Sunday, November 11, 2018

Saving Mangaves!

This weekend, some "emergency gardening" had to take place! These three pictures explain the problem...
there is supposed to be a Mangave Kaleidoscope here?

this one shows the problem - what eats only the core, and from below?

most heartbreaking - there used to be a mangave 'Moonglow' there!
I'd like to pretend the gophers are dead now (traps and poison), but the fact that they ate Moonglow, and because the stupid critters always come back ( i assume different ones, not like zombie-gophers), I decided to pull all the other mangave out of the planting beds and plant them up in pots. About half my mangave (i have quite a few) already are in pots, just in case they have to come in for winter, so i know it works.

So this afternoon, i dug up most of the remaining clumps, and potted them up:
four out of the ground, and two that were already in pots
 All of them together - good thing i had some extra containers!
From the top, and left to right, we have:

  • Mangave Espresso (had been hiding under a bush, in the ground, hopefully it will appreciate the extra sun)
  • Mangave Cappuccino (has been in a pot for a while, but needs a better spot/more care)
  • A random agave that got rescued from the russian sage it was stuck under
  • Mangave 'Freckles and Speckles' (had been in the ground)
  • Mangave 'Cherry chocolate chip' (had been in the ground)
  • Mangave 'pineapple express' (had been in ground, and has already survived being half eaten before) 
  • Mangave 'Lavender Lady' (has been in that pot for a while, but hasn't been getting enough water)
  • Mangave 'Whale Tail' (has been in that pot, but unhappy under the russian sage)
  • Mangave 'Navajo Princess' (has been in that pot, and mostly happy, but i'd like it somewhere were i can see it...)
After they all got cleaned up/potted up, i had to find a spot to put them back. They look very nice here:
view from the patio
the blue + steel looks good

even with the brand name., very apropos for Veterans day too!
So i'll have to plan something like that next summer. An excuse to buy more pots & plants!

But for now, there is no irrigation there, and super full sun all day. Neither of which is good for mangaves coming out of shady hiding places/into a pot/etc, so all of them actually went back to where most of them were planted in the ground before. 
This is a spot where a yucca isn't doing very well (i'd like to blame it on the gophers also, but i think it's a sprinkler issue... too much water), so there's some extra room. The mangaves will stay here until i figure out what to do with them/make sure they are all alright. 

There are two more mangaves in the ground, but I don't want to move these...
mangave 'mission to mars'

mangave 'crazy cowlick'
But now i'm second guessing myself - what if they get eaten?!? Do I put these in pots too? They look so good in the ground. Most of the others were in places where they'll look just as good in pots as in the ground, unlike these two. Maybe pots that are buried in the ground will work? 

Also, I did buy another 'Kaleidoscope' (because it is so pretty), along with 3 other new ones: Iron Man, Coffee Jitters, and Desert Dragon. I think all of them will be going directly into pots, or whatever i figure out to do with the other 2...)

(btw - this whole exercise was helpful in 2 other ways:
  1. by process of elimination, the mangave in the pot from the last post is 'Electric Cheetah' (the only that i've ordered, is not know to be dead, not in this post, and not one of the "other ones")
  2. it shows how different all these mangaves are! which means i can happily continue to buy more, blissfully unaware of any "problems" i might have, like too many mangaves...)
And obviously, my "emergency" pails in comparison to all the fires that have been happening. We've been unaffected so far, but i hope everyone else is staying safe out there!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Weekend Wrap Up: Quiet Summer

It's getting to the end (let's hope!) of a quiet summer - between the heat & travel, not much gardening got done. Before diving head first into the problems (why are all my sprinklers misaligned at once, what is wrong with the agave in the front, and FML, gophers), let's look at a random collection of things I think are pretty...

this pink muhly catching the light
a baby agave!
That one was eaten by gophers in the spring, then covered with rock by the landscaping crew... but it's coming back!

the front garden
 From that angle, you can't see the new gopher mounds... but in general, the front garden redo has held up really well over the summer! The new rock mulch means the xMangave Macho Mocha could finally grow without slug damage..

In the back garden, some things have made it through the summer well also. After adjusting the sprinklers (...they work better when the controller is on, who knew!), all three of these xMangaves came back from the near-dead
Mayan Queen, Catch a Wave, Inkblot
As long as you don't look too close, the entire back garden looks like it made it through summer ok - Mr. Ripple holding court, as ever.
there are 3 summer projects visible in one picture!
Before talking about projects - this Yucca 'Blue Boy' is rarely featured in pictures, but seems to be enjoying the hillside.
 A fourth summer project was the pots on the top of hill side - first time i've successfully found something that wants to grow in them. In this case, it's bougainvillea.
this is Thai Pink - i think our cooler weather + shade makes it this white-lime color
Watering these once a week became one of my summer gardening rituals, marking the start of my weekends.
barbara karst here - hopefully they make it through the winter!
 More xMangaves - i may have a problem. This one is growing in a pot on the hillside. It seems to be working... the plant looks good, it's not getting eaten by gophers (they got my xMangave Kaleidoscope!) and it adds some interest to hillside.
i lost the tag - i'll have to play process of elimination later to remember which one this is.
 Back to the summer projects - project 1 was replacing the path at the bottom of the hillside with gravel. This used to be compacted decomposed granite (DG), which was brown. It looked like dirt and eventually, lots of weeds grew in it.
the gravel looks much better
The plants are starting to grow back over the edges. I'm also hoping that the gravel will make it easier to trim everything back in the spring. It now also matches the path at the top of hill, which makes my engineer-brain happy (symmetry!)


