Saturday, January 14, 2017

Weekend Gardening - 1/14/2017

We're getting more rain! While that makes it harder to get a lot of things done in the garden, since everything is wet, it's so good to see how good the plants look with rain drops on them, and in the winter sun when it does peek through the clouds...


The sunlight was making the leaves transparent this morning!

The opuntia is extra thick with all the water!

The rain washed all the dust off this agave, but not the leaves that are stuck in it's spines:

I'm hoping this eucalyptus will be alright... most of it looks good, but all the branch tips are discolored like the picture below.

Progress on cleaning the various messes is slowly being made! Most of the giant piles of trimmings have been removed and recycled. The russian sages have been cut back early, to get at the gopher mounds and suspected sprinkler repair. I've put traps in the gopher tunnels, and so far, there is at least one less gopher in my garden. The sprinkler repair is still puzzling me - when i dug up the line, there was no damage. Instead, the runoff appears to be related to the water hitting the garden wall and pooling?

I've also managed to clear off most of the leaves out of the acacia in the front garden:
The leaves that came out were chopped up and i worked them into the soil in a couple of places. There are still a lot more leaves in the front garden, but i'm going to let them dry out some before trying to clean them up. There is still a lot left to do, but first i'm going to enjoy more of this rain!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Weekend gardening - 1/7/2017

At least for now, going through and finding all the things that need fixing in the garden was helpful! This weekend I managed to get started on some things to fix, although not as many as I hoped because 1) i ran out of room in my green waste bin, and 2) it was raining! I've asked for a larger green waste bin, but the rain i'm just going to gratefully watch. I was able to get some pictures of the pretty things in the garden this weekend, while everything is clean from the rain!

There are flowers! In the back is an Agave 'Crazy Horse' pup. 

 The Whale's Tongue Agave always looks good

This agave lophantha splendida was mostly dead about 4 years ago. Now, its a super bright green spot each winter when the russian sage is dormant.

this vignette is one of my favorite views of the garden year round. I think this yucca rostrata is almost big enough to have a trunk!

While cleaning out the horrible bed i showed last post, i noticed one of the aloe's is blooming! This is exciting, because for years, i've had no success... not sure why now is different, but i'll take it!

I spent quite a bit of time cleaning out the horrible bed with the leaning cholla, etc. Sadly, when i tried to re-right the cholla, it was clear that the root ball was broken. So i dug up the whole plant, and separated some segments that I'll replant once they've callused over and the rain is gone. Meanwhile, i'm trying to figure out what to do with this:
This opuntia rufida (not microdasys, according to google) is one of two - there's a better looking one on the other side of patio. It lost half it's arms late last year, and the remaining part is learning over a very pretty agave. O. rufida is also a pain to maintain, because of the glochids. Also, while i was always worried about their hardiness, they grow super fast, so they need a lot of pruning. 

Given all of those things, I'm debating whether to keep it where it is and try to prune it into a better shape? Pull it out and restart from a segment? or pull it out all together an replace with something else, likely another opuntia, so it will complement the other side? If I pull it out of the ground, i'll also have a chance to dig out the bermuda grass that's been growing there. I guess i'll have until next weekend to decide!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The garden in 2017 - The Back Garden

As i mentioned in the last post, i basically neglected the garden for most of the latter part of 2016. So I suppose I should be happy it doesn't look worse? I've decided to document some of the things I want to fix before spring rolls around, hopefully this will help remind me!

*****warning - pictures of garden ugliness ahead! ******

...and this is long, because the back garden needs a lot of work. When I spend any time gardening in the last part of 2016, it was always in the front garden, since people can see that. You're welcome, neighbors!

Some thing are pretty easy. Like maybe clean up all the trimmings from the hillside. The problem is, once I clean these up, I can see what the stupid gophers did to the decomposed granite in this area and that makes me sad...

This bed, next to the patio, shows one thing that worked well (turning the buddleja into a semi-tree - i should cut more of it this year) and things that only half worked (like what to plant under it). Oh, and it's a mess, of course. 

This situation should hopefully fix itself. I started replacing some of the mexican feather grass along the back garden's stream bed with more interesting plants. This is a caesalpinia pulcherrima (bird of paradise), which actually established over the late summer/fall, and should come back from the roots!

This situation will probably not fix itself - an old autumn sage bush that's gotten way too woody, a mess of yucca leaves, and weeds. I probably need to replace the sage bush with something. This is the bed on the far side of the garden, next to the block wall. It also needs cleaning, weeding and more trimming. I did put rock mulch in front of the sage bush (when full, it covers the edge) so that part should look good again later in spring.

This area needs something to help it look better in the winter. This is the widest part of the right side of the garden. I've been trying various low growing ground covers here, but it hasn't really worked yet. Also - why did i leave a dead plant in this picture?!

