Our front yard in early July

I’ve been collecting these photos of our front yard for a couple of weeks now, and I’d better post them before everything starts to wither under the relentless summer sun.

While I’m happy to show these photos to everybody who’s following this blog, my main goal with this type of post is to create a visual reference of our garden so I can go back later to see what it looked like at a specific point in time. I find it enormously helpful being able to gauge progress by comparing photos taken at the same time each year.

If you aren’t taking photos of your own garden already, I highly recommend it. It’s never too late to start your own photo diary.

Panorama of front yard plantings inside the fence
Echinacea x ‘Tiki Torch’ and ‘Tomato Soup,’ blazing star (Liatris spicata), and a more compact maiden grass cultivar called ‘Dixieland’ (Miscanthus sinensis 'Dixieland')
Two maiden grasses in the background (Miscanthus sinensis 'Rigoletto' on the left and Miscanthus sinensis 'Super Stripe' on the right). In the foreground: Stokesia laevis ‘Klaus Jelitto’, Echinacea x ‘Hot Papaya’, and pink rain lily (Zephyranthes grandiflora).
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In the back (left to right): Miscanthus sinensis 'Super Stripe', northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), Salvia x ‘Indigo Spires’
In the middle (towards the right): white-flowered Liatris spicata and Rudbeckia fulgida.
In the front (left to right): Echinacea x ‘Fragrant Angel’, California gray rush (Juncus patens)
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Miscanthus sinensis 'Super Stripe' and dwarf Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire')
Miscanthus sinensis 'Super Stripe' up close (yes, I love it)
Canna indica in bloom. What a hummingbird magnet! I started these from seed a few years ago, but unfortunately I can’t remember which species they are.
Sago palm (Cycas revoluta) producing its annual flush of leaves.
This specimen is about 13 years old. It was in perfect condition until some of the leaves started to scorch in our recent heat wave. Like humans, plants got used to the mild spring weather that lasted much longer than usual this year.
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Sago palm (Cycas revoluta) on the left, lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus) on the right
Succulent display table
Another small cactus in bloom, Obregonia denegrii. I love walking outside and finding a flower where there was none the day before.
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Two of our larger potted cacti: roadkill cactus (Consolea rubescens) on the left, and golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) on the right
Succulent bed next to front door. The red pot in the upper right is a Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata ssp. aztecorum) trying to find its groove.
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Back: Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Front: Blue Glow agave (Agave attenuata x ocahui ‘Blue Glow’)
Queen Victoria agaves (Agave victoriae-reginae)
Ever growing collection of potted succulents near the bamboo corner (see next photo)
Foreground: Golden lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa)
Middle: variegated Eureka lemon (Citrus limon 'Eureka Variegated Pink’)
Back (left to right): Bambusa oldhamii, Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’ and Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’
Closer view of Eureka lemon (Citrus limon 'Eureka Variegated Pink’), Bambusa oldhamii, and Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’
Golden lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa) in flower. Click here for more photos.
Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum') in a glazed pot that holds open the gate to the front yard
Raised bed with tropical foliage plants. I’m not 100% happy with this area. The Kahili gingers (Hedychium gardnerianum) on the right are taking over. I think I will thin them out in the fall and plant another giant elephant ear to complement the one on the left (it’s an Alocasia macrorrhiza ‘Borneo Giant’).
Giant elephant ear leaf (Alocasia macrorrhiza ‘Borneo Giant’). This is the first leaf it produced this spring (it has two others now) and it’s getting a bit yellow around the edges.
Silver Lady fern (Blechnum gibbum). This is a frost-sensitive tropical fern that eventually will grow a short trunk—at least in theory. In our garden it gets knocked back every year by the frost but does come roaring back once the weather warms up in spring.
After the ‘Mojito’ I bought on the weekend, this is my favorite elephant ear cultivar: Colocasia esculenta ‘Elepaio’, named after the Hawaiian monarch flycatcher. Each leaf is unique, but this one is particularly stunning. I’ve read that it used to be so rare that only Hawaiian royalty had access to it. Thanks to modern technology (i.e. tissue culture), even non-royals like us can now buy it. For me it’s only about 2 ft. tall and hence a good understory plant underneath the Kahili gingers I mentioned above.
Here’s another photo of an ‘Elepaio’ leaf. Most of them look like this one.


  1. Everybody should take panoramic shots of their gardens -- it's so helpful to understand the entire space!

    This is the second year that my potted sago palm hasn't put out any new leaves. Any idea what the issue is? Does it need a larger pot?

    I'm also interested in seeing your 'Tropicana' cannas. Are they as large as those above?

  2. Alan, I can't claim to be a sago palm expert but it seems that ours didn't produce a flush every year either when it was smaller. Check out this article; it contains some useful info.

    Our 'Tropicanna' are almost as tall as the ones in the photo above. I'll take a picture and will post it. The main difference is that the 'Tropicanna' clumps aren't as dense as the species cannas.

  3. Wow! A bit late to the party but the front yard is looking great :) Gorgeous plants (and photography!). Love the Blechnum (couldn't grow most blechnums here due to our chalky water) and great selection of succulents!

  4. Your garden is outstanding! I love how everything is arranged. And I really like the striped bamboo also. Really different. And the succulents look very happy and healthy. Super photos!

  5. Mark and Gaz, I love the blechnum gibbum, but I wish it would hurry up and grow a trunk. I will cover it better this coming winter so it won't have to spend so much energy growing new leaves. Funny how this blechnum is doing so well but I'm not having much luck with Dicksonia antarctica or Cyathea cooperi.

    Candy, I must admit at least some of our success has been due to sheer luck. We had a general idea what we wanted, but in the end plants do their own thing. I find succulents so easy and rewarding. All they want is sun and a little bit of water. It doesn't get better than that.


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