Is That What You Are Saying?

 The above Aloe dhufarensis is saying:  "This is a good place.  I'm growing.  My leaves are plump with water, and opened just the right amount to the sun.  I flower every year, and make good seeds with those flowers.  I'm happy."  At least, that's what I'm hearing.

 The above Aloe wickensii is saying:  "I'm thirsty.  My skin is turning red because I'm thirsty.  And hot.  I'm curling my older leaves over my vulnerable center to protect myself from hot sun."  At least, that's what I'm hearing. 

The above Aloe cameronii is saying:  "I feel good.  I feel strong.  I get what I need to feel good and strong."  At least, that's what I'm hearing.  Last week I moved it from its protected place in a shaded nursery bed to a more challenging location.  It will redden somewhat from the sun, but it has both irrigation and good drainage, enough of both to keep it healthy.  

Carex testacea seedlings coming up here and there:

Moved one to the place where 'Design-a-Line Burgundy' Cordyline died during our long grim September heat wave: 

A Lomandra 'Plantinum Beauty' I tried splitting and moving here died last year.  Another Cordyline also died in our bad heat wave, and another looks bad:

The Banksia prionotes grew to over six feet tall since purchase in May 2019.  Now it says said "I am not happy here.  Goodbye."  The nearby blue Podocarpus began looking stressed during the early September heat wave, so I watered it deeply.  I also pulled worn-out poppies from around the Banksia.  Perhaps a bit of root damage combined with some summer moisture activating soil pathogens infected and killed the Banksia roots.  


I'll move the Aloe, at any rate, to a better irrigated place, with late afternoon shade.  Maybe in the area I'm partly clearing of Dymondia because it's full of Oxalis and Spotted Spurge: 

  I moved the Mangave 'Kaleidoscope'  over just a little, taking the place of an unsatisfactory rose.   The Mangave was in the star's location.   It had grown enough to block the main sprinkler head for the whole area.  Happy Mangave.  The rest of the plants in the area, not happy.

A few pretty bits here and there in the garden, among all the scorched plants and casualties.  Rose 'Beloved' with Trachelium:

Little Les is about 17(!) years old now.  He's the smallest koi in the pond,  approximately 21" long.   Handsome for his age.  He's retained his good looks.
Another few flowers from Clematis 'Wisley':
'Belinda's Dream' never quits:
More flowers on the Leucophyllum:
Schistocerca nitens on Sideritis cypria.  I hope a Scrub Jay eats it.  Two jays patrol this area constantly.  It would make a nice meal for one of them. 
 Garden activity has slowed again.  After a beautifully mild weekend, it's now a few degrees hotter--enough to drive me indoors for most of the day.  Cooler weather forecast for next week. 

Gardening slowed but didn't stopped... removing 'Laguna' rose.  A beauty, but not for this climate. 

 Stopping to admire 'Snowbird', rose entirely a gem in this climate:

Cleaned up Echeveria harmsii 'Ruby Slippers', removing all the spent flowering stems:
Ready for beauty season-- when the velvety leaves turn a rich magenta:
Worrisome:  the drought-stressed Acer looks like it might sprout a new crop of foliage--no! not now!!!  Save them for April!
Planted a package of Dutch Iris here:
Planted some sweet pea seeds.  Well protected from birds who eat the tender new sprouts.  Protection must change to rabbit protection as the plants grow:
 Planted sweet peas here, too, behind the wire screen.    The screen will protect from both birds and rabbits.  

Pulled one of the daylilys--saved a bit and planted it elsewhere.   The replacement will be...

...this Salvia nemerosa 'Blue Hill', to create foliage and flower variety in this area.  Plus, rabbits don't like Salvia nemerosa 'Blue Hill'.  I do:
Pulled the saddest of the Zinnias.  No mildew yet, but the flowers are...I must be doing something wrong.  The flowers are so small.  Insufficient fertilizer? 

 And what??!?!!   Clivia flowers in October??

What are your plants saying these days? 