Continuing to move along the main right side bed, this is the next spot. It's partially a pot area, which needs cleaning, and another overgrown and woody autumn sage. Plus a cotinus coggygria that i really need to give up on. Just to the right of this area is the new acacia purpurea - i'm not sure whether it's decided to live or die yet. It looks kind of sad at the moment. And just to the right of this is a mess of dead annuals that i need to cut back, two more sage bushes that need trimming and then it gets worse (see next set of pictures)

This next part of the garden is the bed in the far corner. It has 2 russian sage bushes, a big pot, and I actually spent some time early in 2016 making it nice with low ground covers and mulch. It no longer looks nice, and it's not entirely the fault of my neglect. This appears to be where the gophers have moved in - mounds near the bottom of the first russian sage:

Also, just for fun, it appears that i have a hairline crack in my buried sprinkler line here - or at least that the conclusion i've come to based on the water runoff, and sink hole. Oddly enough, when i run the spinklers (to test - they've been off for the last 1.5 months), the downline sprinklers work just fine. So it can't be a very big crack. I'll have to dig it up and fix it, probably after trimming the russian sage.

Conveniently, that should also make it easier to kill the gophers, and keep them from making mounds. I also have to regrade this area, and then figure out what survived, and replace plants, plus mulch. The water leak means this area was extra wet, and i think the combo of that + winter cold + actual winter rains actually killed some of the plants.

...but not the gophers, who decided that right next to the poky cactus was a good place to make some more mounds.
and also here - where a small forest of weeds and other assorted debris seems to be covering the cactus (opuntia macrocentra) as well. That should be fun to clean!

And then, having moved all the way to the end of this bed, there are more gopher mounds, covering sprinkler heads (thanks, gophers!) and likely some trimming needed of the desert museum palo verde that's central to this bed - it branches really low, and i'm thinking i'd like to trim one of the lowest branches? Here's another bright spot - that green-ish plant in the lower left is a leucadendron 'Safari Sunset', which has survived it's second winter!

Almost done with the awfulness! Two more major areas that need work - one is the hillside. The right most side actually isn't bad - the right-side Centaurea gymnocarpa needed a lot of trimming, but it and the ice plants are basically making that bed of the hillside silver and green. I do need to cut out a weed tree that's growing in that bed's pine tree, and weed, but for the rest it's good. Not so of the section of hillside just to the left of it, which has dead plants, gopher mounds, and really sad looking iceplants.

 The rest of the hillside is an odd combination of massively overgrown (the other Centaurea gymnocarpa shown here) and weird bare spots. So i'm thinking this will be a combination of trimming and moving plants. Plus, the decomposed granite path along the bottom of the hillside needs to be weeded, re-leveled and tamped down. 
...and gopher mounds. At least the Agava salmiana var. ferox 'Green Goblet' (one of 3) is doing well!
 the random bare spot near the left side of the hill - why does nothing want to grow right there?

And then, there is the worst-est bed - which is so bad, i made a collage of the pictures, rather than showing them all separately. This is the bed to the left of the patio, and it's always been hard. It has a weird sprinkler layout, leading to large areas that get no water (which i should fix!), an odd combo of plants, and it gets absolutely drenched when it rains. I'll list out (some) of the things that are wrong after the picture.
There are:
  1. gopher mounds
  2. a mess of dead plant parts in the areas that get no water
  3. a massively leaning Cylindropuntia that is only getting worse and really needs fixing
  4. a weirdly shaped opuntia microdasys that lost half of its arms when they cracked due to the rains. It's now draping itself over a very pretty Agave 'sharkskin'. The opuntia should probably come out altogether, and be replanted (or replaced with something else, but it matches the o. microdasys that's in the other patio bed, which is the only part of the garden that looks good!)
  5. when the opuntia arm came off, it exposed a weird empty area between the opuntia and the callistemon 'little john', which needs planting
  6. the random autumn sage bush in this bed needs trimming, but at least it's not woody.  
alright, i think that's it. I'm hoping that by listing all this out here, i can get this all fixed before April/May rolls around. I don't have a ton of time each week, especially when work travel starts back up, but reading through old blog posts reminds me of how much i actually do love my garden, so i'll be rolling up my sleeves and getting started!

The garden in 2017 - the Front Garden

...the answer to the question in the last post, 6 months ago, was it was hot, stayed hot and didn't any better until like 3 weeks ago. That led to me neglecting the garden for most of the latter part of 2016. So I suppose I should be happy it doesn't look worse? I've decided to document some of the things I want to fix before spring rolls around, hopefully this will help remind me!

*****warning - pictures of garden ugliness ahead! ******

We'll start in the front garden, because it looks better. As i should have expected, the new landscape has been holding up really well!

