Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Random observations

I haven’t been able to spend much time in the garden in the past month so all my interactions have been brief and somewhat disjointed. Interestingly enough, this has had one upside: I’ve been paying more attention to individual plants than to the garden as a whole. After all, it takes far less time to focus on one plant during a brief 5-minute escape into the garden than to try to solve the larger issues that need to be addressed.

Here are some random photos and observations:


Leucadendron ‘Ebony’, purchased at the Ruth Bancroft Garden this summer. I still love the color of the leaves and the branches. This will be a stunning specimen in a few years.  I just need to find the right place for it.


Yellow plumeria, a souvenir from our trip to Maui. I bought this at a gift shop—just a dead-looking stick in a plastic bag—and I’m thrilled to see that there’s new growth at the top.


Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus), 6 ft. tall, very healthy-looking, but where are the flowers? Maybe I just harvest them and make sunchoke puree…


I continue to be impressed with the aeoniums I planted last fall, especially ‘Cyclops’, a cross between Aeonium undulatum and Aeoniumarboreum 'Zwartkop'. (The agave to the left is Agave xylonacantha ‘Frostbite’, the one to the right is Agave ‘Matteo’, a hybrid between Agave bracteosa and Agava lophantha.)


My Ginkgo ‘Majestic Butterflies’ has lots of variegated leaves this year but I don’t think it’s grown an inch in height since I bought it. Talk about slooooooow! But this is one plant I’m willing to wait for.


Aloe capitata var. quartziticola, still my favorite aloe. I love the pastel shades of purple, pink and turquoise.


My Aloe guiengola ‘Crème Brûlée’ has had babies—quadruplets, if not quintuplets.


Canna ‘Stuttgart’ is my favorite canna. Stunning variegation, including the occasional all-white leaf (or nearly so). However, it’s virtually impossible to prevent the leaf edges from scorching in our dry summer heat.


Echium × Mr Happy’ is done blooming. I expected the tower to start dying because the parents, Echium wildpretii and Echium pininana, are biennial (i.e. they die after flowering in their second or third year).


However, Mr Happy doesn’t look like it’s going to croak anytime soon so I’ll wait a while longer before removing it.

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The bamboos in the front yard are shooting like crazy. These massive culms (some almost 4 inches in diameter) are from our giant clumping timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii).


Emerald bamboo (Bambusa textilis ‘Mutabilis’) overhanging the side walk.


Alphonse Karr (Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’) overhanging the driveway.


Baby blue bamboo (Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’) producing many new culms...

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…easily recognizable by their icy blue coloration. On the right you can see how hairy the culm sheaths are.


I just noticed this lavender. I wonder why 2/3rds of it are dead? I know lavenders can be short-lived but would they die this quickly?


This is the year of the gaura (Gaura lindheimerii).


They’ve never looked this good.


This Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’) needs some serious trimming. I do love the way it hides the fence but it’s beginning to choke out the plants on the ground.


Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ is looking good even after many hot days. I’m seriously impressed with how well it’s retaining its color.


Our yellow lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa) has been blooming constantly since late spring. Truly one of the most beautiful inflorescences in our garden!


I just noticed this on our Aloe plicatilis. It’s sticky and crystallized. Could it be aphid secretions?


And the spiders are still as active as ever. Fortunately, this little guy has trapped quite a few whiteflies in its web.


  1. Short bursts in the garden can be just as good as a long day, especially when you've got as much to see as you do!

    I had a lovely Canna ‘Stuttgart’ once upon a time but struggled to find a place it could be happy. Too much sun and it was crispy, more shade and it slowly dwindled away. C'est la vie! Any chance that is your Agave 'Mateo' in the shot with the aeonmiums?

    1. Yes, that is Agave 'Mateo' next to Aeonium 'Cyclops'.

      I've nursed this Canna 'Stuttgart' along for a number of years. Our climate is too hot for it but I'm so attached to it, I just can't let go. Its leaves are sooooo beautiful.

  2. Sometimes it's good to take the time to appreciate individual plants in the garden rather than seeing them all as a whole collection all the time. They're all beautiful!

    1. I constantly try to find new ways to look at our garden and plants. It helps fight the "I'm so bored with this" feeling.