  1. The plants that were thriving earlier are still thriving but more in the middle ground area (between thriving and dying) are throwing in the towel, or at least requesting serious pruning sessions. I think the second heatwave was just too much. Philotheca myoporocoides. Prostanthera ecklonii, and variegated Lycianthes ratonnetii are dead or close to it. Trichostema 'Midnight Magic' looks like it was torched in spots but had fresh foliage elsewhere so I'm not sure what to make of that so I'm just cutting out the blackened bits.

    1. I had to look up all the plants you mentioned--not familiar with any of them. Getting any shrub really established in a drought is difficult. Trichostemna grew here for a while--it thrived. When the neighbor's 30' eucalyptus branch fell into our yard some years back it obliterated the Trichostemna among other plants. But that's another story. The Lycianthes looks very attractive--might have to try that one! Still waiting for Annie's to offer Agapanthus 'Elaine' again to it see if it is indeed my mystery indigo variety.

      Here it is the stuff not getting much water that is suffering--when we get a good winter rain they seem fine on rainfall alone. Soil is just too dry here all the way down.

  2. Most of my plants tell me that they need more space - and light - than they are currently getting. No surprise there, but I like my shady yard. Bummer about so many things succumbing to that extended, excessive CA heat, but especially your Banksia, which was off to such an impressive start. Would you try it again?

    1. The hotter it gets here the more I love shade. Shady gardens are becoming very very appealing! When I got into the shade of the Oak yesterday it felt 10 degrees cooler. Who needs the flower power of full-sun plants if it is too hot to go outdoors?

      Digging up the Banksia to examine the root system for a clue as to what killed it--revealed it had almost no root system at all! I dug way way down--no dead root fragments...nothing. Either the root system never grew, or ??? Also surprised soil was bone dry, absolutely bone dry. So it wasn't getting overflow from the Podocarpus. So...???? I would try again, but finding one to buy becomes the issue. Few and far between here. In the meantime I watered the Podocarpus again.

  3. That Aloe dhufarensis is absolutely dreamy! My plants are saying, "it's October, isn't there supposed to be water falling from the sky?"

    1. That ghostly Aloe is a favorite.

      I hope your plants are not too thirsty. My poor plants--some are so thirsty in my dreams I hear them screaming.

  4. Being a good gardener is all about speaking 'plant' and I think your observations are spot on. Aloe dhufarensis is a stunner. I can't believe Koi live that long! Little Les is very handsome and obviously very happy with his surrounds.

    1. Very well cared for they can live to 30 in the US, but much longer in Japan their native climate, a four-season climate. Also woven into their culture, so better known and cared for.

      I read once the average life span of a koi in the US is 10 weeks.

  5. I'm about to lose three more pitts: 1 crassifolium 'Nana' and 2 tenuifolium 'Golf Ball'. Planted last November, I thought these would be hardy enough for our summers. They are in mostly sunny spots with afternoon shade and have had adequate water (I think; other pitts nearby are doing fine). Anyway, I'm enjoying your Leucophyllum very much.

    1. A local horticulturalist says Pittos are prone to root rot and root diseases here. And it's just gotten too hot for P. tenuifolium. Native to NZ where the climate is more like Seattle's. They seem to thrive in the coastal parts of the PNW where the winters are not too cold.

      I love that Leucophyllum!

  6. Most of my flowers are saying 'Oh thank goodness this season is over". The gardener on the other hand is revelling in a long unusually warm glorious Fall to get lots of garden chores done and projects finished. I love how in tune you are with your plants. I always tell new gardeners to observe their plants regularly so they can tell when something changes.

    1. Some of my best friends photosynthesize!

      Your fall sounds simply lovely.

  7. My in-ground Aloe dhufarensis cannot speak any longer because it died after the 3 inches of rain in September.

    Ditto for my Sideritis cypria, which died after our record heat.

    All in all, i think your garden has fared well.

    1. Oh, so sorry to hear your dhufy and Sideritis didn't make it. Both such lovely plants. It was a tough summer. Again.

  8. I need to get back into the rhythm of turning to summer watering.

    1. Oh, summer ahead for you. Yes, watering enough to keep everything alive is what it's all about.

      Best wishes for a mild summer!


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