Summer project 2 is not completely done yet, but has been very exciting!
I got a stock pond!
It's only a little one (3ft diameter) and i'm still trying to figure out plants, and water quality, and lots of other things, but I am very excited. All the basic stuff seems to have settle now, and i'm trying very hard to wait until after winter to experiment more with plants.

A few last pictures before i wrap this up...

Little John is starting to bloom
Sometimes, i think it's funny how plants take their own sweet time deciding whether to live or die. At least for now, my acacia baileyana purpurea has decided to live, and actually grow. 
which means i should probably trim back some of the scrubs?
And finally - agave ovatifolia continues to appreciate the fact that the Palo Verde got limbed up. This is still one of my favorite views in the back garden, even if it needs to be tidied up a lot!
picture carefully cropped to cut out the weird sprinkler situation...
I think i enjoyed this summer in the garden more than any other summer, even though it wasn't any cooler (if anything, it was hotter!). Maybe a sign that i'm starting to get somewhere that makes sense in our climate? Now let's hope everything makes it through winter, and that we get some rain!


Friday, October 5, 2018

Cleaning up the Front Garden

I have been complaining about the planting bed in the front garden that's right off the front door for a while. Early this year, i finally did something about it. Everything had kind of grown together (and not in a pretty cramscaping way...) And there were gophers and leaves and... sigh.

doesn't this just scream "welcome"?

why do all my neighbor's leaves end up here?
Now, yes, these pictures are from earlier this year - but like May (after the Fling), long past when I should have cleaned off those leaves. But they did such a good job hiding this:
i. hate. gophers. 
Leaves cleared off, we end with this lovely view. Once, there was a flagstone path there. 
not sure this is an improvement yet
You'll note that camilla is tied back. While i would like to say that i did that, it might have been left over from when the house was painted... Poor plant. Clean up continued with digging out the bulbine, eurphoria and other assorted stuff. I also flattened out all the gopher mounds (gopher killing had already occurred a few weeks before...)
this is fairly narrow bed
now the furcraea has some room to breath...


along with the red yucca
the bed wraps around to the front, with lower mounding plants
New irrigation was installed. This bed used to get overspray from the lawn (when there was a lawn). While some drip lines were run when the lawn was removed, I don't think it was enough. Hopefully this will help.  
it snakes through the skinny part of the bed, then up to the yucca out of frame to the left. 
Some mulch - rock for where it's super sunny, and shredded wood for the shady parts near the house.
i also dug out and replaced the flag stone
the bulbine got replanted along the house
and the euphoria got a new home as well. 
I also managed to make room for some plants that had been in the pot holding area for a while. Some of them might get too big, but that's a problem for later (or a gardening style...)

looking towards the street
You can see that this happened before the changes that happened later - i.e. the palo verde falling over.
the new view from the front door - much nicer!


So far, everything has been holding up well. The rock mulch around the xMangave has also help keep the snails away - extra bonus! The changes have held up very well over our hot summer, although the irrigation needs some more adjusting.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Breaking news!

I was going to post another look at something i learned in Austin, but instead, I have some very exciting, breaking news to report - It's not hot anymore!

(oh.. "not hot" in this context means it's not 100+ deg F anymore. It was still 93 deg F yesterday. So, i have to keep remembering that it's still too hot to plant anything, but not too hot to weed anymore)

I don't think i've ever been this excited about getting to do weeding before! So instead of showing more Austin pictures, I'm following Gerhard's lead with Weekend Wrap Up, and showing some pictures of my garden that caught my eye this weekend.

tunas are starting to ripen!
I think that opuntia is the one that Danger Garden sent me a very long time ago... It likes the hill side.

This next one is a different type (Burbank Spineless, I think) - it has fewer but larger tunas that are more orange-y:
The tunas are definitely not spineless...
 Here with my hand for scale - these things are big!
and from what i remember, they don't have very many seeds
This next picture is several projects-in-work that i'm excited about:
mostly water plants
And i found another hesperaloe funifera, which will get planted as soon as it's not actually hot anymore...

Up on the hillside, the new gravel path is working out nicely:
even as the plants continue to grow over it
The plants are also recovering from their spring cutback to cover the wooden steps up the hillside - I really like the way the overgrown look works here:
and such as change from the way the hillside used to be!
This plant is calliandra californica - which i've tried to plant at least 10 times, only to have it die. Except for this seeding, which I didn't plant:
i'm hoping it will eventually grow into a bush?
Meanwhile, one of this summer's experiments is working fairly well - these succulent pots. And it seems to be a little bit of a color echo with the pot, plant and wall!
almost like i learned something in Austin...
The "yellow gold" Lantana came back! It took until mid July before it re
that makes it the second lantana ever to return in my garden
Agave 'Snow Glow' is continuing to grow, and trying it's best to catch the light and glow:
A for effort, i think
 While nearby, 'Blue Glow' sits showing off how it's done:
still my favorite - maybe i need another one?
 And last is Mangave 'Tooth Fairy' - still living next to Agave 'Crazy Horse'. It's wet here because there were sprinklers that needed fixing...
still one of my favorites - but no offsets yet?
Looking at the forecast, we should be set for low 90's most of the week. I know that we can get more hot weather (must. not. plant. plants. yet.) but I'll take this if we can get it. Maybe i'll have all those weeds pulled before new plants start showing up!