Lots-To-Chop Time

 Lots to clean up at the moment.  
 Pretty now, but...
We've had a long stretch of May-Gray weather with most days never seeing blue skies.  Fine by me--the plants mostly love it, flowers last two or three times as long, and it's perfect gardening weather.  For sun-loving people, though, it's gloomy.  For plants, it slows down warm-season seedling development.  
To reduce green waste, as much as possible I'm composting garden waste and practicing "chop and drop" for woody-shrub trimming--using pest-free and disease-free clippings as mulch.  Cutting trimmings into smaller pieces by hand is tedious.  I tried using electric hedge shears on a pile of Callistemon clippings, with good results:
One time consuming task was going through the oldest Acer palmatum to remove small dead branches.
Years of drought stress:
Small branches will simply fall off given time.  However a clean out was a fine way to spend time studying and admiring the tree.  
Last year I dug up the clump of Sprekelia formosissima for rehabbing and distributing the bulbs to other places in the garden.  I expected no flowers this year as a result, but got a delightful surprise:
The newish Teucrium 'Ackermanii' looks healthy, and has flowers for the first time:
Leucadendron 'Red Sunset' is the last Leucadenron to flower this season.  Purchased on our last vacation in 2019 before Covid hit, it has struggled.  The miracle rains this winter helped it significantly.  
Unsure why it's called 'Red Sunset', though.  That looks like yellow and orange to me:
Another bulb clump refreshed and spread about late last year was Tritelia/Brodeaea 'Queen Fabiola'.  I was also not expecting flowers this spring.
The rain made it happen:
 With Senecio (sorry!) Centaurea ragusina, Calylophus 'Southern Belle', and Agave 'Blue Glow':
 As an afterthought I planted extra sweet pea seedlings to grow up the Euphorbia 'Sticks-On-Fire'.  They have made a wonderful backdrop for the fountain.  An idea that actually worked!
The Euphorbia is there somewhere:
The two beds on either side of the path leading to the veggie/cutting garden were quiet though early spring.  The roses, Leucanthemums, Geranium 'Rozanne', Lantanas, Salvia nemerosas, the new blue TB Iris, and Dahlias were all very late.  
At May's end, with Hemerocallis joining in, the area is now looking as I hoped it would:
I thought for next year, for the bed away from the house, to try some Foxgloves.  
No, really, there's room along the wall:
 The area is shaded in winter along the wall and with the in-ground Dahlias dormant until mid-spring, the height of Foxgloves would add interest.  In our region, seeds should be started in July for flowers the following spring. 

Aloe pseudorubroviolacea marks the end of cool-season Aloe blooms.  It's late this year, too, but worth the wait.  Not one but two huge candelabras:
Planted (finally) Ceanothus 'Valley Violet' in the Proteana area:
Succession planting:  Dutch Iris cut to the ground for the dry season in the veggie/cutting garden, Catharanthus added for summer flowers:
In this lawnless garden, my lawn substitute is strangely not a ground cover plant at all.  It is Hydrangeas.  It's all about the green.  Their gorgeous foliage is the rich, uniform restful green of a perfect lawn--to my eyes, anyway.
No mowing or weeding needed:
The winter project bed looks good.  I added a six-pack of  Lobelia erinus for extra fill until the new Hydrangeas gain height and the new Hellebores gain width: 
 While Clematis 'Wisley' has put on a great show for many years, drought or not...
...Clematis 'Etoile Violette', companion to climbing rose 'Sombreuil' for about 20 years, has not always done so.  This year however 'Etoile Violette' looks better than it ever has.  The show is modest compared to what climates like Michigan or the UK can produce, but for Southern California, it's a thrill:
Part of it:
So that's what is up here at the end of May and the start of June. 
Hoping your gardening is bringing you joy!


  1. Oh, the beds flanking the pathway are so full and lush - really perfection! The aloe bloom is a stunner. And the Sprekelia blooms, holy cow - such a deep red. You have been busy, and surrounded with beauty.

  2. We’ve had hot sunny days and no rain, so your garden is looking much better than mine at the moment. Love the velvety feel of that last photo. What is your white-flowered Hydrangea? I planted Mary Nell last fall; similar to Haas Halo which is currently a very popular choice.

