Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

It was already too hot to look for flowers this morning, so red, white and blue pots it is!

Monday, June 30, 2014


The red yucca is flowering in blue?
Hey! Hesperasloe parviflora flowers don't look like that!

Seems like my Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor) seeds from last year found their own trellis. I suppose I could weed them out, but they add some interesting color, and don't seem to harm the red yucca much.

There is definitely no chance of me pulling this one out:

Morning glory growing in O. microdasys
It picked an excellent place to grow - well protected from predators and gardeners alike!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Favorite Plant this week: Eschscholzia

My favorite plant this week started out as a self-sown "weed"
before the flowers opened - obviously Eschscholzia californica
I was very excited that a california poppy had decided to self-seed in my garden. They are very common here (the CA poppy reserve is fairly close) but none had ever decided to grace my garden before.

And then the flowers opened:
um - poppies around here are yellow or orange. not both.
A bit of research reveals this is likely Eschscholzia californica ssp. maritima - the coastal form of California poppies. It has bluer, more compact foliage that the species, and a distinct yellow flower with orange center. As best I can tell, my "weed" matches all those characteristics.

It decided to grow in the middle of all the purple flowers, one of the "shadier" beds in the garden

it didn't start blooming until early June - way later than all the natural poppies at the reserve or in the mountains
I'm not sure how a coastal poppy ended up in my desert garden, when there are so many more "normal" orange poppies around. But I'm happy it did! I'm planning to plant some of the standard species next fall, but i hope this one comes back too!

I'm joining Loree at Danger Garden for her favorite plant meme - although I'm sure I won't be posting weekly! Her favorite plant is always worth a look, and the comments at her blog have more awesome plants to look at here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Front Yard Filled with Spikes

purple, red and blue
The front garden has been taken over by bloom spikes. Above is red yucca and Calandrinia grandiflora. The Caladrinia is not supposed to be hardy here, but try telling it that. It's busy trying to take over the entire flower bed.
looking back to the street, with the soft leaf yucca behind it
 These plants will bloom all the way to fall. They nearly died back in the winter, but started growing and blooming in early fall. The flowers only last a day each, so they don't make very good cut flowers, but they are pretty in the garden. I might want to think about whether there is such as thing as too many spikes though!
purple against a different blue

Saturday, June 21, 2014

More Pups!

Hello there!
After noticing pups on my Agave parryi ssp. truncata I decided to go look and see if any of my other agaves had grown pups. I found a couple of unexpected ones - the one above is an Agave 'Little Shark' pup, I think. Here is mom:
Agave 'Little Shark' - one of three
I was also excited to see not just one, but two pups from Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba' in the front gravel garden. On is very close to the parent plant:
pup just to the right of the parent plant - about 2 years in the ground, 1 year in the gravel
The second pup was hiding under all the rose petals:
2nd pup under the rose petals and grass leaves
The A. 'Mediopicta Alba' is on the north side of the house, which gets a lot less sun that the back garden, and basically no extra irrigation. It will be interesting to see how fast these pups grow. The parent plant hasn't gotten much bigger in the 2 years that it's been in the ground.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Agave 'kissho kan'

This picture (from a few weeks ago) is one of my saddest losses due to last winter - my Agave 'kissho kan'. Here's what it looked like when planted:
Happier times
 Thankfully, when I bought it, it came with several pups - which I planted separately in the ground. With a little bit of frost protecting in the form of a thick sheet, two out of the three in-ground plants survived:
They are even bigger now. but not much
The third didn't get covered, and looked like it was dead.. but wait!
I don't think I've seen an Agave do this before?
So lesson learned - this one needs covering in our winters. And with covering, it seems to do fine. Now I just have to remember this come winter...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bloom day: Yucca pallida

Yucca pallida - about 3 years in the ground
 This is perhaps a bit of "cheater" bloom day post - instead of showing you all the blooms in my garden, I'm focusing on just one. My Yucca pallida is blooming!

I planted this plant when the back garden was just redone, so about three years ago. This is the first time that it's boomed. The bloom stalk is bigger than the plant!

The foliage is really pretty too!
This yucca stays pretty small (20 inches in diameter) which I should have realized when I planted it! I think I'll move it next fall or spring to be closer to the front of the bed that it's in. It's hardy in zones 6a to 10, and seems to have very little problem with our heat.

