Friday, April 28, 2017

April Poppies!

After our winter of rain, we had a few weeks of spring weather. There were lots of comments about a #superbloom, so of course I had to visit the poppy reserve and see for myself. This was from about 2 weeks ago. It did not disappoint!

There were fields of orange
Lots of orange!
Poppies stay closed when it's overcast or windy, so early in the morning, they weren't as open. The fields were still pretty though.
A bit less bright, but still everywhere.
Poppies everywhere!
There were some areas where the yellow wild flowers were more prevalent:
Yellow fields on the west side of the park
Yellow and orange blending together
Up close, the color variations in the poppies are easier to see:
Yellow and orange.
Bi-colored and orange
There are many other flowers besides the California poppies, but they only really standout in close-ups!
White flowers
In addition to the plants, the desert wild life was out too:
From the friendly...

... to the not so friendly!

The super-bloom lived up to it's billing! It's already getting hot now (and windy), so I'm sure the flowers will be gone soon. The ones in my garden will stick around longer. But that's part of what makes the big fields of wild ones so special - the golden hills of California only stick around for a bit!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

April Bloom Day

Time for Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Garden! There are so many things blooming all over the world. I don't have pictures of all my blooms, but just a couple that caught my eye after a week-long work trip.

The poppies are blooming everywhere except the planting beds. I wonder if there's any chance of them being as well behaved as Gerhard's? There's a particularly large clump in the dry stream bed:
Poppies plus Cassia (or Senna) on the hill side
More poppies and ice plant on the rest of the hill side
 It seems like the ice plant is blooming less than last year. I'm not sure why there is a random pillow (?!?) in the middle of the hillside. This still part needs a lot of clean up. That's what Easter is for!

My new iris is blooming! It's in a container in the back of one of the large planting beds. It's doing surprisingly well. I really like the color. 
I think like this is like Carol's variety name: "there's a tag somewhere"
 This combo of yucca and daisies makes me look like I plan things or something:
I don't, but i need to get more of that color daisies...
 And last - these aren't flowers, but they are growing and so cute!
Baby hummingbirds! 
Happy Gardening Bloggers' Bloom Day! Carol has many more blogs to look at in her comments!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Spring Inspiration - Huntington in March

Just some pictures from the Huntington a few weekends ago... I haven't been home enough to make a ton of spring progress in my own garden, but my projects continue to slowly get checked off.

These are totally random, just things I found pretty or inspirational as I continue spring clean up:

Swoon... I sense a dangerous plant crush developing!
A gorgeous combination of texture and color!

The Jade vine was blooming!
 That color blows mind... If it wasn't for the fact it would take over my house before it bloomed, I would try it as a house plant.
Spring in the tea garden

Swoon some more...
 I want some of those flowers, even though they won't want the desert!
I love this view 
 I'm pretty sure no amount of spring cleanup will make my garden look like that, but at least I can have the next flowers:
So pretty and delicate!
 This one might appear in my garden one day too... The jury is still out on whether my plant survived the winter:
Big poofy red flowers
I can't​ wait to get back out there!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Before and After - 3/11/2017

Although i continue to make progress on clean up (mulching! cutting back grasses! trying to weed! buying new plants! (wait...)), this before and after is more about plant growth, and how much further the garden has come than i sometimes realize in the last ~4 years. Because its nice to reflect on how at least some of my plants are happy, instead of wondering why, 2 years after getting rid of the grass, there are grass weeds everywhere? (?!? seriously?)

So here are some before and afters, with a kind "note to self" to actually believe the final size noted on plant labels!

First up, this is in the front garden - Furcraea foetida, sold as "agave sp":
March 2013
March 2017
I still want to find the variegated version, but i love the leaves on this one. And it definitely makes a statement! Smooth edges, but wicked spikes at the leaf tips. It's gorgeous.

Next, my first Agave ovatifolia:
July 2013
March 2017
A slightly different angle, but i don't think i can get a top down view anymore... this one has really grown into it's own. I removed the brick edging around it a few years ago - that was mostly so that i could plant the baby plant in slightly better soil. 

Next, one i've shown before, but still one of the most dramatic: Agave "Mr. Ripple":
June 2013
February 2017
Boom! So pretty, and giant. Good thing i like it so much, because it's never getting out of that tube...

This bed has a couple of different agaves: 'Blue Glow" and "Little Shark" aka "Royal Spine":
May 2013
Feb 2017
Different angles but the same bed. That's "Blue Glow" in the right (before) / front (after), look at how much bigger it's gotten! The other two are "Little Shark", both of which have made a pup.