    1. Heat is tough on some plants--like some of the roses! The hydrangea is a story! Purchased as 'Shooting Star' for $5.99 at Trader Joe's. The original name is:
      "Sumida-no-hanabi’ translates to fireworks over the Sumida River. Originating out of Japan near Yokohama, it is a mutant of the Hydrangea macrophylla f. normalis. It was named by Mr. Takeomi Yamamoto—founder of the Japanese Hydrangea Society. "

      More on the story of the name here:

  3. I'm always impressed by the progress you made in your garden between one post and another. I received a cordless electric trimmer as a gift this week so I may follow your example and use it to chop up more of my own trimming - I do a lot of that by hand but it gets old fast...

    I'm glad your experiment in using Euphorbia 'Sticks on Fire' to support sweet pea seedlings worked! I'll have to remember to try that trick next year. I never have enough room for all the sweet pea seeds I buy each year. I had a single Sprekelia bloom again - out of the 8 or 10 bulbs I think I originally planted :(

    1. With May-Gray I can do so much. When it is summer and hot, nothing gets done except whining about how hot it is. :(

      Cordless trimmer--cool! Nice birthday gift! (And belated Happy Birthday!)

      I'm sure Sticks-On-Fire will be fine when it re-emerges--will probably be very green for a while. It has made a great support--the sweet peas grabbed right on.

      Your Sprekelia doesn't repeat? Mine bloom for months in full, full sun--they did not bloom at all in part shade.

  4. I was surprised by your comment that you use hydrangeas as a groundcover. Do they stay green all year? I grow the oakleaf type here in North Texas (quercifolia). I love them but they are deciduous in my climate. Everything in your garden looks beautiful!

    1. I fear I did not write very well there--Hydrangeas as areas of green in the same shade of green as a happy well-watered lawn possesses. Not Hydrangeas grown as a low covering of the ground. Sorry!

      They lose their leaves here--I'm trying to remember...it varies--anywhere from November to February--but they start leafing out again immediately: there are always green buds waiting when the leaves fall. We do not have frost here.

  5. You have the most beautiful garden. And such depth of knowledge! How many others would be curious enough to delve deeply into the naming of a particular hydrangea I wonder? Are you completely self taught or did you take classes, formal or otherwise? This year, so far, had been both a success and a bust for me. Success because all the seeds I sowed came up and are still alive, and the third-time-is-a-charm clematis grew and is actually climbing its trellis. But bust because they are all still very immature plants compared to the robust growth of yours. Lesson learned. Trotted myself down to the nursery and bought seeds now, while they have them. I'm hoping the clematis will come back on its own. Let's see what happens next year! Elizabeth

    1. It takes time for plants to mature, so patience! The slower the growth and/or the shorter the growing season, the more time they need. Clematis just never let them dry out. I've killed a few myself you know!

      Liquid fertilizer diluted more than package directions -- quarter strength or half strength, more frequently applied but in less strength, can help seedlings and young plants a lot.

      Just learned mostly from reading, reading, reading. I so wish I'd been able to take some classes--still do. I'd have learned faster and made less mistakes. There are none available close by and with traffic the way it is here long drives are too stressful.

  6. You've been busy! Very impressive tips, and your garden is beautiful as always. My roses are getting ready to bloom...always a joy! Yours are stunning. :)

  7. I use chop and drop myself. My favorite technique is to pull weeds (that haven’t yet gone to seed) and to use them as mulch. I like to think that their rotting corpses serve as a warning to other weeds to stay away. You’ve got a lot of color happening between the sprekelia, that cool senecio, the aloe and the clematis. I started quite a few species clematis from seed. Hope they do as well as yours are doing. Love that las photo of the yellow rose with the sweet peas!

    1. A warning to other weeds, that's a good one! "Don't sprout here--you'll regret it."

      C. viticella comes up from seed easily here. Too easily--more seedlings than I want. That's the only species I've tried. There are three actually native to SoCal, Clematis lasiantha, C. ligusticifolia, C. pauciflora. C. lasiantha seems to be the most ornamental. Should try that one growing on one of my native shrubs!

  8. It isn't often that one claims "the area is now looking as I hoped it would"... it is wonderful to hear (read).
    Aloe pseudorubroviolacea candelabras are stunning.
    I love the sweet pea growing as backdrop for the fountain: it turned out to be an excellent color choice.
    There's always room for Foxglove. Go for it :-D

    1. It's not often I think "the area is now looking as I hoped it would", ha ha ! If I do it is because its the fourth or fifth or more attempt!

      Foxgloves--looked for seeds a the nursery, sold out! But I'll find some. Supposedly the time to plant seeds here is July.

    2. I can send you some as soon as mine go to seed. White or Fuchsia-pink? or both...


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