variety began blooming 6 or more weeks ago but I didn't see any blooms in other colors until this week, just as the dark blue ones are petering out.

  2. The idea of box stores selling Leucospermums is mind boggling to me - they are so glamorous!! Anyway, I agree with you that a light-colored something or other will show up better on your blue obelisk. I'm always taken by surprise by how early sweet peas are here. As a kid, I always got a bouquet of sweet peas for my birthday - which is in August. Maybe some year, I'll get it right, and plan accordingly, but so far I haven't. I love them, though - I need to figure out a way to grow them.

  3. It all looks great! The sweet peas, and all the combinations of plants are lovely. It's fun to grow plants on obelisks and other structures.

  4. Beautiful clematis. Everything looks beautiful and lush so far. How about trying something in a soft yellow up against the blue obelisk? The two pair beautifully together.

  5. Your garden is looking fabulous- lovely photos too. White seems to almost glow as the light fades. Silver foliage has that quality too - especially under moonlight. Cotyledon orbiculata ‘Silver Waves’ might look nice underneath your obelisk.

  6. You are my clematis growing hero, I wish I could get them to stick around and bloom. (speaking of sticking around, will this comment? They seem to be disappearing)

  7. Echeveria harmsii 'Ruby Slippers' knocked my socks off! Is the red constant or seasonal?
    Silver Dichondra argentea, chartreuse Hakonechloa, Sedum 'Angelina': totally awesome, unplanned perfection.
    The long view of the garden and side of your house (2nd pic) is so fabulous, I forgot all about the blue obelisk...

  8. I love posts like this one--so much to discover!

    I can't wait for my Aloe pseudorubro to bloom but it's much smaller than yours.

    Teucrium ackermannii has been a great performer in my garden in full sun, with very little water. Same for Teucrium aroanium.

  9. Thanks to all for the comments! Some research determined that the comment issue is due to browsers automatically dis-allowing third party trackers. The work around is using "separate page" or "popup" format for comments, or allowing third party trackers (like the Zucker-Industrial Complex: no thanks) but now I see I can't reply individually to comments. Grrrr!!!!!

    @Gerhard, thanks for your experience with the Teucriums. I also have T. chamaedrys, which has also been a tough, excellent little plant. Psuedorubro is worth the wait.

    @Anonymous, 'Ruby Slippers' pretty constant color. It declined here after about three years of gorgeous, but beheading and re-rooting brought the glory back, as the photo shows.

    @Danger, wrangling with the comment issue, I delayed in approval. Sorry! Clems are a little tricky and need attention. Some have worked here, some not. Fun to try, though!

    @Anonymous, silver a great idea, thanks for the suggestion!

    @luv2garden, soft yellow also a great idea, will think about a soft yellow I can try there. '

    @Beth, the towers have been a challenge. Many failures, but starting to get a little success. It's been an adventure.

    @AnnaK, I was surprised to see Leucospermums at a big box, but it was a very happy surprise. Here we plant sweet peas in September and they sprout and sit all winter, then when they think it appropriate, they suddenly skyrocket and flower. We don't get them for long because the warmth kills them off quickly, but for a few weeks they are a special special joy.

    @Kris, I'm getting good sweet pea flowers this week--thrilled!! thought they would not do much at all. The heat waves are so hard on them.


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