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!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Garden Visit - the Getty Center (1/27/2017)

No pictures from my garden this weekend, because seriously, how many weeks in a row can I take pictures of the same mess? Instead, I visited the Getty Center on Friday, and took way too many pictures. The Getty is great for inspiration on how to put gardens together as art, because that's the approach they take in the Central Garden, and also shows how you can take a more constrained approach, since that's how much of the plants on the actual museum grounds are arranged. There are a lot of sources that explain why that is better than i ever could - needless to say it creates an environment that has a ton of inspiration!

It also helps that the weather on Friday was gorgeous - this is so cal winter at it finest, and why i probably can't live anywhere else any more:
That's the pacific ocean. It was actually a bit chilly, if something like that could be said about 60 degree weather in January.

I love the way these containers with succulents pop against the all-white of the buildings and courtyard:

 These are always a must-visit for me. Some of the plants are updated each time, and some are left to growth. This little aloe is putting out a bloom stalk:

There's always an agave...

Remembering correctly from a tour i once took, all the plants are technical in containers at the museum - even the large trees like these:

That's one of the reasons they prune many of them the way they do. Another large 'container' is the cactus garden, which you can't walk into:
This year, the plantings seem heavy on the cacti, lighter on the agaves. The view extends to include the vistas of the greater LA area in the background. I love all the large barrels in the cactus garden.
 Also, this might be exciting only to me, but look at that snow pack! The view is nice too...

While i really like the plantings in the museum, i always struggle on how to apply it to my own garden, not having any large white travertine walls. The closest i can get is the container plantings at the top of the wall... I want to re-try some of those for this year, although that probably means fixing the irrigation first.

But now on to more inspiration, rather than practical thoughts about sprinklers and summer heat waves. The Central Garden is the opposite of the previous pictures. None of the plants are labeled, but there are some many beautiful combinations...

Starting with this gorgeous red/black plant - a leucadendron 'ebony'. where can i get one?

the main beds of the central garden are a riot of color while still somehow conveying "winter".

I want this plant too. I also like the colored twigs in the background. The Getty moves and removes plants throughout the seasons to get the right "feeling", although red and yellow are the main accent colors all year. Such a great example of how to stick with a color theme while the garden and plants change...

Another view of that same side...I like how the beds are still green while the trees aren't.

sigh...brugmansia... one of two in the garden. I have tried so many times with this plant and they hate the desert. Not enough water. This one was blooming in January.

The view up the "river" shows what "winter" looks like here - leafless trees with pops of yellow and red in green. So pretty.

This view has always been one of my favorites. I love the textures and colors here. I really want one of those phoriums - i planted two in the garden last year. One is still alive (sort of).

More leucadendron - i think this is 'Safari Sunset', popping against the blue sky.

A great combination of plants & color here - i really want to try "cousin Itt", but i'm afraid it will get burnt to a crisp. I guess there's one way to find out...

How to do succulents as a ground cover, by the Getty. I want to try this in my garden this year, although most of these wouldn't be hardy in zone 11. If i remember, i'll have to go back before they replace these plants to see how they grow in.
 A bit of a blurry picture, but it makes me wonder whether oxalis would like any part of my garden?

it was a great day of looking at plants (and art - eventually, i went inside) and getting ideas for this year. It will be a few more months before i can reasonably start planting anything, but these pictures get me motivated to keep at doing the clean up and fixing that my garden needs!

(Progress this week - no new gophers in the traps (yay!) and no new mounds either. The roses are cut back, and starting to make progress on cleaning up the hill side beds. next up - rescuing some of the yuccas...)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Weekend Gardening - 1/22/2017

It's still raining! So far, the rain here has been the good kind - not too much or too fast, and the garden is just soaking it in. We're supposed to get another storm this Sunday, hopefully it will keep going this way.

I didn't get to spend a lot of time in the garden this week, but some progress and decisions have been made... All the piles of trimming are now gone, Fingers crossed the gophers are too - it's been a week without anything showing up in the traps. I decided to remove the opuntia rufida in the left bed - which means there's now an even bigger empty spot:
I have some plans for replacement plants - once the ground is drying i'll plant some sections of the cholla that was removed, and a pad off a small optunia that has orange flowers that a friend shared. Next up for this bed is digging out and replanting these old grasses so the agaves have more room.
That's A. 'Blue Glow' and A. 'Royal Spine', also known as 'little shark', according to google. I've also figured out how to adjust the sprinkler layout in this bed, which i'll implement as soon as the rain stops long enough to test it. I have to remind myself not to start thinking about buying plants yet...

The other Royal Spine celebrate it's freedom from the opuntia by looking pretty in the rain this morning:

Since I'm not getting much work on this rainy sunday, here are two more agaves that caught my eye in the rain;
That's agave 'cream spike' (or a. applanata 'Cream Spike', or a. parryi 'cream spike', which is how it was labeled when i bought it). Whatever it's called, it's pretty, and i want to it hurry up and make more offsets.

I think this next one is a. shawii. The rain makes its teeth look even redder than normal:
 Next up for the garden is more trimming (the sage bushes, and soon the grasses) and weeding. I'm also trying to figure out what to do with the hill side and how best to clean it up. But for now, i'm going to enjoy the rain some more!