Thursday, November 16, 2017

My new favorite front yard in town

In my previous post I showed you thickets of weedy Agave americana growing in two front yards just a block apart. On the same street I made another discovery—one that almost had me slam on the brakes with excitement. (I managed to contain myself enough to safely pull over to the curb.)

Take a look:


This is the kind of front yard I would have if I started with a blank slate: rectangular terraced planting areas in different sizes and colors filled with a variety of succulents and waterwise perennials.

I love everything about this design. Hands-down, this is my new favorite front yard in Davis. The fact that I discovered it purely by chance makes me wonder what other treasures there are close to home? Instead of visiting gardens elsewhere, I need to spend more time exploring my own town! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Agave americana eating the world

I love agaves. All of them. Well, almost. There's one species I'm not fond of, and it happens to be the most common one in gardens around here: Agave americana. The reason for that is very simple: Agave americana is a baby-making machine. It pups so prolifically that you could supply your entire neighborhood with offsets and never run out. Just take a look at the photos below, and you'll see what I mean:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Succulents in glorious B&W

I recently participated in a black & white photo challenge on Facebook: for seven days, post a B&W photo of your everyday life, no explanation, no people. What initially seemed like a chore quickly became more fun than I had expected—and the catalyst for this post.

Nobody sees the world in black & white—not even dogs—so B&W photos are, by their very nature, an abstraction. In the absence of color, shapes, textures, and the relationship between light and dark take on outsize significance.

The natural world has been a favorite subject of B&W photographers since the invention of the medium. There is no shortage of beautiful images of plants and flowers—just take a look at the floral work of Tom Baril and Ron van Dongen—but succulents have traditionally taken a backseat to less prickly favorites such as tulips and calla lilies.

There are exceptions. Imogen Cunningham photographed agaves and aloes in the 1920s, and Brett Weston, son of Edward, made images of cactus, agaves and other succulents from the 1930s on.

Aeoniums, Succulent Gardens, Castroville, CA

Sunday, November 5, 2017

More new plants, as if I needed them!

Prepare yourselves for a shocking confession: I've never met a plant (sale) I don't like.

OK, you're probably not all that surprised to hear that. After all, I regularly write about my plant sale escapades.

The saga continued this past weekend.

On Saturday, the UC Davis Arboretum held its final plant sale of the season. Traditionally, this is a clearance sale where all remaining plants are 10% off. This year they went all out and upped the discount to 25%—with Arboretum members getting an additional 10% off, for a total of 35%.

To sweeten the deal even more, many plants were marked down to $6. Take 35% off $6, and the final price for those plants was $3.90! Practically free!

What could I do? I simply had to go.

I met up with fellow blogger Kathy Stoner (click here to visit her blog GardenBook) and we spent a intensely focused hour and half on the very serious business of plant shopping. Both of us had gone through the inventory list ahead of time and marked plants of interest. That helped us shop efficiently and productively.

Here is my haul:

My plant haul from the UC Davis Arboretum clearance sale on November 4, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

From agave to yucca: more from the Danger Garden

Remember this song from the 1986 Tom Cruise movie Top Gun?

Highway to the danger zone
Right into the danger zone
Highway to the danger zone 
Gonna take you right into the danger zone

Substitute "danger zone" with "Danger Garden" and you have the theme song of Loree Bohl's popular blog. After all, its motto is "Careful, you can poke an eye out."

As I said in this post, I didn't lose an eye or any other vital body part while exploring Loree's front garden on my mid-September trip to Portland, Oregon. But more danger lurks around the back, behind this impressive agave gate designed by Loree's artist husband Andrew (read more about the gate here).