Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ruth Bancroft Garden July 2017 private garden tour, part 2

The second place I visited on the Ruth Bancroft Garden's recent tour of four private gardens was on a corner lot in Concord. A Google Maps Street View image from August 2014 shows mounds of soil and possibly gravel on what was once lawn--the beginning of the front yard conversion. Now, three years later, the plantings looks remarkably well established.

What stood out for me about this garden was how effortlessly it incorporates cactus--chollas, prickly pears and columnar cactus--into the overall scheme. Agaves and aloes are a common sight in dry gardens in Northern California, as are golden barrel cactus, but the more lethal members of the cactus family--especially chollas--definitely aren't. Kudos to homeowner Galen for including them!


I loved this angle of the front garden:

The large agave in the center is Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Butterfingers' (not Agave americana 'Marginata')

This garden could easily be in Arizona!

Sphaeralcea ambigua 'Louis Hamilton' (thank you, Jane)


Aloidendron 'Hercules'

Cactus glory

The most wanted plant on my wish list: Yucca 'Bright Star'. I once passed on a smallish plant, hoping to find a larger one. Here I am, still looking...

The front garden is anchored by a gorgeous desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)


According to Galen, the homeowner, this is Chilopsis linearis 'Timeless Beauty', also known as 'Monhews'

Gaura lindheimeri in what looks like chimney flue sections--a brilliant idea!

The homeowner told a friend of mine who happened to be on the tour about a 50+-year old cactus garden nearby. Needless to say we had to check it out. It looked a bit sparse--like it was redone redone recently, possibly resulting in the removal of other established plants--but such large cactus in our neck of the woods are a rare sight.




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23 comments:

  1. Wonderful! Oh how I wish I could grow those spikes in the ground...

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    1. I wish I had enough room to grow chollas - in a corner where they don't "attack" people.

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  2. That Agave salmiana is beautiful! I believe the plant you are asking about in third photo is desert globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) they are most often seen in orange, but are also available in a variety of other colors.

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    1. I have an orange globe mallow but this color is very interesting. The leaves are more silver than on mine. Maybe a cultivar?

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    2. Look at this one from Theodore Payne

      Species Name: Sphaeralcea ambigua 'Louis Hamilton'
      Common Name: Louis Hamilton Apricot Mallow

      http://www.theodorepayne.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Sphaeralcea_ambigua_%27Louis_Hamilton%27

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    3. Jane, that looks like it!! Thank you for doing the research.

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  3. The Agave salmiana is yet another agave I wish I could find here! a stunning plant in all senses.

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  4. Could the wispy pink-flowered plant be a desert mallow, sphaeralcea? The chollas do look very cool. Now that the corgi no longer roams the garden, I might consider planting some. And I totally agree with you re Bright Star -- top of the wish list, but I only see big, expensive specimens here.

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    1. Re: Sphaeralcea, it definitely looks similar. I wish I had asked, but Galen, the homeowner, was busy the entire time I was there.

      I have a love/fear relationship with chollas. I think my garden is too small, esp. since we have a dog...

      Hoping that Yucca 'Bright Star' will become more available soon!

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  6. There was much to like about this garden! The owner, unlike the others in the tour, has done the garden without professional help. He was incredibly generous in sharing ideas, sources, and techniques (even though I had arrived very late to this site). The garden (and even the house color) has the "feel" of being in the desert, what with its stand of cholla and opuntia, as well as the softening effect of the beautiful mallow and desert willow. He had even experimented with Scottsdale's signature Red Bird of Paradise, but eventually had disposed of it (too large and too messy) in favor of the aloidendron. This garden was by far my favorite of the four. (I have chollas, including teddy bear, opuntia, and even ocotillo in my yard, so I prefer this less mannered look...)

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    1. I liked this garden for the same reasons you mentioned. "Less mannered" is my garden style as well--heck, it could be my middle name!

      I've tried red bird of paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) several times, but it was an epic fail each time.

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    2. I'm on my second try with red bird of paradise (first hand-carried from AZ and the second bought at RBG), but neither are doing well. I had assumed it was not happy with the moderate temperatures here in Oakland, but maybe heat is not the factor, since you have plenty of that where you live???

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    3. I honestly don't know what's up with Caesalpinia pulcherrima. I, too, brought one from from Arizona. It languished so I eventually removed it. It got plenty of heat here. Maybe water was the issue? But how do they survive (AND THRIVE!) in Arizona???

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  7. I love the chollas - they use light beautifully in the garden but their prickly character makes me apprehensive. I would love to add a desert willow to my garden but space is becoming more and more of an issue.

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    1. You're so right. Few plants look as good backlit as chollas do. I'm probably overly cautious but I'm having a hard enough time around the three or four potted opuntias I have...

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  8. Ha! I almost posted about this garden last night, but got distracted by vacation planning for next year. I think I will post it soon though-I took lots of close ups so it might make a good companion to yours. Sure was a nice garden I must say.

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    1. Yes, I'd love to see your closeups. I'm always too focused on the wider views.

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  9. The Chilopsis is 'Timeless Beauty' also known as 'Monhews'. A nice feature is the lack of seed, so no plucking out hundreds of babies every spring.

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    1. Thank you, Galen. This is a particularly attractive chilopsis. I wish I had room for one but I've already planted three palo verdes and a palo blanco (Mariosousa willardiana, an acacia from Sonora, MX) in our front yard.

      I loved your garden. A little corner of Arizona in the Easy Bay!

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  10. Beautiful garden--the scariest plants were well away from the sidewalk--very wise. I'm not 100% thrilled with 'Bright Star' any more--it branches after bloom and loses that symmetry. Only 80% thrilled now.

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    1. NOOOOOOOO. I don't want it to lose that beautiful symmetry!

      On a related note, I've been waiting for my Yucca 'Margaritaville' to flower because it, too, will branch and lose its beautiful vase shape. Fortunately, it hasn't flowered yet although it's taller than I am now. I already have plans to replace it once it's flowered.

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