A Clue/New Australian Plants

 The Zinnias contributed to a prettier summer.  One  disappointment:  flowers smaller than expected. 

A clue as to the problem emerged over the past couple of weeks.  The issue may be tired soil in the raised beds.  Insufficient nutrients.  This could also explain last winter's undersized onion crop grown in the same beds.   A Zinnia growing in richer soil, lately getting extra fertilizer, revived by our 0.76" of rain, is much better: 

More satisfactory:

It's time to plant cool season annuals, but Zinnias have lasted because of our hot September and October.  

Last hurrah for 2022: 

Ye another example of the importance of observation in the garden.  I have an idea of what to try for better performance next spring and summer, and a better onion crop this winter.   

New plants.   A partial impulse buy, Lomandra 'Arctic Fox'.  The leaves are finer than 'Platinum Beauty'.  'Arctic' is described as "slightly smaller growing" than 'Platinum'.  (Partial because there's a place in the ground for it.) 

'Arctic Frost' in the pot, 'Platinum Beauty' in the ground:

Maybe 'Platinum Beauty' should come out.  Six feet in diameter now, it doesn't fit in with the rest of the plantings.  A massive sweep of individual 'Platinum Beauty's would be stunning.  A lone plant says the gardener was curious to grow it without considering appropriate placement, and foolishly believed the label stating the plant's width would be two to three feet.  The gardener planted it where it would be out of place, yet happy--six feet-wide happy.   

'Arctic Frost' went into one of the gully terraced beds, where at times it will be backlit and possibly fabulous.  The sage green foliage will contrast with chartreuse and burgundy Acer palmatums and rich greens of boxwood and Callistemon.  Or so the gardener hopes. 

There.  Fill the space, little guy.  

I removed a different 'Platinum Beauty' a year or so ago, and planted a slice of it in that spot, where it died.  Maybe 'Arctic Frost' will work.  Maybe save a section of the remaining 'Platinum Beauty', too.  It is, after all, a beauty. 

Another new plant:  pure impulse buy Australian native Pimelea ferruginea 'Magenta Mist'.  The species is found in a Mediterranean climate--the southwestern tip of Australia.

It requires sun and sharp drainage.  Perhaps it should go where 'Platinum Beauty' is now. 

As an aside, when searching for Pimelea information,   the Australian Native Plant Society website came up.

It's useful for the SoCal gardener trying less common Australian plants.  For each plant listed, it shows where in Australia it occurs, the type of soil in which it grows, and its tolerance for summer humidity.  

Australia is one of the five regions on earth with Mediterranean climates, but like South Africa, only a very small part of the country has such a climate (map here).   Understanding the native climate of a plant is valuable in growing it successfully. 

New toy to play with:  an inexpensive trailcam to record bird and other critter activity in the garden.  Still fiddling with it to get the best out of it.  A few sightings so far...   

Sialia mexicana, Western Bluebird (female):

Sialia mexicana Western Bluebird (male):
Seophata coronata, Yellow-rumped Warbler:

Now for some flowers and a lizard.  A few Dahlias still going.  Some are already cut back for their winter rest.  


'Hollyhill Spider Woman' took September and most of October off.  It suffered greatly in the heat. 

October's cooler nights coaxed out a few more blooms:

Salvia nemerosa 'Blue Hill', beautiful backlit, didn't mind the summer heat.   
Scientists have discovered Alligator lizards are immune to the poison of a black widow spider.  Scientists observed the lizards eating the spiders and not dying, and investigated.   
 Saliva 'Mystic Spires Blue' says "Thanks for the water!"  The gardener says, "More Salvias next year!" 
Clematis 'Etoile Violette'.  Huh??!?  Look at that.  A different colored flower.
And another, on the right at in the background.  I did move a 'Comtess Bouchard' there several years ago.  I thought it had died.  It decided otherwise. 


  1. I'll be interested in how well the Pimelea does for you. I planted it in one of the half-barrels in my front garden last year. It did okay but not well enough to hang onto it when I cleared out that barrel for other things in late spring. Mine may not have received enough sun to thrive. I'd like to find the smaller 'Arctic Frost' Lomandra. I was planning to plant a 'Platinum Beauty' in a spot between our fountain and a walkway but I'm concerned about its size because some of mine have become ginormous and I'd rather not have to dig it up and move it in 3 years when it becomes annoying.

    1. Found 'Arctic Frost' at Lowes. The Lomadra to watch out for seems to be 'Great White'--check the listing at San Marcos. It sounds good (and smaller). Dug up 'Platinum' today; there was an old bird's nest in it! Thinking about if I can move it somewhere. It had a better root system than the first one. Pimelea--thinking, thinking about where it would be happiest.

  2. Garden looking great. Good luck with your Pimelea - I've seen it growing in gardens around here and we have several local native species here too. ANPSA website is a great resource and you are spot on about the very different climates in Australia. Knowing exactly where a plant is from is so important in understanding what it wants to grow well.

    1. Lots of things to love in this post: Salvias, cute lizards, Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty' (love it). I hope you are able to find a better spot for the lomandara. It's gorgeous. Have always wanted one of those motion sensor cams to see who comes and goes. Snowy days show a freeway of footprints on the surface. Who makes them all? A camera would tell.

    2. Internet info on growing Australian plants has gotten better. Or maybe I'm just searching on the terms that bring up the right info bettter. The ANPSA website was really informative and I've been reading through the 64(!) pages of plant listings.

    3. Yes a camera would tell! I'm going to move the trailcam around the garden and set it up for nighttime--because there are critters around at night--it will be interesting to see what's out there!

  3. At six feet wide 'Platinum Beauty' was a happy giant. It's sad there wasn't room for it elsewhere in the garden: such a wonderful color.
    Love your new trailcam! Kudos for being able to name those little song birds.

    1. I'm looking for a spot...or a pot. I do like that giant, but it's just...giant.

      The bird bath is a lot of fun and really enlivens the garden. Win-win for us and for the birds.

  4. The Pimelea is so cool. I've tried it a few times (bought at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, where it shines) but it died in our harsh summer. You're a good 10 degrees cooler than Davis, so it should do well in your garden.

    I'll look for Lomandra 'Arctic Frost'. I love 'Platinum Beauty', but the size is an issue for me as well. Would love a smaller lookalike.

    1. Read the San Marcos comments on 'Great White'--if their crop is successful, that sounds like the one to look for.


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