Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year's Eve!

Even though it feels a little bit strange for it to be ~70 degreesF on the last day of the year, it does mean that I got to do a bunch of work in the garden the last few days! Being on break from work and having nice weather meant i had a chance to get started on a number of projects in the garden. Which was great, since that hadn't been the case so far...

But rather than showing a bunch of project pictures, I got distracted by some pretty contrasts in the garden. Here's to hoping that there will be contrast in how much time i can spend in the garden next year also!

spiky and soft (agave shawii and epillbium canum)
this is one of my favorites every year - giant opuntia leaves and delicate cassia (or senna, or..)
different shades of "green" plants  (brown, green, white, blue)
a succulent that's surprisingly alive surrounded by russian sage litter that's very un-surprising
very spike & big and very small & fuzzy
 Ok, one contrast that's a "before and after" - i finally cleaned up some of the overgrown planter pipes! Here is the before:
randomness and the only place i've ever had too much sedum...
 ...and after:
replanted with the cholla back and new xMangaves... and the "chocolate chip" cleaned up too!
Hope everyone has a great New Years Eve, and best wishes for 2018!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Winter Plans & Conservatory Visit Pictures

My winter plans did not involve so much work! But work disagrees, so working in the garden has taken a back seat to work-working. I'm still sneaking in drawing up garden plans for an update to the front garden however! And some exciting things are happening inside - new windows and a new bathroom, which means room for more plants! (and a non-leaking shower). And soon the house will be painted too.

So while i haven't had as much time in the garden as i wanted (much to the gophers' relief, i'm sure), i have been dreaming more about my visit to the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is visiting the conservatory the day after Thanksgiving. Here are some more pictures to remind me...

There are creepy new statues that seem new?

This year, it seemed like there were more anthurium blooms?

so much texture and color and green!

sometimes i'm reminded of these plants in meetings... i have no idea why? :) 

the color on this one was gorgeous!

green and dark red... so pretty!
 I wonder what Mr. Subjective at Plants are the Strangest People would think of these? His pictures are certainly much more precise than mine!
a giant bromeliad - and so perfect

Looking over the large pond, to the new bridge. A bit more open this year
so pretty... and the overcast day made for better pictures than normal!
And then there was this! Not at the conservatory, but at SF MOMA (which has a pretty cool vertical garden/green wall) - a "physical representation of a data cloud" - you can read more here

Overall, it was a great visit to San Francisco!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Pruning Help Needed For Palo Verde!

For the back garden, there's two plants that i think i really need to prune, but i'm not entirely sure how? They are both in the same bed. Maybe seeing pictures will help me figure it out (and if anyone has any ideas/advice, please share!)

The first is my Palo Verde tree. It's about 2 years in the ground now, and has grown quite a bit. In fact, probably too much, as became clear after a wind storm this summer.

something not quite right...
 An entire branch (almost as thick as the trunk) broke off!
That was not a very clean break - it looks much better now (a few months later)
 The branch was pretty much big enough to be a tree by itself:
it may have also taken me until this weekend to get rid of the branch... oops.
With the branch gone, its just even clearer that the tree needs some substantial pruning. I'd like it to be an actual tree, not an overgrown bush.

Looking at the picture below, i'm thinking the bottom 4 branches have to go?
ignore the cables - they don't do anything any more, and will be removed at some point soon.
Maybe all the branches up to where the trunk branches, minus the really big one?

This is kind of hard to see, but all the branches are on one side (forward in the bed), so getting rid of them will hopefully make the tree more balanced, and less likely to fall over at some point?
note to self - trim the grasses...
You would think that having that entire branch fall off with no noticeable bad effects would make it less scary for me to consider pruning off some more...but apparently not! Looking at the pictures does help - as does imagining what all i can plant under the tree once i can get in there.

I'm thinking i'm just going to have to dive in and do it! Any sage words of advice?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

My Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' always reminds me that it's almost Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Productive Day!

My day may have started rather unproductively (sleeping in until noon!) but i ended up getting a lot done!

Here's the list from last time:
  • Fix pipe <-- Done! It ended up being very easy...
  • Trim acacias & uncover agaves in the front <-- Done! i did create an entire garbage can full of trimmings, but the little agaves can breath again
Still left to do:
  • Clean up the 'stone pond' bed in the front garden <-- i did clear out a bunch of grass and removed a bunch of gopher mounds, and cleared all the dirt out of the rocks. Now i just need to figure out what to do with this bed!
  • Trim up Palo Verde tree <-- No progress yet on the tree itself yet, but i did finally break down a giant branch that broke off a few months ago. To be honest, i'm a bit worried about pruning the tree!
  • Clean up right back patio bed <-- no progress yet!

