Monday, December 31, 2012

More Pictures - Desert Garden and Bamboo

Happy New Year's Eve! I wanted to share some more pictures from yesterday's visit to the Huntington Gardens. Here they are, in no particular order. I'm trying to practice taking pictures (and posting!) for my own January challenge.

The Aloes are really starting to bloom:
In the Desert Garden (top)
 A lot of the agave were putting on bloom spikes too, but none were blooming yet.
Golden Barrel and Agave parryi planting
Here are some random snapshots of some of the agave and aloes I saw. I always end up with a ton of pictures, and never remember what anything is. 
the one in the lower right is Agave cellsi
 This next picture is one of my 'favorite' plants - if I were forced to pick one. It's actually behind the cactus house (structure on right), and when the sun hits it right, it just glows.
The Aloe blooms are color-coordinated!
 The weather on Sunday was "wintry" for southern California - overcast and mid-fifties. It even rained and hailed at one point! Which meant a lot of people were hiding inside the museums, and not in the gardens.
The sky and trees made for some neat combinations.
 There were some animal visitors too, like this one at the waterlillies' pond.
He was watching the Koi - all of which were bigger than him...
 The Huntington just got done renovating the Japanese garden, and adding the new Chinese garden. Thankfully, all the construction has left the bamboo groves untouched. The ones at the end of the Japanese garden are especially huge:
Towering bamboo - I have no idea what kind
 The big grove is some kind of green bamboo, but they have some smaller groves of yellow, variegated and black bamboo also. Not much grows under the bamboo, but there was this blooming Camilla in the big grove:
The Camilla in the Camilla garden are also starting to bloom...
 Here is a picture of one of the culms, with my hand for scale. These things are huge!
Giant grass...
 It's like being in a forest - but made of grass. I wonder how much maintenance they have to do to keep the bamboo from growing through things (like the pathways!)
It is pretty cool though
 I hope everyone has a happy and healthy New Year! May 2013 bring you the best garden ever!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Huntington Garden - Steel and Stone

Last night, I fell down a rabbit hole in blogland... one of those cases where I was looking at a blog, clicked on a link in their blog roll, read through a new blog, which reminded me of something, which reminded me of the Huntington Gardens, which meant I had to look at their website, where I found an exhibit I hadn't known about. Now, I really don't have the sophistication to understand viewing stones (although I saw the exhibit and it was nice) so the real exciting exhibit to me was "Steel and Stone".

So of course I went to the Huntington the next day to see it. I love being on vacation!

And the exhibit was awesome. It was different sculptures by an artist named Khachik Khachatatouryan, who I'd never heard of before. Here is the poster for the exhibit:

There were about 10 different sculptures, but I won't show pictures of all of them, in case anyone gets a chance to go down and see them. The information said that the sculptor had seen all these plants at the Huntington, so I went and took pictures of them also, to show the steel versions side-by-side with the real ones:

Pachycereus schottii 'Monstrosus'
 I actually have one of these at home! So it was kind of neat to see a sculpture of one of "my" plants.
Myrtillocactus geometrizans (crest)

Echeveria 'imbricata'
 This next one is my second-favorite. The picture of the real plant is an old one - these ones are only in the cactus house, which isn't open on Sundays. Go on a Saturday to see the cactus house!
Echeveria gibbiflora hybrid
 This piece (the largest) is my favorite. It was labeled as Agave salmiana, which I couldn't find in the desert garden... I think it might be in the cactus house also. But I found several "lookalikes". Some of those real plants are even almost the right color!

Agave salmiana (steel) and assorted Agaves
I'm sure Khachatatouryan's work is very expensive, but could you imagine having one of those as a piece of garden art? Maybe surrounded by real Agaves...

I also found this Agave, look at the curls! The species names started with an "V", but I didn't get a picture because it was off the path, and I didn't want to get yelled at by the guard...

