A bunch of pretty pictures

Mother’s day weekend was busy. Not with yard work, but visiting with a friend we hadn’t seen in a while, cooking nice meals, and celebrating the occasion. The weather on Sunday was 10°F below normal and overcast, but actually very pleasant for a walk at the UC Davis Arboretum and Central Park in downtown Davis. If you follow my blog on a regular basis, you’ve “visited” both places before since they’re favorite haunts of mine. No matter at what time of year you go, there’s always something interesting to see. Right now, spring bloomers are wrapping up their show, and the stars of summer are starting to come into their own.

This post has no theme per se. It’s just a collection of photos I took on the weekend, but I’m hoping that you’ll find some of them inspirational. I’ve already identified a few plants I will add to our own garden.

Ruth Storer Valley-Wise Garden at the UC Davis Arboretum. The spiky plant on the right is a Mexican grass tree (Dasylirion longissimum).
I love the layered effect of this photo.
The grass is giant feather grass (Stipa gigantea).
Purple smoke bush (Cotinus Coggygria)
and cape balsam (Bulbine frutescens)
Star of Persia, or Persian onion (Allium cristophii)
Echeveria imbricata forming a carpet in the shade of a tree
Coral/soap aloe hybrid very common around town (Aloe striata x Aloe maculata). Clumps of these aloes in full bloom are a sight to see.
Agave parrasana starting to bloom. Yes, this giant asparagus-like protrusion is the flower stalk. Like most agaves, the mother plant will die after flowering, but there are pups surrounding the main rosette that will live on.
110508_Yucca-recurvifolia-Margaritaville Berberis-thunbergii-Rose-Glow
Restroom building near the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden and Gazebo at the UC Davis Arboretum. Talk about beautiful location! On the left and in the middle, Yucca recurvifolia ‘Margaritaville’ starting to bloom (unlike agaves, yuccas are polycarpic, i.e. they don’t die after flowering) and Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow’) on the right.
Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) forming a stunning backdrop to this bench. Cenizo is a shrub/small tree from Texas. Very rare in these parts, but oh so beautiful. I’m thinking of finding room for one in our garden…
Santa Barbara daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus). So common, it’s almost a weed in some places, but it attracts lots of beneficial insets and has its own understated charm.
Call me uneducated, but I had never seen (or consciously noticed) a variegated strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa 'Variegata') before. I think the leaves are stunning!
This variegated privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Argenteum’) was a bit of a revelation, too, since I typically don’t pay much attention to hedge-type plants.
The small white flower is called “snow-in-summer” (Cerastium tomentosum). A very popular groundcover, and one I don’t have yet. On my must-have list now.
Variegated elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Marginata’). Very pretty leaves and flowers, plus huge clusters of berries in late summer. Hardly anybody seems to pick elderberries anymore, but we love the tangy flavor. Great for pies, cobblers, etc.
Everybody knows and loves golden California poppies. This is a white variety called ‘White Linen’ (Eschscholzia californica ‘White Linen’). Very delicate color and to me quite a standout amid the expanses of the golden poppies in Central Park (Davis, not NYC).
Golden poppies (Eschscholzia californica) and snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum)
Love-in-the-mist (Nigella damascena).
We have dozens of volunteers in our backyard, courtesy of our neighbor.
They’ll start blooming soon (white, not blue).
Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa). Not a true sage (Salvia),
but certainly one of the more bullet-proof, drought-tolerant, and unfussy plants for the dry garden.

I’m flattered if you think that I’m a plant identification genius, but all public gardens around town have great labeling.


  1. Variegated strawberry is a new one for me too! Pretty cool!

    Nice photos - thanks for sharing. You like variegation it seems. :-)

  2. Alan, I do love variegation but I know that too many variegated plants close together creates visual chaos. That's why I'm trying to be careful to use variegated plants as accents, not as the bulk of a planting.

    But I do have to make a conscious effort to hold back because invariably I am drawn to variegated foliage.

  3. I had never seen a variegated strawberry, nor the white poppy! Learn something new every day. BTW the Elderberry was planted this morning on the big hill in front!

  4. Isn't it nice when you've got somewhere near you that has something interesting to see at any point of the year? :)

    Glad to hear you like variegated plants, so do we, love em! I agree that you have to be choosy as too much in one area can clash.

    Dasylirion longissimum is a must have I think. And that Yucca recurvifolia 'Margaritaville', I so want one!!!

  5. Mark and Gaz, I agree 100% on Dasylirion longissimum. I have a plant in a 5-gal clay pot and it's doubled in size since last year. Still a few years away from looking impressive, but I don't mind the wait.

    I wish I could send you a 'Margaritaville'. It's also sold under the name Yucca recurvifolia 'Hinvargas'; you should look for that name in the U.K.

  6. Becky, can't wait to see your hill the next time we come up.


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