If you visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens you can see everyone else's bloom day posts, with way more flowers than mine!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Favorite Plant this week: Hesperaloe

My favorite plant this week is Hesperaloe parviflora, the yellow version:
Hello yellow!
I have many (9, I think) of the red/pink version, but only 1 of the yellow form. I wanted more for the back garden when I replanted it, but at the time, you couldn't find them anywhere! Even now, the red is way more common, but I did notice that the nursery that did my landscape installation now seems to have several. I finally found mine about a year ago at the Huntington Garden plant sale. This is the first year it has bloomed in the garden.

H. parviflora is also known as Red Yucca, or False Red Yucca. The clumps get about 3-4 feet tall and wide, and they grow well in the heat. They don't need a lot of water, and don't need a lot of care in general - other than trimming the dead flower stalks off. If the clumps get really big, they should be divided, although I haven't done that to any of mine yet. The leaves don't have teeth, but the ends are sharp!

Wider view. This clump has been in the front garden for about a year.
I'm joining Loree at Danger Garden for her favorite plant meme - although I'm sure I won't be posting weekly! Her favorite plant is always worth a look, and the comments at her blog have more awesome plants to look at here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lantana Survival!

It lives!
For the last few years, Lantana has been one of those plants that always seems like a good idea. It loves the heat, doesn't need a lot of water, and lots of other people in other places grow it and it looks great. And then winter comes, and it all dies. One year, I even had one that was labeled as "hardy" die on me. So when I bought Lantana camara 'Star Landing' last year, it was going to be for one last try. Our winter got really cold, and it looked like it died. I was ready to pull it out when nothing happened by early April. But on 4/13/14, I noticed the growth in the picture above! It came back! And as of 5/25, it was even blooming:
Blooming in the front garden on 5/25
 Amazingly enough, when taking the picture, i also noticed new growth on a "normal" Lantana. It's more than a month behind, and we'll see if it ever catches up. But now I'm kind of excited! I wonder if they could survive on the hill side...
tiny new growth on Lantana NOID. Hopefully it will catch up!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wishes Fulfilled...

'Desert Museum' - about 5ft tall
When I first redid my back garden (about 3 years ago now), I wanted a Palo Verde tree. At the time, there were none to be found (or so claimed the landscaper), so I didn't get one. But when one of my other trees decided it really didn't like the desert, I started looking for a new tree. And Gerhard at Succulents and More helped me along, by pointing out all the different varieties out there. And a few weeks ago, I finally badgered the local nursery into getting me the one I wanted...

The picture above shows my Ceridium x 'Desert Museum' (or maybe it's Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum'?) in it's container. And here is it planted in the garden:
Planted in place of the Cersis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'
We're at the edge of the winter hardiness range for Palo Verde - so it was important to get this one planted early to give it the most time to establish before winter. There are several mature trees in my neighborhood, so if it survives the first winter, it should be good.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Opuntia Flowers

Opuntia ficus indica

Opuntia NOID - blooming for the first time
 I received the NOID Opuntia in plant trade with Danger Garden 
Opuntia basilaris X O. violacea v. santa-rita New this year

Opuntia violacea v. macrocentra  Always the star 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Update on Hill Side

Hill side - 5/25
Back in January, I posted wide shots of the back hillside for Heather's wide shot meme. You can see my pictures here, and visit Heather's blog at Xericstyle   for her pictures and more. The picture above shows the hill side as on 5/25. For reference, here is the same shot, about 5 months ago:
Same hill side - 1/20/2014
Opposite View - 5/25/2014 - more to see on this side...
There is definitely starting to be some progress. Some observations and notes:

  • Plants planted include a lot of Opuntia - including o. basilaris, o. macrocentra and an Opuntia NOID. While all of them have rooted, they do seem to need time - in some cases a year - before they start growing new pads. 
  • All the Gazania is self sown... 
  • The Centaurea gymnocarpa survived the winter and is going gangbusters. I'm on try 2 to get the same plant to grow on the other side of the hill.
  • There are also quite a few Agave (Agave salmiana var. ferox, mostly). They seem to like it up there, and are putting on a lot of growth for first year plants
  • Any and all attempts to get any groundcover to grow next to the steps has failed.   
  • The gravel path on the top of the hill is holding up nicely, and seems to make a significant difference in the number of weeds
Hopefully, by the end of the summer, there will be more progress! 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Favorite Plant this week: Helianthus

My favorite plant this week is Helianthus annuus:

aka sunflower
Because how can it not be? These particular ones self-seeded themselves in one of the tubes. I planted some named varieties a few years ago, but I've long since forgotten which ones they're supposed to be.  This year, there are six plants growing. This one is the first to bloom, at about 2 feet tall.