Next time I might take a closer look at the name tag...
The exhibit runs until January 2nd, in case anyone is interested. I might have to go to the gardens again soon - all the cacti and succulents in the desert garden are getting ready to put on a show! There were bloom stalks everywhere. Some of the Aloes have already started:

Reds and Yellows everywhere..
I think it would be easy to post a picture a day if I got to go to the Huntington or another garden everyday in January! Too bad that definitely won't happen...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Beginning, again


2 months between posts is a little long. My only excuse is work - too much of it to both take care of the garden and blog, so guess which took priority? And I have been working in the garden - replacing summer veggies with winter ones (which the bugs all ate), uncovering the sedums underneath the melon (which promptly caused them to get sun burned) and planting more bulbs. At least that worked!
Daffodils coming up - do they know its still December?
 Since its almost the end of the year (and almost a year since the back garden got re-done!) I figured some comparison pictures might be good:
Manfreda undulata 'Chocolate Chip' (top) and O. macrocentra (bottom), when first planted (left) and now (right)
'Chocolate Chip' actually looked better a few weeks ago, before the crazy cold weather hit, but it's still going. I'm hoping it might make some flowers next year. O. macrocentra pretty much exploded in size, and has regained its purple coloring with the cold nights. It bloomed a lot last year - I wonder if the same will happen this year?

My project for January, to get back into blogging regularly, will be to follow Allison at Bonnie Lassie's example, and post one picture per day. It might be a few bleak pictures, depending on how the weather goes! It's been abnormally cold here the last few nights (down in the 20's, even 17 deg F!), so most of my time lately has been spent wrapping up some of the succulents/cacti... But tell that to the little stone cactus, hiding under the leaves and Mexican Feathergrass:
A flower bud again - I thought this thing would be dead after the first year... Maybe the grass helps to keep it warm?
A new beginning, again, for both the stone cactus and my blogging. Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Flower Surprise

One of the side-effects of being away from the garden for a while is finding surprises when you get back. Like the fact that I planted a Canna in one of my planting-tubes:
Surprise! I think this is an orange Canna (it looks like it) but I don't remember planting it...
 I actually tried to get rid of what was growing in this tube when I replanted it with some smaller plants (now hiding under the Canna leaves). These two plants have grown in about the last month or so, and just started flowering... The leaves have a pretty color pattern also:
The leaves have green and purple streaks on them. It looks like there are two stalks growing.
 The flower is orange, and very cheerful when I see it from my kitchen window. I think it might be the cooler weather we've been having lately, as compared to the summer, that made this plant grow and flower again. I didn't do anything special to this pipe. And I pulled off most of the foliage that had been growing over the spring and summer when I replanted the pipe. If this plant had come up earlier, I probably wouldn't have done anything to it.

It was a nice surprise to find when I got back home, especially when compared to the weeds in other parts of the garden. It will be interesting to see what happens - if all the buds will actually bloom, or if the flower will shrivel up and die (like my stupid glads do every year).

And there are more buds... Hopefully the flowers will last for a while
 I guess now I'll have to rethink some of my plantings - several of the pipe plantings are getting big enough to need more room, and I had been planning to overhaul this pipe again. But I like the bright flowers, so maybe it will get to stay instead.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Grass Takeover!

While I was gone for a while, the grass was busy staging a takeover:

That's not supposed to be a lawn...
I got about half of it pulled out before it got dark. The plan is to finish tomorrow and Thursday, and then plant a fall/winter crop of garlic and Swiss chard. I've never grown either, so we'll see how that goes. And I found another watermelon hiding in the grass too!

With the weather cooling down somewhat, and fall getting here, I'm getting excited to get some of my plans moving again!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Unknown Garden Visitor

I'm always very excited when some kind of wildlife visits my garden, even if it's likely to eat my plants. Like this guy:
The camouflage isn't working so well...
I have no idea what it is (a cricket? a grass hopper of some sort?) but it's so cool. It was sitting on my (what I think is)  Senecio cineraria. It's a dusty miller of some sort, and that seems the most likely candidate. It needs to be pruned/shaped - right now it has one main stem, that this guy was sitting on.