In the back corner, all the cherry tree and cacti need is some cleaning. And i should trim those roses:


This situation, near the curve in the front garden path, mostly needs trimming, cleaning of leaves, and the likely some new plants. I'm still figuring out the new water situation here.

Moving to the bed that's nearest the drive way, the Acacia redolens 'Low Boy' is doing an excellent job catching leaves? (In positive news, that's a Grevillea 'Red Hooks' in the corner of that picture... it seems to be surviving winter!)

This area, right by the front window needs some cleaning and weeding, but probably also some plant addition & removal. I should remove the fucraea foetida pups - the mother plant has gotten huge! The clematis jackmanni can probably survive a cut back also - I did finally replace the falling down support with a metal one.

Not everything in the front garden is buried in my neighbor's Londonplane Tree leaves at the moment - my camellia (i think this is c. sasanqua 'Yuletide'?) is blooming a lot more than before! And for a longer time this year too.

Now, with that palate cleanser, let's move the back garden... sigh. But since this post is long enough already (and the back garden has a lot of ... issues, i'll make that a separate post.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Weekend Gardening - Hot!

This weekend was the start of our next crazy heatwave. It was 101 deg F today, and supposed to get up to 110 deg F tomorrow. So here are some pictures of my garden... we'll see what it looks like next weekend!
One of my favorite foliage combos has flowers all of a sudden.
After years of no Aloe blooms, this is the second soap Aloe to bloom this year!
California Fuchia should be ok with the heat - little silver leaves and all
 I visited the Arlington Gardens for the first time this weekend, thanks to a blog post by another SoCal blogger. Even though it was hot (only 96 deg F) and I'm sure the garden wasn't at it's best, there was a lot of inspiration to be found!

I love this combo of wild flowers to give a meadow like effect... I want something like this!
 I may post more pictures later, although most of them didn't come out very well due to the harsh light.

Before visiting the Arlington Gardens, i stopped by the Huntington. It was hot there too (there's a trend...) which meant that the gardens themselves were quiet. As long as I stayed in the shade it was nice. I also found a few more orchids as inspiration for mine:
This fuzzy bloom stalk was cute!
this flower had fuzzy parts too! I see why people get so into orchids now..
Hiding in the same at the Chinese Garden with a great view
and hiding under the trees near the Lily pond
 It was a great weekend, filled with plants, even if it was hot. I hope everyone has a way to stay cool this week!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Orchid Blooming!

I'm excited! For the first time ever, my (one and only) orchid rebloomed! Perhaps it saw that I called it out in this post and also got some inspiration from the Huntington orchids. On that post, Helene and Hoover Boo were kind enough to offer advice on getting my orchid to rebloom, so maybe that helped too!

It turns out I was wrong - mine wasn't white, but pink-ish instead:
The first flower opened about 2 weeks ago.
 Is it just me, or does it look like it has a face? Weird...
There were 5 buds on the bloom stalk - 4.5 have now opened.
Two are on one side
and two on the other side
the last bud is also starting to open - so cool!
the closest I can get to seeing all of them at the same time.
It is pretty cool, even if it is pink. I've probably had this plant for 2 years, and it's still in the same pot. Maybe after this stalk is done blooming, I should repot it? Hopefully I won't kill it then, but I should be able to enjoy these for a while longer. I have no idea what kind of orchid this might be (other than that it came from Trader Joe's) but i am happy it finally rebloomed!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Weekend Gardening - It's summer!

It's the first weekend in June, and it's been ridiculously hot here. So there hasn't been much gardening happening, much to the sadness of any new plants (which need daily watering, still) and to no detriment to the weeds (how can they grow with no water?!). Here are just a few pictures from this weekend, taken after it cooled off some on Sunday....

This bed is turning into a texture feast with Opuntia, Callistemon and Epilobium canum
The agave appreciates its new gravel mulch...
This is part of the bed I showed before here - thanks to the suggestions, it's now a lot better looking!
Daisies (Tanacetum niveum) and Yucca rostrata
This particular corner of this particular bed has turned out really nice - it's one of my favorites throughout the year! And the heat seems to bother none of the major players.
The first of the Yucca louisianensis flowers - there are 3 bloom stalks this year!
The heat hasn't stopped the Myoporum parvifolium from breaking out its tiny white blooms.
This plant is busy taking over a big part of the hill side... once I can deadhead some of the other spent flowers, I'll take some wider shots. 
I'm not sure whether the heat or something else is making this Aloe bloom stalk point all funny...
Hopefully it will stay a bit cooler next weekend, because the front garden desperately needs to be weeded... I hope everyone else is finding ways to stay cool, dry or avoid whatever other crazy weather you might be having!