I didn't take many pictures today, but here is what the acacia looked like before:

It's now about half that size. I'm not sure this one will stay long term, although i love the easy green it provides, with cute yellow flowers...

I also seem to have a new friend/permanent resident:

That's a bad picture, but there's a new, small, purple-headed hummingbird (looks like a male Costa?) that's decided my garden is it's home. Hummingbirds show up all the time, of course, but generally they don't really care much for humans getting near.  This one is happy to sit above my head on the patio, or in the branches of various bushes and let me get really close. He will also buzz me if i'm getting in his way. He's territorial in a strange way too - happy to share the feeder and some of the plants, but aerial battles ensue if another hummingbird tries to sit on his perch or drink from one particular aloe bloom. I'm hoping he'll stick around for the winter!

Next time, i'll try for better pictures! Hopefully renovating the beds will make for more exciting pictures than hacking my way through the bush!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wordless Wednesdays

Spiky happiness
(Here's to wondering what happens when the frost arrives?)
In the light to show off colors...

Saturday, November 11, 2017

back to the garden!

The high today was ~70 deg F. For the last 3 weeks, its been noticeably cooler - and its like the garden, and the gardener, can let out a big sigh...

And enjoy some things that look great after the long, hot summer:

And some things that need a bit of help:

The list of things that need doing:

  • Fix pipe
  • Trim acacias & uncover agaves in the front
  • Clean up the 'stone pond' bed in the front garden
  • Trim up Palo Verde tree
  • Clean up right back patio bed
But before I start on that whole list, I'm going to sit on the patio, without getting a 3rd degree burn! Here's to gardens that still love their gardeners after only admiring them from inside the whole summer!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Huntington Desert Garden

Because no matter how hard i try, i can't stay away. These are from my visit on 7/1/2017 during the day. I can't wait to go back in the evening and hopefully get some softer light!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hoya Kerrii - Favorite Plant

Danger Garden identified a shady combo of ferns and mahonia as her favorites for July - so i took a look at my favorite shade plant (of which i don't have very many!)

I have a hoya kerrii that lives in a pot, that i've had for years. It spends the summers hanging by my front door. This year, a mourning dove built a nest in it, and i left it alone the whole time the baby birds were in there. When they finally left the nest, the plant celebrated by promptly bursting into bloom:

funny looking flowers

yes, they will drip nectar all over my front patio

and the leaves

but they are cute, funny looking things!
This is the whole plant - it's in the shade for most of the day, minus a few hours in the morning. It does not like our full sun at all. 
it looks like some kind of weird sea creature with too many legs
Hoya kerrii gets to be my favorite plant right now, and hopefully no more birds will build nests in it!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Huntington Gardens - Palm Gardens

The first weekend in July, i went down to the Huntington gardens. There are so many different parts of the gardens, and they are all great. I flooded Instagram Stories with pictures, but here i wanted to show one of the gardens i usually don't spend a lot of time in - the Palm garden. Warning - this is a very picture heavy post! [is there such a thing as a blog post about the Huntington without a lot of pictures?]

The palm garden is across the walkway from the desert garden, which is normally what distracts me. They have all kind of palm trees, and they are all labeled. I of course didn't pay attention to the labels, so only some of them have names.

this is near the middle of the garden, which is on a pretty steep slope

a lot of the palms were blooming

i'm not sure how the staff decide which to trim and which to leave natural like this one

the path leads into the jungle garden

this is a bismarckia nobilis -its blue!

so many textures

this one was "cute" - i'm not used to seeing short palms like this one

most of them were giant

this is near the bottom of the garden - there's an entire forest of small/short palms here

this one is caryota gigas - there were several of these along the upper path.

palms and cyads
Speaking of cyads - the Huntington has a bunch of new ones, received as a bequest from Loran Whitelock (Huntington Magazine Article). There are several in the palm garden, and they're building a new area (behind the mansion) for a large number of them as well. They somehow managed to move over a thousand plants, with only 10 casualties!
in the palm garden

also in the palm garden

this one was blooming/making a seed cone

this is new area - looking towards the palm garden (mansion is on the left)
One last set of pictures from the Palm garden - all the different bark/stem/truck textures were awesome:
caryota gigas - with a crack

young caryota gigas

mature caryota gigas

bismarkia up close

cleaned trunk!

with all the shaggy stuff still on it
And here is something that i'm going to assume is not common, unless your world-class palm garden is across the way from your world-class cactus garden:
cactus in a butia capitata

different palm - but this cactus had been there a while!
I may not have any palm trees in my own garden, but they are pretty cool to see, especially all together!