He didn't do any damage I could see....
It was still there a day later, sitting on the ground. I should do some research to find out what it is. Part of the reason I'm always excited to see bugs is that it tells me stuff is going OK with the garden. When I first started, there was nothing except maybe some ants - now there are all kinds of pollinators, praying mantis, and earth worms. Hopefully they'll eat all the spiders, ants, and pincer bugs!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Foliage Follow Up - September 2012 at the Getty!

I thought I was going to miss this month's Foliage Follow Up (hosted by Pam at Digging - go there to see more!), because I haven't had a chance to take any pictures out in the garden, and I had to travel again. But I realized that almost all the pictures I took during my latest visit to The Getty were of foliage plants, so I'll use that for this month's post!

First, a little bit of history that I learned during the guided Garden Tour at the Getty: while the main museum was designed by Richard Meier, who is renowned for his use of grids and ordered patterns in architecture, the Central Garden was designed by Robert Irwin, who is an artist, not a gardener/landscape architect. Of course, the two aren't necessarily an either/or, but Irwin was going for an "art experience" in a garden, and not necessarily selecting plants for water use, climate adaptability or other "practical" elements, but rather the experience they provided the visitor. His motto for the Central Garden is "Always changing, never twice the same", which I think is true of any garden!

The lower part of the central garden is a full sun site, and here is where a lot of flowering plants are:
All these plants (and more) are in the lower central part of the garden. I love the giant Angel's Trumpet tree

The main colors are yellow, orange and red, with splashes of purple, a pretty "hot" color palette, but appropriate for the "hot" summer. Apparently, the garden staff (5 permanent, with 7 extras during the summer season) switches plants out during the seasons. And while the flowers definitely demand a lot of your attention, there's also so pretty cool foliage, like this spiky orange plant:

Even though it's not labeled, this is a Solanum pyracanthum or “Porcupine Tomato” And I want one
One thing that's always driven the engineer in me nuts is that none of the plants are labeled! So I had to look up the name of this cool spiky plant when I got home... But that's on purpose - Irwin didn't want this to be a botanical garden, but rather an "art installation". That's part of the reason I'm not using the full botanical names of most of the plants in this post, to honor that spirit. But good thing there aren't too many plants with orange spiky leaves! I want one for next year.

One rather unique feature of the garden is a pungent onion/garlic smell, coming from the ring of variegated Society Garlic ringing the entire bottom end of the garden:
It really smells - you can even smell it over the Crape Myrtles
I learned that it was supposed to keep the deer out, but it didn't work! Until the Getty installed a deer fence, they used to have employees in the garden at night to chase away the deer. Where do I sign up for that? A whole night in the garden would be amazing...

Walking out of the bottom part of the garden, there are several containers, filled with different plants. These two struck me as funny - and the importance of keeping in mind the final size of your plant relative to the container:
The giant grass in the tiny container is funny.
 The next part of the garden is the "central ravine", which includes a water feature that looks like a stream, and is mostly dappled shade. And a very specific dappled shade - the garden staff removes every other leaf from the shade trees (London Beech Trees, I think?) every month during the summer! That is insane!