Next up, more spike goodness, in the form of Agave parryi and its yucca friends:

March 2013
Feb 2017
You can't even see the yucca 'Color Guard' (i think) in the before picture, but i swear it's there! Even more impressive is that all those plants are still alive - the yucca pallida moved from the top left (before) to the bottom right (after - you can just see the leaves), but everyone else stayed where they were. The a. parryi has made about a million pups. 

Last is this entire bed, with a white buddleja davidii in the center:
March 2013
March 2017
This is one of the beds i worked on the last few weekends, adding new mulch and cleaning up the plants. I started turning the bush into a tree last year, which worked pretty well. Instead of brussel sprouts (before), there are now another agave ovatifolia, a Mr. Lincoln rose (2nd year), and various succulents. I was very surprised that three Aeonium 'Mardi Gras' actually made it through winter (in the blue pot) so i'm tempting fate by planting several more in the ground. There are also 2 ornamental grasses in the bed in the after, which should grow back quickly.

Looking back has been fun! At least it gives me hope that regardless of the current amount of weeds, i'm at least doing something right. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Weekend Pictures & Favorites - 2/26/2017

I haven't had much time in the garden this weekend, but progress continues! The bed that was a mess is much cleaner now. This does make the smoke bush look even sadder than before... i really should give up on him, i think.

The sage bushes probably need replacing too
The left most hill side has been cleaned up, and i've rearranged the yucca here to fill an empty spot and save it from being engulfed. There are so many poppy seedling here this year!
The rest of hillside is probably next weekend's project...
I wanted to share some of my favorite plants - like Loree at Danger Garden, i picked Five for February. Her post and comments show many more favorites, and here are mine:
the senna artemisioides is starting to bloom - and taller than the wall this year!
every year that this stone cactus blooms i'm impressed that it isn't dead. 3 blooms this year!
The fruit trees on the hill side (this is nectarine) are almost ready to bloom
this combination of green, silver and purple on the hill side makes me happy.
This tube has to be cleaned up some, but i love this combo of plants. 
I'll add cleaning up that last tube to the list of things to do, although i'm always so worried that i'll kill the plants by moving them. But some extra soil and new mulch should help them this summer, and i should do it now, before it gets hot again.

All these projects should be enough to keep me busy, but now i've been wondering whether i've made enough progress yet to get to buy more plants... I have to remember we can still get frost for another month or 2! Maybe buying mulch and continuing clean up will help keep me from buying new plants (probably not!).

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Garden Progress, Agaves & Lessons Learned

Even with all the rain the last few weeks, I'm making progress on all the projects/problem areas I identified earlier this year. One particular horrible bed (left of the patio) has been cleaned, new drip lines installed, plants moved and cut back, some new, low-risk succulent cuttings and a layer of new mulch:
cedar mulch because it's the one i dislike the least. 
you can see some of the new drip lines on the left
the other side of the bed has new rock mulch
The new mulch stayed in place through the crazy rain we had last night! This morning, the weather was perfect for continuing the clean up, and noticing some of the spiky goodies, like agave agave lophantha quadricolor hiding under a carex testacea - this keeps the agave happier in our crazy hot summer sun:

This bed still needs a lot of cleaning, but the combination of yucca (need to remember which one), aloe (the biggest one in my garden!) and agave ovatifolia looks good regardless. I also really need to think about pruning that lowest branch off that tree, so it's less of a bush...

Speaking of agaves - there are three in this picture: a. 'Crazy Horse', a. shawii (in the back, with all it's pups) and the one in the foreground that i've lost the tag for.

While not one of my original spring projects, 'Crazy Horse' really needs to come out that tube. I think that will be next weekend's fun, or maybe tomorrow. But i really can't let it go much longer, lest it end up like my biggest (and still favorite) agave: 'Mr. Ripple':
(please ignore all the gopher damage to the DG - still on the list to fix)
He's not coming out of that tube until after he's bloomed, and even then, it will be interesting. And i even knew that he would get too big, since i told myself to move him 3 years ago: right here. He was so cute and little then. And of course, i've never found another Mr. Ripple since... I'd like to say that i learned my lesson about planting for final size, etc, but probably not.

Given all the foliage in the pictures, I'm linking to Digging for Foliage Follow Up (even if i didn't do a bloom day post to follow up on). Now let's hope for some more gentle rain and nice gardening weather as we get into spring!