According to Sunset, these annuals need a lot of water. In my garden, they've seeded themselves in the tube with the Opuntia pads, so they're not getting that much water. They're also not staked (lazy gardener!) but seem to hold up alright in our crazy winds. In the fall, the birds like to hang from them to eat the seeds.
They always look so happy!
I'm joining Loree at Danger Garden for her favorite plant meme - although I'm sure I won't be posting weekly! Her favorite plant is always worth a look, and the comments at her blog have more awesome plants to look at here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Agave Pups

Agave - about 3 years in the ground
Pictured above is my Agave parryi ssp. truncata, planted in the ground about 3 year ago. It's gotten a lot bigger, but when I got it, it was described as "short, fat, blue and producing lots of offspring."  I wanted to have a small patch of these, so I've been looking for pups, but not finding any. As it turns out, I wasn't looking in the right place... As of this spring, there are 6 pups growing:
All the pups - the biggest is maybe 1.5 inches tall.
I was looking near the mother plant - the closest of these pups is almost 1.5 feet away. I'm still excited about having a colony of these - but maybe it will be slightly larger than expected. At least it's happy!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


It's been a busy few weeks. I finally gave in to the nice weather and started planting last weekend. While out weeding and planting, I was buzzed several times by the resident hummingbirds, wanting their picture taken, I think.

The first one looks like the one that has been hanging around my garden all winter, primarily feeding from 'Orange Sceptre'. It must be happy now that the sages are starting to bloom again:

caught at just the right moment!

right before it noticed me and buzzed off
 I think this might be an Anna's hummingbird although I'm certainly not good enough to be sure!

The next hummingbird that showed up is definitely a Rufous Hummingbird though:

because he's orange!
 According to, Rufous Hummingbirds are "...are pugnacious birds that tirelessly chase away other hummingbirds, even in places they’re only visiting on migration". In my case, this one is also happy to chase away humans if they get to close to their nectar sources, apparently. Rofous's don't stay year round in the desert, so I will enjoy this one's visits while they last...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Yuccas All Tied Up

I didn't include this picture in this month's Foliage Follow Up, but it was too good not to share... even though the Yuccas probably wished that I didn't:

Y. rostrata in front, Y. louisianensis (according to the tag) in the back
This is what happens when I spend the whole day digging Bermuda grass (evil!) out of the planting beds, and don't want to get poked as I'm doing it! They were released from their captivity shortly afterwards, unharmed...

I'm still waiting for my Y. rostrata to grow a trunk or something, mostly so I can cut some of the old leaves off. It's only 2 years old though, so I might have to wait a while. And the Y. louisianensis doesn't really look like all the descriptions online (it has wide leaves?) I may have to wait for it to bloom to have a better guess at an ID, if the tag isn't right. It's very pretty though, and has grown a lot in the two years its been planted in the back garden.

Foliage Follow Up - March 2014

Pam at Digging is hosting Foliage Follow Up - visit her comments to see everyone else's contributions to celebrating foliage. As always, I'm late! But this weekend was gorgeous, so I spent all the time cleaning and pruning and planting...

One of my two rhubarb plants came back:

Rhubarb in the tube...
 Since this one is all the way leafed out, and there is no sign of the other one, I'm going to guess that it's done for... Do rhubarbs die when they bloom? They don't really like the desert much, but this is year three for this one, so I can eat some now!

The giant un-identified agave is showing off a variety of teeth colors:
also showing some tip damage due to the cold...
I'm going to have to dig that one out of its tube and liberate some of the pups soon... before they grow through the tube!

 Mangave 'Macho Mocha' is starting to bloom:
There are pups under those leaves too...
 For foliage though, this part of the garden remains my favorite:

A. Blue Glow (front), blue fescue, A. "Little Shark" (x2), and optunias
 All the optunias are putting out new growth - time will tell if these are new pads, flowers, or some combination thereof:
unknown Optunia - if these are flowers, that would be the first year it flowers!
 These Optunia basilaris pads are showing a lot of spring growth too:
interesting combination of green and purple-ish
Shortly after this picture was taken, they got dug out of the tube and planted out to the hill side. Hopefully they like their new home...

Thanks for visiting my garden... I'm off to look at other bloggers' contributions to Foliage Follow-Up!