In one of the sunny spots, I saw a combination I would love to re-create at home:
I have that grass (it's orange sedge)! I can just add some darker foliage plants around it...
 And the color of this New Zealand Flax is beautiful, and goes on my "Front Garden Re-Vamp Inspiration" board:
Beautiful! I wonder if it would keep this color in full sun?
The garden path zig-zags up the slope, bringing in and out of the shade, and closer and further away from the water. According to our tour guide, this was done to avoid the garden equivalent  of "art fatigue". In the shade, there are so many different variegated plants!
Variegated plants throughout the garden - the way the light plays off them is very pretty
The picture on the bottom left is a variegated Canna, I think. There were also pops of red and yellow in this part of the garden, but a lot less than in the sunny part.
On either side of the "ravine", there are big expanses of lawn, edged by deer grass, carex, and (new) Liriope, blooming with purple flowers. These plants curve with the grass to form the edge of the garden:
I'm not sure the Liriope adds much, but keeping visitors safe is important...
The Liriope is a new addition, added to keep small children from jumping from the grass onto the pathways. The Getty encourages people to sit on the grass for picnics, to relax, or to take in the view. Our tour guide claimed that the garden staff consulted Robert Irwin on what to add as a "barrier plant". Considering that he designed the garden back in 1997, that is a very long time to stay involved in the project!

Near the top of the garden was this pretty collection of Dyckia:
Gorgeous! I assume the color was picked on purpose... everything coordinates in this garden
 I wish mine looked this good! They even tie into the color of the railings... excellent foliage color!

This plant choice made me smile:
The upper-most beds, near where the water feature starts, are filled with succulents. One of the few areas in central garden that uses them, really.
An agave next to a running stream :). That's not something that you see in nature very often!

Now, from the top of the garden, looking back down, you can see a very interesting feature - the big trellises covered with different colors of Bougainvillea:

So cool! I'm not sure I've ever seen bigger Bougainvillea plants.
There are actually six of them - three on each side. They provide welcome shade, and look really cool too.

I'm going to end this post with a collage of many of the container plantings throughout the Getty, mostly in the museum area:
Most of these container are actually throughout the museum, tucked away like little treasures
All of them are based on foliage - mostly succulents. Some of these were my inspirations for some of my own plants, and some will work their way into my front garden re-vamp, maybe! Like that Cordyline (bottom left) and New Zealand Flax (upper right).
There is a whole other aspect to the gardens at the Getty - the part that was designed by the architect, Richard Meier. It includes the cactus garden, and a lot of the planting across the museum grounds. They're very different - much more zen and orderly, as opposed to the lush fullness of the Central Garden. I'll do a follow up post with those pictures! For now, I hope you enjoyed this walk through the Central Garden. If you ever find yourself in LA, I'd highly suggest a visit.
Oh, and the museum has some art too :) I'm told that's why the building and gardens were built - but really, I think they got that backwards!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bloom Day - September 2012

After missing last month's bloom day, I went out today and took some pictures of what is blooming in my garden...

The Coreopsis 'Route 66' is still going strong (and probably would make more flowers if I dead-headed it!). I'm planning to use some more of these in the front garden next spring:

I know I should just cut the whole plant back, but it still has so many pretty flowers!

 There are also two different Lantanas still blooming. The first is 'Miss Huff', which comes in shades of orange, red and pink:
This plant has grown so much since I got it, and with (basically) no baby-ing from me!

The second is a Lantana 'Bandito'. Its more bushy in shades of red and orange. It's supposed to be less hardy than 'Miss Huff', and is sold as an annual. I'm hoping mine will survive the winter though... Behind it is one of the Russian Sages, still going strong also.
The bees love the Russian Sage - the whole plant buzzes. Strangely, they complete ignore the Lantana....
 For some reason, some of the Hesperaloe parvifloras have started re-blooming on the old bloom stalk! I've never seen them do that before. It leads to pictures like this:
The black spots on the seed capsules is sunburn! It's been hot lately...
 Hopefully the hummingbirds will find them! Also in the back garden, the red sages are reblooming, much to the hummingbirds' delight.

Meanwhile, in the front garden, after not blooming for 3 (!) years, the Clematis 'Jackmanii' is on about it's third reblooming. I'm not sure what made this year better than previous years, but hopefully it will do it again.

I am way too excited about this plant finally blooming...
 The iceplant is also reblooming, but at not nearly the same intensity as earlier in the year. I really need to add some more flowers/late summer color to the front garden, I think...
These are so bright, it's hard to take good pictures!
Meanwhile, the irises just put up more foilage and no flowers... sigh. As part of the re-vamp of the front garden, I think those are coming out, and being replaced somewhere else (where hopefully they'll have more luck!)

One of my houseplants started to bloom too!
My reaction: "Squee!" (really)

I've never seen this one bloom before! It's labeled as a aeschynanthus radicans or 'lipstick plant'. Given the amount of neglect it gets, I'm surprised it's blooming, but I'm also excited!

To see many more bloom day gardens, visit Carol at May Dream Garden !

Monday, September 10, 2012

Garden Visit: Hakone Estate and Gardens

While visiting family in the San Jose/San Francisco bay area a few weekends ago, we visited the Hakone Gardens (more info here). Hakone is the oldest Asian estate and garden in the Western Hemisphere, established in 1915. It covers eighteen acres with four different gardens. We went on a random Friday morning and walked into main part of the garden:
The garden, looking up
The first part of the garden you see is a full-sun (in the morning) garden, with many beautiful maples and a giant pond, all overseen by a traditional house on the slope. On our visit, most of the garden was showing off it's foliage, but there were a few waterlilies left:
Waterlilies in one of the ponds
 The true stars for me were the Japanese maples, many (most/all) of which can't really be grown in the desert (unless you have a shady spot and lot of water). Many of them were different shades of green, red, and yellow, and shaped into different shapes that showed off their unique forms, and made them fit into the landscape, yet stand out:
This isn't a maple (i think), but showed off a strong vertical accent
Yellow and Red leaves stood out against the blue sky
Green and Yellow, pruned into a more rounded form
This (also not a maple, I think) was in the shade in one of the smaller court yards.
The tree in the picture above was in the courtyard of one of the smaller buildings on the property. In person, it almost glowed red. For some of the trees, the trunks were shaped artistically into something you really wanted to spend a lot of time looking at:
A balance with the rock, tree and moss - one of those "scenes" I always like in formal gardens like this
 The pond and water feature was beautifully incorporated into the garden, as you would expect:
Looking back at the house and bridge from a viewing pavilion
 I loved the multi-stage waterfall that ran from the shady hillside into the main pond. All around the waterfall were Japanese maples:

I took way too many pictures!
 The pond also hosted a variety of wildlife, including Koi, turtles, birds, and a giant frog:

The garden art was very fitting!
The gravel paths took you from the formal water garden up the hill side, into a more shaded part of the garden.
Here things were much less landscaped

 Moving from one side of the hill to the other, behind the house, brought us to the bamboo garden:
Bamboo Garden Pictures
 Here there were several different groves of bamboo - green, yellow, black, and variegated. Many of them looked like they had been in place for years, with many of the culms being several inches in diameter. In most cases, nothing had been planted under the bamboo, and in some areas we could see new shoots coming up (or maybe old ones that had failed?)

A stone lantern backed by a grove of black bamboo formed a mediation garden:

 Throughout the garden, small statues, gates and a well added to the different views:

Most of the structures have been onsite since the gardens opened in the early 1910's and are made in a traditional fashion.
One part of the garden (the herb garden?) on the top of the hill looked like it had fallen into disrepair, but maybe it's supposed to look this way?
It was almost spooky!
Back by the pond, this giant stand of Gunnera reminded me of Loree of Danger Garden. It was even blooming! (at least I think those are it's blooms)
These were actually growing in the water! I didn't realize they liked that...
 For me though, this was really about all the beautiful Japanese Maples that were everywhere...

especially when they got caught in the sun, looking from the shady hill side

So many colors, yet no flowers!
According to the website, in the spring the pergola leading to the main house is covered in wisteria blooms. I might try to go back to see that! I could spend a lot more time here, and I would definitely recommend anyone in the area (or passing through!) to go and visit. If you like Japanese gardens, and/or just beautiful places in general, this one is a gem!